Accidents involving large trucks and bicyclists/pedestrians are a serious problem in urban areas. The growth of e-commerce has meant more trucks venturing into cities, while cycling as a form of transportation and recreation has rapidly gained popularity.
Part of what makes these collisions so dangerous (aside from the fact that cyclists and pedestrians have little to no protection from these huge masses of metal) is that so many people end up being knocked underneath the vehicle. That puts them at risk for being run over – and sometimes even dragged – by the back wheels.
There are a number of incidents that point to this issue in South Florida.
For example, there was the fatal bicycle accident that occurred in August 2014 involving an 18-year-old rider and a garbage truck in Boynton Beach. The teen was on his way home from the gym and was riding on the sidewalk. He approached an intersection, and there, a garbage truck was turning right. The truck collided with the cyclist on the passenger side. The cyclist was knocked off his bike and fell underneath the vehicle, sustaining fatal injuries when he was run over by the rear passenger tires.
Another incident occurred just a few months later, in November 2014, on U.S. 27 in Weston, authorities said a group of approximately 300 cyclists were riding on the highway, just south of I-75, when a tractor trailer collided with one of those cyclists. That 47-year-old cyclist fell in front of the truck’s two rear tires. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital. The truck driver, who was not aware of the crash, was flagged down by another driver and eventually stopped.
In large cities everywhere, this is a major issue. In New York City, for instance, large trucks account for less than 4 percent of the vehicles on the road, and yet they account for 32 percent of all crashes that killed bicyclists and 12.5 percent of all crashes that killed pedestrians.
Officials in other cities say these incidents are largely preventable with the use of a simple feature on trucks known as “side guards.” They can be retrofitted to older trucks, and are basically panels that run between the two sets of wheels, preventing someone from falling underneath the vehicle and getting run over.
In Boston, the city has paid between $1,200 and $1,800 for each of its larger, city-owned vehicles to be retrofitted with the devices. Although it’s pricey, many say it’s necessary and some bicycle safety advocates are calling for a federal mandate on all new vehicles.
In the U.K., the government adopted such a measure back in the 1980s, and deadly, side-impact collisions between bicyclists and large trucks fell by 61 percent. Fatal crashes involving large trucks and pedestrians dropped by more than 20 percent.
The feature is mandatory in Japan, China, Brazil and throughout the European Union.
The National Transportation Safety Board recommended the implementation of these devices in both 2013 and 2014. But the agency has no federal authority, and no action has been taken on those recommendations to date.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Collision Course: With Wary Eye on Big Trucks, Bike Riders Seek Safe Space on City Streets, June 30, 2015, By Bridget Huber, FairWarning.Org
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