New York City May Require Side Guards To Make Sanitation Trucks Safer

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

There’s no such thing as a minor collision with a garbage truck. But a potential law in New York City may be passed that will make these life threatening crashes safer. Read about it below…

Side panels are designed to prevent pedestrians and cyclists who are struck by trucks from being trapped underneath them. The risks associated with violent crashes with a sanitation truck are often increased dramatically when the victim is thrown underneath the truck. A proposed law is being considered by the City Council that would require all public and private sanitation trucks in New York City to be equipped with side guards. The side guards would significantly reduce that possibility.

Why is there a focus on Citi trucks? The below-linked article cites statistics that indicate that City trucks make up less than 4% of the vehicles on our roads. However, they account for a startling percentage of the overall fatalities in New York City.

  • 12.3% of pedestrian fatalities involve City owned and operated trucks.
  • 32% of cyclist fatalities involve City owned and operated trucks

The proposed law targets some 4500 City-owned trucks and between 5000 and 6,000 private sanitation trucks that weigh over 10,000 pounds. These large trucks would be required to be equipped with side guards. Certain vehicles will be exempt from the requirement. They include street sweepers, fire engines, car carriers, off-road construction vehicles and other vehicles that the Department of Transportation decides should not be included because the operation of those vehicles with side guards would be impractical.

This type of proposal will not happen overnight. The legislation contemplates that trucks would require the necessary updating by the year 2024. That would allow for 9 years for the side guards to be properly and safely manufactured.

Where do we come out on this? This sounds like a well-reasoned response to a safety concern voiced by many transportation advocates in New York City. The cost of equipping approximately 10,000 trucks with the side guards is not particularly onerous, with quotes estimating the cost to be $3000 per truck. If it saves lives then it is absolutely a worthwhile endeavor. We say that through the prism of experience. We have represented victims of sanitation truck crashes and their families. We appreciate how a crash with a large truck can devastate an entire family. Making the truck safer makes a fatal or catastrophic collision less likely and that is worth exploring.

Block O’Toole & Murphy is a law firm that is committed to fighting on behalf of serious accident victims. We have recovered more than $850 million dollars for our clients. You may learn more about this team of talented, hard-working lawyers by reviewing the firm website at Of course, we are always available for a free consultation at 212-736-5300.



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