NHTSA initiates rulemaking for rear underride changes, sideguard requirement

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced plans to launch a rulemaking into potential changes for rear underride guards on trucks and tractors.

The effort to commence with rulemaking came as a response petition for rulemaking via the Truck Safety Coalition. The group’s petition called for improved safety to rear impact guards on trailers and single-unit trucks. While the NHTSA plans to look into the request, there is no timetable for a proposed rule at this time.

Two notices – an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking pertaining to rear impact guards and other safety strategies for single unit trucks, and a notice of proposed rulemaking focusing on rear impact guards on trailers and semitrailers – are expected to be released by the NHTSA. The agency is also looking into the petitioners' request to improve side guards and front override guards and will issue a separate decision related to those aspects at some point in the future.

The Truck Safety Coalition requested a standard requiring improved underride guards be issued, and that the Department of Transportation commence with studies and rulemakings for side guards and front override guards. The petitioners maintained that if the federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSSs) for rear underride guards were amended to be equivalent to Canadian motor vehicle safety standards, injuries and fatalities could be avoided. They also stated that all trucks and trailers should be required to be equipped with energy absorbing rear impact guards mounted 16” from the ground with vertical supports mounted 18” from the side edges.