Trucks must have side guards to protect Cyclists

In 2014, 59 cyclists died after being struck by large trucks, according to a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. One of the most recent truck accidents involving a cyclist occurred in Porter Square, Cambridge on October 5, 2016. 60-year-old, Bernard Lavins was cycling when he was struck and killed by an 18 wheeler truck. In a WBUR article, a cyclist at the scene of the crash stated even though bikers follow the rules of the road they are still not noticed. Truckers not being able to see cyclists, because of their large “blind spots” is a common reason why truckers hit cyclist.

Crashes like this have encouraged the U.S. transportation safety board to urge regulators to make it mandatory that trucks be equipped with side guards. Side guards, which are currently required on all trucks in Canada and Japan, cover the gaps between the wheels of trucks. The initiative to require side guards on trucks was a result of two crashes that killed one cyclist and severely injured the other, in Montreal, occurring in the same week. Both crashes, reported in the Globe, occurred when the cyclist fell underside of the truck.

Crashes, like the ones in Montreal, have led New York City and Boston to implement ordinances that require trucks to be equipped with side guards. In 2015, Mayor De Blasio of New York signed a bill making side guards mandatory on all trucks by 2024. This bill was signed in hopes that sideguards on trucks in New York will have the same effect they did when they were implemented in the UK. A study, conducted by The National Transportation Systems Center (“NTSC”), showed that in the UK accidents dropped 61% after side guards were installed on trucks. The NTSC study also stated that the cost to install side guards on current trucks could be as low as $600, which is cheaper than the UK price of $847. This cost could also decrease if trucks were built with side guards already installed.

Boston Mayor Walsh is implementing mandatory side guards for vehicles weighing over 10,000 lbs. and semi-trailers with a total weight exceeding 26,000 lbs. This ordinance not only requires trucks to have side guards, but also convex mirrors, cross-over mirrors, and blind-spot awareness decals. All of these mandatory installations are meant to reduce the number of cyclists, vehicles, and pedestrians who get caught under the side of trucks. The Truck Side Guard Ordinance also states that if a vehicle does not comply with installing side guards, they will be fined $100 for the first offense. After their first offense, the business that contracts the truck can be at risk of losing their contract with the city. The Truck Side Guard Ordinance was filed by Mayor Walsh after noticing that Bostonians were using bikes as their primary form of transportation around the city. By executing the Side Guard Ordinance Mayor Walsh hopes that this low-cost solution will save the lives of cyclists and pedestrians in Boston.

If you, or someone you know, has been injured in a crash that involved a truck without side guards, then please contact our bicycle accident attorneys at Mitcheson & Lee.