Effective Dec. 9, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will add rear impact guards on the list of items that must be examined as part of the required annual inspection for each commercial motor vehicle. In addition, FMCSA amends the labeling requirements for rear impact guards, and excludes road construction controlled horizontal discharge trailers from the rear impact guard requirements.
These changes are consistent with those made by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to the corresponding Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. This final rule responds to rulemaking petitions, as well as a recommendation from the Government Accountability Office.
The vehicles subject to this additional inspection item are trailers and semitrailers with a GVWR of 4,536 kg (10,001 lbs.) or more that were manufactured on or after January 26, 1998.
The published document as released by the FMCSA has been posted here in the National Archive. The Executive Summary includes…
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.