NHTSA to seek feedback on side underride guards

January 30, 2023

Mark Schremmer


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will soon be asking the public for feedback on the effectiveness of side underride guards on trailers and semitrailers.

On Friday, Jan. 27, the notice was sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. An advance notice of proposed rulemaking regarding side underride guards is expected to reach the Federal Register in late February.

“This rulemaking would consider requirements for side underride guards on trailers and semitrailers to mitigate underride crashes into the side of these vehicles,” the rule’s summary stated. “This rulemaking would respond, in part, to a Sept. 12, 2013, petition for rulemaking from Ms. (Marianne) Karth and the Truck Safety Coalition to start studies and rulemakings on side guards and front override guards on trucks.”

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 comments will help inform the agency whether or not to move forward with a rulemaking to mandate side  guards.

OOIDA’s take

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is against any push toward an eventual mandate of side underride guards.

OOIDA has said that a mandate would be impractical and costly, “thus outweighing any perceived safety benefits.” The Association has worked to prevent bills requiring side underride guards to be passed into law.

“OOIDA opposes efforts that would mandate the installation of front and side underride guards on all CMVs and trailers exceeding 10,000 pounds in gross vehicle weight,” the Association wrote in 2021. “Over the last several years, NHTSA has considered numerous options involving side underride guards but has consistently concluded federal mandates would be impractical and costly, thus outweighing any perceived safety benefits. Any proposals to mandate side underrides disregards this reality and ignores the safety, economic, and operational concerns that have been raised by industry stakeholders.” LL