FMCSA Proposes New Inspection Rules to Include Rear Impact Guards


Following the recommendations issued by the United States Government Accountability Office in 2019, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), has revised the proposed safety standards around annual semi-truck inspections. Find out more below.

The New Rules

On December 29th, 2020, the FMCSA published the proposed safety rules that inspectors are to utilize for annual big rig evaluations. Perhaps the biggest change in regulation states that all semi-trucks would be required to have rear-impact guards inspected every year.

This specification is being explicitly stated since the safety gear was not previously included in the inspections. Although rear impact guards are mandated by law, they were not previously required for inspection. And with a few noteworthy exceptions, such as semi-trucks used in construction, these guards have been a requirement for new trucks for the last 65 years.

Despite the mandate, rear guard impact-related violations do not appear often in inspection reports. For example, data from 2017 shows that out of 5.8 million identified violations, only 2,400 pertained to rear guard impact issues.

The FMCSA concluded that their assumption that “the majority of motor carriers currently inspect rear impact guards annually despite the absence of an explicit requirement to do so” was incorrect. To make sure these guards are inspected, FMCSA will now mandate it.

Specifically, the FMCSA will require that the safety gear remains in an undamaged state and provide criteria on how to properly label the rear guard.

Economic Effect

Because annual inspections will continue as usual, an additional inspected aspect of the truck will not add any economic effect via the new regulation.

The FMCSA goes on to explain that “Although rear impact guards are not currently among the items that must be examined during annual inspections, 49 CFR 393.86 requires that certain CMVs operated in interstate commerce be equipped with the devices and that they remain installed and in safe and proper operating conditions at all times.”

Taking this into consideration, the FMCSA concluded that including the safety gear in annual inspections would not incur any additional expenses.

“Therefore, for the purposes of assessing the potential economic impact of this rulemaking on motor carriers, the Agency assumes compliance as part of the baseline established by the existing FMCSRs in section 393.86. Neither the labeling requirements that would result from this proposed rule nor the exclusion of RCC horizontal discharge semitrailers from these requirements would result in incremental costs or benefits.“

Those who would like to share their opinion of the proposed rule may do so here until March 1st, 2021.