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Take Action: Side Guards Save Lives

On Tuesday, an investigation by PBS’s FRONTLINE and ProPublica revealed the extent to which the safety of bicyclists and other road users has been ignored by the U.S. Department of Transportation agencies in charge of oversight of the trucking industry.

Source: UMass Traffic Safety Research

Let’s take a step back: crashes between people on bikes and large trucks are some of the most deadly among all crashes involving people biking. In fact, crashes with large trucks account for 10 percent of all fatalities of people biking and walking despite large trucks making up only four percent of vehicles on the road. 

A simple solution exists to prevent the worst outcomes of these types of crashes, too: side guards and underride guards. 

Why aren’t these safety devices on more large trucks? Here’s what FRONTLINE says:

Trucking industry representatives and the government’s lead agency on traffic safety have said that their top priority is safety. Drawing on more than a year of reporting — including leaked documents and interviews with former government insiders, trucking industry representatives, and families of underride crash victims — the documentary reveals how, for decades, federal regulators proposed new rules to try to prevent underride crashes. Over and over, pushback from trucking industry lobbyists won the day, leaving drivers of smaller vehicles vulnerable.

Further, the documentary features a whistleblower in the U.S. Department of Transportation who notes that a study exists which shows side guards could save the lives of pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vulnerable road users in side impact crashes with large trucks. But, the results of that study were purged from a report on the topic and ultimately most of scientific studies showing the benefits to bicyclists, pedestrians and others  were deleted from the report In fact, the report, according to ProPublica and FRONTLINE, was reviewed and changes were suggested by the trucking industry lobby to remove references to “regulations”. 

Source: US DOT Volpe Center

This is why we need your voice.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has invited comments on a proposed rule regarding side underride guards on large trucks and the League has submitted comments objecting to NHTSA’s decision to not include vulnerable road users in their math on the cost-benefit analysis of requiring underride guards. That means NHTSA determined the cost-benefit analysis of side underride guards without considering the benefit of saving the lives of people biking, walking and rolling. 

We need you to tell NHTSA to consider the cost of vulnerable road users’ lives when making its rule on truck underride guards. At the National Bike Summit, hundreds of advocates for safer bicycling took to Capitol Hill to make the case for these life-saving safety measures. Now, you can join our effort to make large trucks safer. Please submit your support of our comments to NHTSA. 

What is a side underride guard? 

A side underride guard is a physical barrier along the side of a large truck that can stop a car or vulnerable road user from going under the truck. For people biking, a sideguard (or Lateral Protective Device) can help keep a cyclist from being pulled into the path of the rear wheels of a truck. It may not prevent an injury but it can save your life. A side guard or LPD protects vulnerable road users but may not protect car occupants. A side underride guard can be built to protect both car occupants and vulnerable road users, if designed to do so. 

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