Running a trucking business can be difficult for many reasons. Kentucky companies who are in this industry face a litany of challenges that go beyond building up their client base. They must pay attention to safety regulations, make sure their drivers are well-trained, the vehicles are properly maintained and all rules are followed.
New rule proposals and topics that are being heavily discussed are also factors that truck companies must be vigilant about. When there is a legal claim over a specific issue, the entire business can be in jeopardy with heavy payouts and a negative perception in the community. One concern about truck safety is underride accidents.
Understanding underride crashes and steps to improve safety
As the name suggests, a smaller vehicle colliding with a truck and going underneath it is known as an underride crash. Because there are gaps in the truck’s wheels, this is a worrisome problem. It can happen either on the side or the back of the truck.
While trucks have a mandate from the Department of Transportation to have a rear safety guard, there were complaints that the guards used were insufficient for maximum protection. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration updated the standards to account for these complaints. The sides of the trucks do not need to have guards at all.
Because passenger vehicles are so much smaller and closer to the ground, going underneath a truck puts the occupants in severe jeopardy for catastrophic injuries and death. Although the number of fatalities in underride accidents is statistically small with 400 in 2021, experts believe they are underreported for various reasons including technical descriptions and states that do not define an underride accident.
To address underride accidents, the NHTSA is moving forward with plans to update the rules trucks must abide by before they take to the roads. The objective is to reduce the chance of serious injuries and fatalities if there is an underride collision.
The rule has not gone into effect yet as it needs to be published in the Federal Register with 45 days for which petitions to reconsider it can be made. Once it is published, companies will have two years to comply. The Institute for Highway Safety says that even the new regulations do not do enough to sufficiently lower the risk.
Truck companies confronted by underride accident claims have options
Any accident claim can pose a series of problems for a trucking company. People can claim massive medical expenses, property damage, lost time at work and wrongful death. This can take time to navigate and be costly in myriad ways.
Underride claims are just one reason truck companies can face a claim. Others include drivers going beyond the legal limits for staying on the road in one sitting; accusations that they were under the influence; drivers failing to have the required qualifications; trucks not being adequately maintained; and violating weight limits.
If the company followed all the legal requirements, this can be essential in effectively combating the case. In addition, there are alternatives to avoid litigation through mediation and achieving a settlement in an underride accident or any kind of crash. Understanding the rules and forging strategies to address the claim is critical for trucking defense.