Prompted by a fatal accident in 2005, the City of Westmount is trying to improve the safety of its snow-removal trucks by installing cameras and mirrors on most of its fleet.
Last winter, the city installed rear and side cameras on one of its salt trucks as a pilot project.
Now, it's installed the cameras on 70 per cent of its fleet of snow-removal vehicles and salt trucks.
That includes four salt trucks, a tanker truck and all of the city's snow loaders.
Marianne Zalzal, Westmount's director of public works, said blind spots are the biggest safety issue with large trucks — particularly on the right side of the vehicle.
“Anything we can do to improve safety and eliminate blind spots for the bigger trucks is a plus for our community,” said Zalzal.
Zalzal said the side camera reveals what's in the blind spot, while the rear camera shows drivers if there's anything or anyone blocking their path.
"It's pretty easy for me to see if someone is at my back or if someone comes out running from the park," said snow-removal truck driver Robert Guerin.
The cameras and installation cost about $1,000 per truck.
Prompted by tragedy
In 2005, 21-year-old Jessica Holman-Price was killed when she slid under the wheels of a turning snow-removal truck while trying to prevent her 10-year-old brother from being run over.
To avoid similar accidents, Westmount installed side guard rails on its trucks.
The city also asked its private contractors to do the same, which they have, at the rate of five additional trucks a year.
So far, few other municipalities have followed Westmount's example.
"I personally feel you do not need to be legislated to move a step forward for safety," said Zalzal.
After a Montreal pedestrian was run over by a snow removal truck last year, the St. Laurent borough's mayor, Alan DeSousa, asked the province to consider making side guards mandatory for all big trucks.
- Pedestrian killed by snow-removal truck in Saint-Léonard
- Borough mayor asks Quebec to make snow removal trucks safer
DeSousa says provincial officials told him that they weren't convinced the side guards reduced deaths.
They said they were waiting for the results of a study, expected this fall.