Comment period for pulsating taillights petition ends Aug. 29

August 27, 2018

Chuck Robinson


The comment period is coming to an end on a petition to allow hazmat hauler Groendyke Transport to keep the pulsating brake lamps it has installed on many of its trailers.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is accepting comments until Aug. 29 on Groendyke’s request to add a pulsating taillight to its trailers in addition to the steady burning lights currently required by the regulation.

To comment on the petition, click here.

Enid, Okla.-based Groendyke hauls flammable fuel and other hazardous materials. The lights were installed get the attention of drivers of other vehicles and to keep them from rear-ending Groendyke trailers.

In its petition, Groendyke cited research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and also data from its own field test, done without the permission of FMCSA.

According to FMCSA’s notice requesting comments on the petition, Groendyke began in early 2015 installing pulsating brake lamps on some of its fleet without FMCSA authorization. The company intended to compare the number of rear-end collisions with trailers that only had steady burning taillights to those of trailers with the added pulsating brake lamp.

The pulsating amber lamp is in the middle of the back of the trailer.

Through July 31, 2017, Groendyke had outfitted 632 of its 1,440 trailers with pulsating brake lamps. Data gathered by Groendyke from January 2015 to July 2017 show that the pulsating brake lamps decreased the frequency of rear-end collisions by 33.7 percent, according to the FMCSA notice.

Groendyke also looked at whether the pulsating brake lamps helped avoid collisions at railroad crossings. The company found that trailers with the pulsating brake lamps were not involved in a rear-end crash at a railroad crossing during the same period.

Several of the comments offered online through Friday, Aug. 24, supported the petition.

OOIDA Life Member Phillip Killerlain of Dennison, Texas, said he saw no reason for anyone to object to it.

“This as hopefully they would keep people from hitting a stopped truck,” he said in his comments.

Mark Mietz, a fleet manager for Patriot Tank Lines Inc., Weedsport, N.Y., also supported the petition and commented on it. He said his company installed red strobe lights on their high-mount or center brake lights more than 10 years ago. The company decided to install the lights after a rear-end collision with a company trailer during a snowstorm on an interstate highway.

“I have no idea if this has prevented any rear-end collisions, but I believe it has,” he wrote in his comments. “I’ve heard comments from motorists and law enforcement as well that it gets their attention. Today’s motoring public has many distracted drivers, (so) why wouldn’t any carrier make an effort to make their equipment more noticeable? …. Hats off to Groendyke for asking permission to making something safer. I’m 100 percent behind the idea.”

He said his company has been cited once for the pulsating brake lights.

Wade McKenney of Las Vegas added to the chorus of support for the petition.

“I think adding those pulsating lights to help drivers see the truck stopping is a great idea,” McKenney commented. “Anything that increases safety and help decrease accidents for any vehicle is a great idea”

A commenter identified as Ryan Green of Raytown, Mo., said he had been driving hazmat loads for 11 years.

“If the FMCSA is really for safety they would not only allow these, they should make it mandatory,” he said in his comments.

Another commenter, identified as John Bedell, said a pulsing light would always grab the attention of drivers, and the petition deserved serious attention.

“You folks pass enough asinine rules, such as a mandatory 30-minute break. Here is one that I don’t think anyone will object to,” he commented.

Not all of the comments on the petition supported it. Negative comments included these:

  • “I hate flashing lights. They hurt my eyes.”
  • Only emergency vehicles should have flashing lights
  • Amber lights cause too much glare in nonurban areas
  • Pulsating lights make other brake lights less noticeable.