New Jersey, Pennsylvania bills would require side underride guards

April 19, 2022

Keith Goble

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A renewed effort at the Pennsylvania statehouse would require certain commercial trucks and trailers throughout the state to use side underride guard systems. A New Jersey bill covers the same topic.

In Pennsylvania, Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Philadelphia, is behind a bill to require that large trucks and their trailers come equipped with the underride guard systems.

Cruz offered the same legislation during the prior regular session. His pursuit did not advance from committee.

In an effort to justify the mandate, Cruz cited a recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires side underride guards on new trailers with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds. Additionally, the agency recommended that new tractor-tractors with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds come equipped with the underride system.

In a memo to House lawmakers, Cruz asked for support for his bill that he describes as a “simple solution to prevent fatalities within the Commonwealth resulting from side underride collisions.”

Cruz noted that studies in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Netherlands show that side guards “dramatically decrease the number of fatalities in trucking accidents.” He cited statistics that cover pedestrian fatalities and cyclist fatalities.

The Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association has said there are important economic and technological challenges that must be solved in any effort to require side impact guards on trailers.

The group, an international trade association representing truck-pulled trailers manufactured in the United States, has pointed out that crash avoidance technologies for passenger vehicles is a more viable solution.

The bill, HB2476, is in the House Transportation Committee.

New Jersey

A similar pursuit in New Jersey would require commercial vehicles registered in the state to be equipped with underride systems.

Sponsored by Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake, D-East Orange, the bill would prohibit operation of a commercial vehicle unless it is equipped with a underride system consisting of devices installed on the front, rear and sides.

Violators would face fines up to $100. Repeat offenders would face double fines.

“The bill is intended to help decrease the risk of fatalities in crashes involving tractor-trailers and other large buses and trucks,” Timberlake wrote.

A3205 is in the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee.

OOIDA

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to any mandate for side underride systems.

Jay Grimes, OOIDA’s director of federal affairs, has said while rear-impact guards have been proven to provide a practical safety benefit, the same cannot be said for side and front underride systems.

OOIDA opposes state and/or federal pursuit to require costly front or side underrides for commercial vehicles. LL

More Land Line coverage of news from New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

WWWilliams

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.