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NHTSA updates rear impact guard standards

From Fleet Owner.

Nearly seven years after floating the initial proposal, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Thursday posted a final rule that updates two Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for rear underride guards, increasing the performance requirements to a level that nearly all existing U.S. trailers already meet.

Specifically, the rule upgrades FMVSS No. 223, “Rear impact guards,” and FMVSS No. 224, “Rear impact protection,” which together provide protection for occupants of passenger vehicles in crashes into the rear of trailers and semitrailers.

“NHTSA’s priority is the safety of everyone on our roads,” said NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff, “This new rule will improve protection for passengers and drivers of passenger vehicles while also meeting a critical mandate from Congress under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”

For highway safety groups, however, the new standards are too little, too late. The result of the rulemaking process, which was initiated in 2015, is “completely inadequate” and will make road users “less safe,” Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety argued in a statement.

Indeed, the new rule is “substantially weaker” than the current test the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been using to rate rear underride guards for the last five years, noted Advocates President Cathy Chase—especially since nine major trailer manufacturers already meet it.

“Unfortunately, today’s action allows trucking companies to choose a less safe course of action at the expense of road user safety,” Chase said. “With large truck fatalities on the rise, the agency responsible for the safety of our nation’s roads needs to be taking action to improve, not imperil, protections for road users.”

Joan Claybrook, who served as NHTSA administrator in the Carter administration, characterized the new standards as “nothing less than regulatory malpractice.”

See the complete article online at Fleet Owner.