High Winds Can Increase the Risk of Underride Accidents

High Winds Can Increase the Risk of Underride AccidentsMany automobile drivers are intimidated by the large size and weight of tractor trailers, especially in severe and unpredictable weather. High winds, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and fog are a few of the weather conditions that can lead to underride collisions and other types of accidents with semi-trucks.

Therefore, if you find yourself driving alongside an 18-wheeler during unsafe weather, it is highly recommended that you slow down, remain focused on the road and surroundings, drive cautiously, and give yourself and the trucker a lot of space. This can prevent you from being involved in a traumatic and deadly truck accident.

What is an underride accident?

An underride accident typically involves a semi-truck and a smaller vehicle. When that vehicle collides into the rear area or side of the semi-truck, it may go completely or partially underneath the semi-truck’s trailer. This is called an underride accident. The reason that these accidents happen is because trailers are higher off the ground than most smaller vehicles, creating the perfect pathway for automobiles to become lodged underneath them.

How common are semi-truck underride accidents?

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), there were more than 200 deaths caused by semi-truck underride accidents every year in the United States between the years of 2008 and 2017. The GAO also stated that there were likely more fatalities that were not reported because of variability. For example, many law enforcement officers do not know how to record underride collisions in various states, leading to them classifying these accidents as something else.

How do high winds increase the risk of underride accidents?

Strong winds have the ability to move or push the trailer a certain way while the trucker is trying to steer or control it. To regain control and stability over the truck and trailer during high winds, drivers may hit their brakes. A driver traveling behind the truck could end up crashing into the semi-truck, becoming stuck underneath the rear portion of the trailer. Even if the driver manages to swerve a bit to avoid a direct hit, the car may still get wedged under the corner of the truck, especially if the trailer (or the passenger vehicle) is older or lower to the ground. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety created this brief video to show you how it occurs.

Strong winds can also lead to side-underride crashes. If a driver in a passenger vehicle loses control of the car while passing a tractor-trailer, he or she can end up driving under the side of the truck. Or, a truck can jackknife as its driver attempts to wrestle control of it, and another driver can hit the side of the trailer. These may actually be more common scenarios, as side-underride guards are not mandatory on trailers; as such, the chances of meeting a big-rig without side guards are far greater than seeing a truck without rear-underride guards.

The types of injuries that result from semi-truck underride accidents

Semi-truck underride accidents often lead to some of the most horrifying and tragic collisions. Most drivers and passengers do not stand much of a chance at surviving when the roof of their vehicle is torn off or completely destroyed; they can be trapped underneath the tractor trailer for hours, and there is a real risk of decapitation. If they are lucky enough to survive, they could suffer several of the following injuries:

  • Broken bones
  • Crushing injuries
  • Head and skull injuries
  • Concussions, contusions, and other traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord and back injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Amputations or loss of limbs
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Scarring
  • Severe bruising
  • Internal organ damage
  • Internal bleeding
  • Facial, dental, and eye injuries
  • Nerve and soft tissue damage
  • Emotional and mental trauma

Other dangerous weather conditions that pose a risk of a crash

There are many other weather conditions in the Tulsa area that place automobile drivers at great risk around semi-trucks, such as:

  • Fog: Fog is known to form very quickly. When this happens, visibility becomes limited, which can cause drivers and truckers to run off the road, move into other lanes, and collide with other vehicles. This can put drivers at great risk of being in an underride crash – or a head-on collision, rear-end accident, T-bone accident, or a sideswipe accident.
  • Thunderstorms and heavy rain: Tire traction, visibility, and maneuverability are all reduced significantly in these weather conditions. As a result, drivers may sustain injuries in any number of accidents.
  • Tornadoes: Tornadoes can pick up semi-trucks and throw them. They clearly pose life-threatening risks to any driver on the road.
  • Sun glare: Even a bright and sunny day can lead to a crash. Sun glare can reduce visibility to zero for a few moments, and the reflection off other objects – including shiny cars – can be blinding, too. A driver who is blinded by the sun even for a moment can crash into another car or unintentionally merge into another lane; if a trucker does it, the results can be catastrophic.
  • Ice and sleet: Tulsa does not get a tremendous amount of ice, sleet, and freezing rain, but when we do, it can cause a lot of damage. While interstate truckers may actually be more prepared for this type of weather, there is no guarantee that their trucks are equipped for it – and as we learned a few years ago, our neighbors aren’t always prepared, either. These slippery conditions may pose a substantial risk of an underride accident, as drivers may be helpless to stop from skidding and sliding underneath the truck.

Semi-truck underride accidents happen for many different reasons. During inclement weather conditions, it can be difficult to determine the direct causes of your accident as well as who should be held liable. However, the truck accident lawyers at Biby Law Firm in Tulsa are experienced, skilled, and knowledgeable when it comes to the laws surrounding truck accidents and what to look for when it comes to finding responsibility for underride accidents.

By hiring our team, you will have peace of mind knowing that we will do everything possible to hold the responsible parties accountable for their negligent actions. If you were injured in a truck underride accident, please call our office or submit our contact form to receive a free, no-obligation case evaluation today. You will never owe us a penny unless we win your case.