New Rule Requiring Inspections of Rear Underride Guards Goes Into Effect

Joseph W. Pappalardo By Joseph W. Pappalardo

Today, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) promulgated a final rule revising safety regulations to include rear underride impact guards on the list of required items for annual inspections under Part 396 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) as well as Appendix G to that Part. The Rule also clarifies labeling of such guards.

The rule further adds a definition of road construction controlled horizontal discharge trailers (RCC Trailers) and clarifies that such trailers are not required to have rear impact guards installed.

Rear impact guards are defined under the regulations in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards at 49 CFR 571.223 as devices “installed on or near the rear of a vehicle so that when the vehicle is struck from the rear, the device limits the distance that the striking vehicle’s front end slides under the rear end of the impacted vehicle.”  These accidents, although not a high percentage of trucking accidents, present a great risk of fatalities or serious injuries to passenger vehicles.

Because most motor carriers have been required to install rear guards on their trucks since 1952, the rule should have little effect on most motor carriers. However, the rule making adds inspection of rear impact guards to the list of items covered by the Annual Inspection at FMCSR 396.17. Motor Carriers and Insurers should be aware of the qualifications of those performing the inspection as respects rear impact guards.

Many industry trade groups and governmental entities have been supportive of this new inspection requirement, including the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the Government Accountability Office, and specific members of Congress.

Conversely, some have opposed attempts to require side guards, but they are not part of this rule making.

The final rule can be found by clicking here.

As always, we will continue to monitor this update and provide additional information as it is disseminated.