Truck side guards, or lateral protective devices (LPD), are designed to prevent or reduce the likelihood of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists from being swept under a large vehicle’s rear wheels and run over in a side-impact incident. These guards are installed between the front and rear sets of wheels on heavy vehicles, and work by filling in open spaces where a person can get caught. By creating a deflective barrier, side guards can reduce the likelihood and/or mitigate the severity of killed or seriously injured (KSI) underride incidents.
While the effectiveness of truck side guards for reducing fatalities and
severity of injuries has been demonstrated in other countries, there is much less data on their use in North America, especially pertaining to procurement and operational challenges. The primary objective here is to develop and pilot test truck side guards on four different styles of heavy trucks used in Solid Waste Management Services.
In July 2019, Toronto City Council, through Decision IE6.8, authorized the general manager of Solid Waste Management Services to implement a fleet safety and accountability program for all new and existing in-house and contracted out vehicles, which align with the principles of Vision Zero.
As part of this action, starting in 2021, the City of Toronto’s Solid Waste Management Services Division (SWMS), in partnership with the Fleet Services Division (FSD) will conduct a year-long pilot to explore the use of truck side guards on a variety of heavy-duty vehicles used in SWMS operations.
The purpose of the pilot is to:
- Determine if side guards are an effective and feasible option to implement on the SWMS fleet
- Develop technical specifications for side guards used on SWMS heavy vehicles
- Test the guard’s durability and interoperability on daily vehicle operation
- Determine what other challenges the side guards present to operations, procurement, ergonomics, and mechanical/repair aspects of fleet management
Side guards will be installed on class 7 and 8 trucks from the municipal fleet. In total, seven SWMS vehicles will be retrofitted with custom-engineered and built side guards that were all designed and fabricated within the recommended standard of the U.S. DOT Volpe Truck Side Guard Specifications. SWMS trucks were chosen for the pilot due to the critical and public-facing nature of the services they provide.
In addition to side guards, other pilot projects involving video-based telematics, 360-degree camera systems, cloud-based access to data, and preventative safety through in-cab coaching and training are being run concurrently. These technologies are intended to help improve road safety and may synergistically improve road safety when paired with side guards.
Data and lessons learned
Schuelke-Leech (2019) investigated the effectiveness of truck safety guards and physical barriers on vulnerable road users. According to the report, studies have shown that side guards can be effective in reducing cyclist and pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries in side-swipe collisions where the truck and vulnerable road user are headed in the same direction. Following an analysis of Toronto Police Service collision data between 2007 and 2017, the report estimates that:
- Two out of the four fatalities and 14 of the serious injuries for cyclists could have been avoided or reduced with the installation of side guards
- 0.8 pedestrian fatalities could have been reduced with the installation of side guards
The report concludes that, based on the research conducted, there is evidence that suggests installing well-designed side guards to all trucks would result in fewer fatalities and serious injuries among pedestrians and cyclists in certain types of collisions.
Upon completion of the truck side guard pilot in 2022, the city will produce a report detailing the findings and recommendation for next steps.
Additionally, the city will assess the potential for use of side guards more widely across its municipal fleet.