The commercial auto industry has been experiencing increases in frequency and severity of claims that not only are impacting the insurance industry as well as small and middle market companies. The adoption of risk management technologies such as side guards is critical to help protect businesses from the increased exposures.

The Today Show recently featured truck side guards and the push to make safety devices on trucks mandatory.  Truck side guards are defined by the National Transportation System Center as vehicle-based safety devices designed to keep pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists from being run over by a large truck’s rear wheels in a side-impact collision. Side guards work by physically covering the exposed space between the front and rear wheels, shielding vulnerable road users from being swept under the truck’s rear wheels.

The National Center for Statistics and Analysis estimates that nearly half of bicyclists and more than one quarter of pedestrians killed by a large truck first impact the side of a truck. During a recent 5 year period, 556 pedestrians and bicyclists in the U.S. were killed after side-impacts with trucks.

Side guards have been required in standard equipment since the 1980s in the European Union, Japan and most recently in Brazil. Major cities such as Portland, Oregon; Washington, DC; Boston, MA; Cambridge, MA; and New York City, NY have required side guards on certain commercial vehicles. In Boston, city agencies are required to contract only with vendors that have properly installed vehicle side guards. This applies to motor vehicles weighing over 10,000 lbs. and semi-trailers with a total weight exceeding 26,000 lbs.

Side guards are seen as an important risk management technology that can ultimately reduce and prevent increased frequency and severity of claims.