Any time a truck is involved in a crash, operations are impacted. A run-under crash occurs when a vehicle drives under a trailer unit; although these types of crashes are among the easiest to prevent, they are typically severe and even fatal, and often occur close to a delivery or pickup location when the driver may be distracted looking for street names, construction detours, truck entrance instructions, correcting GPS coordinates, etc. Drivers may believe their vehicle size is impossible to miss; however, run-unders occur in many types of situations, including making U-turns, backing off a roadway, making a left turn onto a road, or pulling across a highway at a two-way stop.

Let’s look at 2 types of danger areas and some preventative measures that can be taken:

Danger area #1 – Backing out onto a road
When backing out onto a road, drivers have a limited field of vision. Vision is often blocked by a building or some other obstruction. Depending on the location, a driver may not be able to see much or the road and this leaves the trailer exposed.

Preventative Measures:

  • If a driver knows they will not have space to safely back out of a location, they should try backing in. Backing in from a road into a driveway or lot provides a wider view of the road. Throughout the maneuver, a driver will be able to assess traffic conditions and be sure that they are backing in at the best and safest time. Remember, a spotter is a great way to increase safety and assist in backing in.
  • If a driver has no choice but to back out of a location, they should contact a local law enforcement official. Police are trained to assist in situations like this, and would rather spend a few minutes helping out rather than spending a few hours at a potentially fatal crash.

Danger Area #2 – High Traffic Intersections
When a light at an intersection turns green, drivers have an impulse to move through as quickly as possible. Truck drivers have as much as 70 feet of vehicle to take care of and the danger comes when the truck or trailer gets stuck in the intersection.

Preventative measures:

  • Before a driver proceeds through an intersection, they must first make sure there is enough space on the other side to proceed. Flow of traffic and congestion must be taken into account.

Take the quiz to see how familiar you are with run-under crashes (answers provided at bottom of post).

1. What is the approximate time it takes a tractor-trailer with a 53’ trailer, fully loaded, from a stopped position, to turn and completely clear oncoming traffic lanes:
a. 4-6 seconds
b. 7-10 seconds
c. 11-14 seconds
d. 15-20 seconds
e. 30 seconds or more

2. Imagine you are about to make the turn described in question #1. As you look down the road, traffic is topping a hill on the oncoming lane and approaching the path of travel you are about to take. The crest of the hill, where you first see the vehicles, seems to be less than a quarter of a mile away. Is there any way to determine if you can make this turn without creating a hazard for oncoming traffic?
a. No
b. Yes

3. Backing in off a heavily-traveled road can create a hazard. Blocking the road with the trailer is particularly hazardous at night. As a motorist approaches the tractor-trailer backing in at night, select the answer that best describes what the motorist may, or may not, see:
a. The motorist can clearly see the trailer blocking the lane.
b. The motorist can see both the tractor and trailer.
c. The motorist can see the tractor headlamps, but cannot see the trailer   blocking the lane.

4. Of the five following selections, four are recommendations given by value-driven professional drivers to help prevent run-under crashes when pulling off, pulling out, or backing in. Which one is NOT?
a. Locate alternate routes that do not present these hazards.
b. When backing in at night, get the police to provide warning for traffic.
c. Report any run-under hazard locations to your company’s safety department. They will work with local officials to correct these hazards.
d. Sometimes you don’t have any choice but to create a hazard.
e. Never block the travel lanes.

Quiz answers: 1) D 2) B 3) C 4) D

Preventing Run-Under Collisions was last modified: by