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FMCSA Proposes Annual Inspection for Rear Impact Guard

Today the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) in the Federal Register regarding rear impact guards.

In its NPRM, the FMCSA is proposing to amend Appendix G, of Subchapter B of Chapter III of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations which sets “Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards” to include rear impact guards as a component of the inspection. Rear impact guards have been required on all Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV) since 1952, but this regulation would require them to become a component of the annual inspection for the first time. 
 
This rule is due in large part due to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on truck underride guards published on March 14, 2019. The study made four recommendations and one of them was to mandate rear impact guards be inspected every year. In response to the GAO findings, the Department of Transportation concurred with the GAO and agreed to provide a more detailed response to the GAO study. . In addition to the GAO study, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) filed a petition with the FMCSA to amend Appendix G and include rear impact guards in a CMV annual inspection. In addition to the inspection mandate for rear impact guards, the FMCSA is proposing to adopt the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) rear impact guard labeling requirement. The NHTSA requirement allows the rear impact guard manufacturer to place the certification label on either the forward- or rearward-facing surface of the horizontal member of the guard as long as it did not interfere with the retroreflective sheeting. Currently, the FMCSA requires that the certification label be mounted on the forward-facing surface of the horizontal member of the guard, 305 mm (12 inches) inboard of the right end of the guard. By adopting the NHTSA labeling requirement, the FMCSA will give rear impact guard manufacturers greater flexibility in where to place the label so that they can minimize exposure to operational and environmental damage. Finally, this rule adopts NHTSA's standard which excludes RCC Horizontal Discharge Trailers from installing rear impact guards as they would prevent the trailer from effectively connecting with a paving machine.
 
As you may recall, TRALA has been engaged with its allies to push back on congressional efforts to mandate side underride guards, which has received bipartisan support in both the House and Senate since 2017. Due in large part to this effort, the House did not include a mandate of side underride guards in the in its surface transportation reauthorization bill, the Moving Forward Act, earlier this year. While the Moving Forward Act passed out of the House, it did not move in the Senate, and Congress ultimately passed a one year extension of the surface transportation program. However, the committee did call for annual inspections or rear impact guards, and a strengthening of the rear impact guard and additional research on side underride guards. By amending Appendix G to include rear impact guards, the FMCSA is adopting one of the provisions in the rear impact guard section of the Moving Forward Act. TRALA remains strongly opposed to any mandate of side underride guards, and will continue to work with its allies to push back on the effort to mandate them.   
 
If you would like to see the NPRM on rear impact guards, you may do so by clicking here.
 
If you would like to read the GAO study on rear impact guards, you may do so by clicking here.
 
This rule will have a 62-day comment period, which will close on March 1, 2021. If you have any questions or comments on this NPRM please contact Andrew Stasiowski at astasiowski@trala.org or Elizabeth Hyers at ehyers@trala.org        
 
 
 
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