New protective guards on trucks could reduce cyclist deaths

Latest project of Vision Zero plan could see thousands of trucks retrofitted

The latest project in New York City's plan to reduce to zero the city's traffic fatalities was recently unveiled by city officials. According to the New York Daily News, the city has begun installing protective barriers on 200 city trucks. The barriers are meant to prevent pedestrians and cyclists from becoming trapped underneath the large vehicles. While trucks make up only a tiny fraction of the vehicles on the city's roads, they account for a disproportionate share of fatal bicycle accidents. The plan comes just as a recently released study shows that the fight against pedestrian fatalities may have stalled across the country.

New safety measure

The first 200 city trucks involved in the program are currently being fitted with the protective guards. The guards are installed along the sides of the vehicle between the truck's wheels. By covering up the space beneath the truck, the guards help reduce the likelihood of a pedestrian or cyclist becoming trapped underneath the wheels of the large vehicles.

The plan is part of the city's Vision Zero project, which has the stated aim of completely eliminating traffic deaths in New York City. Trucks play a large role in that plan as they are currently involved in nearly a third of all cyclist fatalities and in over 12 percent of pedestrian fatalities despite the fact that they account for only 3.6 percent of vehicles on the city's streets.

Fighting pedestrian fatalities

When similar guards were installed on trucks in England, officials say there was a 61 percent drop in truck accidents involving cyclists. The city will retrofit another 240 trucks later this year and, if the guards are successful, a further 4,700 city trucks could be fitted with the protective barriers.

The need to reduce pedestrian and bicycle fatalities was highlighted by a recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). According to U.S. News & World Report, the GHSA says that pedestrian fatalities remained roughly the same in 2014 as in 2013 and that fatality rates are 15 percent higher now than they were in 2009. In New York, 26 percent of all traffic fatalities involve pedestrians, which is much higher than the national average of 14 percent.

Representation for the injured

While New York is a great place to walk and bike, hazards remain at just about every corner. Collisions involving large vehicles are much likelier to leave victims with traumatizing and painful injuries. Because of the unique nature of pedestrian and bicycle accidents, victims can often feel helpless and overwhelmed.

A personal injury attorney, however, can help victims make sense of their situation. An experienced attorney can advise people who have been injured in an accident about what their rights are and whether legal action can be taken in the aftermath of a serious accident.