Trucks, Side Guards and Cyclists

On July 1, 1998 W.J. Lucas, Regional Coroner for Toronto, July 1, 1998 recommended Transport Canada investigate the feasibility of requiring “side guards” for large trucks, trailers and buses operated in urban areas to prevent pedestrians and cyclists being run over by the rear wheels in collisions with these large vehicles.

Side guards are a legal requirement in the UK and in Europe to reduce injuries to pedestrians and cyclists.  The mechanism of injuries for cyclists and pedestrians involved in slow speed collisions to be a dragging down motion of the victim caused by the large tire’s slow rotation.  Side guards are designed to reduce the risk of a cyclist or pedestrian being dragged down under the rear wheels.  The lack of side guards has been a contributing factor to multiple deaths to cyclists over the years including two deaths within the core in 1996 (which gave rise to the 1998 recommendation) and the death of Ryan Carriere in 2005.  

The Federal Government (Transport Canada) sets vehicle standards for all new vehicles which are manufactured in or imported into Canada.  The responsibility for mandating truck or bus safety equipment, including retrofitting, would therefore fall under the jurisdiction of Transport Canada.  The responsibility of the Province would include prescribing that side guard protection remain in place and maintained if they were prescribed by the Federal Agency. 

Law to change side guards

  • The federal government, specifically Transport Canada, has the responsibility to set standards for vehicles manufactured or imported in to Canada.  Accordingly, it has the authority to pass legislation requiring side guards on trucks. 
  • The mechanism to set the standard is in the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, SC 1993, c.16 – which is legislation to regulate the manufacture and importation of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment to reduce the risk of death, injury and damage to property and the environment.
  • The Canadian government could set a standard that all trucks are mandated to have side guards under the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations, C.R.R., c. 1038.
  • For example, in Sept. 2004, “rear impact guards” for trailers were introduced in the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations, s. 223 to prevent cars from sliding underneath the trailer if it hits it from behind. 
  • Therefore, the Canadian government can amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act or introduce a regulation – change via regulation would be faster than amending the Act

Other jurisdictions with side guards

United Kingdom: ECE Regulation 73

The purpose of the regulation is to offer effective protection to unprotected road users against the risk of falling under the sides of the vehicle and being caught under the wheels – trucks of a certain size are required by law to be equipped with side guards between front and back wheels

Europe: Council Directive 89/297/EEC

Introduced at the European Commission.  The objective is to harmonize the requirements to be met by vehicles as regards the side-guards of motor vehicles and their trailers

This issue is not new.

 In 2006, Olivia brought a Petition to the House of Commons to consider the recommendation and introduce a Private Members` Bill but nothing came of it.  

 In 2006, the City of Toronto requested that Transport Canada implement the recommendation for side guards on trucks. 

In 2010, Siobhan Coady (St. John’s South-Mount Pearl) brought a Private Members’ Bill, seconded by Olivia Chow, for “An Act to Amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Side Guards)“.  Bill C-512 had its first reading in the house on April 15, 2010.  It did not become law.

Patrick Brown

Patrick Brown

Principal Partner

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