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Why are car occupants so vulnerable in collisions with trailers?

Many of the dangers presented by big rig trucks traveling in Illinois are readily apparent. You know that if you are stuck driving next to a large truck, there is the risk the driver cannot see you and could move into your lane. If you are in front of a tractor-trailer and have to slow down or stop, you could be rear-ended if the driver does not react quickly enough. You could be involved in a truck accident, even when driving behind a big rig.

The trailer on a semi truck is elevated. That is to say, there is a great deal of space between the bottom of a trailer and the ground. If a passenger vehicle should crash into the back of a trailer, the front end of the car could go under the trailer and the first point of impact might be the car's windshield. If this happens, the front seat occupants will be extremely vulnerable during the collision. The car's airbags and seatbelts will not be able to provide the occupants with sufficient protection. As a result, the occupants may suffer serious neck and head injuries.

As such, trailers should be outfitted with what are called "underride guards." An underride guard is a steel unit that hangs down at the back of the trailer and is installed to keep cars from sliding underneath the trailer. Crash tests have demonstrated that underride guards are not as effective as they should be. If a trailer's underride guard is damaged or missing, then the danger is that much greater.

A collision with the back end of a trailer could leave victims with catastrophic injuries. Those injuries could be more severe if the trailer in question has a substandard, missing or damaged underride guard. If you are injured in such an incident, an Illinois truck accident attorney could perform an investigation to help determine if the company that owns the trailer was negligent in regards to its maintenance.