City-owned trucks are on the verge of a safety-centric makeover
The long road to safety involves many twists and turns but Chicago is finally heading in the right direction.
Late last month, as part of the newly unveiled Vision Zero initiative, the mayor’s office and the Chicago Department of Transportation introduced a proposed ordinance that would require contractors to install protective safety equipment on large trucks, including side guards and convex mirrors.
“Chicago is using a data-driven approach to improve traffic safety, and the data shows we can save lives and prevent serious injuries by installing this type of safety equipment,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a press release. “I applaud private sector fleet managers who have already taken steps to enhance the safety of their truck fleets.”
By January 1, 2018, all contractors will be required to implement the proposed safety equipment with full compliance becoming mandatory by January 1, 2021. The ordinance would impact new contracts over $2 million related to construction, job order contracts, and non-construction projects that involve the use of large vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds.
If you follow our blog, we’ve written extensively about the need for Chicago to follow suit with other major cities like New York, Boston, and Seattle, all of which require city-owned fleets to be outfitted with side guards. The release provided by the city noted that the 33 pedestrian and cyclist fatalities involving large trucks have occurred since 2010. And of all bike and pedestrian crashes since 2010, those that involved a large truck proved to be three times more likely to be fatal.
By integrating side guards, Chicago is making a significant investment on pedestrian and cycling safety. In a recent post, we re-hashed a video produced by the TK in which they compared the force of impact between a car and truck outfitted with side guards, and one without. The video clearly shows that side guards prevent potentially gruesome and fatal crashes from occurring. It’s hard to argue against them.
Some reminders about side guards:
- Side guards are proven to reduce injuries and death: The U.K. began requiring side guards on most new trucks beginning in 1986. Since then, the fatality rate for turning-truck crash rates dipped by 20 percent for pedestrians and 61 percent for cyclists.
- The National Transportation Safety Board recommended that side guards be fitted on large trucks in 2013, though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has yet to approve a requirement to make them mandatory.
- Like the U.K., many European cities, as well as countries like Canada, have adopted and/or implemented safety measures on large trucks that go well beyond the standards we’ve established here in the U.S. A national proposal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently flirted with the idea of replacing a 20-year-old standard for side guards with a 10-year-old Canadian standard, meaning that the U.S., despite the warnings, is still catching up with the rest of the world.
- Chicago’s Vision Zero plan aims to eliminate all traffic-related fatalities by the year 2026. It’s a data-driven plan, meaning proposals and recommendations are based on analytical evidence; the evidence here is that side guards are one of the most cost-effective preventative safety measures we can accomplish in the short term.