In Great Britain, trucks of a certain size are required by law to be equipped with sideguards between front and back wheels. These prevent pedestrians, cyclists and smaller motor vehicles from rolling or falling underneath the body of the truck. Apparently, the British legislation can be shown to have saved lives.
In Canada there is no such legislation, although the Coroner's Report on cycling death in Toronto recommended that Transport Canada consider it. Toronto City Councillor Joe Mehevc has also called for Toronto City Council to consider it. See full text of the recommendation below.
Until recently, the person responsible for handling such matters has ben Ian Noy, Director, Standards Research and Development, Transport Canada, at 613-998-2268 (he has apparently moved to a new position). He has commented in private conversation that the adjustment is relatively expensive, and that there are not enough deaths in Canada to make it a pressing issue for the trucking industry.
From the Coroner's recommendations
H. Large vehicles and bicycles
That 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 U.K. and in Europe to reduce injuries to pedestrians and cyclists. The mechanism of injuries for cyclists and pedestrians involved in slow speed collisions appears to be a dragging down motion of the victim caused by the large tire's slow rotation. In at least 2 of the 1996 fatalities involving cyclists in the City of Toronto, the cyclist was crushed under the rear wheels of a truck. Side guards are designed to reduce the risk of a cyclist or pedestrian being dragged down under the rear wheels.
Although side guards are costly and add weight to the vehicle, experience in the U.K. and Europe would indicate there are several advantages. They can provide a step for the driver wishing to climb up onto the vehicle, and they can also provide protection for some in-board parts of the vehicle. Most importantly however, they do appear to reduce the risk of injury to pedestrians and cyclists.
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 be maintained if they were prescribed by the Federal Agency.