Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation: Rear Impact Guards and Rear Impact Protection

by | Nov 9, 2021 | 0 comments

Section 393.86 of the FMCSRs, ‘‘Rear impact guards and rear end protection,’’ requires rear impact guards to be installed on most CMVs to reduce the incidence of passenger compartment intrusion during underride crashes in which a passenger vehicle strikes the rear of the CMV. Regulations requiring rear impact guards have been in the FMCSRs since 1952. The FMCSRs require that all CMVs be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained to ensure that all required parts and accessories—including rear impact guards—are in safe and proper operating condition at all times (§ 396.3(a)(1)). Operation of a CMV with a missing or noncompliant rear impact guard is a violation of the FMCSRs. Every CMV must be inspected at least once every 12 months. 49 CFR 396.17. A motor carrier may not use a CMV unless each component identified in Appendix A to Part 396, Code of Federal Regulations, ‘‘Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards,’’ has passed the required annual inspection. While the FMCSRs have required rear impact guards for more than 65 years, they have not been included on the list of components in Appendix G that must be inspected during the annual CMV inspection. This means that a vehicle can pass an annual inspection with a missing or damaged rear impact guard. In response to petitions from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) and Jerry and Marianne Karth VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:01 Nov 08, 2021 Jkt 256001 PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 E:\FR\FM\09NOR1.SGM 09NOR1 jspears on DSK121TN23PROD with RULES1 62106 Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 214 / Tuesday, November 9, 2021 / Rules and Regulations 1Copies of the petitions from CVSA and the Karths are available online at https:// and in Dockets Operations. 2A copy of the GAO Report is available in the docket for this final rule. 3A copy of the letter is in the docket for this final rule. 4 You may view the NHTSA rule online at https:// 25704/federal-motor-vehicle-safety-standards-rearimpact-guard-labels. 5RCC horizontal discharge trailers are used in the road construction industry to deliver asphalt to construction sites and gradually discharge asphalt mix into the paving machines overlaying the road surface. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Rear Impact Guards; Final Rule, 69 FR 67663 (Nov. 19, 2004). You may view the NHTSA rule online at 11/19/04-25703/federal-motor-vehicle-safetystandards-rear-impact-guards-final-rule. (‘‘the Karths’’ 1), a recommendation included in GAO Report GAO–19–264, ‘‘Truck Underride Guards: Improved Data Collection, Inspections, and Research Needed,’’ 2 and Congressional correspondence,3 this final rule amends the FMCSRs to include rear impact guards on the list of items that must be examined as part of the required annual inspection for each CMV. NHTSA published two final rules on November 19, 2004, relating to rear impact guards. First, NHTSA amended the labeling requirement in FMVSS No. 223, ‘‘Rear impact guards,’’ to permit the rear impact guard certification label to be mounted on either the forward- or rearward-facing surface of the horizontal member of the guard, provided the label does not interfere with the retroreflective sheeting required by the FMVSS (69 FR 67660).4 Prior to the amendment, the certification label was required to be mounted on the forwardfacing surface of the horizontal member, 12 inches inboard of the right end of the guard. Second, NHTSA amended the applicability section of FMVSS No. 224, ‘‘Rear impact protection,’’ to exclude RCC horizontal discharge semitrailers from the requirements of the standard (69 FR 67663).5 NHTSA concluded that installation of rear impact guards on RCC horizontal discharge trailers would interfere with the intended function of the trailers and was therefore impracticable due to the unique design and purpose of those vehicles. However, neither of NHTSA’s November 2004 amendments to the FMVSS was incorporated into the corresponding rear impact requirements in section 393.86 of the FMCSRs. FMCSA amends the FMCSRs to adopt the changes above to maintain consistency with FMVSS Nos. 223 and 224. This final rule does not result in incremental costs or benefits beyond the baseline established in the FMCSRs. Although rear impact guards are not currently among the items that must be examined during annual inspections, 49 CFR 393.86 requires that certain CMVs operated in interstate commerce be equipped with the devices, and 49 CFR 396.3(a) requires that parts and accessories, including rear impact guards, remain in safe and proper operating conditions at all times. Therefore, for the purposes of assessing the economic impact of this final rule on motor carriers, the Agency assumes compliance as part of the baseline established by the existing FMCSRs in section 393.86. Neither the labeling requirements resulting from this final rule, nor the exclusion of RCC horizontal discharge semitrailers from these requirements, will result in incremental costs or benefits. III. Legal Basis for the Rulemaking This rulemaking is based on the authority of the Motor Carrier Act of 1935 (1935 Act) and the Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1984 (1984 Act). The 1935 Act, as amended, provides that ‘‘®he Secretary of Transportation may prescribe requirements for—(1) qualifications and maximum hours of service of employees of, and safety of operation and equipment of, a motor carrier; and (2) qualifications and maximum hours of service of employees of, and standards of equipment of, a private motor carrier, when needed to promote safety of operation’’ (49 U.S.C. 31502(b)). This final rule amends the FMCSRs to respond to petitions for rulemaking. The adoption and enforcement of such rules is specifically authorized by the 1935 Act. This final rule rests squarely on that authority. The 1984 Act provides concurrent authority to regulate drivers, motor carriers, and vehicle equipment. It requires the Secretary to ‘‘prescribe regulations on commercial motor vehicle safety.’’ The regulations shall prescribe minimum safety standards for CMVs. At a minimum, the regulations shall ensure that: (1) CMVs are maintained, equipped, loaded, and operated safely; (2) the responsibilities imposed on operators of CMVs do not impair their ability to operate the vehicles safely; (3) the physical condition of operators of CMVs is adequate to enable them to operate vehicles safely; (4) the operation of CMVs does not have a deleterious effect on the physical condition of the operators; and (5) drivers are not coerced by motor carriers, shippers, receivers, or transportation intermediaries to operate a vehicle in violation of a regulation promulgated under 49 U.S.C. 31136 (which is the basis for much of the FMCSRs) or 49 U.S.C. chapters 51 or 313 (49 U.S.C. 31136(a)(5)). This final rule concerns parts and accessories necessary for the safe operation of CMVs, and the inspection, repair, and maintenance of CMVs. It is based on section 31136(a)(1) because it deals with CMV maintenance of rear impact guards. The final rule does not address the driver-centered requirements of sections 31136(a)(2)– (4). As the amendments adopted by this final rule are primarily technical changes that clarify existing requirements and improve enforcement consistency, FMCSA believes there will be stakeholder support for this initiative and that coercion to violate the amendments, which is already prohibited by section 31136(a)(5), will not be an issue. Before prescribing any such regulations, FMCSA must consider the ‘‘costs and benefits’’ of any proposal (49 U.S.C. 31136(c)(2)(A) and 31502(d)). As discussed in greater detail in the ‘‘Regulatory Analyses’’ section, FMCSA has determined that this final rule is not a significant regulatory action. IV. Background A. History of Rear Impact Guard Requirements 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). The regulation required all heavy trucks, trailers, and semitrailers manufactured after December 31, 1952, to be equipped with a rear-end protection device designed to help prevent underride. The rule required that the ground clearance of the underride guard be no more than 30 inches when the vehicle is empty. The rule also required that the underride guard be located no more than 24 inches forward of the rear of the vehicle and extend laterally to within 18 inches of each side. The underride device was required to be ‘‘substantially constructed and firmly attached’’ (17 FR 4445, May 15, 1952). The ICC’s authority over motor carrier safety was transferred to DOT by Section 6(e)(6)(C) of the Department of Transportation Act (Pub. L. 89–670, 80 Stat. 931, 939–940, Oct. 15, 1966). The authority was delegated by the Secretary to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). NHTSA was established in 1970 and authorized to prescribe safety standards for motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment in interstate commerce, i.e., the FMVSS applicable to vehicle and equipment manufacturers.

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