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Rear underride guards to be included in annual inspections

FMCSA moving on GAO recommendation to revise safety regulations

Rear guards likely to be on inspection check list. (Photo: Wabash National)

Federal regulators want to update safety standards by including rear underride guards on the list of items that must be examined as part of required annual inspections for every truck.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed rulemaking, scheduled to be published on Tuesday, follows recommendations from the U.S. Government Accountability Office last year and a petition from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance seeking the change.

Federal regulations have required rear impact guards for more than 65 years. However, they are not included on the list of components that must be inspected during the annual commercial vehicle inspection, as outlined in Appendix G of the “Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards” section within federal commercial trucking rules. This means, from a practical standpoint, that a truck can pass an annual inspection with a missing or damaged rear impact guard.

“FMCSA assumes that the majority of motor carriers currently inspect rear impact guards annually despite the absence of an explicit requirement to do so,” the agency stated in its proposal. It cited data showing that out of approximately 5.8 million regulatory violations identified during inspections in 2017, only approximately 2,400 – or about 0.041% – were rear impact guard violations.

For that reason, “the agency believes that amending Appendix G to include a review of rear impact guards … would result in only a de minimis economic impact,” it stated.

The FMCSA’s proposal excludes certain trucks involved in road construction from the underride inspection requirements because it would interfere with the intended function of the trailer. The proposal would also amend certain labeling requirements for rear impact guards.

Legislation introduced in the U.S. House and Senate seeking to strengthen underride guard regulations – including requiring the retractive installment of front and side impact guards – were introduced in 2017 but failed. Reintroduced in March 2019, the “Stop Underrides Act” has been strongly opposed by large trucking groups, including the American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), citing cost and other factors.

“Nothing has changed over these years,” said OOIDA President Todd Spencer in a statement last year. “Proponents of this effort have given little consideration to the impact that front and side underride guards would have on the daily operations of truckers. Truck drivers would face serious challenges navigating grade crossings, high curbs and numerous other road conditions. Additionally, no front underride equipment is currently on the market because the concept lacks any practicality.”

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  1. DJ

    Out of approximately 5.8 million regulatory violations identified during inspections in 2017, only approximately 2,400 – or about 0.041% – were rear impact guard violations. I think there are more important things to inspect on annual basis. When shippers and receivers have dock locks, having a bad ICC bumper would create a problem anyway.

    1. Brian

      If these dumb bastards would stop tailgating and playing in there phones there wouldnt be anywhere near that number, 4wheelers arent the only ones too blame i see truck drivers going down road feet up on dash and texting on phone and following way to close

  2. Darryl Roberts

    Its a joke keep the cost down own fuel def cost more the diesel you got these waiting stations inspection stations pan 9 Millions to rebuild them and we can’t get a raise on nothing you still got the broker’s out here can of pockets up give us some f****** help

  3. Tcs53

    “Rear underride guards” what a joke! Millennials have to rename everything. I drove a truck for 45 years and never heard them called anything but an ICC BAR. Where exactly are these safety checkpoints that won’t fine you for not having one? Good luck putting side guards on a 53’ trailer then backing it down into a pitched dock. Hell, half the time your landing gear scrapes. I know this is aOK Boomer moment but seriously does the wheel need to be reinvented constantly by people that have never turned one?

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John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.