Ohio considers tractor-trailer side guard mandate

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 11/7/2017

If one Ohio state lawmaker gets his way, commercial trucks nationwide would be required to use side guards.

Sen. Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights, is calling on the U.S. Congress to mandate large trucks to have side guards installed and to establish technical specifications for the devices intended to improve safety. Senate Concurrent Resolution 16 would urge federal lawmakers to make it happen.

Yuko said during a recent five-year period that 556 pedestrians and cyclists nationwide were killed after side-impact collisions with trucks.

“This legislation is long overdue,” Yuko said in prepared remarks. “As it stands, the absence of adequate regulations on commercial trucks is a serious hazard to road users. This bill could help saves lives.”

He touts the actions of cities including Boston, Chicago, New York and Seattle, where implementation of side guard technology on city-owned and contracted vehicles is underway.

Yuko also referred to figures from the United Kingdom. Since 1986, the nation has required trucks to install side guards. He said the U.K. has seen a 61 percent drop in cyclist fatalities and a 20 percent decrease in pedestrian fatalities caused by side-impact collisions.

The Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association says there are important economic and technological challenges that must be solved in any effort to require side-impact guards on trailers.

The group, an international trade association representing truck-pulled trailers manufactured in the United States, points out that crash avoidance technologies for passenger vehicles is a more viable solution.

Jeff Sims, president of the Gainesville, Va.-based Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association, wrote in a 2016 letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that “crash avoidance technologies are rapidly developing for passenger vehicles that may prove both technologically feasible and cost-beneficial for all types of collisions, including collisions into the sides of trailers.”

Sims has said his group supports the implementation of side-impact guards if they ever become justified and technologically feasible.

Yuko’s proposal, SCR16, awaits assignment to committee in the Ohio Senate.

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