The Reality of Semi-Truck Underride Crashes in Iowa

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Posted by Tim Semelroth

Iowa semi-truck underride crashes are a particularly dangerous type of traffic accident that is not well-known by the public.  Rear-underrides typically occur when a passenger vehicle collides with the rear or side of an 18-wheeler and slides underneath the trailer.

What is a Semi-Truck Underride Accident?

An underride crash occurs because of the height difference between most passenger vehicles and a semi-trailer. Underride crashes come in two forms: rear underride and side underride.

  • Rear underride accidents happen when a vehicle crashes into the back of a semi, and the car slides underneath the truck’s trailer.
  • Side underride collisions occur when a vehicle strikes the side of a tractor-trailer, forcing the car underneath the trailer.

Why Are Underride Crashes So Severe?

Several factors contribute to the severity of underride crashes:

  1. Structural Vulnerability: Most passenger vehicles are structurally vulnerable to underride accidents. The impact can cause roof crushing, head and neck injuries, and even decapitation.
  • Inadequate Safety Measures: Insufficient safety measures on semi-trailers increase the risks faced by other motorists.

The Severity and Fatalities of Underride Crashes

Underride crashes have devastating consequences on Iowa roads. Statistics reveal high fatality rates in underride crashes, and survivors often suffer life-altering injuries.

The height and momentum of the truck cause the passenger vehicle to slide underneath, typically resulting in severe injuries and fatalities.

Efforts to Improve Underride Safety

Safety measures have been developed to prevent or reduce the severity of underride crashes, including:

  • Rear Guards: Steel bars attached to the back of trailers to prevent passenger vehicles from sliding underneath in rear-end collisions.
  • Side Guards: Physical barriers underneath the floor of the truck’s trailer, which can reduce the likelihood of side underride accidents.

However, challenges remain in implementing stricter regulations.

Current safety regulations have limitations, such as outdated standards and exemptions for certain types of tractor-trailers.

Technological advancements and innovation can play a vital role in enhancing underride protection systems, such as advanced sensor technologies or stronger guard materials.

Lobbying and Lawmakers: The Battle for Safer Roads

Over the years, trucking industry lobbyists have hindered stricter underride regulations. Trucking associations oppose more stringent requirements, citing concerns about increased costs and potential impacts on industry efficiency. They have applied political and financial pressures on lawmakers which have hindered progress in improving underride safety.

In May 2023, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a law capping some compensatory damages for semi-truck accident victims. This law limits non-economic damages (pain and suffering) to $5 million per victim and shields some trucking companies from negligence claims for hiring a truck driver who caused a crash.

These limits make it harder for Iowa truck accident victims to receive fair compensation, adding to their suffering from crash-related loss and injury.

That’s why it’s crucial to hire an experienced Iowa semi-truck accident lawyer. An attorney can analyze the responsible parties in your crash and maximize the compensation you receive for your injuries.

There are some exceptions to the cap on non-economic damages, but it will typically take an attorney to help you qualify for those exceptions.

RSH Legal offers free, no-obligation case evaluations for Iowa truck accident victims. To schedule yours, call 1-800-433-0283 today.

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