The Streetblog network has a post about getting sidebars on trucks that would protect cyclists and pedestrians.
Sure’re you’d still have a really bad day in a collision, but preventing vulnerable road users from going under the wheels might prevent a lot of fatalities.
5 responses to “Not Sure Why We Don’t Hear More About This”
I’m curious–would failure to install sidebars on a truck, when then strikes and kills/maims a vulnerable road user (who falls underneath and is crushed by the tires), be grounds for a stiffer judgement in a lawsuit? TriMet and New Flyer recently got to pay (in a settlement, not a court decision) the plaintiffs in the Sandi Day case over the mounting of the mirrors on the bus in question; the fact that New Flyer settled suggests that there was some concern on its part that it might be held liable for how the mirrors were installed.
I would think that trucking companies might be subjected to similar pressures–a few adverse court decisions in which “failure to install proper safety equipment” increases their exposure to lawsuits, and soon you might have lawyers recommending (and insurance companies requiring) their installation.
OTOH, trucking companies may instead turn to lobbyists and convince some legislature that their business–and indeed the economy–is in grave peril if they are forced, by liability issues, to install sidebars, and that thus they need protection or immunity from such blatant ambulance-chasing…
Sideguards/underrun guards for trucks was something that I had put forward several years ago to a committee or ? that Sam Adams ran before he was mayor. There are some very powerful interests that oppose most any new regulation that might cost them money.
Interestingly, some tractor-trailers are now using solid sideguards as they may improve fuel economy – with safety just a happy side effect.
However one result of Adams’ work is that some trucks owned by Portland have had side guards for several years.
We have been trying to get federal legislation here in Canada to require guards on trucks, but so far without success.
Safety won’t sell, unless it helps reduce judgements in lawsuits. These side guards can also increase fuel mileage and thereby reduce operating costs. That’s what the trucking companies are really going to pay attention to.
Part of the challenge is the level of government at which you have to regulate this. I tried to have a clause put into the West Hayden Island plan that trucks servicing the terminals would need to have side under-run bars (since the N Hayden Island Dr access is also a designated bikeway), but the conclusion was that the percentage of trucks making repeated visits to the terminals would be small.
Ideally this would be a Federal regulation and probably at a minimum it would need to be a state DOT regulation. Any smaller unit of government is probably not going to be able to have much more effect than modifying their own vehicle fleet.
This change would benefit motor vehicle and motorcycle operators as well. I read somewhere that 20% of the fatal crashes involving cars and trucks are side under-ride crashes. And when fitted with solid panels, these side guards will also greatly improve fuel economy for the truck operator. Some companies already use them. Seems like a win-win.