Money talks. And it talks loudly. Yesterday’s agreement put forth by the City Council Budget Committee to pump $5 million into retrofitting all city-owned and city-contracted trucks with protective side guards is yet another encouraging sign that the city is taking safety seriously. And it’s about to get even more serious.
Later today, the entire City Council is expected to take up a full vote, which, if passed, would mark another progressive step toward the city’s Vision Zero plan that aims to eliminate all traffic-related deaths by the year 2026. Side guards are a great step to achieving that goal, if only because they one of the few proven solutions to preventing serious injuries and deaths from occurring at the hands of large trucks.
We wrote about the beginnings of the side guard mandate a couple weeks ago. Back then, it was simply introduced to the Budget Committee and expected to pass as a matter of formality. But now that the vote is taking place, there’s a sense of optimism knowing that a full-fledged legislative commitment is finally taking shape.
These are the types of laws that are both beneficial in the short-term and the long-term, both for pedestrians and for operators of large trucks. We can’t say it enough: side guards are practical and effective. And for a major city like Chicago, they are necessary.
Regarding yesterday’s budget approval, the Sun-Times pointed out that the Budget Committee moved forward after Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld recounted a 2015 crash that killed a mother and her two young children. In that situation, a truck was making a left-hand turn when the mother and her kids were swept underneath the truck’s back tires, a truly horrific scenario. But perhaps worse than the outcome itself is the fact that the crash was, in theory, preventable.
There’s certainly room for improvements when it comes to side guards and especially for their perceived added cost, which has been a sore point for trucking businesses and even local government. But with today’s vote, there can be no denying that the point of all this isn’t about the money—it’s about protecting people each day.