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New Tank Truck Brake Light Regulations Aim to Reduce Rear-End Crashes

Industry News | 11.04.20 | Jeff Geoffroy

Texting and driving have pushed distracted driving and related rear-end crashes to all-time highs—with, excuse the pun, no end in sight.

In an effort to improve safety, and slow the trend of dangerous rear-end crashes caused by distracted driving, the National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) approached the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) with an innovative approach to its current brake light code of regulations for motor carriers operating tank trailers

Until now Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations allowed only steady-burning brake lights on motor carriers operating tank trailers. On October 8, 2020, FMCSA granted a limited five-year exemption to FMCSA’s 49 CFR 393.25 to allow NTTC motor carriers to install red or amber brake-activated pulsating lights in the upper center position, or in an upper dual outboard positions on the rear of the trailers in addition to the steady-burning brake lights required by Federal regulations.

NTTC created the presentation for this special exemption, based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data related to a dramatic rise in rear-end crashes caused by distracted driving. NHTSA Research showed that increased visibility could reduce rear-end crashes and improve attention to braking vehicles with the addition of pulsating brake lights. (NTTC also cited the FMCSA’s previously similar exemption to Groendyke Transport.)

The 5-year exemption should provide ample time and data to support a future change in regulations to provide the addition of brake-activated pulsating lights, for motor carriers operating tank trailers in the future.

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NOTE: FMCSA’s 49 CFR 393.25 states all exterior lights on a vehicle are required to be steady-burning, except turn signal and hazard warning signal lights, school bus warning lights, tow truck amber warning or flashing warning lights, commercial motor vehicles transporting oversized loads and warning lights on emergency and service vehicles.