In order to better safeguard drivers and passengers in light vehicles in case of a rear underride crash, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has concluded a rule that brings two truck standards for rear underride guards up to date.
When the frontside of a car collides with the back of a huge trailer or semi, and slides under the vehicle, this is called a rear underride crash. These are frequently fatal.
The NHTSA posted a final rule updating two Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for rear underride guards in July, almost seven years after the initial proposal was made. This effectively brings the U.S. standard up to par with the current Transport Canada standard, which many American motor carriers and trailer manufacturers have already attained.
Rear impact guards sold for installation on new trailers and semi-trailers must meet strength and energy absorption standards in quasi-static force testing, according to the equipment standard FMVSS No. 223.
New trailers and semi trailers with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or more are required by FMVSS No. 224, a vehicle standard, to have a rear impact guard that complies with FMVSS No. 223.
New trailers and semis must meet the requirements of FMVSS No. 224, a vehicle standard, with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or greater must have a rear impact guard that complies with FMVSS No. 223.
When these regulations are implemented, injuries or deaths in passenger cars that result from collisions with the back of trailers and semi trailers are reduced.
Rear impact guards will need to be strong enough and absorb enough energy to protect passengers of compact and subcompact passenger cars hitting the back of trailers at 56 kph (35 mph), according to NHTSA. “In collisions where the passenger motor vehicle strikes the center of the rear of the truck trailer or semi, and where half of the passenger motor vehicle’s width extends over the trailer’s tail end, enhanced protection will be granted,” the law states.
Although this standard would have required a modified rear guard and increased costs for the industry as a whole, the NHTSA claimed that the data available to support it does not demonstrate that it would be reasonable, practicable, or acceptable for cars covered by the regulations.
Therefore, NHTSA does not believe that at this time a federal mandate requiring such a provision for all trailers is justified.
The compliance deadline is two years after the Federal Register publication, and the regulation goes into effect 180 days after that. Reconsideration requests must be submitted within 45 days of publication.
For organizations that advocate for roadway safety, however, the new requirements come too late. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety claimed in a statement that the rulemaking process’s outcome, which was started in 2015, is wholly insufficient and will lessen the safety of motorists.
According to Advocates President Cathy Chase, the new rule is “significantly weaker” than the criteria the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been employing to evaluate rear underride guards for the past five years. This is especially true given that nine significant trailer manufacturers already comply with it.
Unfortunately, the decision made today empowers trucking companies to take a riskier course of action at the expense of the safety of other road users, according to Chase. With the number of fatalities involving heavy trucks rising, the organization in charge of ensuring the security of our country’s roadways has to be working to reinforce, not jeopardize, protections for road users.”
The new requirements were described as “nothing less than regulatory malpractice” by Joan Claybrook, the NHTSA administrator during the Carter administration.
It would have been preferable, according to Claybrook, if NHTSA had taken no action at all. By issuing a rule that 94 percent of trailers currently satisfy, the EPA has taken a step backwards rather than increasing protections to lower underride fatalities and injuries.
Contact Flick Law Firm
The consequences of injuries from a rear underride collision with a huge truck can drastically change your life. Insurance companies won’t be able to assist since they will take every precaution to avoid being held responsible for injuries and damages.
To talk with one of our truck accident lawyers about how we may help you get the compensation you deserve following your accident, call Flick Law Firm at (816) 221-0501.