Densely populated cities like New York City pose many challenges with regard to transportation and safety. With millions of residents, commuters, and visitors crowding New York City's streets on a daily basis, it's imperative that city planners and administrators work to ensure the safety of all drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Any time you have large commercial vehicles and a large number of pedestrians and bicyclists sharing the same streets, there are bound to be safety concerns and problems. During 2013, there were a total of 176 pedestrian fatalities in New York City. While this figure represents a 70 percent decrease from the 366 pedestrian deaths recorded in 1990, it also marks nearly a 15 percent increase from the 152 deaths reported in 2010.
Earlier this summer, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a bill requiring that all of the trucks in the city's fleet of roughly 10,000 commercial vehicles be outfitted with side guard rails by the year 2024. The Mayor's decision to sign the bill came on the heels of several high-profile pedestrian and bicyclist deaths and makes New York City the second city in the U.S., after Boston, to require life-saving safety equipment.
According to the city’s Department of Transportation, commercial trucks account for less than four percent of all vehicles within the city. However, this relatively small number of trucks is cited in "32 percent of bicyclist deaths" and "12.3 percent of pedestrian fatalities."
Required in many European countries for years, side guard rails have been proven effective in drastically reducing the number of fatal bicycle and pedestrian injuries. In fact in the U.K. alone, since their use was mandated nearly 30 years ago, side guard rails have been linked to a 61 percent reduction in bicyclist deaths and 20 percent in pedestrian fatalities.
Despite the widespread use and effectiveness of commercial truck side guard rails in other countries, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has yet to enact any federal regulations requiring life-saving safety equipment.