Truck Side Guards and Pedestrian Safety

Truck side guards saves the lives of pedestrians and cyclists, yet the Canadian government is slow to pass any bill that would see their mandatory installation any time soon.

Last evening, at Beit Zatoun, I attended an information meeting about truck side guards moderated by NDP, MP, Olivia Chow.   Also in attendance were Toronto families and friends of individuals who have been killed by large trucks that did not have these side guards.  The stories of how the loss of loved ones has affected their families were heart wrenching, yet they spoke with clarity and passion about how Canada needs to implement a law that would see side guards installed on trucks to help save lives.

What are Truck Side Guards?

While they vary in their appearance and design, truck side guards are protective panels or rails that extend from the front wheels of large trucks to the rear wheels to help prevent pedestrians, cyclists and even motorcyclists from being accidently pulled under the trucks trailer to be crushed under the rear wheels.

What do they Cost?

While it varies depending on the nature of the truck upon which they are installed and the specific design of the side guard itself, the costs run about $600 to $2600 per installation.  Given that the panel-type side guards actually improve fuel efficiency of the trucks, it’s estimated that the “pay back” time for installation is 2-5 years in reduced fuel costs.  They have an estimated useful life of between 12-20 years.  While no work has been done in Canada, it seems likely that a truck equipped with side guard panels would be eligible for reduced insurance rates.

In Europe, the guards have been mandatory for many years and have proven to save lives.  They work.  Despite the differences in truck/traffic mix and the numbers of pedestrians and cyclists in close proximity to truck trailers between the two jurisdictions, it’s fairly conclusive that truck side guards would work in Canada just as they work in Europe.

Even the Regional Coroner for Toronto, W. J. Lucas, has called for their use as far back as 1998 as can be seen in one of the recommendations in the report:

 Recommendations for reducing cycling injuries and death

Prepared by:

W. J. Lucas, M.D., C.C.F.P.
Regional Coroner for Toronto
July 1, 1998

 Large vehicles and bicycles

Recommendation #15
That Transport Canada investigate the feasibility of requiring “side guards” for large trucks, trailers and buses operated in urban areas to prevent pedestrians and cyclists being run over by the rear wheels in collisions with these large vehicles.

 So, as we can see, the issue has been well understood for at least fifteen years now, but still no action has been taken.  In fact, various bills that incorporate these recommendations have been brought to the House, but have not been passed.

Currently Olivia Chow MP is trying to put through Bill C344 that would be another run at getting side guards on trucks, but without a groundswell of support from the public, it’s likely doomed to fail as well.

How can we help?

Other Resources

– Article courtesy of Ed Horner – Friends of Dieppe Park

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