"Underride." That's a word you'll want to add to your glossary of horrifying fates. It describes the action of a car sliding under a semi trailer at speed, with results that sometimes aren't pretty to look at - the kind this Corvette driver only managed to escape by ducking.

As part of its Inside the IIHS video series, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety takes a look at what it discovered in its underride testing. It bought trailers from the eight largest trailer makers by volume in the US, loaded them with 19 tons of concrete, then crashed a 2010 Chevrolet Malibu into them at 35 miles an hour three different ways: full frontal, 50-percent offset and 30-percent offset.

Even though some of the trailer guards meant to stop a car from submarining were good for the purpose, others weren't, but even the ones that didn't perform their duty met federal regulations. The IIHS video doesn't fault trailer makers, but does suggest – graphically – that the regulations could stand to be strengthened. You can watch the video below.



I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 87 Comments
      CarNutMike
      • 1 Year Ago
      Real world could easily be worse than depicted. Heavy braking would bring the front end of the car down. Ouch.
      El Sunbird
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is why I cringe when I see people tailgate semis.
      Graham C
      • 1 Year Ago
      This video would be much more impressive if the engineers had assumed that the vehicles were under-brakes and that a forward weight transfer caused the "frontal dive" one would associate with heavy breaking. Nice first approximation 'though.
      Merc1
      • 1 Year Ago
      Youch, you're just dead in this type of crash. Like WOW. M
      Cursethedawn
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't know if the public seeing this is useful or just creating fear. I understand they are striving to make driving safer and safer but the fact is you are hurdling down the road in a metal box and if you don't pay attention you are going to die or worse kill someone else. It is a daily risk and no amount of crumple zones or air bags is going to change the fact that you need to put down the cell phone, sandwich, and eye liner and be alert. My car is bright orange with black racing stripes and people still fail to see me at times.
        jf.bouchard
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Cursethedawn
        Thing is, people don't want to give up their cell phone, sandwich, and eye liner while they are driving. This is why autonomous cars will be hugely popular. Finally drivers will be able to focus on important matters (like tweeting where they are going for lunch) and not worry about getting decapitated by a trailer.
          Renaurd
          • 1 Year Ago
          @jf.bouchard
          Blizzards, heath bar blizzards.
        johnbravo6
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Cursethedawn
        Mine is bright yellow with a black roof. It's more old folks than people not paying attention. They genuinely lack the skills and mental acuity to properly pilot a vehicle. Especially after 70 years of poor diet, posture and exercise habits. Their muscles and minds are mush. Old boys in a truck, out in the country are another story. They're some of the most astute drivers on the road.
        Sean Conrad
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Cursethedawn
        Typically people get into those accidents because they're following too closely. It's probably pretty rare for someone to be at a safe distance and to have that sort of accident.
          foamypirate
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Sean Conrad
          It does happen though...A kid I went to highschool with died when he slowed down behind a semi in a traffic jam, and the semi behind him failed to stop and pushed his car into the semi in front.
        Justin Campanale
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Cursethedawn
        EXACTLY! For all the time and effort our authoritarian government spends on safety regulations (and we STILL have higher death rates on our roads than Europe) , couldn't they at least spend a LITTLE bit more on driver education? Our driver's education is FAR behind Europe's. When Germans driving triple digits can have a lower death rate than Americans doing 55 mph on the interstate, you know there is something fundamentally wrong with the way we are taught to drive. In Europe, driving is seen as a privilege, not a right. Here, you show that you can drive down a road and parallel park, and BAM, you are fully qualified to drive a 4 ton SUV at 85 mph.
          j0nny5
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          Agreed. I would love to see a study that measures, dollar for dollar, how much safety is improved by better driver's ed. The simpler to operate cars get, in my opinion, the less able people are to teach each other the art of driving. I learned to drive on unlit, 2-way, single lane mountain passes in the Caribbean by my crazy uncle who drove a '66 Landcruiser. Have you seen the shift tree on that thing? It's completely backward! However, keeping distance, proper sight-line, using the horizon to turn, coasting instead of slamming on the damn brakes anytime you get nervous... these are all things I was lucky enough to be taught. A single dad working 2 jobs trying to teach his high-school daughter how to drive (because permit hours are NOT done with an instructor, usually!) is probably not going to do a good job. She WILL pass her driving test, however, because it's too friggin easy, and I'll have to buck like a bronco in rush hour freeway traffic while I try desperately not to rear-end her.
      Jason
      • 1 Year Ago
      As a Truck driver for a Large Corporation, this is one of my biggest fears. 98% of all Truck/car accidents are the Cars fault because drivers are not trained how to drive around big trucks. I Personally believe a safety course on how to drive around big trucks, showing the limitations of the truck should be required for anyone who drives. I know this is not talking about that, but many of the accidents could be avoided if people knew just how much different the driving dynamics of a Big Truck are to that of a car.
        xspeedy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jason
        Truck drivers should take a similar course as they often drive as though they can can stop shorter than a 911.
          Tom
          • 1 Year Ago
          @xspeedy
          Truck drivers do take a course. A lot of em have drivin more miles the u can comcomprehend. But in life there are bad drivers of autos. Well sometimes those bad drivers go out and get a CDL and start drivn semis.
        Greg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jason
        Another factor for the high rate of fault found for the cars is is that they are much less likely to survive. Thus, no one gets to hear their side of the story.
      Gordon Chen
      • 1 Year Ago
      I've seen the aftermath of an accident where a truck was making a right turn, but the civic behind it was also making a right turn, not realizing trucks make wider right turns. Anyway the truck made a right turn into the civic. And the cargo of the truck drove into where the head of the civic driver would be. It was terrifying. I hope the driver ducked. I saw no blood or ambulance so I think he did.
        Tom
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Gordon Chen
        That's because drivers need not be so impatient. If every one would just give the semi a chance instead of tryn to squeeze by.
      mchl_babin
      • 1 Year Ago
      How about a guard that goes all the way around the lower section of the truck. That way when they pull out in from of a passenger car, there is protection on the side of the truck...
      Adamnski
      • 1 Year Ago
      Amazing to see the bar blast the dummy in the head before the air bag reaches him.
      Hampton
      • 1 Year Ago
      All the safety regulations and safety devices in motor vehicles and they overlook something as simple as a reinforced bumper on a semi?
      Cameron Huntsucker
      • 1 Year Ago
      The reason the semi trailers have a primitive metal bar is because as soon we want more regulation, and the government responds, the Trucking Lobby will contact their Republican senators who will scream "Get big government out of our business! They're costing jobs! There's no way we can afford another $500.00 per trailer! Socialist Tyranny! Grumble grumble grumbble!"
        graphikzking
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Cameron Huntsucker
        You do realize the government wants people to fight between themselves so you avoid seeing the BIG picture. THEY ARE BOTH CROOKED! Just matters which side you want to be on. ATA - (American Truckers Association) 2 million in lobbying costs. Approx 66republican/33democrat split.
        Sean Conrad
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Cameron Huntsucker
        Whilst I agree, I have no doubt there are probably also some democrats who take money from those lobbies as well.
          Justin Campanale
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Sean Conrad
          I'm an independent who tends to vote for Democrats(though I also sometimes vote for Republicans, Greens, and Libertarians at a state level), but in recent times, I've become more and more disappointed with the Democrat Party. The parties are really simply a liberal and conservative arm of one giant authoritarian corporatist party, which is bought and paid for by multinational corporations as well as special interest groups. If Hillary is the nominee for the Ds, I'm not voting for her, probably going to vote Libertarian. I could see myself voting for the R's if Ron Paul, Gary Johnson, or MAYBE Jon Huntsman is the nominee. We, as Americans, need to vote out the current corrupt career politicians in Congress and start afresh with a government which actually gives a damn about average American citizens, rather than special interest lobbying groups.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Cameron Huntsucker
        [blocked]
          knightrider_6
          • 1 Year Ago
          Exactly. It's because of these Republican idiots that we don't have universal health care like rest of the developed world.
          • 1 Year Ago
          [blocked]
          knightrider_6
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Sea Urchin LOL. You are a prime example of why abortion should not only be legal, but fully funded by government.
        knightrider_6
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Cameron Huntsucker
        No. The republican senators are too busy regulating women's uterus.
        dovegraybird
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Cameron Huntsucker
        Considering the amount of Democratic heads of the DOT we've had over the years, not to mention Democratic representatives of both the automakers and their factories, the issue is not about party. May I politely suggest you peddle your partisan bullshit at another subject.
      Justin Campanale
      • 1 Year Ago
      Whoop-de-*******-doo! Now the government will add EVEN more nanny-state safety regulations which will make cars EVEN heavier! Get ready for 4000 pound Civics!
        HollywoodF1
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        Watch the video again with someone who can help you understand it.
    • Load More Comments