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These recommendations address four topics: (1)mitigation of blind spots to protect passenger vehicle occupants, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists from being struck when drivers of tractor-trailers fail to detect their presence; (2)protection of passenger vehicle occupants from being injured as a result of underriding the sides of tractor-trailers; (3) protection of passenger vehicle occupants from being injured as a result of underriding the rears of trailers; and (4) improving traffic safety data concerning trailers involved in crashes. The NTSB is issuing seven safety recommendations to NHTSA regarding the safety of tractor-trailers.1 Information supporting these recommendations is discussed below.
TO THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: Revise requirements for rear underride protection systems for newly manufactured trailers with gross vehicle weight ratings over 10,000 pounds to ensure that they provide adequate protection of passenger vehicle occupants from fatalities and serious injuries resulting from full-width and offset trailer rear impacts.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Open - Acceptable Response
Washington, DC, United States
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
NHTSA (Open - Acceptable Response)
Safety Recommendation History
We note your intent, explained in your December 2015 NPRM, to align FMVSS 223 and 224 with the corresponding Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; a change that would significantly increase occupant protection in frontal crashes. We believe that the proposed rulemaking is an appropriate first step toward implementing this recommendation. Because you maintained certain trailer exclusions in the NPRM, we also encourage you to research the data further and evaluate injury, hospitalization, and fatality data when making decisions about which vehicles you will ultimately exclude from the regulation. Until a final rule is published that addresses the recommended action, Safety Recommendation H-14-4 is classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) titled “Rear Impact Guards, Rear Impact Protection,” which was published at 80 Federal Register (78418) on December 16, 2015. The NPRM requests comments on NHTSA’s proposal to upgrade Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 223, “Rear impact guards,” and FMVSS No. 224, “Rear impact protection.” Specifically, NHTSA proposes adopting (1) the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS) test and performance requirements for rear impact guards, CMVSS No. 223, “Rear impact guards,” and (2) Transport Canada’s definition of “rear extremity,” which specifies where aerodynamic fairings should be placed on a trailer to avoid posing a safety hazard in rear underride crashes. The NTSB supports these proposed rule changes; however, the NTSB is concerned about the continued exclusion of some large truck trailers and single-unit trucks (SUT) from FMVSS No. 224. Separate testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and by Transport Canada shows that the CMVSS compliant rear impact guards are able to prevent passenger compartment intrusion (PCI) in 35 mph light vehicle crashes into the rear of trailers with 100 percent and 50 percent overlap with the guard. NHTSA will harmonize FMVSS No. 223 with CMVSS No. 223 for the test and performance requirements at location P3. This upgrade to FMVSS No. 223 will also align with current NHTSA passenger vehicle safety requirements such as frontal crash protection and the frontal crash test. The NTSB supports NHTSA’s proposed requirement that any portion of the rear impact guard and its attachments should not completely separate from the guard mounting structure after completion of the quasi-static uniform distributed load test. The NTSB also supports NHTSA developing performance criteria to objectively determine the degree of separation that may significantly reduce rear impact guard performance. The NTSB believes that NHTSA’s proposal to replace the FMVSS No. 223 test and performance requirements with the CMVSS No. 223 requirements is an appropriate initial step toward improving safety, consistent with the following NTSB recommendation issued to NHTSA on April 3, 2014: Revise requirements for rear underride protection systems for newly manufactured trailers with gross vehicle weight ratings over 10,000 pounds to ensure that they provide adequate protection of passenger vehicle occupants from fatalities and serious injuries resulting from full-width and offset trailer rear impacts. (H-14-4) Although some exclusions are necessary due to design issues, the NTSB is concerned about NHTSA’s decision to continue excluding some large truck trailers from FMVSS No. 224. NHTSA’s decision was partly based on an analysis of supplemental data on rear geometry of trailers that the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) collected as part of the 2008 and 2009 Trucks Involved in Fatal Accidents (TIFA) survey, which showed that excluded trailers only represent 4 percent of fatal light vehicle crashes into the rear of trailers with PCI. Further, based on additional analysis of the 2009 TIFA data, NHTSA determined that the presence of a CMVSS compliant rear impact guard would not have prevented the fatalities in the majority of these fatal light vehicle crashes. However, the NTSB believes NHTSA should evaluate injury, hospitalization, and fatality data when making decisions about which vehicles to exclude from FMVSS No. 224.
-From Mark R. Rosekind, Ph.D., Administrator: The agency completed a two-year research program to collect and analyze crash data on rear underrides in fatal truck crashes. The data on rear-end geometry of single unit trucks, impact characteristics, underride extent, and impact speed were collected as a supplement to the Trucks Involved in Fatal Accidents survey. NHTSA also analyzed technical reports and crash test data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Transport Canada. These included testing in full-width and offset trailer impacts. On July 10, 2014, we published a grant notice signifying our intent to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) pertaining to rear impact guards for trailers and semitrailers (see 79 FR 39362). As part of our rulemaking effort, NHTSA will take into account currently available data and will seek additional information from the public. We plan to publish the NPRM in 2015.
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