Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 13th, 2017 at 12:38 pm
A proposed City of Portland administrative rule change is giving street safety advocates a chance to lobby for side guards and other equipment that could make commercial trucks safer.
Given their size, height, and weight, trucks used to haul garbage, cement and other goods on city streets pose a very high risk to other road users. According to the US Department of Transportation, nearly half of all the bikers and walkers killed in collisions with large trucks first impact the side of the truck. Many of the fatalities we’ve reported about here in BikePortland over the years have involved trucks. After the death of Tamar Monhait (that involved a man driving a garbage truck whose operator is now being sued by Monhait’s family), we shared an editorial local lawyer Cynthia Newton who’s “deeply concerned” about truck safety.
That concern is shared by at least one City of Portland Planning Commissioner. Chris Smith has been working on this issue through the Planning and Sustainability Commission for over two years. The Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) directly regulates residential solid waste haulers and also permits all the trucks for commercial solid waste in the city. As such, they have the authority to require safety equipment — like sideguards and special mirrors — on contractors’ vehicles.
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Before they exercise that authority, the current franchise agreement must be changed. The first step in that process is to amend the city administrative rule. BPS has started that process and is seeking public comment on the issue. Here’s more from their website about the truck safety proposal:
Truck Safety. Identify ways to make service delivery safer. Adopt higher standards for truck safety. Implement a pilot project to install and gain experience with side guards, protective equipment that blocks the side gaps between front and rear wheels on garbage and recycling trucks to prevent fatalities when side impacts occur with pedestrians and cyclists. Use that experience to guide future truck safety standards. Also, require annual safety training for all drivers and mechanics.
It’s early in the process, but this is potentially a very significant move by BPS that could help spark more regulations of commercials trucks operated by other city agencies. Speaking of which, as we reported back in February, truck safety equipment is already on the Bureau of Transportation’s radar. “Sideguards, sensors, additional mirrors, educational messaging and enhanced driver safety training,” for City-owned and operated vehicles are listed as action items in their Vision Zero Action Plan.
The BPS effort would be an important first step. The rule changes will be available for comment online after November 1st and there’s a public hearing on December 11th. Stay tuned!
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