Feds Advance Stricter Big-Rig Underride Guard Rules
NHTSA is proposing tighter regulations aimed at preventing underride crashes. Photo courtesy of NHTSA.
The public has until Feb. 16 to submit feedback about proposed federal safety standard changes aimed at providing better underride protection for light vehicles when they rear-end big rigs.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in December proposed to adopt new requirements like those in effect in Canada. Rear impact guards would need to provide enough strength and energy absorption to protect occupants of compact and subcompact passenger cars crashing into the rear of trailer and semi-trailer trucks at 35 mph.
Earlier in 2015, NHTSA proposed a separate rule change on rear underride crash protection and visibility conspicuity of single-unit trucks.
NHTSA has estimated that many new trailers sold in the U.S. are already in compliance with the more stringent requirements now under consideration. Most trailers and semitrailers are currently required to have bars, known as rear-impact guards, hanging down from the back of the trailer to prevent underride.
“NHTSA estimates, on average, that the annual incremental material and fuel cost would be $13 million to ensure that all applicable future trailers and semitrailers in the U.S. fleet will be built to the more rigorous standards,” the agency said.
In general, rear underride crashes occur when the front end of a car strikes the rear of a tractor-trailer or semitrailer truck and slides under it. In severe underride crashes, passenger compartment intrusion can result in severe injuries and even fatalities. A rear-impact guard prevents such intrusion when it engages the smaller striking vehicle and stops it from sliding too far under the truck’s bed and chassis.
To learn more about the proposed changes or to leave a comment, click here.