FMCSA to require rear guards to be inspected annually

November 9, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will add rear impact guards to the list of items that must be inspected annually for commercial motor vehicles.

FMCSA’s final rule published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, Nov. 9, and will go into effect on Dec. 9.

As part of the rule, FMCSA also will alter the labeling requirements for rear impact guards and exclude controlled horizontal discharge trailers used in road construction from the rear impact guard requirements.

The agency issued a notice of proposed rulemaking in December 2020 to add the rear guard inspection to the list. The decision to do so was prompted by a petition from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and recommendations from the Government Accountability Office.

“While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations have required rear impact guards for more than 65 years, they are not included on the list of components … that must be inspected during the annual commercial motor vehicle inspection,” FMCSA wrote in its notice of proposed rulemaking. “This means that a vehicle can pass an annual inspection with a missing or damaged rear impact guard.”

The agency also noted, however, that it is likely that the majority of motor carriers inspect rear impact guards annually despite the absence of an explicit requirement. Out of the 5.8 million regulatory violations identified in 2017, FMCSA said only 2,400 – or 0.041% – were rear impact guard violations.

FMCSA’s proposal received 23 comments, all supporting the change to require rear impact guards to be inspected annually.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said including rear impact guards on the list of equipment to be inspected annually makes sense. However, OOIDA also made it clear that it remains opposed to any proposals that would require costly front or side underride guards.

“Including rear impact guards on the list of equipment that must be examined as part of the required annual inspection will enhance underride safety performance,” said Jay Grimes, OOIDA’s director of federal affairs. “While rear impact guards have been proven to provide a practical safety benefit, that is not the case with proposed side and front underride mandates. OOIDA continues to oppose legislation that would require costly front or side underrides for commercial motor vehicles.” LL

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.