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FMCSA to Consider Expanding Amber Brake Light Exemption

When the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) authorized Groendyke Transport to use pulsating amber brake lights next to the standard red ones on tanker trucks, they probably did not expect rear-end collisions to drop over 33%. That is exactly what happened, and now safety experts at the FMCSA are deliberating on making it the new normal. The results, much like the pulsating amber lights themselves, had caught their attention.

Blink if Under Duress

The National Tank Truck Coalition (NTTC) welcomes the idea of a blanket exemption for tanker trucks.

“If you’re going to cut accidents by 30 to 40%, that’s great. That’s what it’s all about,” said Daniel Furth, president of the NTTC. “The distracted driving issue is out of control and extremely dangerous. Where it’s evidenced most is where these people are flying right into the back of cars and, in this case, a tank truck right in front of them.”

The reasoning behind this reduction in collisions is because whereas a common brake light is constant, the pulsating light of amber is constantly changing and demanding the attention of the driver following behind.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)  is working on making it so that pulsating amber brake lights can become standard on tanker trailers from production, but they desire more data before they come to that conclusion of making it a standard feature. Collecting this data could take years.

Until it becomes standard, fleets that have obtained the exemption for tanker trucks can retrofit their existing equipment, using baseline installation knowledge for lights.

Conclusion

If the FMCSA expands the exemption for the lucky few to all tanker trucks, it may result in fewer rear-end collisions. If it does, and the 33% reduction from Groendyke Transport was not from some other factor, the FMCSA might open this exemption up to other trucks and trailers, such as dry vans.

Like with all regulations, whether they are from the FMCSA or the NHTSA, governmental entities want to gather as much data as they can before they make a new regulation. If change comes, it will come slowly, so there is no need to worry about making a run on amber lights for the time being.

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