VOLPE and big city bike only side skirts threaten efforts to regulate side guards to save lives

84% of fatal victims of side underride are passengers in motor vehicles.

Victims have worked for over twenty years to achieve national side underride regulation in the U.S. for all road users, dividing political groups representing different road users defeats efforts for side guards regulations for trucks and trailers. Industry efforts to lobby for aerodynamic side skirts to replace side guards should not be financed by Federal Agencies and Municipal Cities.

Underride researcher and safety advocate Luis Otto has warned us about fake safety and fake underride guards, they are designed to convince the public that the danger of crashes into trucks has been removed and underride is no longer a political issue. They decrease driver concern and caution when driving around trucks.

VOLPE The National Transportation Systems Center Side Skirt Agenda outlined below:

Volpe has changed the definition of side guards in the U.S. by removing motor vehicles from the definition. – “Truck side guards are vehicle-based safety devices designed to keep pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists from being run over by a large truck’s rear wheels in a side-impact collision.”

Volpe is dividing the political coalitions for truck safety by pitting cyclists and pedestrians against motor vehicle passenger victims. – Volpe is advancing this technology’s adoption in the United States by conducting research and partnering with cities to help deploy side guards and other technologies that address the deadliest road crashes: those between large trucks and pedestrians or bicyclists.

Volpe is violating VISION ZERO by sacrificing saving lives of car occupants which are a vast majority of side underride victims. Cost savings to cities by moving to side skirts over underride guards are not worth killing crash victims.

Volpe must inform road users that side skirts are not underride guards and fooling the public and voters is not safety education, it is political propaganda. “While side skirts are primarily designed to reduce fuel consumption, this technology may also protect vulnerable road users in side-impact collisions. Canadian and Dutch research suggest that certain side skirts may provide protection that’s comparable to that of side guards. Thus, a dual-purpose side guard/skirt may offer both vulnerable road user safety and fuel return on investment.”

Volpe violates NTSB recommendations by removing motor vehicles from side guard recommendations – The NTSB concludes that passenger vehicle occupant deaths and injuries resulting from side  underride  collisions  with  tractor-trailers  could  be  reduced  by  side  underride  protection systems. The  NTSB  recommends  that  NHTSA  require  that  newly  manufactured  trailers  with GVWRs over 10,000 pounds be equipped with side underride protection systems that will reduce underride and injuries to passenger vehicle occupants. The NTSB also recommends that NHTSA require  that  newly  manufactured  truck-tractors  with  GVWRs  over  26,000  pounds  be  equipped with side underride  protection  systems  that  will reduce  underride  and  injuries  to  passenger vehicle occupants.

Volpe correctly recommends and then fails to differentiate side skirts which they are recommending from underride guards which are designed to prevent underride of motor vehicles. –  “(It is important to differentiate lightweight VRU (Vulnerable Road User) side guards from the much heavier and stronger guards that would be necessary to protect car occupants, like those explored in a 2014 NHTSA UMTRI study.)

Volpe well presented publication that leaves out motor vehicle crash victims and survivors.



  • Robert Martineau

    As a supplier of side guards which are used by different cities for the protection of pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists, we are in agreement that motor vehicles need to be included in this discussion.

    As most people will agree, pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclist safety is a start, not the finish. As we stimulate dialogue on this discussion, awareness of this problem will be heightened and the inclusion of safety for all road user, regardless of mode will be addressed.