Testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has shown that underride protection mounted on trailer sides can provide benefits similar to rear-mounted underride protection. The side protection would be strong enough to prevent a car from going under the trailer in the event of a side collision.
In response to these test results and as part of USDOT’s 2022 National Roadway Safety Strategy, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is instituting a number of underride provisions including:
- Establishing a Federal advisory committee on underride protection, which will complete research on side underride guards for trailers and semi-trailers to assess their effectiveness, feasibility, benefits, costs, and impact on intermodal operations.
- Improving data collection of underride crashes by recommending the inclusion of underride data in State crash data systems and by providing educational materials to State and local police departments on identifying and recording underride crashes.
- Conducting research on rear impact guard designs that better protect occupants of passenger vehicles in even more rear underride crash scenarios.
Recently NHTSA sent an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This review must be concluded before it is published in the Federal Register. OMB has up to 90 days to conclude their review.
Previous attempts at requiring side underride protection have been opposed by the motor carrier industry and supported by law enforcement and safety advocacy groups. The ANPRM is the standard starting point for new regulations. We are still several years and at least two comment periods away from a final draft of the regulation.