A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers announced intentions to introduce a bill in Congress to require tractor-trailers to be equipped with side underride guards as well as require the US DOT to bolster the standards for rear-impact underride guards, according to U.S. trade media.
Senators introducing the bill say the standards already requiring rear guards are outdated. Several trailer manufacturers in recent years, however, have already taken steps to beef up their rear impact guards to better protect car occupants in underride crashes, reports CCJ magazine.
The legislation, dubbed the Stop Underrides Act, is being introduced and sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and in the House by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.).
Though they offered few details on the legislation, it likely would only require new trailers to be equipped with the guards and not institute a requirement on existing equipment. More information will be published once the bill is released.
The American Trucking Associations earlier this year said that while the side guards could improve safety, a mandate isn’t needed.
“For example, side underride guards would add significant weight and require stiffer trailers which can develop cracks in the frame rails during normal operation – wearing out sooner and creating a safety issue of potential trailer failure during operation,” the organization said told CCJ.
“Wider deployment of advanced vehicle safety technologies like automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning systems can help prevent all kinds of crashes, including those into the sides of truck.”
It’s too early to say whether FMCSA will undertake any rulemaking or even if the proposal will even pass in Congress. In the meantime, CTA is monitoring the situation and will update members accordingly.