Research Project

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Study of Truck Side Guards to Reduce Pedestrian Fatalities


To study the deployment of truck side guards to reduce pedestrian fatalities.


While large trucks comprise 4 percent of the U.S. vehicle fleet, they account for 11 percent of bicyclist fatalities and 7 percent of pedestrian fatalities nationally. Urban truck involvement in these pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities is significantly higher; for example, large trucks account for 32 percent of bicyclist fatalities and 12 percent of pedestrian fatalities in New York City. The overrepresentation of trucks in these fatalities can be linked to inherent vehicle design challenges that both (1) limit the situational awareness of the operator by creating large blind spots, and (2) significantly decrease the probability of pedestrian and bicyclist survival upon impact with a truck. Specifically, in the United States about 50 percent of truck-involved bicyclist fatalities and 25 percent of pedestrian fatalities have initial impact with the side of the truck and are then run over by the wheels, a much higher rate than for light-duty vehicles.


Truck side guards are devices designed to keep pedestrians and bicyclists from being run over by a large truck’s rear wheels in side-impact collisions. Side guards have been required standard equipment since the 1980s in Europe and Japan, and more recently in Brazil. They are also widely adopted in China, South America, and Australia. Based on studies in the United Kingdom (U.K.), side guards are an effective technology for reducing the number of fatalities and the severity of injuries. For example, bicyclist fatalities declined by 61 percent and pedestrian fatalities by 20 percent in side impact collisions with trucks after the U.K.’s side guard mandate. Despite three decades of international experience, the operational, cost-benefit, and regulatory aspects of requiring truck side guards in the United States has not been studied. This research project addresses this gap. Five key tasks are included in this project: (1) study interaction of a potential side guard with other truck parts and accessories (e.g., fuel tanks, fire extinguisher, exhaust system) and the implications for a new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation; (2) investigate applicable international side guard standards; (3) perform a preliminary cost-benefit analysis of truck side guard deployment; (4) propose recommendations; and (5) propose means for voluntary adoption.


Final report.



September 2017: Draft literature review completed
January 2018: Draft vehicle part interactions report due
July 2018: Draft cost-benefit analysis report due
January 2019: Draft final report due
February 2019: Final report due


FY17 Funding: $200,000

Current Status:

Final report in Agency review.

Project Manager:

For more information, contact Quon Kwan of the Technology Division at (202) 385-2389 or


John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
Updated: Monday, March 4, 2019
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