You might remember how the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) allowed a single company, Groendyke Transport, to add pulsating amber brake lights to the rear of their tanker trucks. You might also remember that rear-end collisions dropped over 33% for the tanker trucks equipped with them. Finally, you may recall that the FMCSA was thinking of making it a permanent bonus for tanker trucks. The time has finally come, the FMCSA is allowing National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC) and its members the ability to add these pulsating brakes.
§393.25e says that exterior lamps need to be steady burning when in use, with exceptions including:
- Turn signal lamps
- Hazard signal lamps
- School bus warning lamps
- Amber warning lamps on tow trucks
- Amber warning lamps for trucks hauling oversized loads
- Warning lamps for emergency vehicles
Now the FMCSA is allowing tanker trucks to be added to the list of exemptions as well.
This regulation exemption is an addition, rather than a subtraction, which is to say tanker trucks will still need to have the commonly-known steady-burning red brake lights at the rear end in addition to pulsating amber brake lights.
The NTTC says they support the addition of this option to help reduce rear-end collisions at the fault of other drivers. They hypothesize that the reason pulsating brake lights reduce such collisions is because the constantly changed light from on to off draws more attention than a light being constantly on, as the human body pays more attention to changes than constant danger. They fortify their assertion by citing studies from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The exemption is effective as of October 8th, 2020, and will last five years until October 8th, 2025. When that time comes, the FMCSA will consider whether to expand the exemption further, giving more time and perhaps applying it to more types of commercial vehicles, or may scrap the entire prospect if the results do not match what Groendyke Transport and the NHTSA found in their studies.
The way things look now, though, this change seems to be for the better. It appears an easy way for tanker trucking companies to reduce collisions by a little over 33%, and if the contents of the tanker prove to be volatile, the lower the risk of catastrophe, the better.