This is how truck underguards work pic.twitter.com/xcnStB6nHz
— How Things Work (@ThingsWork) May 11, 2017
Truck and trailer underride or side-under-ride crashes are extremely dangerous to car occupants, pedestrians, and cyclists. The NTSB actually called for this as well as pointed out the inadequate crash data reporting on truck crashes. Every year people are killed on our roads from these types of crashes which are preventable using side guards or rear guards which are strong enough to take the force of vehicles at highway speeds.
This NBC article from February 2017 states, “Side Underride Crashes Kill 200 People a Year. Will Congress Act?”
The federal agency in charge of highway safety requires guards on the back of trucks, but not along the sides. And key lawmakers who have together received millions of dollars in campaign donations from the transportation industry haven’t pushed for it, despite a recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board.
But we do not really know the number of incidents of crashes and hence deaths as no state actually tracks this data in our National Reporting System. Worse, the USA rear guards are not actually strong enough to prevent cars at even lower city speeds from going under trailers. Our crash reporting system data does not track these types of crashes well. To confuse things even more, Canada has stronger requirements for the rear guards on trailers and without tracking model numbers, we don’t have any idea what is actually happening and why.
Yet, cities like New York, Boston, Portland, and Seattle are taking steps with city fleets to put side guards on trucks because they know that these can help reduce preventable pedestrian and cyclists death and injuries. February 2017: SDOT installs truck safety sideguards + What would it take to get them on every truck?
Seattle’s Department of Transportation is retrofitting all department trucks to include sideguards designed to reduce harm to people walking and biking in the case of a collision.
In New York City, Trucks make up just 3.6 percent of vehicles on New York City streets, according to U.S. DOT, but are involved in 12.3 percent of pedestrian fatalities and 32 percent of bicyclist deaths.
Side guards on trucks and trailers in cities just make sense. Another cyclist Gets The Right Hook: It’s Time For Sideguards On Trucks In North America
Every time an accident like this happens, cyclists have the same question: Why aren’t side guards legally required on trucks in the City? Europe has them. The UK has them. As of January 1, 2011, even Brazil has them!
And the DOT has been working on testing and improved side guards and rear guards, just not many trucks are actually getting them. Protecting Pedestrians and Bicyclists, One Safer Truck at a Time
In the coming years, the simultaneous rapid growth of urban freight and walking and bicycling in the U.S. threatens to increase truck-involved casualties, which are already overrepresented relative to trucks’ share of vehicles on the road today.
Volpe’s research into both proven and new crash avoidance and mitigation technologies for trucks is shaping a new pillar of cities’ Vision Zero programs, as well as advancing U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s bicycle-pedestrian safety priority. One specific safety technology—side underride guards—further extends to the tantalizing potential co-benefit of fuel efficiency, implying attractive payback and a pathway to accelerated adoption.
Collisions with the sides of tractor-trailers resulted in about 500 deaths each year and that many of these deaths involved side underride. Researchers also found that current trailer rear underride guard standards are outdated.
The NTSB in the same press release discusses the known blind spots in single unit trucks as well as tractor trailers which cause death and injury every year to pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and vehicle occupants.
#VisionZero these are preventable deaths and injuries caused by bad design that we know about and know how to improve. We know that data collection inadequate which is fixable. We have some technology which can improve things quickly. We still aren’t trying to implement recommendations from the NTSB in 2014 which seems like willful ignorance.
Finally, the NTSB asked NHTSA to address the issue of data collection on trailers. When a tractor-trailer gets into an accident, police officers routinely record basic information about the truck-tractor component of the tractor-trailer, including the model year and vehicle identification number. However, information about the trailer component is usually missing from federal and state databases. Having this information could help with evaluation of safety standards and determine whether certain trailer designs and equipment should be altered to reduce injury risks to passenger vehicle occupants.