Large Truck Safety
Large trucks serve a role in freight and commercial transportation, but also pose unique safety challenges when they interact with people bicycling and walking. The League of American Bicyclists believes that truck safety can be improved through regulations that require stronger vehicle safety requirements.
Though large trucks represent only 4% of the vehicles on the road, crashes involving large trucks and bicyclists result in 11% of bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities.
The Unique Danger of Underride Crashes
One of the unique safety issues posed by large trucks is the catastrophic danger of underride crashes. Underride crashes occur when a vehicle, bicyclist, or pedestrian travels underneath the trailer of a large truck. These types of crashes are extremely dangerous for bicyclists and pedestrians because they make it extremely likely that the person biking or walking may become caught between the trucks wheels or sustain serious neck and head injuries due to contact with the trailer.
The Volpe Transportation Systems Center, a U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT) research center, found nearly one half of bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities in large truck crashes are caused by underride crashes.
These tragic fatalities are avoidable and can be dramatically reduced with a very simple installation on trucks: Lateral Protective Devices (LPDs) or Side Guards. Lateral Protective Devices (LPDs) are barriers retrofitted to the sides of the truck to physically close the dangerous gap between the front and rear tires and the road, protecting vulnerable road users.
The League made LPDs and large truck safety a key ask of Congress at our 2023 National Bike Summit. In the past, we have advocated for legislation which would:
- Strengthen the inadequate federal safety standard for rear underride guards
- Require side underride guards on trailers
- Study the use of front override guards on trucks
- Require maintenance for all underride guards