Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Application for an Exemption From National Tank Truck Carriers Inc., 63643-63647 [2020-22233]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 196 / Thursday, October 8, 2020 / Notices Respondents: We anticipate an 80% participation rate from a respondent pool of approximately 82 ODA holders and applicants, estimated to about 66 respondents. Frequency: We plan to distribute the survey one time to support the requirement described in Section 213 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. Estimated Average Burden per Response: 2.5 hours to complete, 7.5 hours coordination, total 10 hrs. Estimated Total Annual Burden: 660 Hours total (220 annualized for the 3year approval window). Issued in Washington, DC. Joy Wolf, Management & Program Analyst for Regulatory and Guidance Processing, Aircraft Certification Service. [FR Doc. 2020–22274 Filed 10–7–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–13–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Highway Administration [Docket No. FHWA–2020–0019] Agency Information Collection Activities: Request for Comments for a Renewal of a Previously Approved Information Collection Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT. ACTION: Notice and request for comments. AGENCY: FHWA invites public comments about our intention to request the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) approval for a new information collection, which is summarized below under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION. We are required to publish this notice in the Federal Register by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. DATES: Please submit comments by December 7, 2020. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by DOT Docket ID 2020–0019 by any of the following methods: Website: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Fax: 1–202–493–2251. Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590–0001. Hand Delivery or Courier: U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:48 Oct 07, 2020 Jkt 253001 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kenneth Petty, Kenneth.Petty@dot.gov, 202–366–6654, Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty, Federal Highway Administration, Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590. Office hours are from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Title: Assessment of Transportation Planning, Performance and Asset Management Agency Needs, Capabilities, and Capacity. Background: FHWA will collect information on the current state of the practice, data, methods, and systems used by state, metropolitan, regional, local, and tribal transportation planning entities to support their required planning, performance and asset management processes in accordance with Title 23 U.S.C. 119, 134, 135, and 150. This includes, but is not limited to, information to support transportation research, capacity building, data collection, planning, travel modeling, and performance and asset management. This also includes information about how data is shared between planning agencies and how it is processed and used in the planning and programming context. Questionnaires will be sent to State DOT headquarters and districts, Metropolitan Planning, Organizations, Regional Planning Organizations, and Tribal Governments. FHWA anticipates that one representative from each agency will take approximately 30 minutes to complete up to 4 questionnaires each year. The questionnaires will be administered via the internet and invitations to participate in the questionnaire will be distributed via email. This information, once compiled, will allow the FHWA to better understand the existing capabilities that agencies across the country have in support of the planning, performance and asset management processes and the readiness they possess to handle new and ongoing challenges. As a result of the collected information, FHWA will focus its efforts and resources on providing targeted and meaningful support for planning, performance and asset management implementation nationwide. Additionally, FHWA will ensure that excellent planning, performance and asset managementpractices are identified will be shared broadly across the country. PO 00000 Frm 00144 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 63643 Respondents: Respondents are representatives of State DOT headquarters and districts, Metropolitan Planning, Organizations, Regional Planning Organizations, and Tribal Governments. Respondents: 950 respondents annually. Frequency: 4 per year for 3 years. Estimated Average Burden per Response: Approximately 30 minutes. Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: Up to 1,900 hours annually. Public Comments Invited: You are asked to comment on any aspect of this information collection, including: (1) Whether the proposed collection is necessary for the FHWA’s performance; (2) the accuracy of the estimated burden; (3) ways for the FHWA to enhance the quality, usefulness, and clarity of the collected information; and (4) ways that the burden could be minimized, including the use of computer technology, without reducing the quality of the collected information. The agency will summarize and/or include your comments in the request for OMB’s clearance of this information collection. Authority: The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995; 44 U.S.C. Chapter 35, as amended; and 49 CFR 1.48. Issued On: October 5, 2020. Michael Howell, FHWA Information Collection Officer. [FR Doc. 2020–22284 Filed 10–7–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [Docket No. FMCSA–2019–0260] Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Application for an Exemption From National Tank Truck Carriers Inc. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT. ACTION: Notice of final disposition. AGENCY: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announces its decision to grant National Tank Truck Carriers Inc.’s (NTTC) application for a limited 5-year exemption to allow motor carriers operating tank trailers to install a red or amber brake-activated pulsating lamp in the upper center position or in an upper dual outboard position on the rear of the trailers, in addition to the steadyburning brake lamps required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\08OCN1.SGM 08OCN1 63644 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 196 / Thursday, October 8, 2020 / Notices khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Regulations (FMCSR). The Agency has determined that granting the exemption would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to or greater than the level of safety provided by the regulation. DATES: This exemption is applicable October 8, 2020 and ending October 8, 2025. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Luke Loy, Vehicle and Roadside Operations Division, Office of Carrier, Driver, and Vehicle Safety, MC–PSV, (202) 366–0676, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590– 0001. Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments submitted to notice requesting public comments on the exemption application, go to www.regulations.gov at any time or visit Room W12–140 on the ground level of the West Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 366–9317 or (202) 366– 9826 before visiting Docket Operations. The on-line Federal document management system is available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. The docket number is listed at the beginning of this notice. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background FMCSA has authority under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315 to grant exemptions from certain parts of the FMCSRs. FMCSA must publish a notice of each exemption request in the Federal Register (49 CFR 381.315(a)). The Agency must provide the public an opportunity to inspect the information relevant to the application, including any safety analyses that have been conducted. The Agency must also provide an opportunity for public comment on the request. The Agency reviews safety analyses and public comments submitted, and determines whether granting the exemption would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be achieved by the current regulation (49 CFR 381.305). The decision of the Agency must be published in the Federal Register (49 CFR 381.315(b)) with the reasons for denying or granting the application and, if granted, the name of the person or class of persons receiving the exemption, and the regulatory provision from which the exemption is granted. The notice must also specify the effective period and explain the terms VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:48 Oct 07, 2020 Jkt 253001 and conditions of the exemption. The exemption may be renewed (49 CFR 381.300(b)). NTTC’s Application for Exemption NTTC applied for an exemption from 49 CFR 393.25(e) to allow motor carriers operating tank trailers to install a red or amber brake-activated pulsating lamp in the upper center position or in an upper dual outboard position on the rear of the trailers, in addition to the steadyburning brake lamps required by the FMCSRs. A copy of the application is included in the docket referenced at the beginning of this notice. NTTC is an association of over 200 tank truck companies that transport more than 80 percent of the volume hauled in this narrowly-defined industry. Most NTTC members are regional, family-owned tank truck businesses that specialize in bulk transportation of hazardous products, such as petroleum products, chemicals, gases, and hazardous wastes. These companies also haul non-hazardous materials such as bulk foods and dry bulk products such as cement or plastic pellets. Section 393.25(e) of the FMCSRs requires all exterior lamps (both required lamps and any additional lamps) to be steady-burning, except turn signal lamps, hazard warning signal lamps, school bus warning lamps, amber warning lamps or flashing warning lamps on tow trucks and commercial motor vehicles (CMV) transporting oversized loads, and warning lamps on emergency and service vehicles authorized by State or local authorities. NTTC seeks an exemption to allow motor carriers operating tank trailers to install a red or amber brake-activated pulsating lamp in the upper center position or in an upper dual outboard position on the rear of the trailers, in addition to the steadyburning brake lamps required by the FMCSRs. NTTC contends that the addition of the brake-activated pulsating lamp will improve safety, and states that research shows that pulsating brake lamps installed in addition to required steady-burning red brake lamps improve visibility and prevent accidents. NTTC also noted that FMCSA has previously granted a similar, but not identical, temporary exemption to one of its member companies, Groendyke Transport, Inc. (Groendyke), based in part on Groendyke’s real-world experience demonstrating that use of amber pulsating brake-activated warning lamps in addition to steadyburning red brake lamps had decreased the frequency of rear-end accidents PO 00000 Frm 00145 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 involving its fleet of tank trailers (84 FR 17910; April 26, 2019). NTTC cited several studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), another agency in the U.S. Department of Transportation, on the issues of rear-end crashes, distracted driving, and braking signals. NTTC stated: Research indicates that there are ways to improve the attention-getting qualities of braking systems. Including a pulsating brake lamp on a lead vehicle has quantifiable effect on the drivers of following vehicles and measurably reduces rear-end collisions. Drivers are redirected and altered faster and more efficiently when a pulsating brake lamp draws their attention to the lead vehicle. As a result, rear-end collisions can be prevented or at least reduced. Beginning in the second quarter of 2015, Groendyke began installing amber brake-activated pulsating lamps on some of its fleet without authorization from FMCSA to compare the frequency of rear-end collisions between (1) trailers equipped with both a centrallymounted amber brake-activated pulsating lamp and the required steadyburning lamps, and (2) trailers equipped with only the steady-burning lamps required by the FMCSRs. As of July 31, 2017, Groendyke had outfitted 632 of its 1,440 trailers with an amber brakeactivated pulsating lamp. Data gathered by Groendyke between January 2015 and July 2017 show that trailers equipped with both the amber brake-activated pulsating lamp and the steady-burning brake lamps were involved in 33.7 percent fewer rear-end collisions as compared to vehicles equipped with only the steady-burning brake lamps. Groendyke also analyzed its data to determine whether the presence of the amber brake-activated pulsating lamp improved outcomes when drivers were slowing or stopping at railroad crossings.1 Groendyke found that trailers equipped with the amber brake-activated pulsating lamp were not involved in a rear-end crash at a railroad crossing during the same time period. Groendyke stated: The results of the Groendyke Brake Warning Device Campaign are clear: The frequency of rear-end collisions is markedly lower when trailers are outfitted with pulsating brake lamps in addition to the steady-burning lamps required by the FMCSRs. The pulsating brake lamps draw other drivers’ attention to what is happening 1 As cargo tank operators hauling hazardous materials, Groendyke drivers are required to stop or slow significantly at railroad crossings (49 CFR 392.10–392.12). Groendyke notes that railroad crossings are a significant source of rear-end collisions at Groendyke and elsewhere because noncommercial drivers may not anticipate stops at railroad crossings. E:\FR\FM\08OCN1.SGM 08OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 196 / Thursday, October 8, 2020 / Notices with the vehicle in front more effectively and more quickly than steady burning lamps. In the interest of safety and productivity, Groendyke desires to implement the Groendyke Brake Warning Device Campaign on the rest of its fleet without risking violation of the FMCSRs. The exemption requested by NTTC would apply to all motor carriers operating tank trailers, and would permit those motor carriers to install a red or amber brake-activated pulsating lamp in the upper center position or in an upper dual outboard position on the rear of the trailers, in addition to the steady-burning brake lamps required by the FMCSRs. NTTC states that the additional brake-activated warning lamp(s) will not have an adverse impact on safety, and that adherence to the terms and conditions of the exemption would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to or greater than the level of safety achieved without the exemption. Comments khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES FMCSA published a notice of the NTTC application in the Federal Register on April 2, 2020, and asked for public comment (85 FR 18634). The Agency received comments from the Truckload Carrier Association (TCA), the Transportation Safety Equipment Institute (TSEI), the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), the American Trucking Associations (ATA), and 25 individuals. TCA, TSEI, and ATA each supported granting the application. CVSA and VDOT supported the use of amber brake-activated pulsating warning lamps, but were opposed to the use of red brake-activated pulsating warning lamps. TCA cited its support for Groendyke’s similar application for temporary exemption, and highlighted the safety benefits of a 33.7 percent reduction in rear-end collisions when using an amber brake-activated pulsating lamp. Further, TCA stated: All tank carriers have a high stake in ensuring their trailers are safe since they are possibly hauling flammable fuel or liquid hazardous materials. Being involved in a rear-end collision not only could result in the loss of cargo, but also could potentially threaten the lives of the truck driver, the driver of the vehicle causing the collision, and others in the surrounding area. Since NTTC is not requesting for tank truck carriers to be exempt from the regulations on required steady-burning lamps, but rather is asking to be allowed to install additional equipment with pulsating lamps, TCA believes it is in the best interest of the industry for FMCSA to grant the requested flexibility. The baseline safety of the required steady-burning lamps will continue to be in VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:48 Oct 07, 2020 Jkt 253001 place on these tank trailers even if the additional pulsating brake lamps are installed. ATA believes that granting the exemption will permit tank truck carriers in addition to Groendyke to similarly reduce their rear-end crashes, in furtherance of FMCSA’s primary safety mission. Specifically, ATA stated: FMCSA and NHTSA research have demonstrated the potential benefits of alternative rear signaling systems to reduce rear-end crashes. Rear-end crashes which amount to roughly 30% of all crashes are frequently attributed to a following vehicle’s failure or delay to respond to the lead vehicle’s application of brakes to decelerate. Consistent with the DOT reports and research, motor carriers like Groendyke recognize the potential of ERS [Enhanced Rear Signaling] for improving safe operations when compared with traditional standard brake lamps. For example, ERS can provide the following functions beyond what traditional CMV lighting and reflective devices offer: Attention to CMVs stopped ahead; awareness of road side breakdowns; emergency braking; and driver confidence from both vehicles. In addition to safety benefits, ERS performance is superior to steady burning brake lamps in severe weather conditions, tail light glare and around infrastructure obstacles. ERS also reduces the chances of damage to both vehicles involved in a rear-end crash, which improves commercial operation uptime, CSA scores for the CMV owner, and traffic inconvenience. TSEI stated that ample research has demonstrated that the use of pulsating brake lamps increases visibility of equipment and vehicles and would maintain operational safety levels, but also implement more efficient and effective operations. TSEI stated that by granting NTTC’s application, the Agency would further its Beyond Compliance Program. VDOT supports the intent of the proposed exemption to promote the safety of motor carriers operating tank trailers, and states that allowing commercial tank trailers to use brakeactivated pulsating lamps may improve the reaction time of other motorists when the commercial vehicle is slowing down or stopping. VDOT supports developing standard equipment, and recommends that the Agency authorize the use of only amber brake-activated flashing lights, because amber lights are typically used to denote potential unsafe conditions or to denote caution. VDOT expressed concern that red brakeactivated flashing lights on tanker trucks may cause confusion and may prompt unintended and/or undesirable actions, given that flashing red lights are typically displayed by vehicles responding to emergencies. PO 00000 Frm 00146 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 63645 CVSA agrees with NTTC’s assessment that the collected data supports the safety benefits of amber brake-activated pulsating lamps, and supports allowing them to be installed on the rear of tank trailers. However, CVSA is opposed to the use of red brake-activated pulsating warning lamps which are typically associated with emergency vehicles. CVSA states that allowing red pulsating lamps on the rear of tank trailers may negatively impact the driving public’s recognition and response to emergency vehicles. CVSA noted that many States have laws prohibiting nonemergency vehicles from having pulsating red lights. CVSA is concerned that if the exemption is granted to allow the installation and use of red pulsating lights, it would be in direct conflict with laws in several States. CVSA notes that while amber brake-activated pulsating lights have a demonstrated safety benefit, red brake-activated pulsating lamps would likely have unintended safety impacts related to emergency vehicles. Twenty-four individuals supported, and one opposed, the exemption. Several of the commenters identified themselves as Safety Directors for motor carriers operating tank trailers, and fully supported the temporary exemption, noting that their respective carriers have experienced multiple rear-end collisions throughout years of operation. Those safety directors noted that other motorists are frequently not paying attention, and that many rear-end crashes of tanker trailers hauling hazardous material occur when stopped at railroad crossings. These individual commenters believe that any technology that has been shown to reduce rear-end crashes should be allowed, and cited various benefits of the red and amber brake-activated pulsating lamp, including (1) enhanced awareness that the vehicle is making a stop, especially at railroad crossings, and (2) increased visibility in severe weather conditions. One individual expressed concern that depending on the brightness and speed of the pulsating brake-activated warning lamps, and their positioning close to the standard brake lights and turn signals, following drivers may be (1) distracted and (2) confused regarding the ability to determine whether the vehicle is turning or not. This individual acknowledged that his experience was with low boy trailers, and not with tanker trailers as identified in subject application. FMCSA Decision The FMCSA has evaluated the NTTC exemption application, and the comments received. The Agency E:\FR\FM\08OCN1.SGM 08OCN1 63646 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 196 / Thursday, October 8, 2020 / Notices khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES believes that granting the temporary exemption to allow motor carriers operating tank trailers to install a red or amber brake-activated pulsating lamp in the upper center position or in an upper dual outboard position on the rear of the trailers in addition to the steady-burning brake lamps required by the FMCSRs, will likely provide a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety achieved without the exemption. Rear-end crashes generally account for approximately 30 percent of all crashes. These types of crashes often result from a failure to respond (or delays in responding) to a stopped or decelerating lead vehicle. Data collected between 2010 and 2016 show that large trucks are consistently three times more likely than other vehicles to be struck in the rear in two-vehicle fatal crashes.2 3 Both FMCSA and NHTSA have conducted research programs regarding alternative rear signaling systems to address rear-end crashes. FMCSA has conducted research and development of an Enhanced Rear Signaling (ERS) system for CMVs.4 The study noted that, while brake lights are activated only with the service brakes, and the visual warning is provided only during conditions when the lead vehicle is decelerating using its braking system, brake lights are not activated during other conditions wherein rear-end collisions can occur (e.g., the CMV is (1) stopped along the roadway or in traffic, (2) traveling slower, or (3) decelerating using an engine retarder). Because of the limitations of the existing brake system described above, along with issues relating to visual distraction, the study examined ways for CMVs to detect rearend crash threats and to provide drivers of following vehicles a supplemental visual warning—located on the lead vehicle, and in addition to the current brake lights—so following-vehicle drivers can quickly recognize impending collision threats. During Phase I of this effort, researchers performed crash database analyses to determine causal factors of rear-end collisions and to identify 2 U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (2012), Traffic Safety Facts—2010 Data; Large Trucks, Report No. DOT HS 811 628, Washington, DC (June 2012). 3 U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (2018), Traffic Safety Facts—2016 Data; Large Trucks, Report No. DOT HS 812 497, Washington, DC (May 2018). 4 U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (2014), Expanded Research and Development of an Enhanced Rear Signaling System for Commercial Motor Vehicles, Report No. FMCSA–RRT–13–009, Washington, DC (April 2014). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:48 Oct 07, 2020 Jkt 253001 potential countermeasures. Phase II continued through prototype development based on recommendations from Phase I. During Phase II field testing, potential benefits of using such countermeasures were realized. During Phase III, a multiphased approach was executed to design, develop, and test multiple types of countermeasures on a controlled test track and on public highways. Phase III resulted in positive results for a rear warning prototype system comprising 12 light-emitting diode (LED) units that would flash at 5 Hz to provide a visual warning to the following-vehicle drivers indicating that, with continued closing rate and distance, a collision will occur with the lead vehicle. Finally, the prototype system was further developed and refined to include modification of the system into a unit designed for simple CMV installation, collisionwarning activation refinements, and rear lighting brightness adjustments for nighttime conditions. Formal closed test track and real-world testing were then performed to determine the ERS system collision-warning activation performance. While the efforts described above demonstrated a promising system for follow-on research, FMCSA ultimately decided not to pursue formal field operational testing of the prototype system because of concerns relating to (1) the cost to implement the ERS system as configured, and (2) fleets’ willingness to invest in the technology, given the cost of the system. Nonetheless, the preliminary research showed that the ERS system performed well at detecting and signaling rear-end crash threats and drawing the gaze of following-vehicle drivers to the forward roadway which, if implemented, could potentially reduce the number and frequency of rear-end crashes into the rear of CMVs. Separately, NHTSA has performed a series of research studies intended to develop and evaluate rear signaling applications designed to reduce the frequency and severity of rear-end crashes via enhancements to rear-brake lighting by redirecting drivers’ visual attention to the forward roadway (for cases involving a distracted driver), and/or increasing the saliency or meaningfulness of the brake signal (for inattentive drivers).5 6 5 U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (2009), Traffic Safety Facts—Vehicle Safety Research Notes; Assessing the Attention-Gettingness of Brake Signals: Evaluation of Optimized Candidate Enhanced Braking Signals; Report No. DOT HS 811 129, Washington, DC (May 2009). PO 00000 Frm 00147 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Initially, the study quantified the attention-getting capability and discomfort glare of a set of candidate rear brake lighting configurations, using driver judgments, as well as eyedrawing metrics. This study served to narrow the set of candidate lighting configurations to those that would most likely be carried forward for additional study on-road. Both look-up (eye drawing) data and interview data supported the hypothesis that simultaneous flashing of all rear lighting combined with increased brightness would be effective in redirecting the driver’s eyes to the lead vehicle when the driver is looking away with tasks that involve visual load. Subsequently, the study quantified the attention-getting capability of a set of candidate rear brake lighting configurations, including proposed approaches from automotive companies. This study was conducted to provide data for use in a simulation model to assess the effectiveness and safety benefits of enhanced rear brake light countermeasures. Among other things, this research demonstrated that flashing all lights simultaneously or alternately flashing is a promising signal for use in enhanced brake light applications, even at levels of brightness within the current regulated limits. Specifically, the study concluded that substantial performance gains may be realized by increasing brake lamp brightness levels under flashing configurations; however, increases beyond a certain brightness threshold will not return substantive performance gains. Both FMCSA and NHTSA have conducted extensive research and development programs to examine alternative rear signaling systems to reduce the incidence of rear-end crashes. However, while these efforts concluded that improvements could be realized through rear lighting systems that flash, neither the FMCSRs nor the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) currently permit the use of pulsating, brake-activated lamps on the rear of CMVs. With respect to the use of amber lights, NHTSA has conducted research on the effectiveness of rear turn signal color on the likelihood of being involved in a rear-end crash.7 FMVSS 6 U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (2010), Traffic Safety Facts—Vehicle Safety Research Notes; Assessing the Attention-Getting Capability of Brake Signals: Evaluation of Candidate Enhanced Braking Signals and Features; Report No. DOT HS 811 330, Washington, DC (June 2010). 7 U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (2009), The Effectiveness of Amber Rear Turn Signals for E:\FR\FM\08OCN1.SGM 08OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 196 / Thursday, October 8, 2020 / Notices khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES No. 108 allows rear turn signals to be either red or amber in color. The study concluded that amber signals show a 5.3 percent effectiveness in reducing involvement in two-vehicle crashes where a lead vehicle is rear-struck in the act of turning left, turning right, merging into traffic, changing lanes, or entering/ leaving a parking space. The advantage of amber, compared to red, rear turn signals was shown to be statistically significant. FMCSA acknowledges the concerns of VDOT, CVSA and other commenters that flashing, rotating, or pulsating red lamps are generally permitted only on emergency vehicles. FMCSA notes that Police and other State authorized emergency vehicles utilize high intensity, constantly flashing, rotating or pulsating red lamps visible from all directions on the vehicle and that continuously operate when activated. The amber or red brake-activated pulsating lamps requested by NTTC are visible only to the rear of the tanker trailer, and are similar in lamp intensity and flash rate of the vehicle’s standard rear hazard warning lamps system currently allowed by the regulations. At the same time, however, the Agency agrees with TCA and NTTC that the 33.7 percent reduction in rear-end crashes documented by Groendyke between January 1, 2015, and July 31, 2017, for its trailers that had been equipped with the additional lights is both persuasive and compelling, given the magnitude of the rear-end crash population. FMCSA believes that this real-world experience, along with the FMCSA and NHTSA research programs that demonstrated the ability of alternative rear signaling systems to reduce the frequency and severity of rear-end crashes, is sufficient to conclude that the implementation of red or amber brake-activated pulsating lamp in the upper center position or in an upper dual outboard position on the rear of the trailers, in addition to the steady-burning brake lamps required by the regulations, is likely to provide a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety achieved without the exemption. Terms and Conditions for the Exemption The Agency hereby grants the exemption for a 5-year period, beginning October 8, 2020 and ending October 8, 2025. During the temporary exemption period, motor carriers operating tank trailers will be allowed to install a red or amber brake-activated pulsating lamp in the upper center Reducing Rear Impacts; Report No. DOT HS 811 115, Washington, DC (April 2009). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:48 Oct 07, 2020 Jkt 253001 position or in an upper dual outboard position on the rear of the trailers, in addition to the steady-burning brake lamps required by the FMCSRs. The exemption will be valid for 5 years unless rescinded earlier by FMCSA. The exemption will be rescinded if: (1) Motor carriers operating tank trailers fail to comply with the terms and conditions of the exemption; (2) the exemption has resulted in a lower level of safety than was maintained before it was granted; or (3) continuation of the exemption would not be consistent with the goals and objectives of 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315(b). Interested parties possessing information that would demonstrate that motor carriers operating tank trailers use of a red or amber brakeactivated pulsating lamp in the upper center position or in an upper dual outboard position on the rear of the trailers, in addition to the steadyburning brake lamps required by the FMCSRs, is not achieving the requisite statutory level of safety should immediately notify FMCSA. The Agency will evaluate any such information and, if safety is being compromised or if the continuation of the exemption is not consistent with 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315(b), will take immediate steps to revoke the exemption. Preemption In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31313(d), as implemented by 49 CFR 381.600, during the period this exemption is in effect, no State shall enforce any law or regulation applicable to interstate commerce that conflicts with or is inconsistent with this exemption. States may, but are not required to, adopt the same exemption with respect to operations in intrastate commerce. James W. Deck, Deputy Administrator. [FR Doc. 2020–22233 Filed 10–7–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–EX–P 63647 Notice of application for exemption; request for comments. ACTION: FMCSA announces receipt of an application from two individuals for an exemption from the prohibition in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) against operation of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) by persons with a current clinical diagnosis of myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, coronary insufficiency, thrombosis, or any other cardiovascular disease of a variety known to be accompanied by syncope (transient loss of consciousness), dyspnea (shortness of breath), collapse, or congestive heart failure. If granted, the exemption would enable these individuals with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to operate a CMV in interstate commerce. SUMMARY: Comments must be received on or before November 9, 2020. DATES: You may submit comments identified by the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) Docket ID FMCSA–2020–0189 using any of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/ docket?D=FMCSA-2020-0189. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. • Mail: Docket Operations; U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, Washington, DC 20590–0001. • Hand Delivery: West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays. • Fax: (202) 493–2251. To avoid duplication, please use only one of these four methods. See the ‘‘Public Participation’’ portion of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for instructions on submitting comments. ADDRESSES: Ms. Christine A. Hydock, Chief, Medical Programs Division, (202) 366–4001, fmcsamedical@dot.gov, FMCSA, Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W64–224, Washington, DC 20590–0001. Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. If you have questions regarding viewing or submitting material to the docket, contact Docket Operations, (202) 366–9826. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [Docket No. FMCSA–2020–0189] Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT. AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00148 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\08OCN1.SGM 08OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 196 (Thursday, October 8, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 63643-63647]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-22233]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2019-0260]


Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Application 
for an Exemption From National Tank Truck Carriers Inc.

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of final disposition.

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SUMMARY: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) 
announces its decision to grant National Tank Truck Carriers Inc.'s 
(NTTC) application for a limited 5-year exemption to allow motor 
carriers operating tank trailers to install a red or amber brake-
activated pulsating lamp in the upper center position or in an upper 
dual outboard position on the rear of the trailers, in addition to the 
steady-burning brake lamps required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety

[[Page 63644]]

Regulations (FMCSR). The Agency has determined that granting the 
exemption would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to or 
greater than the level of safety provided by the regulation.

DATES: This exemption is applicable October 8, 2020 and ending October 
8, 2025.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Luke Loy, Vehicle and Roadside 
Operations Division, Office of Carrier, Driver, and Vehicle Safety, MC-
PSV, (202) 366-0676, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 1200 
New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments submitted to notice requesting public comments on the 
exemption application, go to www.regulations.gov at any time or visit 
Room W12-140 on the ground level of the West Building, 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue SE, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., ET, Monday 
through Friday, except Federal holidays. To be sure someone is there to 
help you, please call (202) 366-9317 or (202) 366-9826 before visiting 
Docket Operations. The on-line Federal document management system is 
available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. The docket number is 
listed at the beginning of this notice.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    FMCSA has authority under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315 to grant 
exemptions from certain parts of the FMCSRs. FMCSA must publish a 
notice of each exemption request in the Federal Register (49 CFR 
381.315(a)). The Agency must provide the public an opportunity to 
inspect the information relevant to the application, including any 
safety analyses that have been conducted. The Agency must also provide 
an opportunity for public comment on the request.
    The Agency reviews safety analyses and public comments submitted, 
and determines whether granting the exemption would likely achieve a 
level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be 
achieved by the current regulation (49 CFR 381.305). The decision of 
the Agency must be published in the Federal Register (49 CFR 
381.315(b)) with the reasons for denying or granting the application 
and, if granted, the name of the person or class of persons receiving 
the exemption, and the regulatory provision from which the exemption is 
granted. The notice must also specify the effective period and explain 
the terms and conditions of the exemption. The exemption may be renewed 
(49 CFR 381.300(b)).

NTTC's Application for Exemption

    NTTC applied for an exemption from 49 CFR 393.25(e) to allow motor 
carriers operating tank trailers to install a red or amber brake-
activated pulsating lamp in the upper center position or in an upper 
dual outboard position on the rear of the trailers, in addition to the 
steady-burning brake lamps required by the FMCSRs. A copy of the 
application is included in the docket referenced at the beginning of 
this notice.
    NTTC is an association of over 200 tank truck companies that 
transport more than 80 percent of the volume hauled in this narrowly-
defined industry. Most NTTC members are regional, family-owned tank 
truck businesses that specialize in bulk transportation of hazardous 
products, such as petroleum products, chemicals, gases, and hazardous 
wastes. These companies also haul non-hazardous materials such as bulk 
foods and dry bulk products such as cement or plastic pellets.
    Section 393.25(e) of the FMCSRs requires all exterior lamps (both 
required lamps and any additional lamps) to be steady-burning, except 
turn signal lamps, hazard warning signal lamps, school bus warning 
lamps, amber warning lamps or flashing warning lamps on tow trucks and 
commercial motor vehicles (CMV) transporting oversized loads, and 
warning lamps on emergency and service vehicles authorized by State or 
local authorities. NTTC seeks an exemption to allow motor carriers 
operating tank trailers to install a red or amber brake-activated 
pulsating lamp in the upper center position or in an upper dual 
outboard position on the rear of the trailers, in addition to the 
steady-burning brake lamps required by the FMCSRs. NTTC contends that 
the addition of the brake-activated pulsating lamp will improve safety, 
and states that research shows that pulsating brake lamps installed in 
addition to required steady-burning red brake lamps improve visibility 
and prevent accidents. NTTC also noted that FMCSA has previously 
granted a similar, but not identical, temporary exemption to one of its 
member companies, Groendyke Transport, Inc. (Groendyke), based in part 
on Groendyke's real-world experience demonstrating that use of amber 
pulsating brake-activated warning lamps in addition to steady-burning 
red brake lamps had decreased the frequency of rear-end accidents 
involving its fleet of tank trailers (84 FR 17910; April 26, 2019).
    NTTC cited several studies conducted by the National Highway 
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), another agency in the U.S. 
Department of Transportation, on the issues of rear-end crashes, 
distracted driving, and braking signals. NTTC stated:

    Research indicates that there are ways to improve the attention-
getting qualities of braking systems. Including a pulsating brake 
lamp on a lead vehicle has quantifiable effect on the drivers of 
following vehicles and measurably reduces rear-end collisions. 
Drivers are redirected and altered faster and more efficiently when 
a pulsating brake lamp draws their attention to the lead vehicle. As 
a result, rear-end collisions can be prevented or at least reduced.

    Beginning in the second quarter of 2015, Groendyke began installing 
amber brake-activated pulsating lamps on some of its fleet without 
authorization from FMCSA to compare the frequency of rear-end 
collisions between (1) trailers equipped with both a centrally-mounted 
amber brake-activated pulsating lamp and the required steady-burning 
lamps, and (2) trailers equipped with only the steady-burning lamps 
required by the FMCSRs. As of July 31, 2017, Groendyke had outfitted 
632 of its 1,440 trailers with an amber brake-activated pulsating lamp.
    Data gathered by Groendyke between January 2015 and July 2017 show 
that trailers equipped with both the amber brake-activated pulsating 
lamp and the steady-burning brake lamps were involved in 33.7 percent 
fewer rear-end collisions as compared to vehicles equipped with only 
the steady-burning brake lamps. Groendyke also analyzed its data to 
determine whether the presence of the amber brake-activated pulsating 
lamp improved outcomes when drivers were slowing or stopping at 
railroad crossings.\1\ Groendyke found that trailers equipped with the 
amber brake-activated pulsating lamp were not involved in a rear-end 
crash at a railroad crossing during the same time period. Groendyke 
stated:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ As cargo tank operators hauling hazardous materials, 
Groendyke drivers are required to stop or slow significantly at 
railroad crossings (49 CFR 392.10-392.12). Groendyke notes that 
railroad crossings are a significant source of rear-end collisions 
at Groendyke and elsewhere because non-commercial drivers may not 
anticipate stops at railroad crossings.

    The results of the Groendyke Brake Warning Device Campaign are 
clear: The frequency of rear-end collisions is markedly lower when 
trailers are outfitted with pulsating brake lamps in addition to the 
steady-burning lamps required by the FMCSRs. The pulsating brake 
lamps draw other drivers' attention to what is happening

[[Page 63645]]

with the vehicle in front more effectively and more quickly than 
steady burning lamps. In the interest of safety and productivity, 
Groendyke desires to implement the Groendyke Brake Warning Device 
Campaign on the rest of its fleet without risking violation of the 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
FMCSRs.

    The exemption requested by NTTC would apply to all motor carriers 
operating tank trailers, and would permit those motor carriers to 
install a red or amber brake-activated pulsating lamp in the upper 
center position or in an upper dual outboard position on the rear of 
the trailers, in addition to the steady-burning brake lamps required by 
the FMCSRs. NTTC states that the additional brake-activated warning 
lamp(s) will not have an adverse impact on safety, and that adherence 
to the terms and conditions of the exemption would likely achieve a 
level of safety equivalent to or greater than the level of safety 
achieved without the exemption.

Comments

    FMCSA published a notice of the NTTC application in the Federal 
Register on April 2, 2020, and asked for public comment (85 FR 18634). 
The Agency received comments from the Truckload Carrier Association 
(TCA), the Transportation Safety Equipment Institute (TSEI), the 
Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the Commercial Vehicle 
Safety Alliance (CVSA), the American Trucking Associations (ATA), and 
25 individuals.
    TCA, TSEI, and ATA each supported granting the application. CVSA 
and VDOT supported the use of amber brake-activated pulsating warning 
lamps, but were opposed to the use of red brake-activated pulsating 
warning lamps.
    TCA cited its support for Groendyke's similar application for 
temporary exemption, and highlighted the safety benefits of a 33.7 
percent reduction in rear-end collisions when using an amber brake-
activated pulsating lamp.
    Further, TCA stated:

    All tank carriers have a high stake in ensuring their trailers 
are safe since they are possibly hauling flammable fuel or liquid 
hazardous materials. Being involved in a rear-end collision not only 
could result in the loss of cargo, but also could potentially 
threaten the lives of the truck driver, the driver of the vehicle 
causing the collision, and others in the surrounding area. Since 
NTTC is not requesting for tank truck carriers to be exempt from the 
regulations on required steady-burning lamps, but rather is asking 
to be allowed to install additional equipment with pulsating lamps, 
TCA believes it is in the best interest of the industry for FMCSA to 
grant the requested flexibility. The baseline safety of the required 
steady-burning lamps will continue to be in place on these tank 
trailers even if the additional pulsating brake lamps are installed.

    ATA believes that granting the exemption will permit tank truck 
carriers in addition to Groendyke to similarly reduce their rear-end 
crashes, in furtherance of FMCSA's primary safety mission.
    Specifically, ATA stated:

    FMCSA and NHTSA research have demonstrated the potential 
benefits of alternative rear signaling systems to reduce rear-end 
crashes. Rear-end crashes which amount to roughly 30% of all crashes 
are frequently attributed to a following vehicle's failure or delay 
to respond to the lead vehicle's application of brakes to 
decelerate.
    Consistent with the DOT reports and research, motor carriers 
like Groendyke recognize the potential of ERS [Enhanced Rear 
Signaling] for improving safe operations when compared with 
traditional standard brake lamps. For example, ERS can provide the 
following functions beyond what traditional CMV lighting and 
reflective devices offer: Attention to CMVs stopped ahead; awareness 
of road side breakdowns; emergency braking; and driver confidence 
from both vehicles. In addition to safety benefits, ERS performance 
is superior to steady burning brake lamps in severe weather 
conditions, tail light glare and around infrastructure obstacles. 
ERS also reduces the chances of damage to both vehicles involved in 
a rear-end crash, which improves commercial operation uptime, CSA 
scores for the CMV owner, and traffic inconvenience.

    TSEI stated that ample research has demonstrated that the use of 
pulsating brake lamps increases visibility of equipment and vehicles 
and would maintain operational safety levels, but also implement more 
efficient and effective operations. TSEI stated that by granting NTTC's 
application, the Agency would further its Beyond Compliance Program.
    VDOT supports the intent of the proposed exemption to promote the 
safety of motor carriers operating tank trailers, and states that 
allowing commercial tank trailers to use brake-activated pulsating 
lamps may improve the reaction time of other motorists when the 
commercial vehicle is slowing down or stopping. VDOT supports 
developing standard equipment, and recommends that the Agency authorize 
the use of only amber brake-activated flashing lights, because amber 
lights are typically used to denote potential unsafe conditions or to 
denote caution. VDOT expressed concern that red brake-activated 
flashing lights on tanker trucks may cause confusion and may prompt 
unintended and/or undesirable actions, given that flashing red lights 
are typically displayed by vehicles responding to emergencies.
    CVSA agrees with NTTC's assessment that the collected data supports 
the safety benefits of amber brake-activated pulsating lamps, and 
supports allowing them to be installed on the rear of tank trailers. 
However, CVSA is opposed to the use of red brake-activated pulsating 
warning lamps which are typically associated with emergency vehicles. 
CVSA states that allowing red pulsating lamps on the rear of tank 
trailers may negatively impact the driving public's recognition and 
response to emergency vehicles. CVSA noted that many States have laws 
prohibiting nonemergency vehicles from having pulsating red lights. 
CVSA is concerned that if the exemption is granted to allow the 
installation and use of red pulsating lights, it would be in direct 
conflict with laws in several States. CVSA notes that while amber 
brake-activated pulsating lights have a demonstrated safety benefit, 
red brake-activated pulsating lamps would likely have unintended safety 
impacts related to emergency vehicles.
    Twenty-four individuals supported, and one opposed, the exemption. 
Several of the commenters identified themselves as Safety Directors for 
motor carriers operating tank trailers, and fully supported the 
temporary exemption, noting that their respective carriers have 
experienced multiple rear-end collisions throughout years of operation. 
Those safety directors noted that other motorists are frequently not 
paying attention, and that many rear-end crashes of tanker trailers 
hauling hazardous material occur when stopped at railroad crossings. 
These individual commenters believe that any technology that has been 
shown to reduce rear-end crashes should be allowed, and cited various 
benefits of the red and amber brake-activated pulsating lamp, including 
(1) enhanced awareness that the vehicle is making a stop, especially at 
railroad crossings, and (2) increased visibility in severe weather 
conditions.
    One individual expressed concern that depending on the brightness 
and speed of the pulsating brake-activated warning lamps, and their 
positioning close to the standard brake lights and turn signals, 
following drivers may be (1) distracted and (2) confused regarding the 
ability to determine whether the vehicle is turning or not. This 
individual acknowledged that his experience was with low boy trailers, 
and not with tanker trailers as identified in subject application.

FMCSA Decision

    The FMCSA has evaluated the NTTC exemption application, and the 
comments received. The Agency

[[Page 63646]]

believes that granting the temporary exemption to allow motor carriers 
operating tank trailers to install a red or amber brake-activated 
pulsating lamp in the upper center position or in an upper dual 
outboard position on the rear of the trailers in addition to the 
steady-burning brake lamps required by the FMCSRs, will likely provide 
a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of 
safety achieved without the exemption.
    Rear-end crashes generally account for approximately 30 percent of 
all crashes. These types of crashes often result from a failure to 
respond (or delays in responding) to a stopped or decelerating lead 
vehicle. Data collected between 2010 and 2016 show that large trucks 
are consistently three times more likely than other vehicles to be 
struck in the rear in two-vehicle fatal crashes.\2\ \3\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration (2012), Traffic Safety Facts--2010 Data; Large 
Trucks, Report No. DOT HS 811 628, Washington, DC (June 2012).
    \3\ U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration (2018), Traffic Safety Facts--2016 Data; Large 
Trucks, Report No. DOT HS 812 497, Washington, DC (May 2018).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Both FMCSA and NHTSA have conducted research programs regarding 
alternative rear signaling systems to address rear-end crashes. FMCSA 
has conducted research and development of an Enhanced Rear Signaling 
(ERS) system for CMVs.\4\ The study noted that, while brake lights are 
activated only with the service brakes, and the visual warning is 
provided only during conditions when the lead vehicle is decelerating 
using its braking system, brake lights are not activated during other 
conditions wherein rear-end collisions can occur (e.g., the CMV is (1) 
stopped along the roadway or in traffic, (2) traveling slower, or (3) 
decelerating using an engine retarder). Because of the limitations of 
the existing brake system described above, along with issues relating 
to visual distraction, the study examined ways for CMVs to detect rear-
end crash threats and to provide drivers of following vehicles a 
supplemental visual warning--located on the lead vehicle, and in 
addition to the current brake lights--so following-vehicle drivers can 
quickly recognize impending collision threats.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier 
Safety Administration (2014), Expanded Research and Development of 
an Enhanced Rear Signaling System for Commercial Motor Vehicles, 
Report No. FMCSA-RRT-13-009, Washington, DC (April 2014).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    During Phase I of this effort, researchers performed crash database 
analyses to determine causal factors of rear-end collisions and to 
identify potential countermeasures. Phase II continued through 
prototype development based on recommendations from Phase I. During 
Phase II field testing, potential benefits of using such 
countermeasures were realized. During Phase III, a multi-phased 
approach was executed to design, develop, and test multiple types of 
countermeasures on a controlled test track and on public highways. 
Phase III resulted in positive results for a rear warning prototype 
system comprising 12 light-emitting diode (LED) units that would flash 
at 5 Hz to provide a visual warning to the following-vehicle drivers 
indicating that, with continued closing rate and distance, a collision 
will occur with the lead vehicle. Finally, the prototype system was 
further developed and refined to include modification of the system 
into a unit designed for simple CMV installation, collision-warning 
activation refinements, and rear lighting brightness adjustments for 
nighttime conditions. Formal closed test track and real-world testing 
were then performed to determine the ERS system collision-warning 
activation performance.
    While the efforts described above demonstrated a promising system 
for follow-on research, FMCSA ultimately decided not to pursue formal 
field operational testing of the prototype system because of concerns 
relating to (1) the cost to implement the ERS system as configured, and 
(2) fleets' willingness to invest in the technology, given the cost of 
the system. Nonetheless, the preliminary research showed that the ERS 
system performed well at detecting and signaling rear-end crash threats 
and drawing the gaze of following-vehicle drivers to the forward 
roadway which, if implemented, could potentially reduce the number and 
frequency of rear-end crashes into the rear of CMVs.
    Separately, NHTSA has performed a series of research studies 
intended to develop and evaluate rear signaling applications designed 
to reduce the frequency and severity of rear-end crashes via 
enhancements to rear-brake lighting by redirecting drivers' visual 
attention to the forward roadway (for cases involving a distracted 
driver), and/or increasing the saliency or meaningfulness of the brake 
signal (for inattentive drivers).\5\ \6\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration (2009), Traffic Safety Facts--Vehicle Safety 
Research Notes; Assessing the Attention-Gettingness of Brake 
Signals: Evaluation of Optimized Candidate Enhanced Braking Signals; 
Report No. DOT HS 811 129, Washington, DC (May 2009).
    \6\ U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration (2010), Traffic Safety Facts--Vehicle Safety 
Research Notes; Assessing the Attention-Getting Capability of Brake 
Signals: Evaluation of Candidate Enhanced Braking Signals and 
Features; Report No. DOT HS 811 330, Washington, DC (June 2010).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Initially, the study quantified the attention-getting capability 
and discomfort glare of a set of candidate rear brake lighting 
configurations, using driver judgments, as well as eye-drawing metrics. 
This study served to narrow the set of candidate lighting 
configurations to those that would most likely be carried forward for 
additional study on-road. Both look-up (eye drawing) data and interview 
data supported the hypothesis that simultaneous flashing of all rear 
lighting combined with increased brightness would be effective in 
redirecting the driver's eyes to the lead vehicle when the driver is 
looking away with tasks that involve visual load.
    Subsequently, the study quantified the attention-getting capability 
of a set of candidate rear brake lighting configurations, including 
proposed approaches from automotive companies. This study was conducted 
to provide data for use in a simulation model to assess the 
effectiveness and safety benefits of enhanced rear brake light 
countermeasures. Among other things, this research demonstrated that 
flashing all lights simultaneously or alternately flashing is a 
promising signal for use in enhanced brake light applications, even at 
levels of brightness within the current regulated limits. Specifically, 
the study concluded that substantial performance gains may be realized 
by increasing brake lamp brightness levels under flashing 
configurations; however, increases beyond a certain brightness 
threshold will not return substantive performance gains.
    Both FMCSA and NHTSA have conducted extensive research and 
development programs to examine alternative rear signaling systems to 
reduce the incidence of rear-end crashes. However, while these efforts 
concluded that improvements could be realized through rear lighting 
systems that flash, neither the FMCSRs nor the Federal Motor Vehicle 
Safety Standards (FMVSS) currently permit the use of pulsating, brake-
activated lamps on the rear of CMVs.
    With respect to the use of amber lights, NHTSA has conducted 
research on the effectiveness of rear turn signal color on the 
likelihood of being involved in a rear-end crash.\7\ FMVSS

[[Page 63647]]

No. 108 allows rear turn signals to be either red or amber in color. 
The study concluded that amber signals show a 5.3 percent effectiveness 
in reducing involvement in two-vehicle crashes where a lead vehicle is 
rear-struck in the act of turning left, turning right, merging into 
traffic, changing lanes, or entering/leaving a parking space. The 
advantage of amber, compared to red, rear turn signals was shown to be 
statistically significant.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration (2009), The Effectiveness of Amber Rear Turn 
Signals for Reducing Rear Impacts; Report No. DOT HS 811 115, 
Washington, DC (April 2009).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    FMCSA acknowledges the concerns of VDOT, CVSA and other commenters 
that flashing, rotating, or pulsating red lamps are generally permitted 
only on emergency vehicles. FMCSA notes that Police and other State 
authorized emergency vehicles utilize high intensity, constantly 
flashing, rotating or pulsating red lamps visible from all directions 
on the vehicle and that continuously operate when activated. The amber 
or red brake-activated pulsating lamps requested by NTTC are visible 
only to the rear of the tanker trailer, and are similar in lamp 
intensity and flash rate of the vehicle's standard rear hazard warning 
lamps system currently allowed by the regulations. At the same time, 
however, the Agency agrees with TCA and NTTC that the 33.7 percent 
reduction in rear-end crashes documented by Groendyke between January 
1, 2015, and July 31, 2017, for its trailers that had been equipped 
with the additional lights is both persuasive and compelling, given the 
magnitude of the rear-end crash population. FMCSA believes that this 
real-world experience, along with the FMCSA and NHTSA research programs 
that demonstrated the ability of alternative rear signaling systems to 
reduce the frequency and severity of rear-end crashes, is sufficient to 
conclude that the implementation of red or amber brake-activated 
pulsating lamp in the upper center position or in an upper dual 
outboard position on the rear of the trailers, in addition to the 
steady-burning brake lamps required by the regulations, is likely to 
provide a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the 
level of safety achieved without the exemption.

Terms and Conditions for the Exemption

    The Agency hereby grants the exemption for a 5-year period, 
beginning October 8, 2020 and ending October 8, 2025. During the 
temporary exemption period, motor carriers operating tank trailers will 
be allowed to install a red or amber brake-activated pulsating lamp in 
the upper center position or in an upper dual outboard position on the 
rear of the trailers, in addition to the steady-burning brake lamps 
required by the FMCSRs.
    The exemption will be valid for 5 years unless rescinded earlier by 
FMCSA. The exemption will be rescinded if: (1) Motor carriers operating 
tank trailers fail to comply with the terms and conditions of the 
exemption; (2) the exemption has resulted in a lower level of safety 
than was maintained before it was granted; or (3) continuation of the 
exemption would not be consistent with the goals and objectives of 49 
U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315(b).
    Interested parties possessing information that would demonstrate 
that motor carriers operating tank trailers use of a red or amber 
brake-activated pulsating lamp in the upper center position or in an 
upper dual outboard position on the rear of the trailers, in addition 
to the steady-burning brake lamps required by the FMCSRs, is not 
achieving the requisite statutory level of safety should immediately 
notify FMCSA. The Agency will evaluate any such information and, if 
safety is being compromised or if the continuation of the exemption is 
not consistent with 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315(b), will take 
immediate steps to revoke the exemption.

Preemption

    In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31313(d), as implemented by 49 CFR 
381.600, during the period this exemption is in effect, no State shall 
enforce any law or regulation applicable to interstate commerce that 
conflicts with or is inconsistent with this exemption. States may, but 
are not required to, adopt the same exemption with respect to 
operations in intrastate commerce.

James W. Deck,
Deputy Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2020-22233 Filed 10-7-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P