On Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that they are pushing ahead with the rulemaking process to require side underride guards for large trucks and trailers.
The NHTSA published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) “to consider requirements for side underride guards.”
The ANPRM was issued in part in response to petitions filed by the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) in September 2013 and February 2021 asking federal agencies for “enhanced front, side, and rear underride protection on commercial motor vehicles.”
The ANPRM will direct transportation safety officials “to conduct research on side underride guards to better understand their overall effectiveness, and assess the feasibility, benefits, costs, and other impacts of installing side underride guards on trailers and semitrailers” and to share the findings of that research in a Federal Register notice while seeking public comment.
In addition to the ANPRM, the NHTSA also announced the formation of a sixteen member “Advisory Committee on Underride Protection” tasked with making recommendations to the Secretary of Transportation on safety regulations related to underride crashes that have caused severe injury and death.
“Safety is at the core of everything we do,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator Sophie Shulman said. “The selection and establishment of this committee is a step forward in saving lives and fulfilling the goals of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This committee will inform future actions and ensure that key stakeholders have a seat at the table on this important issue.”
The Biden Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law directed federal agencies to research and pursue new rulemaking regarding side underride guards.
Trucking industry trade groups like OOIDA do not support legislation mandating side underride guards.
In a statement released in 2021, the group said, “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.”