When large trucks and bicycles collide, the potential for serious injury is very high. One of the reasons is because an individual who is on a bicycle or on foot can get thrown underneath the truck and be run over by the back wheels.
With an increasing number of truck vs. bicyclist and truck vs. pedestrian injuries occurring, particularly in urban areas, both municipalities and private trucking companies are taking a simple action that could help reduce the severity of these incidents. They are installing side guards on large trucks.
These metal panels run between the two sets of wheels on larger trucks, and prevent a person who is hit by a truck from falling underneath the vehicle and into the path of the rear wheels. It may not reduce the number of accidents, but it helps to decrease the chances the bicyclist or pedestrian will be killed or suffer catastrophic injury.
Side guards have already proven to be a major benefit to bicyclists and pedestrians in several European countries, where they have been mandated by the government for a number of years now.
For example, in the United Kingdom, side guards have been required on all large trucks since the 1980s. Since that time, the number of deadly, side-impact collisions between bicyclists and trucks fell by more than 60 percent. Additionally, fatal side-impact crashes between pedestrians and large trucks dropped by 20 percent.
Other places where side guards are required:
- All countries within the European Union
Among the countries where these devices are not required:
- The United States
The National Highway Transportation Safety Board has twice recommended the federal government enact a measure that would require side guards on large trucks, but so far, no action has been taken.
Still, recognizing the potential benefits, a growing number of cities are putting side guards on all publicly-owned large trucks. For example in Boston, the city is beginning to install the panels on garbage trucks, dump trucks and other large vehicles owned by the city. It’s expected the side guards – at about $1,200 to $1,800 a piece – will be installed on about 230 city-owned vehicles by the end of the year.
The measure was solidified when, during a pilot program last summer, a bicyclist was struck by a city-contracted garbage truck that had been outfitted with side guards. He was still seriously injured, but he did not fall underneath the truck, which likely saved his life. City council approved the new ordinance mandating the guards a few months later.
New York City is taking the same action, though it’s plan to retrofit city vehicles is stretched out over the course of the next eight years. Included in the provision are privately-owned garbage trucks that are used in connection with city contracts.
The guards are also required in Washington, D.C. and Portland, Ore.
Still, most privately-owned trucks are exempt to these ordinances.
But some private companies are taking action anyway. They recognize that paying $1,200 to prevent an injurious or fatal bicycle accident not only saves lives, it spares them the hefty cost of injury litigation and compensation they would likely pay in the event of a crash.
Call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.
Collision Course: With Wary Eye on Big Trucks, Bike Riders Seek Safe Space on City Streets, June 30, 2015, By Bridget Huber, FairWarning.org