Registration open for Feb. 8 underride committee meeting

February 5, 2024

Mark Schremmer


A busy year for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Advisory Committee on Underride Protections is set to begin.

The underride committee is scheduled to have its first meeting of 2024 on Thursday, Feb. 8.

Prompted by a provision in the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the committee is expected to play a big role in NHTSA’s future decisions regarding possible underride guard regulations.

Meeting info

The Thursday, Feb. 8 meeting will focus on rear underride crashes and prevention and mitigation technologies.

“This will be the third public meeting of the committee, which was established to provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary of Transportation on safety regulations to reduce underride crashes and fatalities relating to underride crashes,” NHTSA wrote on its website.

The virtual meeting is open to the public. Registration can be completed here.

Underride crashes most commonly occur when a car slides underneath a tractor-trailer. Regulations already require rear underride guards, but NHTSA is considering the idea of mandating side underride guards.

Is a mandate coming?

Last year, NHTSA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking that considered requiring side underride guards on tractor-trailers. The agency received about 2,000 comments on the advance notice and has since moved the rulemaking to the “analyzing comments” stage. NHTSA is not expected to take any action until October 2024. Presumably, the agency wants to hear the advisory committee’s recommendations before deciding how to proceed.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association opposes a side underride guard mandate and points to the cost-benefit analysis, which projects the mandate would cost as much as $1.2 billion annually while saving fewer than 20 lives each year.

Doug Smith, a member of the committee and an OOIDA board member, has brought up operational concerns, including trucks getting stuck on railroad tracks.

“There are 162,827 public railroad crossings,” he said. “There are 1,160 low-clearance railroad crossings, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. I’m pretty sure there is no one else on this committee who has experienced the sheer terror of being grounded on a railroad crossing.”

The committee also has meetings scheduled for March 13 and April 24. LL