What are side guards?
Side guards are panels or rails attached to heavy vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,000+ lbs. to cover large gaps between the front and rear wheels of heavy vehicles and are designed to deflect vulnerable road users in the event of a crash. Side guards have been shown to be effective in reducing the fatality of side impact-type crashes and have been mandatory in China and the European Union since the 1980s.
According to the U.S. Volpe Center, "side guards are an effective technology for reducing the number of VRU [vulnerable road user] fatalities and the severity of injuries, especially for bicyclists. For example, in the UK, a 61 percent reduction in cyclist fatalities and a 20 percent reduction in pedestrian fatalities were reported in side-impact collisions with trucks following the national side guard mandate."
City Council support
The City of Portland owns and operates many heavy-duty trucks (snow plows, asphalt patchers, storm water vacuum truck, etc.) to keep our city running safely. The City of Portland committed to making its fleet safer through the installation of side guards in its adoption of the Vision Zero Action Plan in 2016.
During the 2018 Budget Monitoring Process, City Council allocated $260,000 to retrofit city vehicles with side guards.
PBOT is working with City Fleet and multiple bureaus to add side guards to all eligible vehicles with a replacement date of 2022 and later. As of November 21, 2019, over 130 vehicles have been retrofitted with side guards.
What about new vehicles?
Portland's City Fleet has been working with PBOT for several years to improve vehicle safety to fulfill Action D.7. Fleet has been outfitting the undersides with trucks with toolboxes and other equipment to fill gaps as much as possible. This proactive practice by City Fleet decreased the cost of the side guard retrofit, as many city trucks have only required small side guard panels to meet the recommended Volpe Center standard.
In 2019, Fleet adjusted purchase specifications to require all new heavy vehicle purchases (GVWR 10,000+) to arrive ready to work with side guards installed.
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