A 23-year-old driver of an Oldsmobile lost his life early Saturday morning in a collision with a semi truck in Chicago.
Early reports indicate that the driver was behind the semi on northbound State Street when the semi began to slow in anticipation of a left turn. It is not clear whether the semi truck driver used his turn signal or otherwise indicated his intention.
The driver of the Oldsmobile reportedly did not slow down enough to avoid a collision and struck the rear of the semi’s trailer, causing significant damage to the vehicle. The driver was transported to John H. Stroger, Jr. hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
Collisions between semi trucks and standard vehicles are often deadly. The most deadly car versus truck collisions are known as underride collisions, where a portion of the car or other vehicle is forced underneath a portion of the truck and/or trailer. Both rear end collisions and collisions from the side are likely to cause a degree of an underride crash. It is unclear at this time whether the collision that killed the Oldsmobile involved any underriding of his vehicle.
As a result of the serious injuries caused by collisions like this in the past, most semis are now required to have underride guards on the rear of their trailers. Though they can differ to some degree, most underride guards consist of a horizontal steel bar that hangs below the lower edge of the rear of a trailer. The bar is designed to withstand the force generated in a collision and prevent a vehicle from sliding underneath the trailer. Keeping a vehicle from being forced beneath a trailer means that the top of the vehicle is less likely to be sheared off, reducing the number of serious injuries, including decapitation.
Though the underride guards have improved safety, a new study suggests the guards do not do enough. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (“IIHS”) recently tested several models of underride guards and recorded the results. What IIHS learned was that the force created in many rear-end collisions is too great for the guards to be as effective as intended, meaning that stronger guards should be used for increased safety.
Also important, the study found that the guards were most successful at preventing vehicles from traveling under a trailer when the vehicle hit the rear of the trailer in a head-on manner. The guards were much less successful when a vehicle struck it at an angle or from the side. This means that drivers who rear end trailers while changing lanes are not as protected in a collision as those who strike trailers directly from behind.
This new study shows why it is important for safety devices to be evaluated and reviewed on a regular basis. Drivers should be aware that the guards are not effective in every type of collision and that underride collisions still occur far too often. The best thing any driver can do is be aware of the surroundings, pay attention to traffic, and make sure you you leave plenty of distance between your vehicle and a vehicle in front of you.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a collision with a semi, call the Chicago truck lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. today for a free consultation. Call us today at (855) LAW-CHICAGO..
Police: Man Killed When Car Drives Into Semi on South Side, CBS Chicago, April 13, 2013.
New crash tests: Underride guards on most big rigs leave passenger vehicle occupants at risk in certain crashes, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, March 14, 2013.
Off Duty Police Officer Kills 2 College Students in Chicago DUI Wrong Way Crash, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, April 14, 2013.
Tragic Rollover Crash on Westside Kills Driver, Chicago Car Crash Accident Lawyers Blog, April 12, 2013.