What is the price of a pedestrian's life? This question is of importance to regulators who establish safety rules for trucks. And it's of importance to trucking companies who decide what safety features will voluntarily be installed even when not required. For an estimated cost of $1,500 for most commercial vehicles, side guards can be installed on a truck to prevent pedestrians from being trapped underneath the vehicle in an accident. Next City is urging U.S. regulations to require use of these side guards to avoid deadly accidents.
An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer knows pedestrians are at serious risk whenever they are hit by any motor vehicle. Truck crashes are especially likely to result in permanent or fatal injuries. Any safeguards that can reduce crash severity should be strongly considered, especially if the price is reasonable.
Side Guards Can Make Pedestrians and Bicycle Riders Safer
If a truck is turning and hits a pedestrian or a bicycle rider crossing the street or traveling straight, the accident may be referred to as a left hook accident or a right hook accident. Over a five year period of time, these side-impact crashes caused 556 deaths of pedestrians and bicycle riders.
A pedestrian who is involved in a left or right hook accident frequently falls underneath the truck as the vehicle sideswipes the walker. The pedestrian can become trapped and crushed under the heavy wheels of the truck. Side guards fill the space between the front and the rear wheels on commercial trucks with high ground clearances to prevent the motorist from falling underneath.
In the United Kingdom, side guards were made mandatory on most commercial trucks in 1986. In the European Union, a mandate to install side guards went into effect in 1989. Following the enactment of the mandates, there were 61 percent fewer deaths of bicycle riders and 20 percent fewer deaths of pedestrians in the United Kingdom.
While side guards are clearly saving lives, they have not been mandated in the United States. A few cities have taken action to require side guards. In Boston, a regulation passed last October to require side guards on vehicles with a weight of 10,000 pounds or more as a condition of vehicles contracting with the city. In 2008, Washington D.C. and Portland imposed a requirement mandating some city-owned trucks install side guards. New York City has a pilot program in which 240 guards are installed on city vehicles and city council is considering legislation to require side guards on approximately 10,000 trucks. The council is likely to pass the requirement.
On the federal level, no action has been taken. An official recommendation was made by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to mandate installation of side guards on new trucks weighing 10,000 pounds or greater but NHTSA has not yet acted. The estimated cost is only $1,500 to install side guards on vehicles so there is no reason not to take this step.