Encountering a truck on the highway is seldom a positive experience. The sheer size and speed at which they often travel can have your mind asking scary "what-if" questions. No matter if you are traveling at night or in daylight, the presence of tractor-trailers on a Kentucky highway increases the level of danger for other travelers.
You would think it seems contradictory to say that a tractor-trailer may be most dangerous when you cannot see it. As large and menacing as a big rig may be, they are even more terrifying when you come upon one suddenly while traveling at night. It is in these situations that one of the most common and often fatal types of accidents occurs.
Understanding the risk of an underride accident
Underride accidents occur when a smaller vehicle crashes into the side or back of a larger vehicle and the smaller vehicle ends up under the larger one. Because these horrific accidents happen so suddenly, they allow no time for the occupants of the smaller vehicle to react. The roof of the smaller vehicle is often sheered off, and the accidents are frequently fatal. If you lost a loved one in such an accident, you understand the shock and grief that occurs.
There are several scenarios that make an underride accident more probable. A truck that is crossing a roadway slowly, backing across the road into a parking lot or attempting a U-turn exposes its side to oncoming traffic. At night or when the light is low, you may not be able to recognize the danger until your headlights reveal the truck, often too late to take evasive maneuvers.
Steps a trucking company or trucker can take
Recognizing the danger of underride accidents that their vehicles present to other drivers, truckers and their employers can take easy precautions that will allow you and other drivers to avoid these often catastrophic underride collisions, including these:
- Avoiding taking too long to cross lanes of traffic or allowing their vehicles to remain stationary crossing the road
- Making their trailers into conspicuous targets by using colors that do not blend in with the environment or shadows
- Including mandated reflective tape on back and sides of their trailers
- Installing marker lighting on sides of trailers at more frequent intervals than required by law
- Ensuring that all lights on the truck and trailer are clean and in working order at all times
Congress continues to debate bills requiring the installation of safety bars on the sides of truck trailers. These bars save lives by connecting with the frame of a smaller vehicle, preventing it from traveling under the trailer. Some trucking companies have voluntarily included these bars on the trucks in their fleets.