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Renewed calls for truck side guards after recent deaths

Side guards like the one on this truck help prevent cyclist and pedestrian deaths.
Side guards like the one on this truck help prevent cyclist and pedestrian deaths.

After a cycling community leader was killed in a collision with a transport truck in Ottawa last week, another commuter has died of her injuries in Toronto after being dragged under a truck in the city’s downtown. The 25-year-old woman was cycling in a marked bike lane when she was stuck by a truck and dragged underneath. She died of her injuries in hospital Monday.

Ontario’s deputy chief coroner, Dan Cass, claims deaths such as these could be largely avoided if the country mandated truck side guards to prevent pedestrians and cyclists from being pulled underneath the vehicles. Side guards would also help keep motorcyclists safer.

“One of the hypotheses of the cycling death review was that all cycling fatalities are preventable,” wrote Crass in his most recent review. “This hypothesis held true in each and every death we reviewed.”

The review calls for mandatory side guards on all Ontario trucks. The coroner comes to the same conclusion in his pedestrian death review. Both reviews were published in July 2012. Crass also made the same recommendation in his 2010 report.

The U.K. has had mandatory side guards since 1986 and cyclist deaths have been reduced by 61 per cent. Almost all of Europe requires trucks have them today. They are also required in Newfoundland and the Montreal area.

“There’s evidence that, if you implement side guards right now, it would be saving lives,” Crass told Global News.

Olivia Chow, member of parliament for the Trinity-Spadina riding where the recent Toronto collision took place, has called to renew her private member’s bill in the House of Commons. The bill would made side guards mandatory across the country.

Chow claims side guards will cost truck drivers $850 and take a single day for installation, but Transport Canada says there isn’t enough evidence that implementing the guards would save lives.

It is worth noting there is nothing restricting individual municipalities and provinces from implementing their own laws, as has been done in areas of Canada already.