Cities Adopt the Volpe Truck Sideguard Technology to Save Lives

Award Year 

Truck side guards are safety devices designed to prevent pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists from being swept under and run over by a large truck's rear wheels in side-impact collisions. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center has successfully advanced its adoption by partnering with several U.S. cities to deploy truck side guard safety technologies to address the deadliest and most over-represented road crashes between large trucks and pedestrians or bicyclists. Side guards can either be retrofitted onto existing trucks or incorporated into new vehicle fleets. In a related U.S. Department of Transportation safety study of truck fuel-saving technologies, Volpe staff found that aerodynamic truck side guards save 4 to 7 percent of fuel consumption by reducing air drag at highway speeds, but in the United Kingdom also reduced fatalities from side-impact collisions at low speeds (61% for cyclists and 20% for pedestrians). This promised a technology transfer (T2) win-win if truck side guards were deployed in congested cities. (more)

In 2012, Boston officials contacted Volpe to volunteer as a test bed city. It launched a side guard pilot safety technology adoption on 19 city-owned trucks in May 2013, initiating the truck side guard T2 process. In 2014, Volpe advised and Boston issued the nation's first mandatory side-guard ordinance for public and private truck fleets, which took effect in May 2015 and reached 230 trucks in the first year.

In 2014, New York City (NYC) asked Volpe to help develop a similar safety pilot for its largest-in-the-nation municipal truck fleet. Assisted by Volpe, NYC Mayor de Blasio announced the truck safety side guard program, with an initial rollout on 240 city-owned trucks in February 2015 as part of NYC's landmark Vision Zero safety program. In June 2015, NYC passed a Volpe-advised law requiring side guards on 10,000 city-owned and regulated trucks by 2024; and the NYC Department of Transportation engaged Volpe to accelerate side guard adoption by leveraging air quality funds and engaging commercial side guard suppliers to enhance urban truck safety.

The City of Cambridge engaged Volpe T2 support in 2014, leading to a joint press release and fleetwide side guard adoption. The University of Washington held a side guard press event in Seattle following Volpe's guidance and, as of October 2015, San Francisco MTA and Volpe have established the first West Coast side guard T2 partnership, with Chicago; Washington, D.C.; and Albany, NY in discussions. At least 500 side-guard equipped, safer trucks will be on the road saving lives in U.S. cities due to Volpe's successful T2 partnerships, with thousands more anticipated in the next several years.

Award Winners:

Dr. Alexander Epstein
Andrew Breck
Coralie Cooper
Eran Segev
Sean Peirce
Kristopher Carter, City of Boston Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics
Mahanth S. Joishy, City of New York Department of Citywide Administrative Services
Keith Kerman, City of New York Department of Citywide Administrative Services
Jacek Graczyk, City of New York Department of Citywide Administrative Services
Susan McSherry, City of New York Department of Citywide Administrative Services
Owen O'Riordan, Cambridge Department of Public Works
John Nardone, Cambridge Department of Public Works
Juliet Flores Wilson, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
John Knox White, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
Tom Maguire, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

Contact: Dr. Alexander Epstein, (617) 494-2539,