Trucks within the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) are fully compliant with a new law in the city that requires them to have side guards. The law required that the trucks have the sideguards installed by January 2023. A spokesperson for DCAS confirmed to Government Fleet that the department met that requirement last month.
About the Law
A local NYC law, enacted in 2021, required side guards to be installed on trucks within the city fleet, including certain city-contracted vehicles. The law specifically requires side guards on large vehicles, which are defined as those with a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating exceeding 10,000 lbs. However, street sweepers, fire engines, car carriers, off-road construction vehicles, any other specialized vehicles, or those where side guard installation would be deemed impractical were exempt.
The side guard law is an initiative within New York City's Vision Zero Action Plan, which is part of a global campaign to eliminate deaths and severe injuries among motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists.
What Are Side Guards?
The side guards fit the side of a large vehicle and are designed to prevent pedestrians and bicyclists from falling into the exposed space between the front axle and rear axle of the vehicle. A DCAS spokesperson explained that a motorcyclist, e-bike operator, or even a small car could also become trapped without the side guards.
Unless otherwise authorized by the department, the side guards must allow for a maximum 13.8-in. ground clearance, maximum 13.8-in. top clearance up to four ft in height, and a minimum 440-lb. impact strength; must achieve a smooth and continuous longitudinal (forward to backward) impact surface flush with the vehicle sidewall; may include rail style guards, provided that such rails be no less than four in. tall and no more than 11.8 in. apart; and may incorporate other vehicle features such as tool boxes and ladders, subject to the approval of the department, according to the law. Click here to see some of the city's fleet vehicles that have side gaurds installed.
As of now, 4,000 vehicles in NYC have side guards installed, making this the largest side guard program in the U.S., according to a DCAS spokesperson.
In 2016, the U.S. DOT Volpe National Transportation Systems Center reported that during a recent five-year period, 556 pedestrians and bicyclists in the U.S. were killed after side-impacts with trucks.
"Truck sideguards are common-sense safety rails that will save lives, especially when large trucks operate in crowded cities. Sideguards have been standard and mandatory for decades in many parts of the world and New York City is leading the way to introduce them in the United States," DCAS Deputy Commissioner and Chief Fleet Officer Keith Kerman said.
Yearslong Safety Initiative
DCAS first launched the side guard initiative in 2013 focusing on city fleet trucks and commercial waste trucks, but it was expanded in 2021 to extend to certain contractors (those with contracts over $2 million). As part of the expansion, the city council accelerated the due date for the side guards for the city's fleet from 2024 to 2023.
When the initiative was first launched 10 years ago, there were no side guard suppliers or installers available to DCAS. The department found an initial vendor, who focused on air flow reduction on trucks, and began its work in 2015. DCAS has since helped establish a side guard supply industry, certifying five side guard suppliers and eight installers to date.
DCAS has been ordering all new trucks with side guards included for over five years now, a spokesperson said.