Much more research and data collection is needed, before the U.S. government considers a rule requiring side under-guards on heavy trucks.
As the first round of written comments closed July 20 on an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, it’s clear most industry stakeholders believe the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration must conduct more research, data collection and real-world testing to convince industry that a regulatory side underride mandate is a good idea, or if the costs are worth the benefits.
According to Transport Topics, about 2,000 parties filed comments on the proposal, ranging from trucking, trailer and owner-operator trade groups to safety nonprofits.
The American Trucking Associations, which does not support the proposal, commented that efforts to decrease and eliminate side underride crashes should be focused on preventing the crash from occurring in the first place.
“ATA policy is that equipment requirements should be based on sound engineering and economic principles that enhance safety, take into account real-world operations and weigh potential unintended consequences,” the trade organization wrote. “Side underride guards are approximately 40 feet long [rear guards are only about 8 feet long] and would be subjected to a wide variety of crash scenarios, but only have limited testing data on one specific scenario. ATA believes that efforts to decrease and eliminate side underride crashes should be focused on preventing the crash from occurring in the first place.”
The American Truck Dealers division of the National Automobile Dealers Association wrote, “NHTSA made appropriate use of, and drew reasonable conclusions from, the limited available data and research. However, proceeding with a side underride mandate based on this incomplete information and testing that does not replicate realistic highway conditions is premature and untenable.”
The Truckload Carriers Association said it was “disappointed that NHTSA has proceeded with this notice when the market has such limited options available to an industry that is far and away the leading mode of freight delivery in this nation.”
TCA added, “Any rulemaking, bestowed upon this industry, must be based on sound engineering principles, and include rigorous testing and research, things that have not yet been done. TCA questions the lack of testing and research committed to a device with one manufacturer and limited trials.”
“The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association opposes efforts that would mandate the installation of side underride guards on commercial motor vehicles, CMV trailers and semitrailers,” the trade association wrote. “Over the last several years, NHTSA has considered numerous options involving side underride guards, but has consistently concluded a federal mandate would be impractical and costly, thus outweighing possible safety benefits.
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