Rear bumpers added to annual inspections

By: Daren Hansen

Publication: Transportation Regulatory Alert

Date Posted: 12/01/2021

It's time to add rear underride guards toyour inspection

Starting December 9, 2021, rear impact guards must be included in your DOT annual inspections.

The FMCSA has issued a new rule that adds rear impact guards to the list of criteria for passing an annual inspection, as found in Appendix A to Part 396. The criteria include details on the condition, placement, and size of the bumper, depending on vehicle type and year of manufacture.

This means:

  • Your inspectors and technicians will need to become familiar with the bumper inspection standards, and
  • Your annual inspection forms will need to be updated to include “rear impact guard” as one of the items inspected.

The rear underride guard — sometimes called an “ICC bumper” after the name of the agency that first required them in 1952 — is required by 49 CFR §393.86, as well as by DOT manufacturing standards in Part 571.

Other changes to bumper regulations

As part of the new rule, the FMCSA revised §393.86 (the bumper regulation) to:

  • Allow the DOT certification label to be placed on either the front or back side of the horizontal beam on an underride guard, rather than requiring it to be on the forward-facing surface. This permanent label is applied by the bumper manufacturer, not motor carriers, and the rule change simply aligns the FMCSA's rules with current manufacturing standards.
  • Exempt “road construction controlled horizontal discharge trailers” from the need for a rear underride guard.

Inspection standards

The following bumper inspection standards are now found in Appendix A to Part 396 and must be used when performing DOT annual vehicle inspections as of December 9, 2021. Refer to §393.86 for exceptions. Note that a vehicle meeting any of the following standards will FAIL its inspection. Also note that a vehicle can pass its inspection even if the manufacturer's certification label is missing.

Trailers and semitrailers with a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more, manufactured on or after January 26, 1998:

  • Missing guard.
  • Guard is not securely attached to trailer, including broken or missing fasteners, any welds or parent metal cracked, or other damage that compromises secure attachment of the guard.
  • Guard horizontal member does not extend to within 4 inches of each, or extends beyond either, side extremity of the vehicle.
  • Guard horizontal member is more than 22 inches above the ground.
  • Guard horizontal member is more than 12 inches forward of the rear extremity of the vehicle.
  • Guard horizontal member does not have a cross sectional vertical height of at least 4 inches across its entire width.

Other commercial motor vehicles manufactured after December 31, 1952, on which the vertical distance between the rear bottom edge of the body (or the chassis assembly if the chassis is the rearmost part of the vehicle) and the ground is greater than 30 inches when the vehicle is empty:

  • Missing guard.
  • Guard is not securely attached to trailer by bolts, welding, or other comparable means.
  • Guard horizontal member is more than 30 inches above the ground.
  • Guard horizontal member does not extend to within 18 inches of each side extremity of the vehicle.
  • Guard horizontal member is more than 24 inches forward of the rear extremity of the vehicle.

Key to remember: It's time to add rear underride guards to the list of items you need to inspect annually on your commercial vehicles.

About the author
Daren Hansen - Transportation Safety Editor

Based on his expertise in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, Daren is responsible for writing and editing content for safety-related products, publications, and services for the trucking industry.

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