A high-speed collision of a car with a semi truck often has a grim outcome for the motorist. The rear underride guards of semi trailers don’t offer much in the way of a crumple zone for absorbing impact energy. Damaged or rusted guards offer virtually no protection at all. In addition, hitting one at an offset (with the front left or right side of your car) causes severe damage to the car and may demolish the area occupied by the driver or right front passenger. Finally, a high-speed collision with the side of a trailer, which lacks an underride guard, can shear off the top half of a car.

How do these car/truck accidents happen? Often when the semi truck is invisible. In certain circumstances, even a large 80,000 pound truck turns invisible. Here are three of them:


Dense thick fog not only limits your view of the road, it also interferes with your perception of distance and speed. Fog obscures clear visual references that you rely on to judge speed, and produces the illusion of going too slow. This phenomenon, combined with an impaired ability to judge distance, can cause a fatal delay in applying the brakes when you do sense that you’re closing in on a truck. Slow down and keep an eye on your speedometer. Don’t “out drive” your viewing distance of the road ahead.

Trucks with Dirty Trailer Lights and Reflectors

Without working lights or reflectors, the trailer of a semi truck at night is invisible. It’s rare for a trucker to drive around with all of his trailer lights burnt out. On the other hand, lights and reflectors covered in dirt, mud, or salt are more common. Dirt covered lights and reflectors are just as hazardous as not having them at all.

What appears to be an oncoming semi truck in the opposite lane could be a truck pulling into the lane from a side road to your right. The lights you see are the tractor’s headlights in the opposite lane. What you don’t see is the invisible trailer crossing your path in front of you. Here is an animated simulation of this with a truck pulling a flatbed trailer.

You are also in danger of rear ending an invisible trailer stopped on the highway in front of you at night.

Empty Flatbed Trucks at Night

Because of their low height, empty flatbed trailers have a small visual cross section. The hazards they present at night are even worse than those of the box trailers discussed previously. It’s also possible to collide with one when the sun is shining in your eyes.

If you were injured in an accident with a truck, Hogan Injury lawyers can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us to discuss your case.

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