OOIDA supports rear guard procedural change, cautions against side mandate

March 1, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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OOIDA supports amending regulations to make rear guards part of the annual inspection but cautioned against any future proposals to mandate front or side underride guards.

In December, the FMCSA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would require rear guards to be examined as part of a commercial motor vehicle’s annual inspection list. As part of the proposal, FMCSA also would alter the labeling requirements for rear impact guards and exclude road construction controlled horizontal discharge trailers from the rear impact guard requirements.

The change should mostly be procedural, as FMCSA noted that the rear guard requirement has been included for 65 years, “which leads the agency to assume that the majority of motor carriers inspect rear impact guards annually despite the absence of an explicit requirement to do so.” Out of the 5.8 million regulatory violations identified in 2017, FMCSA sad only 2,400 – or 0.041% – were rear impact guard violations.

OOIDA filed its comments on Monday, March 1, and echoed that message.

“While rear impact guards have not been previously part of the annual inspection, it is currently an FMCSR violation to operate a CMV with a missing or damaged rear impact guard,” OOIDA wrote. “As FMCSA acknowledges, the majority of motor carriers currently inspect rear impact guards despite it being absent from Appendix G … Adding rear impact guards to Appendix G should help improve compliance, but we do not expect many CMVs to fail the annual inspection or be placed out of service for insufficient rear guards.”

OOIDA also stressed that when it comes to labeling standards simply missing a decal should not be a violation on an otherwise compliant DOT bumper.

Opposition of front and side underride guard mandates

The Association acknowledged in its comments that operational experience and research have proven that rear impact guards are a critical component, but it also took the opportunity to restate its opposition of any potential front or side underride guard mandates.

“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. “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

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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.