Big-truck drivers have big blind spots, especially when they are making turns.
But big trucks still routinely drive around inner cities where people on bike and on foot are crossing. In the European Union the search for a safer truck has risen to the level of parliamentary debate, according to Eco-Profile, and next week there will be a vote on regulations for less-deadly truck designs.
While it's hard to imagine simply voting on safer designs and having them magically next appear on the streets of North America, it isn't that difficult to change existing trucks to make them less dangerous. In fact, Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, last week passed a measure to ban heavy trucks without cyclist safety equipment on its busiest main roads.By September, or the end of 2014 at the latest, vehicles in London over 3.5 tons must be fitted with side-guards to protect cyclists from being dragged under the wheels.
Meanwhile, the new design the EU Parliament is considering would give trucks a rounder shape, as well as a front guard that would prevent pedestrians and cyclists from falling under the wheels. The more rounded front end and larger windshields would reduce the so-called blind spot in front of the truck, where the driver has difficulty seeing.
Serendipitously, the rounder shape would also provide less air resistance and fuel consumption.
In Sweden, truck manufacturers Volvo and Scania are already said to be working on designs like this for their cabs. But not everyone is keen on the new design - in the UK there's some resistance because of lack of proof that the new design will have the intended impact.
London Mayor Boris Johnson told the BBC that he was deeply concerned that EU ministers might reject the new designs as they could save many lives. Nine of 16 cyclist deaths in London in 2011 were in encounters with trucks.