05/08/2012 11:27 EDT | Updated 07/08/2012 05:12 EDT

St-Laurent borough applauded for pedestrian-safe trucks

St-Laurent is the first borough in Montreal to equip its fleet of heavy vehicles with side rails to prevent pedestrians and cyclists from accidentally slipping underneath the vehicles' wheels.

So far, the borough has installed the protective side rails on a dozen vehicles, including several used for snow-removal operations, at a cost of $3,000 per vehicle.

The side guards cover the space between the vehicle's axles where tanks and other equipment are located.

The plan is to equip a total of 33 vehicles with the steel or aluminum side guards, designed to comply with European standards.

"If it saves one life, that's the life that has made it worth it," said borough mayor Alan DeSousa.

The city of Westmount has also adopted the protective side rails, thanks to the lobbying of Jeannette Holman-Price, whose daughter Jessica was killed by a snow removal truck in Westmount in 2005.

Jessica managed to push her younger brother out of the way, and she was posthumously awarded a medal of bravery for saving him.

In Jessica's memory, her mother launched the Jessica Campaign, the goal of which is to improve road safety.

"When you lose a child and you know it's unnecessary, and you have the solution, and the solution is inexpensive, and the solution makes sense, it is unreal," said Holman-Price, who traveled from her native Newfoundland and Labrador to attend the launch of St-Laurent's initiative.

She has persuaded her home province to adopt the protective side rails as well.

Still, she said there are too many other deadly or near-fatal accidents where side guards could have saved lives, had they been in place — such as on the garbage truck that killed a 21-year-old woman on St-Laurent boulevard in March.

"I felt personally responsible for that fatality because I'm not loud enough, or I'm not speaking often enough, or I took the day off," said Holman-Price. "I know what it takes to save those lives."

The city of Montreal says it is using the case of St. Laurent as a pilot project.

"There's no reason not to do this," Holman-Price said, in a message aimed at Montreal mayor Gérald Tremblay. "If he has any reason...let's sit down and chat. Because there's not an argument anyone, anywhere on this planet, can make that I can't sit down and give you proof of the opposite."