Spurred in part by a letter written by two U.S. Senators earlier this year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance will launch an initiative during the final week in August to pull together data on the use of rear underride guards.
The underride "week" will be August 27-31. However, unlike prior events such as Roadcheck, enforcement is not a priority, according to CVSA Director of Roadside Inspection Program Kerri Wirachowsky. "The purpose of this inspection day is to collect and provide accurate and up-to-date data to the Board of Directors to make clear decisions as to what actions should be taken by CVSA in respect to Rear Impact Guards above what is already done through the inspection procedures during a roadside inspection," Wirachowsky said in an email in response to questions from FreightWaves. Wirachowsky said this was the first underride-focused initiative undertaken by CVSA.
Underrides are guards that stop a smaller vehicle, like a car, from "intruding" under a larger truck in a collision.
Late last year, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced the Stop Underrides Act which would have tightened rules on rear underrides and moved to require them on the sides of trucks. In February, the two senators sent a letter to Captain Christopher Turner, the president of the CVSA, asking the three-country organization--Mexico, Canada and the U.S.--to add rear underride guards to its list of Out-of-Service Criteria.
The CVSA webpage describes OOS Criteria as "the pass-fail criteria for inspections. The purpose of the criteria is to identify critical violations. Those violations render the driver, vehicle and/or cargo out of service until the condition(s) or defect(s) can be corrected or fixed."
The Rubio/Gillibrand legislation has been referred to a committee and no action has been taken.
"The most recent federal standard requirements for tractors and semi-trailers to be equipped with rear underride guards have been in place since 1996," the letter said. It asked that rear underride guards be added to the list of 15 criteria that can render a vehicle OOS.
In a prepared statement on the initiative, Turner said that during the initiative, "inspectors will be conducting business as usual and will not be doing anything differently during Rear Impact Guard Check, other than filling out a data collection form that they’ll submit to CVSA."
The initiative will not go on all week. Rather, it will be a one-day event during whose specific date has not been disclosed.
But that doesn't mean the inspection might not lead to a violation being cited. "The inspectors are being asked to do inspections as they would normally and just record the information for the rear impact guard for data purposes," Wirachowsky said in her email to FreightWaves. "A driver or carrier can be cited (under existing rear guard legislation) depending on the type of violation."
Wirachowsky said the initiative was being undertaken as a result of the Rubio/Gillibrand letter. "The purpose of this inspection day is to collect and provide accurate and up-to-date data to the Board of Directors to make clear decisions as to what actions should be taken by CVSA in respect to Rear Impact Guards above what is already done through the inspection procedures during a roadside inspection," she said. "The focus on this was brought to light by the Gillibrand/Rubio letter which CVSA feels compelled to research to provide accurate feedback and guidance."
“The Alliance uses data to support its decision-making process,” Turner said in the CVSA statement. "Using quality, verifiable data and analytics allows the Alliance to assess and analyze information that can be used to support our stance on various issues, topics and propositions.”
Unlike some other CVSA initiatives, like Roadcheck, the underride "week" will only focus on the U.S.