The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) that is the first step of a larger agency initiative to upgrade the standards for truck and trailer underride crash protection. The ANPRM focuses on rear underride crash protection and visibility of single unit trucks, and will help the Department and NHTSA gather significant input from the public and stakeholders on the estimated cost and benefits of safety strategies for these vehicles.

“This announcement is about protecting more drivers and passengers,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These vehicles are essential to transportation system, and we have a duty to the traveling public to take every opportunity to strengthen truck safety.”

Five lives a year

NHTSA estimates that a requirement for rear impact guards on single unit trucks (SUTs) could save five lives and prevent 30 injuries each year, and would cost approximately $669 million to equip approximately 342,000 vehicles. A requirement for reflective tape on SUTs could save up to 14 lives per year with a cost of approximately $30 million annually, for approximately 579,000 new SUTs.

“If we can raise the public’s awareness of large trucks and help trucks be more visible to others on the road, we can reduce the number of fatalities and injuries in underride crashes – or prevent these crashes from happening in the first place,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind.

Impact guards and reflective material

The agency is requesting comments about requirements for rear impact guards on new SUTs and reflective material on the rear and sides of these vehicles. Rear impact guards would provide underride protection to occupants of vehicles crashing into the rear of trucks and reflective material would improve visibility of these vehicles to other motorists and help drivers avoid these crashes in the first place.

Single unit trucks are trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 10,000 pounds with no trailer. They’re primarily straight trucks, in which the engine, cab, drive train, and cargo area are mounted on one chassis. SUTs are often designed to perform a specific task. Common examples of SUTs are dump trucks, garbage haulers, concrete mixers, tank trucks, trash trucks, and local delivery trucks.

NHTSA is issuing this ANPRM following the granting of a petition last year for rulemaking regarding possible amendments to the federal motor vehicle safety standards relating to rear underride guards. NHTSA plans to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking on requirements for rear impact guards on trailers later this year.

Comments on today’s ANPRM on single unit trucks can be submitted to the docket up to 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Read the ANRPM