In June 2018 Council directed Transportation Services to undertake a study on the availability and suitability of smaller municipal trucks as well as the use of truck guards.
Faculty at the University of Windsor completed this study earlier this year for Transportation Services. The findings of this study are summarized below:
Commercial and municipal trucks have a large role to play in the safety of vulnerable road users. Results of the analysis of collisions between 2007 and 2017 revealed that trucks are disproportionately involved in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities than non-truck vehicles. Based on this data, the study found that 38% of collisions between pedestrians and trucks resulted in the death of the pedestrian, as compared to 16% of collisions with non-trucks. Similarly, 13% of collisions between cyclists and trucks resulted in the death of the cyclist, as compared to 5% of collisions with non-trucks.
Truck size is one factor that can reduce the impacts of collisions with vulnerable road users. Collisions involving smaller vehicles are less likely to lead to fatalities and serious injuries than those involving trucks. The visibility in smaller vehicles is generally better than larger trucks. Specific design features, such as seat location, the design of windows and mirrors, and the use of cameras and sensors can all help to improve driver visibility and reduce driver “blind spots”.
Safety guards are another feature that has been implemented in many municipalities to protect vulnerable road users. Rear underride guards are mandatory in Canada since these are intended to prevent vehicles from driving under the truck in a collision. These specific guards are not designed to help vulnerable road users. Likewise, front bumpers are designed to protect the vehicle and not vulnerable road users. Side impact guards have become more popular in recent years, as many cities adopt them to support greater safety for vulnerable road users. Studies have shown that these side impact guards can be effective in reducing cyclist fatalities and serious injuries in side swipe collisions where the cyclist and truck are headed in the same direction. They have also been shown to reduce pedestrian fatalities in the same types of collisions.