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RETROFIT OF CARGO TANKS WITH SIDE UNDERRIDE PROTECTION

BACKGROUND

Recently, the “Stop Underrides Act,” (S. 665) (H.R. 1511) was introduced by Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) that would require new side underride protection for trailers and straight trucks with a gross vehicle weight over 10,000 pounds.  The proposed legislation is important to petroleum marketers because it would require a costly retrofit of transport cargo tank trailers and single unit cargo tank trucks.

Specifically, the bill would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to adopt regulations that would require:

    • The installation of side underride rails on new and existing commercial motor vehicles (CMV) cargo tank trucks and trailers
    • New performance standards, inspection and maintenance requirements for front, rear and side underride protection equipment.

The bill is problematic for marketers because it would require virtually all commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) and CMV trailers to be removed from service, brought to a certified cargo tank inspection and maintenance facility, cleaned and purged of residue and vapors, with installation of new side underride rails and possible replacement of existing rear underride rails that do not meet new equipment performance standards. The bill is particularly troubling because there is no practical or safe way to install side rail underride protection on bottom loading cargo tank vehicles and transport trailers.

COST IMPACT ON SMALL BUSINESSES

S.665 and H.R. 1511 would impose huge compliance costs on all petroleum marketers operating cargo tank vehicles and trailers. In its 1991 Preliminary Regulatory Evaluation of proposed guards for rear underride, NHTSA stated that truck side underride counter-measures would not be cost-effective [Docket 1-11; Notice 9; Comment 002, page 15].  This 1991 pronouncement is the last official NHTSA statement on whether side guards for passenger vehicle impacts are warranted.  In 1996, NHTSA announced final rules establishing safety standards to govern rear impact guards and did not mention any proposal to require side guards on trailers. PMAA opposes efforts to mandate costly underride equipment retrofits unless the retrofits can be done in a safe and cost effective manner.

“THE ASK” Committees: Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation; House Transportation and Infrastructure

Urge lawmakers to oppose (not cosponsor) S. 665 and H.R. 1511, the “Stop Underrides Act”.

PMAA STAFF CONTACT: Mark Morgan