Police say that 30-year-old Stephen Valador Jr. died on Sunday night when his car crashed into the rear of a big rig. The accident happened on Sunday night on Highway 118 in Moorpark. Authorities say that Valador was traveling westbound on Los Angeles Avenue in a Toyota Yaris when his car crashed into the semi-trailer, which was stopped at a traffic light at the intersection of Tierra Rejada and Gabbert Roads. The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene. No one else was injured in the crash.
When firefighters arrived, they found the Yaris, a subcompact car, wedged beneath the truck. Valador was trapped inside. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The investigation into the crash, which caused traffic to be diverted as responders cleared the scene, is ongoing and police are asking for any witnesses to come forward.
Although we don’t have all the details in this specific crash, it’s worth noting that tractor trailers are required by law to have underride guards installed that help to prevent this type of accident from occurring by preventing vehicles from rolling beneath the carriage of the truck. However, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), these rear guards, sometimes called Mansfield bars, don’t always do the job they were meant to do. According to the IIHS, the guards generally work well unless the car runs under the outer edge of the trailer, as evidenced in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) crash tests.
According to the IIHS, the standards set for these steel bars, which hang from the back of the trailer and provide a physical barricade for cars that might crash into the rear of the truck, are 20 years old and outdated. Stronger steel is needed, and underride bars that protect the corner edges of the rear of the truck are also needed. The IIHS conducted a study of 115 similar crashes in 2011 and found that in rear-end collisions with a semi, only 20 percent involved “no underride or negligible underride.” Almost half of the vehicles involved sustained catastrophic or severe damage, with those cars representing 23 of 28 fatal crashes among the 115 analyzed in the study.
The IIHS says that even though crash deaths have declined in recent decades, fatal crashes involving rear end impacts with tractor trailers are still common. In 2011, 2,241 people died during large truck crashes; 260 of that death resulted during underride accident. During such a crash, says the IIHS, the top of the car is crushed due to the fact that any structures designed to absorb the crash’s energy are bypassed by the impact. Seat belts don’t do their job and airbags can’t deploy. Even in those who survive this type of crash, life-altering injuries to the head and neck are not unusual.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident, don’t delay in reaching out to Compass Law Group. Our truck accident attorney can help you weigh your legal options and hold the at-fault party accountable for your losses.