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Boston City Council passes truck safety ordinance

The Boston City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to pass a citywide truck side-guard ordinance. The ordinance, billed as a first in the nation, will require large, city-contracted vehicles to install the side-guards, which are designed to prevent fatal pedestrian and cycling accidents.

Boston piloted the ordinance with its own trucks last year at a cost of $1,800 per vehicle. The regulation will require side-guards to be installed on all trucks newly contracted by the city, in order to prevent pedestrians and cyclists from sliding under them.

"Between the front wheels and the rear wheels of a truck . . . there's a big cavity there," Kris Carter, a program director of New Urban Mechanics in the mayor's office, said in a telephone interview. "So what this does is put something in the way of that open hole."


Carter said that, with the barriers, accidents that would result in "particularly gruesome" fatalities would simply cause injuries.

The barriers can take several forms, including a set of rails blocking off the open space under the truck. The ordinance requires vehicles over 10,000 pounds — and tractor-trailers with a combined weight over 26,000 pounds — to have guards no higher than 21.5 inches from the ground and able to withstand a force of up to 400 pounds, Carter said. The ordinance also requires mirrors to provide truckers with better visibility, and blind-spot awareness decals, the office of Mayor Martin J. Walsh said.

Noncompliant trucks will face fines from $100 for a first offense , and peak at to potential termination of the city contract. Some vehicles, like trucks used exclusivelyonly for snowplowing, are excused from the law.

Since 2010, 11 cyclists in Boston have been killed in traffic accidents — seven by a truck or a bus, the mayor's office said.

Kiera Blessing can be reached at kiera.blessing@globe.com.