OOIDA calls Stop Underrides Act costly, impractical

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line associate editor | 3/7/2019

In response to the introduction of bills requiring the use of underride guards, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association issued a Call to Action to its more than 160,000 members and sent letters to lawmakers in opposition of the Stop Underrides Act.

Earlier this week, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Reps. Steven Cohen, D-Tenn., and Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif., reintroduced the Stop Underrides Act. S665 and HR1511 would require tractor-trailers to have underride guards on the sides and front.

OOIDA responded on Thursday, March 7 by asking members to call Gillibrand and Cohen to let them know they are opposed to the mandate. The Association also sent a letter of its own to the lawmakers, telling them that the Stop Underrides Act “intentionally disregards reality and ignores the safety, economic, and operational concerns” that the mandate would create.

“Over the last several decades, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has considered numerous options involving underride guards but has consistently concluded federal mandates would be impractical and costly, thus outweighing any perceived safety benefits,” OOIDA wrote in a letter signed by President Todd Spencer.

The Association said the bills go too far, requiring truckers to install real underride guards “on trailers that can’t physically accommodate them, such as low boys, household goods trailers, auto transporters, etc.”

In both bills, the mandate would retroactively apply to all trailers, including those nearing the end of their service.

The bills also would require the installation of side underride guards.

“While existing technologies may reduce passenger compartment intrusion in certain situations, the bill fails to recognize numerous other issues limiting the real world practicality of side underride guards,” OOIDA wrote. “For example, installation of the equipment would unquestionably create challenges for truckers navigating grade crossings and high curbs, backing in to sloped loading docks, properly utilizing spread-axle trailer configurations, conducting DOT-required trailer inspections, and accessing vital equipment located under the trailer, such as brakes.”

Similar measures were previously introduced in December 2017. Those advocating for the bills say that studies show that an underride guard, which is a barrier attached to the lower area of a truck, would help prevent a car from sliding underneath a truck during a crash.

OOIDA sent letters to Gillibrand and Rubio in January 2018, opposing those bills. OOIDA remains opposed to the current measures, saying they would cost tens of billions of dollars and be the “most costly federal trucking mandate in history.”

“The bill mandates devices that aren’t practical, that don’t physically work, and that would create operational impossibilities,” the Association wrote.



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