Some trucking companies make responsible choices and install safety features before they are required on a national level by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulations or by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules. An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer knows these trucking companies not only save lives, but can also save themselves money because there is a reduced chance their drivers will cause a serious or deadly truck accident.
Many trucking companies, however, are not proactive but instead comply only with minimum safety requirements. To ensure every trucking company has safeguards in place necessary to prevent the most serious of accidents, NHTSA regulations should be comprehensive and mandate all reasonable safety features.
One important safety feature is missing: a requirement trucking companies install side guards on large commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is urging NHTSA to act on side guards, according to Next City. Although NTSB recommended NHTSA act to impose a new requirement more than a year ago, no progress has been made and pedestrians continue to be put at risk.
No Side Guards Makes Truck Accidents Deadlier for Pedestrians
Side guards are designed to fill the gap between front and back wheels on large commercial trucks. The purpose is so a pedestrian or bicycle rider cannot be pulled underneath the truck and trapped when an accident happens. Pedestrians and bikers are at special risk of being pulled under a truck after right hook accidents and left hook accidents. These collisions occur when a bicycle rider or a pedestrian is going straight or is crossing a road and a truck swipes them when making a left turn or a right turn.
Sideswipe accidents were responsible for 556 deaths of U.S pedestrians and bicycle riders during a five-year period. Side guards could prevent many of these deaths from occurring. The United Kingdom imposed a requirement in 1986 mandating the use of side guards for most commercial trucks. Following implementation of the requirement, the UK saw a 61 percent reduction in bike rider deaths and a 20 percent reduction in deaths among pedestrians. The European Union also imposed a requirement mandating side guard use in 1989. While side guards are common elsewhere in the world, they have not caught on in the U.S.
Some local municipalities and even a college have recognized the U.S. is behind in recognizing the importance of side guards. New York, Washington D.C., Portland, and Boston have varying laws on the books imposing use of side guards for certain commercial trucks. The University of Washington also requires its campus fleet to have side guards, which it says cost approximately $1,500 to install.
Hopefully, NHTSA action will soon occur to impose a federal requirement. Until that time, trucking companies who are serious about maintaining good safety records and preventing unnecessary pedestrian deaths may wish to consider installing side guards even if not required to do so.