Side Guards on Big Rigs Can Save Lives

 In Commercial Trucking Accidents

The unfortunate reality of our current urban infrastructure is that cyclists and sometimes even pedestrians are often forced to share the road with semi trucks and other large commercial vehicles.  

These massive vehicles pose a very real danger to others on the road, and when they collide with cyclists and pedestrians, the results can be deadly. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center, during a recent five-year period, 374 bicyclists and 1,372 pedestrians in the United States were killed in collisions with large trucks. Of these 1,746 fatalities, the Volpe Center reports, 32% happened after an initial impact with the side of a truck. 

How Crashes Between Cyclists and Trucks Happen 

The roadway collisions that happen between bicycles and large trucks can be both unpredictable and deadly. One particularly dangerous scenario has become known as the “right hook,” which occurs when a semi truck is in the process of making a right turn while a cyclist is riding along the right-hand side of the road. The right side of the truck cuts off the cyclist, and with little time to react, the cyclist faces the threat of hitting the side of the truck and falling under its moving wheels. 

A full 37% of all truck-related bicyclist fatalities begin with an impact on the right side of the truck in a right hook scenario. And although cyclists are more prone to this phenomenon than pedestrians, it’s a significant danger for both these types of vulnerable groups. 

With more people choosing bikes as a regular mode of transportation each year, the risk for these fatalities continues to climb. According to the CDC, the number of Americans choosing to cycle to work rose by a sharp 61% between 2000 and 2012. In turn, bicyclist fatalities climbed from 1.9% of all traffic-related deaths in 2009 to 2.3% in 2013, as reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA). 

Education Can Help, but Truck Side Guards May Be the Best Solution 

So what are the possible solutions to this growing crisis? Education could be a good first step. Providing updated training for truck drivers in urban settings could increase their driving skill and awareness, and ad campaigns targeting pedestrians and cyclists could reiterate the importance of caution on and around roadways, particularly in vehicles’ blind spots. 

In addition, some communities could choose to restrict the sizes and types of vehicles that can drive on busy pedestrian and cycling thoroughfares, preventing large trucks from sharing the road with bicycle riders and pedestrians altogether. Unfortunately, for many larger cities that serve as shipping and transportation hubs, this may not be a viable option. 

RELATED: Would Seat Belts on School Buses Save Lives

There is one long-term solution, though, that could prevent many fatalities without relying on changes in driver/pedestrian behavior or traffic makeup: the side guard. Side guards are barriers that block the otherwise dangerous open path underneath the truck and its wheels. These life-saving devices can be installed or retrofitted to suit any existing semi-truck at a reasonable cost. 

Many countries overseas already have requirements in place for all new trucks to be fitted with these life-saving side guards. Safety statistics and data from these countries can give us unique insight into how similar regulations could play out in the United States. 

For example, side guards are the standard in Japan and have been a requirement across the European Union since 1989. The UK began fitting semi-trucks with side guards back in 1986, and the benefits since then have been crystal clear: after side guards became mandatory, bicyclist fatalities decreased more than 60% and pedestrian fatalities went down by 20% for side impacts with large trucks. 

Unfortunately, many trucking companies are primarily motivated by short-term profits, and they won’t bother to install side guards on their trucks, no matter how clear the safety benefits or how affordable the cost. This means that without new regulations that make side guards mandatory, pedestrians and cyclists will continue to die in preventable accidents. 

Injured in a Trucking Accident? Contact Truck Wreck Justice Attorney Morgan Adams Today 

If you or your someone you know has suffered injuries or even died in a devastating truck collision, Truck Wreck Justice Attorney Morgan Adams is here to help. With years of experience and a sole focus on large vehicle cases, Morgan Adams has the expertise and resources needed to guide you through a complex trucking accident claim and fight for justice on your behalf. 

Please contact Truck Wreck Justice at (866) 580-4878 or fill out our online contact form if you need help. We offer free initial consultations to assess your situation and discuss your legal options, and we handle cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that you won’t pay attorney’s fees unless we achieve a financial recovery on your behalf. 


Miller, S. (2014, December 18). The simple change to truck design that can save lives. Streetsblog NYC. Retrieved from  

National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2015, May). Bicyclists and Other Cyclists: 2013 Data. (Traffic Safety Facts. Report No. DOT HS 812 151). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from  

Truck guards save lives [infographic]. (n.d.). U.S. Department of Transportation Volpe Center. Retrieved from 

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. 

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