Posted by Rocky McElhaney Law Firm on 09/28/2017

Requiring Truck Side Guards Can Prevent Fatal Bicycle Accidents

Requiring Truck Side Guards Can Prevent Fatal Bicycle Accidents

Imagine that a massive tractor-trailer is driving through an urban center crammed in amongst passenger vehicles and buses. These large trucks are not only difficult to maneuver on city street, their blind spots making it difficult and in some cases impossible to see bicyclists and pedestrians that are everywhere. The large truck approaches an intersection where it needs to make a right turn. The driver checks her mirrors, and takes a quick look around before negotiating the turn, but then she hears screaming and she sees people on the street waving their arms to signal the driver to stop because the truck has struck a bicyclist. Accidents like this scenario have been happening in big cities in the U.S. such as Chicago and Boston.

What makes these types of crashes between large trucks and bicyclists is the lack of side guards to prevent the cyclist from ending up under the truck's rear tires. Last year, four bicyclists were killed by large commercial truck drivers in Chicago. A witness to one of the deadly crashes said that he saw the truck driver on the ground sobbing uncontrollably when he realized that he had taken someone's life. (Chicago Reader.com) Given the nature of the crashes, side guard might have made a difference for these cyclists.

How side guards on trucks can prevent bicyclist fatalities

The Department of Transportation describes side guards as vehicle-based safety devices which are designed to keep pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists from being crushed under a truck's rear wheels in a side-impact crash. Side guards create a physical barrier which covers the open space between the front and rear tires and keeping cyclists and other road users from being swept under the truck's massive tires. Crashes between bicyclists and large trucks are more likely to result in a fatality. The Volpe Center, which is a research division of the U.D. DOT, spent five years studying how a truck's design affects bicycle and pedestrian safety. They found that there were 556 pedestrians and bicyclists killed in side-impact crashes with trucks (257 pedestrians and 139 bicyclists on the right side and 115 pedestrians and 45 bicyclists hit the left side).

What is being done to prevent truck crashes with bicyclists and pedestrians?

In Boston, a your graduate student was killed by a tractor trailer while he was riding his bicycle on Commonwealth Avenue when the truck made a right turn, collided with Christopher Weigel and crushed him under the truck's tires. The family sued the truck driver and the trucking company and Christopher's brother Dusting Weigl is on a mission to make sure that what happened to his brother never happens again. He is pushing for trucks of a certain size to be required to have side guards., which will help turn what could be a fatal accident to one that is survivable. Dustin also makes the point that side guards improve the aerodynamics of the truck making them more fuel efficient according to a story on WBUR.com.

Now, Boston has a city ordinance requiring side guards on trucks.

In Tennessee, bicycles have the legal status of a vehicle, and they are required to ride on the right side of the road in the same directions of traffic, obey traffic signs and signals, use hand signals to communicate their intended movements and equip their bicycles with a front white light and either a red reflector or lamp emitting a red light which is visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the rear. (TCA 55-52-103)

Safety advocates are urging federal DOT regulators to require side guards to prevent cyclist and pedestrian fatalities and catastrophic injuries.

The Rocky McElhaney Law Firm houses a team of skilled Nashville truck accident lawyers. Our Gladiators in Suits are here to fight for what is important to you both inside and outside of the courtroom. We help those who have been injured in negligence accidents to obtain the compensation they need and deserve.   

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