Trailer lights are intended to prevent collisions

I do not think that I pay much attention to the rear of the trailer visibility since the conspicuity tape became the law of the last 20 years. However, this time, it is not a controversial law, but an option added to the back of the car that lights up when the brakes are applied.

Federal vehicle safety laws require that all exterior lights (both required and supplemental lights) be on at all times, except turn signals, hazard lights, school bus warning lights, amber warning lights and it’s a flashing warning light on a tow truck. and heavy duty service vehicles, with warning lights and emergency and service vehicles authorized by the state or city.

But Oklahoma-based truck driver Groendyke Transport decided to bend the rules to solve the problem he faced when distracted drivers hit them from behind. The idea for the flashing amber lights came from the warning signs that preceded some traffic lights in the countryside. They are used to warn drivers that the traffic lights are about to change.

In road tests, drivers began to pull over the specially designed cars and almost immediately reported seeing a change in the behavior of the people driving behind them. When the brake lights came on (and the strobe lights started flashing), drivers started changing lanes first to pass the truck, drivers said. An orange flash lets people know that the brake lights are on.

Groendyke examines two groups of trucks for 90 million kilometers over 30 months, from January 2015 to July 2017. One group is equipped with strobes, the other without. The data showed that the flashing amber lights that flashed when drivers applied the brakes reduced rear-end crashes by nearly 34%.

However, during testing, the company received around 40-50 fines for illegal use of additional brake lights. So in April 2020, after collecting and combining all the data collected during the test, Groendyke filed a complaint with the Federal Carrier Safety Administration, which was issued about a year later in April.

Groendyke is a member of the National Tank Truck Carriers, which supported its independence petition and filed a bill that would require all tank truck carriers to install similar warning lights. The move was passed last October, a five-year restriction to allow tow truck operators to install red or amber flashing lights. rolled in the middle position or in two high positions on the back of the trailers.

Electric manufacturers such as Grote Industries and Peterson Manufacturing have developed products specifically for this application.

Grote unveiled the auxiliary strobe and brake lights late last year. The company says it designed the lamp specifically for this application rather than repurposing an existing product. Braking starts a sequence of five amber lights in four seconds followed by a continuous red light. According to Grote, this lighting system is more than capable of attracting the attention of a strong brake light, while it is not difficult to follow drivers with a long strobe.

Peterson’s LED Auxiliary Harness and Brake Light System is designed to meet the specifications of FMCSA’s 49 CFR 393.25 five years for marine vessels. Tank boats can install Peterson ballasts and Peterson LumenX LED 10-diode strobe lights.

Beyond Tankers

If the technology works for tankers, why not for other types of trailers and even truck bodies?

As of 2009, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration was investigating whether flashing brake lights, rather than fixing, would help prevent rear-end crashes. He reported that although the data is limited, “the data show that the use of high beams can be effective in reducing long-distance vision on the road” and that “drivers are bright and -brightness can break in response.compared to normal steady brake level signal.

In addition, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that data between 2010 and 2016 revealed that large trucks were three times more likely to be involved in fatal rear-end crashes, Peterson said.

Late last year, FMCSA gave Grote a five-year opportunity to expand the technology beyond tank trucks, to allow motor carriers that haul trucks and box trucks to install headlights. and the brake lights that come on continuously are required by federal motor vehicle safety laws. Grote requested the following support:

  • an upper pair of brake-activated warning lamps centered about the centerline of the trailer
  • a single brake-activated warning lamp centrally located on or below the rear sill collinear with the stop/tail/turn lamps
  • a lower pair of brake-activated warning lamps centered about the centerline of the trailer located on or below the rear sill; or
  • a combination of an upper pair of brake-activated warning as described in combination with either of the lower brake-activated warning lamps.

A new application for exclusion, which is still being investigated at the moment, wants to extend the concept of pulsed light in the form of trailers and other bodies.

Waste Management has applied for an exemption to allow all of its 106 operating facilities to replace high-speed brake lights on their waste and heavy-duty vehicles with red lights or The amber active brake light is placed in the middle position, or in the high twin position, in addition to the front brake light. Now WM has added a brake light that burns (not needed) but offers to replace the “extra brake light” with a brake light that works “light”.

Intellistop has applied to the FMCSA for an exemption to allow motor carriers to build all commercial vehicles, including flatbed trailers and flatbed trucks, equipped with an Intellistop module, which lights up the rear lights, detects and brakes through low to high light. notification. flash four times in two seconds.

Unlike derogations that allow additional light, Intellistop wants to use a system that will combine the flashing or pulsing idea with the brake light. He requested the introduction of the Intellistop module on the existing brake, clearance and inner diameter. brake light, generating a cycle of pulses while keeping the red brake light on at all times, as required by the FMCSR. During the four pulses, the light does not go out and after the four pulses, the lamp burns until the driver releases his foot from the brake pedal. The petition pointed out that NHTSA had previously defined only warning lights and indicators. A lamp can do two jobs as long as the main function of the lamp is fixed.

Paying attention to trailer practices will increase employee safety and reduce backlog breakdowns, which means less damage to equipment and cargo, less downtime and less shipping delays. “More features for auxiliary lighting will reduce accidents and property damage and make our roads safer,” said Mark Blackford, National Parks Marketing Manager at Grote.

For fleet managers, that means a better safety record, fewer CSA headaches, more money saved, and most importantly, a safer road for everyone.