U.S. DOT To Require Inspections Of Rear Guards, Research Of Side Guards

Washington D.C. – A new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) urged the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to begin requiring rear guards to be inspected during commercial vehicle annual inspections.

The report entitled, “Truck Underride Guards: Improved Data Collections, Research and Inspections Needed,” recommends four actions DOT should take in an effort to reduce underride crashes and the fatalities resulting from them.

An underride crash is defined by the GAO as “when a passenger vehicle slides under the body of a tractor-trailer or ‘single-unit truck.'”

 

From 2008 through 2017, an average of about 219 fatalities from underride crashes involving large trucks were reported annually, representing less than 1% of total traffic fatalities over that time frame.

However, the GAO reports these fatalities are likely underreported due to variability in state and local data collection.

The report states, “The likely underreporting of underride crashes and fatalities due to variability in the data collection process limits NHTSA’s ability to accurately determine the frequency of such crashes.”

Further, the report outlines why the GAO recommends requiring mandatory inspections of rear guards.

It states, “Although tractor-trailers are inspected, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) annual inspection regulations do not require the rear guard to be inspected, so damaged guards that could fail in a crash may be on the roadways.”

 

The report concludes, “The lack of specific requirements that rear guards be inspected annually for defects or damage potentially affects the safety of the traveling public and FMCSA’s ability to achieve its safety mission.”

Additionally, at lawmaker’s request, the GAO looked at the issue of requiring front and side underride guards.

Last month Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the “Stop Underrides Act” (S.665) which would require all tractor-trailers to be equipped with front and side underride guards.

Joining this effort in the U.S. House were Reps. Steven Cohen (D-TN) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA). They introduced HR1511 which mirrors the bill in the Senate.

 

The GAO report further recommended, “The Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should conduct additional research on side underride guards to better understand the overall effectiveness and cost associated with these guards and, if warranted, develop standards for their implementation.”

U.S. DOT agreed to take up each recommendation made by the GAO and expects to issue guidance on these issues later in 2019.

Read the full report HERE.

(Featured image courtesy of GAO)

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