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Side under-run protection on heavy vehicles can save lives, but what is it, and when is it needed?

Heavy Vehicle with side underrun protection

What is side underrun protection?

Bicycle NSW previously explained side underrun protection are the rails that are fitted to the side of heavy vehicles to prevent pedestrians and cyclists being pulled under the wheels of a truck if they are knocked over.  They can make a big difference to the outcome of a crash.

An observant reader pointed out that the SUEZ truck didn’t have side underrun protection fitted, but it wasn’t high enough off the ground.  This highlighted the need for us to explain why.

According to the Australian Trucking Association’s Technical Advisory Procedure, side underrun protection needs to protect the area that begins 550mm above ground level and ends 950mm above the ground OR to the top of the vehicle’s tyre, whichever is the shorter distance. Side underrun protection must also be no more than 150mm in-board of the outer edge of the vehicle.

Side underrun protection diagram

If the driver of a turning vehicle with a large void between the wheels doesn’t see a rider, strikes them at around shoulder height, when they topple sideways, the wheels of the truck can drag the rider and their bike underneath. If the void is small, or reduced by side underrun protection, the rider will usually be pushed away from the vehicle instead.

“Avoiding crashes is the ideal and we recommend routes that reduce interactions between heavy vehicles and bike riders as a first step,” said Bicycle NSW General Manager of Public Affairs, Bastien Wallace.

“Where crashes occur, engineered solutions like side underrun protection reduce the severity of outcome,” said Bastien.

Bicycle NSW continues to recommend all heavy vehicles in NSW that meet the standard be fitted with side underrun protection.  We encourage members to share when vehicles and companies comply using #SafeTruckStandards and #SafetyOnSpokes

Safety On Spokes

This article is a part of our 2 month Safety on Spokes Campaign where we cover a range of topics to make a better environment for bike riders in NSW.

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