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NHTSA seeks input on ‘underride’ requirements for trucks


Photo: Andyqwe/iStockphoto

Washington — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants input on whether it should require impact guards on the sides of large trucks to prevent vehicles from sliding underneath after crashes.

A final rule that went into effect Jan. 11 requires the rear of trucks to be equipped with “underride” guards. NHTSA recently published in the April 21 Federal Register an advance notice of proposed rulemaking that would consider requirements for side underride guards.

The agency “seeks comment on NHTSA’s estimated costs and benefits of requiring side underride guards on new trailers and semitrailers” as well as “approaches to potentially mitigate or eliminate these horrific crashes.”

According to a pre-publication version of the ANPRM, NHTSA estimates that requiring side-underride guards would save more than 17 lives and prevent 69 serious injuries each year. The estimated cost of implementation is between $970 million and $1.2 billion.

NHTSA’s ANPRM aligns with the requirements of the Jan. 11 final rule. Mandated under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the rule calls on the agency to:

  • Improve data collection of underride crashes by recommending inclusion of underride data in state crash data systems.
  • Complete research on rear impact guard designs that better protect occupants of passenger vehicles in additional rear underride crash scenarios.

In a press release, Truck Safety Coalition board member Jennifer Tierney, whose father died in a side underride crash, praises the Department of Transportation and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for the developments.

“DOT has known about this lethal liability since the 1970s. There is no price too high to have a loved one whose life was cut short by a preventable underride crash back by your side where they belong.”

In the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s Land Line magazine, OOIDA President Todd Spencer reaffirmed the organization’s long-standing opposition to a mandate, claiming that “proponents of side underride guards have never demonstrated how these devices will perform in highway conditions.”

NHTSA also has established the Advisory Committee on Underride Protection. The 16-member panel includes representatives of motor carriers – including independent owner-operators – truck safety organizations and labor organizations, as well as motor vehicle crash investigators.

“Safety is at the core of everything we do,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator Sophie Shulman said in an April 18 press release. “The selection and establishment of this committee is a step forward in saving lives and fulfilling the goals of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This committee will inform future actions and ensure that key stakeholders have a seat at the table on this important issue.”

Comments on the ANPRM are due June 20.

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