Rear impact guards have been added to the checklist of annual truck inspections according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
FMCSA announced the new rule following recommendations from government agencies and a truck safety advocate whose two children were killed in a truck accident eight years ago.
Rear impact guard inspections will begin Dec. 9. Trucks that fail to pass will not be placed out of service (OOS) but each violation could result in a max fine of $15,876 for carriers and $3,969 for drivers.
“There has certainly been quite a bit of discussion whether certain violations should rise to the level of OOS," said Dan Carter, Great Dane director of product safety and compliance. "For now, the main consequence would be that the issue would have to be corrected prior to receiving the annual inspection decal."
Great Dane is a member of the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA), which helped FMCSA to determine when a rear impact guard may no longer be roadworthy.
"TTMA is pleased the rear impact guard (RIG) has been added to the annual inspection requirements for trailers," said TTMA President Jeff Sims. "TTMA suggested that RIG components, welds and fasteners be inspected for damage, missing parts, improper repairs and excess corrosion that indicates any loss of original material."
Carter said Great Dane supports adding rear impact guards to FMCSA’s Part 396 Annual Inspection.
“The rear impact guard is an important component of a highway trailer and, as such, should already be part of an operator’s regular maintenance routine,” Carter said.
“Great Dane’s maintenance manual, for instance, recommends that the rear impact guard be regularly maintained,” Carter continued. “The addition of the rear impact guard to FMCSA’s annual inspection would allow operators to memorialize a record of this inspection.”
FMCSA told CCJ that the new inspection rule follows “a recommendation from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and petitions for rulemaking from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) and Ms. Marianne Karth.”
Karth became an advocate for truck safety following a 2013 truck collision that killed her two underage daughters. A faulty impact guard failed to prevent the family car from sliding under a truck trailer, fatally injuring the teen girls.
While conducting research for FMCSA, the GAO discovered that “in fiscal year 2017 inspectors document[ed] more than 2,300 violations related to rear impact guards and rear end protection, more than half of which are for components that are missing, damaged or improperly constructed.”
In addition to TTMA, the new impact guard rule was supported by the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the CVSA, the Institute for Safer Trucking, the Law Firm for Truck Safety, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM), the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), and the Truckload Carriers Association.
The first federal requirements concerning heavy vehicle rear underride protection were issued in 1952 by the Bureau of Motor Carriers of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC).