NHTSA to accept applications for underride protection committee

July 5, 2022

Mark Schremmer

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Starting this week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will begin accepting nominations for its Advisory Committee on Underride Protection.

A notice about the search for members of the committee is set to publish in the Federal Register on Wednesday, July 6.

Once the notice is published in the Federal Register, prospective candidates will have 30 days to apply. Applications for membership must be received by NHTSA by 5 p.m. Eastern on Aug. 5.

“The purpose of the (committee) is to provide advice and recommendations to the secretary of transportation on safety regulations to reduce underride crashes and fatalities relating to underride crashes,” the notice stated.

The creation of the advisory committee was mandated by the 2021 infrastructure law.

According to the provision, the committee will have no more than 20 members with at least two representatives from each of the following categories:

  • Truck and trailer manufacturers
  • Motor carriers, including independent owner-operators
  • Law enforcement
  • Motor vehicle engineers
  • Motor vehicle crash investigators
  • Truck safety organizations
  • The insurance industry
  • Emergency medical service providers
  • Families of underride crash victims
  • Labor organizations

Members of the committee will be expected to perform these duties:

  • Gather information as necessary to discuss issues presented by the designated federal officer.
  • Deliberate on issues relevant to safety regulations related to underride crashes and fatalities from underride crashes.
  • Provide written consensus advice to the secretary on underride protection to reduce underride crashes and fatalities relating to underride crashes.
  • Submit to the House and Senate committees a biennial report that describes the recommendations made to the secretary and includes an assessment of progress made by the secretary in advancing safety regulations relating to underride crashes.

How to apply

Those who wish to apply can email ACUP@dot.gov or use overnight mail to U.S. Department of Transportation; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Office of Rulemaking, Attn: ACUP; 1200 New Jersey Ave SE, NRM-130; Washington, D.C. 20590.

Qualified individuals are invited to apply for appointment by submitting a resume or curriculum vitae along with letters of recommendation. Applicants are asked to include their full legal name and date of birth. Candidates must identify the category that he or she seeks to represent. Nominations are open to all individuals without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, mental or physical disability, marital status, or sexual orientation. Evaluations will be based on the materials submitted.

Underride protections

Last week, NHTSA announced that it was finalizing a rule aimed at improving protection for drivers and passengers in a rear underride crash.

In addition, the agency plans to release an advance notice of proposed rulemaking “to consider requirements for side underride guards for crashes into the sides of trailers and semitrailers.” The advance notice of proposed rulemaking is expected to be published in the coming weeks.

The 2021 infrastructure law included a provision requiring the U.S. Department of Transportation to complete research on side underride guards “to better understand the overall effectiveness.” The report would be tasked with assessing the feasibility, benefits, costs and any effects on intermodal equipment, freight mobility and freight capacity associated with installing side underride guards on newly manufactured trailers and semitrailers with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more.

The advance notice of proposed rulemaking will be a step toward fulfilling this requirement. It also is expected that the advance notice of proposed rulemaking will inform the agency whether or not to move forward with a rulemaking to mandate side underride guards.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is against any push toward an eventual mandate of side underride guards. The Association has previously spoken out against the Stop Underrides Act, which would require underride guards on the sides and front of all new tractor-trailers.

OOIDA has said that a mandate would be impractical and costly, “thus outweighing any perceived safety benefits.” 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.