Big commercial trucks are the cause of some of the most dramatic crashes on the road. A jackknife accident, for example, might lead to a semi taking out three lanes of traffic on a highway and causing a wreck with more than a dozen vehicles involved.

Jackknife crashes aren’t the only kind of unique collision that can occur with a big commercial vehicle. Underride and override collisions are also unique to these larger and heavier vehicles. What is the difference between an underride crash and an override crash?

The difference is in which vehicle exerts force on the other

The result of an underride crash is essentially the same as the outcome of an override crash. In both cases, the smaller passenger vehicle winds up underneath the commercial truck. This can occur in a number of ways.

In a side underride collision, the passenger vehicle goes between the axles of the trailer, which can cause catastrophic damage to the vehicle and deadly injuries to occupants. In a rear underride crash, a passenger vehicle hits the back of a commercial truck and goes under it.

What people call front underride crashes are actually override collisions. They typically involve the truck striking the back of the passenger vehicle and then going up and over it. Both underride and override crashes often cause catastrophic and fatal injuries are the people in the smaller vehicles while possibly causing very little damage to the big truck.

Many of these crashes are preventable

Both commercial drivers and the companies that maintain trucking fleets have opportunities to protect others from underride and override crashes. Investing in newer vehicles with better safety guards and being proactive about keeping adequate space between the truck and other vehicles can drastically reduce the risk of people getting hurt or dying.

All too often, companies put money before safety, while drivers may have to sacrifice the best safety practices for speed on the road. Those left hurt by a commercial truck crash or those who have lost a loved one to a collision may be able to make an insurance claim or possibly take legal action against a driver or company.