The new Jamaica Road Traffic Act (RTA) Regulations 2022, require that certain vehicles be fitted with side underrun protection devices.
The text is:
Specifications for Side Underrun Protection Device. Side underrun protection devices should be so fabricated from metal with the ability to withstand impacts of at least 2kN, and a maximum deflection of 150mm on impact. The clearance between the ground and lower edge of the device should not exceed 550mm, gaps between rails should not exceed 300mm, and a maximum gap of 356mm between the upper rail and the vehicle body. Gaps between the road wheels and the side underrun protection should not exceed 300mm. Side underrun protection devices should be mounted to a maximum of 30mm from the outer side walls of the tyres.
WHAT ARE SIDE UNDERRUN PROTECTION DEVICES?
The RTA does not define side underrun protection device which is referred to as a Lateral Protection Device (LPD) in many jurisdictions. The following is the definition from the Australian Trucking Association Technical Dictionary.
Lateral Protection Device (LPD) is a construction consisting of longitudinal member(s) and link(s) (fixing elements) to the chassis side members or other structural parts of the vehicle that is designed 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. Parts of the vehicle can be considered an LPD when designed appropriately.
Unprotected road users are pedestrians pedal cyclists and motorcyclists. While they may offer some protection in cases to persons in small cars, that is not their design intent.
WHAT VEHICLES WILL REQUIRE SIDE UNDERRUN PROTECTION DEVICES?
The RTA specifies for Jamaica that:
60. A rear underrun protection device and a side underrun protection device which complies with the standard specifications as set out in Part B of the Seventh Schedule shall be fitted to – (a) every trailer, the laden weight of which exceeds 3,500 kilogrammes; and (b) any other commercial motor vehicle, the laden weight of which exceeds 12,000 kilogrammes.
Lateral Protection Devices have been mandatory in many countries. Examples include:
Japan since 1979
UK since 1983 for new trucks
UK since 1896 for all trucks
China since 1989
Peru since 2003
Brazil since 2009
Although not mandated by Federal Law, they are widely used in the USA.
WHY ARE THEY REQUIRED?
Side underrun protection devices save lives! A cyclist or pedestrian has little chance of survival against the wheels of a large truck. The idea of the device, is that it will deflect the human body away from possible crushing by the wheels of the truck.
Let us look at some fatality data from the USA.
The 115 pedestrians and 45 bicyclists who died after going under the truck, could have had a chance of survival if they had not gone under the vehicle.
SHOULD I INSTALL A LATERAL PROTECTION DEVICE ON MY TRUCK?
Two points are very important.
1. Please consult the Island Traffic Authority for guidance on your vehicle. The photos and discussion which follow are based on my layman interpretation of the Act. Neither Squaddie nor Your Honor will accept my advice as a defense should you be found to be in violation.
2. In addition to helping you conform to the law, side underrun protection devices can help you in other ways. For example:
A. Reducing the severity of an accident. It could be the difference between a manslaughter charge and a much lesser indictment.
B. Related to A above, it could be the difference between a simple insurance settlement and a major award which exceeds your insurance coverage and could even put you out of business
C. It can help to protect your truck. A drum of lubricant or an inflated tire assembly falling from a truck and onto the side of your truck could cause major or loss of control. An underrun device could deflect this away and minimize the severity of the contact.
Truck which have Lateral Protection Devices.
These have factory installed devices and do not require any additional modification. Devices should be maintained and repaired after impact damage.
Trucks with no Lateral Protection Devices
These are units that could be in violation of the Regulations. Please be guided by the ITA.
These are units which may or may not be compliant. Please be guided by the Island Traffic Authority.
The dimensions for the devices are specified in Part B, page 271 of the Regulations.
An excellent discussion of front, rear and side underrun protection devices can be downloaded from:
The Road Traffic Regulations can be downloaded from: https://japarliament.gov.jm/attachments/article/339/Road-Traffic-Regulations-May-20–2022—complete.pdf
The Australian Trucking Association document mentioned above can be viewed at https://www.truck.net.au/system/files/industry-resources/Side%20Underrun%20ProtectionTechnical%20Advisory%20Procedure%202020.pdf