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Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Lighting Devices, Reflectors, and Electrical Equipment

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Trucking

Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Lighting Devices, Reflectors, and Electrical Equipment

Rodney E. Slater
Federal Highway Administration
Federal Register
January 19, 1994

[Federal Register: January 19, 1994]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Highway Administration

49 CFR Part 393

[FHWA Docket No. MC-94-1]
RIN 2125-AD27

 
Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Lighting 
Devices, Reflectors, and Electrical Equipment

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.

ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM); request for 
comments.

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SUMMARY: This document announces that the FHWA is considering proposing 
measures for reducing the incidence and severity of collisions with 
large trailers during conditions of darkness or reduced visibility. 
Specifically, the agency is considering issuing a proposal to establish 
requirements for the use of retroreflective sheeting or reflex 
reflectors for certain trailers manufactured prior to December 1, 1993, 
the effective date of the National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration's final rule on conspicuity for newly manufactured 
trailers.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before March 21, 1994.

ADDRESSES: Submit written, signed comments to FHWA Docket No. MC-94-1, 
room 4232, HCC-10, Office of the Chief Counsel, Federal Highway 
Administration, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590. All 
comments received will be available for examination at the above 
address from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, 
except legal Federal holidays. Those desiring notification of receipt 
of comments must include a self-addressed, stamped postcard.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Jeffrey J. Van Ness, Office of 
Motor Carrier Standards, (202) 366-2981, or Mr. Charles E. Medalen, 
Office of Chief Counsel, (202) 366-1354, Federal Highway 
Administration, Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW., 
Washington, DC 20590. Office hours are from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., 
e.t., Monday through Friday, except legal Federal holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    On December 10, 1992, the National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration (NHTSA) published a final rule (49 CFR 571.108) 
requiring that trailers manufactured on or after December 1, 1993, 
which have an overall width of 80 inches or more and a gross vehicle 
weight rating (GVWR) of more than 10,000 pounds, be equipped on the 
sides and rear with means for making them more visible on the 
road.1 Trailers manufactured exclusively for use as offices or 
dwellings are exempt.
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    \1\A copy of the NHTSA final rule and NPRM are included for 
inspection and copying in FHWA Docket No. MC-94-1, room 4232, 400 
Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590.
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    Trailer manufacturers may install either retroreflective sheeting 
or reflex reflectors. Manufacturers of retroreflective sheeting or 
reflectors are required to certify compliance of their product with 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 108 (49 CFR 571.108) 
whether the product is for use as original or as replacement equipment.

NHTSA Rulemaking

    The NHTSA first requested comments concerning the use of reflective 
material to make heavy vehicles more visible on May 27, 1980 (45 FR 
35405). Forty-two comments were received, most of which favored the 
concept.
    Between 1980 and 1985, the NHTSA conducted a fleet study in which 
retroreflective material was placed on van-trailer combinations in a 
manner designed to increase their conspicuity during conditions of 
darkness or reduced visibility. The treatment of trailers consisted of 
outlining the rear perimeter, and delineating the lower side. No 
reflectorized mud flaps were used. The study concluded that truck-
trailer combinations equipped with this material were involved in 15 
percent fewer crashes (in which a trailer was struck in the side or 
rear) than combinations lacking the material. A copy of the report, 
``Improved Commercial Vehicle Conspicuity and Signalling Systems--Task 
III Field Test Evaluation of Vehicle Reflectorization Effectiveness,'' 
September 1985 (DOT HS 806 923) is included in the docket.
    On September 18, 1987 (52 FR 35345), the NHTSA published a notice 
of request for comments. The notice presented results of NHTSA's fleet 
study and sought comments on the test results as well as experiences 
motor carriers may have had with the use of reflective material to 
enhance conspicuity. Thirty-seven comments were received, most agreeing 
that a 15 percent reduction in accidents could be expected when all 
large vehicles were so equipped with reflective material.
    As part of the Motor Carrier Safety Act of 1990 (sec. 15, Pub. L. 
101-500, 104 Stat. 1218), the Congress included a provision directing 
the Secretary of Transportation ``to initiate a rulemaking proceeding 
on the need to adopt methods for making trucks or any category of 
trucks more visible to motorists * * *'' not later than February 3, 
1991, and to complete the rulemaking proceeding not later than November 
3, 1992. On December 4, 1991, the NHTSA published a notice of proposed 
rulemaking (NPRM) at 56 FR 63474. The NHTSA regarded its NPRM as 
responsive to the congressional mandate and the final rule as the 
completion of the rulemaking.
    Prior to the issuance of the final rule, the NHTSA published the 
results of additional research on heavy vehicle conspicuity. The 
purpose of the research program was to define a range of minimally 
acceptable large vehicle conspicuity enhancements that could be used as 
a basis for revised Federal regulations. A number of laboratory and 
field studies were carried out to assess the value of using a pattern 
in the marking material, the form the pattern should take, the 
placement of the treatment on the trailer, the effect of 
retroreflective markings on the detection and identification of stop 
and turn signals, and the trade-off between the width and 
retroreflective intensity of the treatment material. In addition, field 
surveys were conducted to assess the effect of environmental dirt on 
the performance of the marking systems and the durability of 
retroreflective materials when used on trucks.
    The results of the research support the red and white pattern, 
retroreflective intensity and width of materials in NHTSA's final rule. 
With regard to durability, the study indicated on page 166 that:

    The typical service life of a trailer is estimated at 14 years. 
It would be desirable that retroreflective treatments provide 
adequate performance for at least that long. The limited data 
collected * * * indicate that it is possible to use retroreflective 
materials in a trucking environment and suffer very little, if any 
loss in performance for ten or more years * * *. Until more 
definitive data are available, it is recommended that performance 
loss due to aging be established at 80 percent retention over the 
fourteen-year period.

Relationship Between FHWA and NHTSA Requirements for Lamps and 
Reflective Devices

    The NHTSA is responsible for establishing manufacturing standards 
for motor vehicles. Manufacturers of motor vehicles and certain motor 
vehicle equipment must certify that their products meet all applicable 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSSs). The standards for 
lamps and reflective devices are contained under FMVSS No. 108 (49 CFR 
571.108).
    The FHWA is responsible for establishing standards for commercial 
motor vehicles used in interstate commerce. Commercial motor vehicles 
subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations must meet the 
requirements of 49 CFR Parts 393 (Parts and Accessories Necessary for 
Safe Operation) and 396 (Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance). 
Generally, part 393 does not establish vehicle or equipment 
manufacturing standards per se, but rather establishes requirements for 
certain equipment necessary for the safe operation of commercial motor 
vehicles. The requirements for lamps and reflective devices are 
contained under Secs. 393.11 through 393.26.
    The requirements in Secs. 393.11 through 393.26 are generally 
consistent with the manufacturing standards in FMVSS No. 108. 
Manufacturers are required to equip newly manufactured commercial motor 
vehicles in accordance with FMVSS No. 108. Commercial motor vehicles 
subject to the FMCSRs must be equipped with lamps and reflective 
devices as required under part 393.

Current FMCSRs Requirement for Conspicuity Treatment

    Section 393.11 requires that all lighting devices on motor vehicles 
placed in operation after March 7, 1989, meet the requirements of FMVSS 
No. 108 in effect at the time the vehicle is manufactured. Therefore, 
trailers manufactured on or after December 1, 1993, the effective date 
of the FMVSS No. 108 requirement for retroreflective tape or reflex 
reflectors, must have such reflective devices of the type and in the 
locations specified in FMVSS No. 108.

Request for Comments

    The FHWA specifically requests comments that address the 
application of conspicuity requirements to trailers manufactured before 
December 1, 1993. In a separate rulemaking, the FHWA will discuss 
maintenance and testing of conspicuity treatments on trailers 
manufactured on or after December 1, 1993. The FHWA made a distinction 
between the two categories of vehicles because the technical and 
economic issues associated with the consideration of retrofitting 
trailers with the conspicuity treatment are much more complex than 
those associated with a requirement that motor carriers maintain the 
conspicuity treatment with which the trailer was originally equipped.
    The FHWA requests that commenters address the specific issues 
below. However, the FHWA encourages commenters to include a discussion 
of any other issues that the commenters believe are relevant to this 
rulemaking.
    1. Many motor carriers have been using retroreflective sheeting or 
reflex reflectors which are not of the colors, retroreflective 
intensity, width, or configuration of the conspicuity treatment in the 
NHTSA's final rule. The FHWA seeks information on the type of 
conspicuity treatments in use and quantitative data on the cost and 
effectiveness of those treatments in preventing and/or mitigating 
accidents.
    2. What types of technical problems (e.g., tape not adhering to the 
surface of the trailer) have motor carriers encountered when applying 
conspicuity materials to in-service trailers? Are any problems unique 
to certain types of trailers, or to certain types of paints, coatings, 
or surfaces?
    3. What is the approximate cost (parts and labor) to apply 
conspicuity treatments to trailers? Is special training required for 
employees performing this task? What cost differences may exist between 
having this task performed by the motor carrier's own maintenance 
department or by third parties?
    4. How long must a trailer be taken out of service to have the 
conspicuity material applied to its surfaces?
    5. With regard to conspicuity treatments that differ from those in 
the NHTSA final rule, a retrofitting requirement could result in many 
motor carriers having to replace their current conspicuity treatments 
with one that is consistent with the requirements of FMVSS No. 108. The 
FHWA believes that some form of conspicuity treatment (even certain 
forms which may be less effective than that covered in the NHTSA's 
final rule) is better than no conspicuity treatment. What different 
types of conspicuity treatment are currently being used by motor 
carriers? What results have been experienced by motor carriers using 
conspicuity treatments?
    6. If this rulemaking proceeds, should the FHWA propose requiring 
the same red/white color combination, retroreflective intensity, width 
and configuration as the NHTSA's final rule, or should alternative 
requirements be considered? If alternatives are considered, do 
commenters foresee problems in the enforcement of a retrofitting 
requirement?
    7. If this rulemaking proceeds, should the FHWA consider an 
effective date which is several (2, 3, 4, or 5) years after the date of 
publication of the final rule?

Rulemaking Analysis and Notices

    All comments received before the close of business on the comment 
closing date indicated above will be considered and will be available 
for examination in the docket room at the above address. Comments 
received after the comment closing date will be filed in the docket and 
will be considered to the extent practicable. In addition to late 
comments, the FHWA will also continue to file in the docket relevant 
information that becomes available after the comment closing date, and 
interested persons should continue to examine the docket for new 
material.

Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review) and DOT 
Regulatory Policies and Procedures

    The FHWA has determined that this action is not a significant 
regulatory action within the meaning of Executive Order 12866 or 
significant within the meaning of Department of Transportation 
regulatory policies and procedures. Due to the preliminary nature of 
this document and lack of necessary information on costs, the FHWA is 
unable to evaluate the economic impact of the potential regulatory 
changes being considered in this rulemaking. Based on the information 
received in response to this notice, the FHWA intends to carefully 
consider the costs and benefits associated with various alternative 
requirements. Comments, information, and data are solicited on the 
economic impact of the potential changes.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    Due to the preliminary nature of this document and lack of 
necessary information on costs, the FHWA is unable to evaluate the 
effects of the potential regulatory changes on small entities. Based on 
the information received in response to this notice, the FHWA intends, 
in compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (Pub. L. 96-354; 5 
U.S.C. 601 et seq.), to carefully consider the economic impacts of 
these potential changes on small entities. The FHWA solicits comments, 
information, and data on these impacts.

Executive Order 12612 (Federalism Assessment)

    This action has been analyzed in accordance with the principles and 
criteria contained in Executive Order 12612, and it has been determined 
that this action does not have sufficient federalism implications to 
warrant the preparation of a Federalism Assessment.

Executive Order 12372 (Intergovernmental Review)

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Number 20.217, Motor 
Carrier Safety. The regulations implementing Executive Order 12372 
regarding intergovernmental consultation on Federal programs and 
activities apply to this program.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This action does not contain a collection of information 
requirement for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, 44 
U.S.C. 3501 et seq.

National Environmental Policy Act

    The agency has analyzed this action for the purpose of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and has 
determined that this action would not have any effect on the quality of 
the environment.

Regulation Identification Number

    A regulation identification number (RIN) is assigned to each 
regulatory action listed in the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulations. 
The Regulatory Information Service Center publishes the Unified Agenda 
in April and October of each year. The RIN contained in the heading of 
this document can be used to cross reference this action with the 
Unified Agenda.

List of Subjects in 49 CFR Parts 392 and 393

    Highways and roads, Motor carriers, Motor vehicle safety.

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 3102; 49 U.S.C. app. 2505; 49 CFR 1.48; 
sec. 15(f); Public Law 101-500, 104 Stat. 1220 (1990).

    Issued on: January 11, 1994.
Rodney E. Slater,
Federal Highway Administrator.
[FR Doc. 94-1211 Filed 1-18-94; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-22-P



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