Trailer side underride guards: Another chance to weigh in on issues

Trucking news and briefs for Friday, Oct. 27, 2023:

Underride guard advisory committee to discuss implementation, operational hurdles

The Advisory Committee on Underride Protection, established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2022, will hold its second meeting next month.

The meeting, which will be held virtually on Nov. 15 from 12:30-4:30 p.m. Eastern, is the committee’s second since being chartered. It will be the first meeting, however, to discuss underride guards and issues surrounding them. The first meeting held in May of this year was primarily used for introducing committee members and selecting a committee chairperson.

The committee’s formation came in the midst of NHTSA exploring a potential side underride guard mandate for trailers. The agency published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) earlier this year to gather feedback on a number of factors related to side underride guards, including their effectiveness, unexpected benefits and costs, and more.

The upcoming meeting, according to the agenda published in the Federal Register Friday, will cover the target population for underride guards, existing and emerging underride guard technologies, other existing and emerging crash avoidance technologies, and implementation and operational hurdles of underride guards.

[Related: Side underride guard mandate: Rail disaster waiting to happen?]

The meeting will be open to the public. Pre-registration is required to attend, and registration will be available here at least one week before the meeting. A link permitting access to the meeting will be sent to registrants within 24 hours of the meeting start time.

Ultimately, the committee is tasked with providing information, advice and recommendations to the Secretary of Transportation on safety regulations to reduce underride crashes and fatalities related to underride crashes.

Rebuilt Indiana rest areas offer 225 truck parking spaces

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announced this week the opening of the newly constructed Kankakee Welcome Center on I-65 Southbound and a northbound rest area near milemarker 231.

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The new welcome center replaces the previous facility built in 1988 and boasts 150 truck parking spaces, along with 75 truck parking spaces on the northbound side.

The design of the welcome center is inspired by northwest Indiana landscapes and the wind power industry, represented through the building design resembling a wind turbine and blades, the dunes through three brick textures on the lower building section and the rolling roof, Lake Michigan through the upper blue glass, and the Kankakee River through the blue terrazzo flooring and custom restroom wall tile.

Truck drivers and other travelers will have access to new amenities such as a dog park, children's play area, adult recreation area, walking trails and pond.

"Through its Rest Area and Welcome Center Improvement Plan, INDOT is committed to providing safe, relaxing environments where travelers can rest and recharge as they enter and drive through Indiana," said INDOT Commissioner Mike Smith. 

The statewide improvement plan includes more than $600 million in federal funding for improvements to 21 rest areas and welcome centers to be completed by the end of FY 2034. Pigeon Creek along I-69 southbound in Steuben County was the first welcome center to be reconstructed and opened to the public in October 2020. Clear Creek in Vigo County and Black River in Posey County are currently under construction and will have similar amenities to the Kankakee Welcome Center.

[Related: Wyoming I-80's $34M overhaul after the 'winter from hell']

Stoughton Trailers announces new dealer in Southeast

Stoughton Trailers announced Friday a new dealer is joining its network of trailer sales and service providers.

Fleet Trailer & Equipment LLC (FTE) brings more than 40 years of trailer sales, leasing, parts, service and graphics expertise to customers throughout Alabama and Mississippi. Said Pres Overby, CEO of FTE: “We believe our team, facilities and processes provide customers with the best service in the Southeast. Stoughton’s commitment to building quality products, coupled with our experienced dealer team will provide even more value to trucking customers in our market.”

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