Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Application for an Exemption From Grote Industries, LLC, 78918-78921 [2020-26772]

Download as PDF 78918 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 235 / Monday, December 7, 2020 / Notices Observation #6: Training Plan Update Section 12.2 of the MOU commits DOT&PF and FHWA to update the DOT&PF training plan annually in consultation with other Federal agencies as appropriate. The DOT&PF did not update its Training Plan prior to or during the Audit 2 process. In their response to the Audit 3 PAIR, DOT&PF stated ‘‘the training plan was updated on October 29, 2019 with minor revisions to Section 5. A list of proposed training has been added to this section and the RD&T2 [Research, Development, and Technology Transfer], FHWA, and Prior Training Requests subsections have been removed.’’ Based on the information gathered through the PAIR and interviews, the audit team is satisfied that the DOT&PF addressed the training observation from the second audit. Moving forward, DOT&PF committed to coordinating with the Alaska Division Office for future annual updates of the Training Plan. [FR Doc. 2020–26790 Filed 12–4–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–22–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [Docket No. FMCSA–2020–0122] Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Application for an Exemption From Grote Industries, LLC Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT. ACTION: Notice of final disposition; grant of exemption. AGENCY: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announces its decision to grant Grote Industries, LLC’s (Grote) application for a limited 5-year exemption to allow motor carriers operating trailers and van body trucks to install amber brakeactivated pulsating warning lamps on the rear of trailers and van body trucks in addition to the steady-burning brake lamps required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). 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 effective December 7, 2020 and ending December 2, 2025. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Luke Loy, Vehicle and Roadside Operations Division, Office of Carrier, Driver, and Vehicle Safety, MC–PSV, khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:32 Dec 04, 2020 Jkt 253001 (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 Dockets Operations, 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 Dockets 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)). Grote’s Application for Exemption 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 PO 00000 Frm 00098 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 commercial motor vehicles (CMV) transporting oversized loads, and warning lamps on emergency and service vehicles authorized by State or local authorities. Grote applied for an exemption from 49 CFR 393.25(e) to allow motor carriers operating trailers and van body trucks to install brake-activated pulsating warning lamps on the rear of trailers and van body trucks in addition to the steady-burning brake lamps required by the FMCSRs. Specifically, Grote requested allowance to use: (1) An upper pair of brake-activated warning lamps centered about the centerline of the trailer such that the centerline of the outermost identification (ID) lamps to the centerline of the auxiliary braking lamps is between 6–12 inches and collinear with the three ID lamp cluster; (2) a single brake-activated warning lamp centrally located on or below the rear sill collinear with the stop/tail/turn lamps; (3) an upper pair of brakeactivated warning lamps (as described in (1) above) and a single brakeactivated warning lamp centrally located on or below the rear sill collinear with the stop/tail/turn lamps; (4) a lower pair of brake-activated warning lamps centered about the centerline of the trailer located on or below the rear sill; or (5) an upper pair of brake-activated warning lamps (as described in (1) above and a lower pair of brake-activated warning lamps as described in (4) above). The same brakeactivated warning lamp options would also be applicable to van body straight trucks. These brake-activated warning lamps would be amber in color and act as a Class II strobe (pulsate) for up to 4 seconds with each application of the brake, then steadily burn red for the duration of the time the brake circuit is activated. The brake-activated pulsating warning lamps would be in addition to the steady-burning brake lamps required by the FMCSRs. Grote is a manufacturer of vehicle lighting and safety equipment, and requests this relief on behalf of interstate motor carriers because previous research has demonstrated that the use of pulsating brake-activated warning lamps increases visibility of equipment and vehicles. The use of amber pulsating brake-activated warning lamps, in addition to steadyburning red brake lamps required by the FMCSRs, would allow commercial carriers to not only maintain operational safety levels, but also implement more efficient and effective operations. A copy of the application is included in the docket referenced at the beginning of this notice. E:\FR\FM\07DEN1.SGM 07DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 235 / Monday, December 7, 2020 / Notices khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Grote contended that the addition of the brake-activated pulsating lamp would improve safety, and stated that research shows that pulsating brake lamps installed in addition to required steady-burning red brake lamps improve visibility and prevent accidents. Grote also noted that FMCSA has previously granted a similar, but not identical, temporary exemption to 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 involving its fleet of tank trailers (84 FR 17910; April 26, 2019). Grote included in the application 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. Grote stated that the additional amber brake-activated pulsating 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 application in the Federal Register on May 12, 2020, and asked for public comment (85 FR 28136). The Agency received comments from the Transportation Safety Equipment Institute (TSEI), and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). TSEI stated that ample research has demonstrated that the use of pulsating amber lamps increases visibility of equipment and vehicles and would maintain operational safety levels, but also implement more efficient and effective operations. TSEI expressed a concern that the widespread use of amber brake-activated pulsating warning lamps may reduce the overall effectiveness of amber strobe lamps frequently used by emergency and service vehicles. TSEI recommended that human factors studies be conducted to ensure that amber brake-activated warning lamps do not affect amber strobe lamp effectiveness for emergency and service vehicles. CVSA agreed with Grote’s assessment that the previous NHTSA research identifies the safety benefits of amber brake-activated pulsating lamps, and supported allowing motor carriers operating trailers and van body trucks to VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:32 Dec 04, 2020 Jkt 253001 install amber brake-activated pulsating warning lamps on the rear of trailers and van body trucks in addition to the steady-burning brake lamps required by the FMCSRs. FMCSA Decision The FMCSA has evaluated the Grote exemption application and the comments received. The Agency acknowledges TSEI’s concerns, but believes the technical analysis provided by the applicant and the body of research the Agency considered and discussed below adequately address those concerns. The Agency believes that granting the temporary exemption to allow motor carriers operating trailers and van body trucks to install amber brake-activated pulsating warning lamps 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 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.1 2 Both FMCSA and NHTSA have conducted research 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.3 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 when rear-end collisions can occur (e.g., when 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 1 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). 2 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). 3 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). PO 00000 Frm 00099 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 78919 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 followingvehicle 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 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 rearwarning 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 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 E:\FR\FM\07DEN1.SGM 07DEN1 78920 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 235 / Monday, December 7, 2020 / Notices khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES 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).4 5 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 on-road study. Both look-up (eyedrawing) 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 4 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). 5 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). VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:32 Dec 04, 2020 Jkt 253001 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.6 FMVSS 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 TSEI that the widespread use of amber brake-activated pulsating warning lamps may reduce the overall effectiveness of amber strobe lamps frequently used by emergency and service vehicles. FMCSA believes that the FMCSA and NHTSA research programs demonstrating the ability of alternative rear-signaling systems to reduce the frequency and severity of rear-end crashes, are sufficient to conclude that implementation of amber brakeactivated pulsating warning lamps on the rear of trailers and van body trucks, 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 December 7, 2020 and ending December 2, 2025. During the temporary exemption period, motor carriers operating trailers and van body trucks will be allowed to install brakeactivated pulsating warning lamps on the rear of trailers and van body trucks, in addition to the steady-burning brake lamps required by the FMCSRs. Specifically, the exemption will allow the use of: (1) An upper pair of brakeactivated warning lamps centered about the centerline of the trailer such that the centerline of the outermost identification (ID) lamps to the centerline of the auxiliary braking lamps is between 6—12 inches and collinear 6 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). PO 00000 Frm 00100 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 with the three ID lamp cluster; (2) a single brake activated warning lamp centrally located on or below the rear sill collinear with the stop/tail/turn lamps; (3) an upper pair of brakeactivated warning lamps (as described in (1) above) and a single brakeactivated warning lamp centrally located on or below the rear sill collinear with the stop/tail/turn lamps; (4) a lower pair of brake-activated warning lamps centered about the centerline of the trailer located on or below the rear sill; or (5) an upper pair of brake-activated warning lamps (as described in (1) above and a lower pair of brake-activated warning lamps as described in (4) above). The same brakeactivated warning lamp options shall also be applicable to van body straight trucks. The brake-activated warning lamps shall be amber in color and act as a Class II strobe (pulsate) for up to 4 seconds with each application of the brake, then steadily burn red for the duration of the time the brake circuit is activated. The brake-activated warning lamps are in addition to the steadyburning 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 trailers and van body trucks 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 trailers and van body trucks allowed to install amber brake-activated pulsating warning lamps on the rear of trailers and van body trucks, in addition to the steady-burning brake lamps required by the FMCSRs, are 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 E:\FR\FM\07DEN1.SGM 07DEN1 78921 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 235 / Monday, December 7, 2020 / Notices 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. 2020–26772 Filed 12–4–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–EX–P FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Maritime Administration [Docket No. MARAD–2020–0162] Requested Administrative Waiver of the Coastwise Trade Laws: Vessel THE GOOD LIFE (Motor Yacht); Invitation for Public Comments Maritime Administration, DOT. Notice. AGENCY: ACTION: The Secretary of Transportation, as represented by the Maritime Administration (MARAD), is authorized to grant waivers of the U.S.build requirements of the coastwise trade laws to allow the carriage of no more than twelve passengers for hire on vessels, which are three years old or more. A request for such a waiver has been received by MARAD. The vessel, and a brief description of the proposed service, is listed below. DATES: Submit comments on or before January 6, 2021. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by DOT Docket Number MARAD–2020–0162 by any one of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Search MARAD–2020–0162 and follow the instructions for submitting comments. • Mail or Hand Delivery: Docket Management Facility is in the West Building, Ground Floor of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Docket Management Facility location address is: U.S. Department of Transportation, MARAD–2020–0162, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building, Room W12–140, Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except on Federal holidays. Note: If you mail or hand-deliver your comments, we recommend that you include your name and a mailing address, an email address, or a telephone number in the body of your document so that we can contact you if we have questions regarding your submission. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:32 Dec 04, 2020 Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and specific docket number. All comments received will be posted without change to the docket at www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. For detailed instructions on submitting comments, see the section entitled Public Participation. Jkt 253001 Russell Haynes, U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Room W23–461, Washington, DC 20590. Telephone 202– 366–3157, Email Russell.Haynes@ dot.gov. As described by the applicant the intended service of the vessel THE GOOD LIFE is: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: —Intended Commercial Use of Vessel: ‘‘Occasional Charters’’ —Geographic Region Including Base of Operations: ‘‘Florida’’ (Base of Operations: Miami, FL) —Vessel Length and Type: 75′ Motor Yacht The complete application is available for review identified in the DOT docket as MARAD–2020–0162 at http:// www.regulations.gov. Interested parties may comment on the effect this action may have on U.S. vessel builders or businesses in the U.S. that use U.S.-flag vessels. If MARAD determines, in accordance with 46 U.S.C. 12121 and MARAD’s regulations at 46 CFR part 388, that the issuance of the waiver will have an unduly adverse effect on a U.S.vessel builder or a business that uses U.S.-flag vessels in that business, a waiver will not be granted. Comments should refer to the vessel name, state the commenter’s interest in the waiver application, and address the waiver criteria given in section 388.4 of MARAD’s regulations at 46 CFR part 388. Public Participation How do I submit comments? Please submit your comments, including the attachments, following the instructions provided under the above heading entitled ADDRESSES. Be advised that it may take a few hours or even days for your comment to be reflected on the docket. In addition, your comments must be written in English. We encourage you to provide concise comments and you may attach additional documents as necessary. There is no limit on the length of the attachments. PO 00000 Frm 00101 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Where do I go to read public comments, and find supporting information? Go to the docket online at http:// www.regulations.gov., keyword search MARAD–2020–0162 or visit the Docket Management Facility (see ADDRESSES for hours of operation). We recommend that you periodically check the Docket for new submissions and supporting material. Will my comments be made available to the public? Yes. Be aware that your entire comment, including your personal identifying information, will be made publicly available. May I submit comments confidentially? If you wish to submit comments under a claim of confidentiality, you should submit three copies of your complete submission, including the information you claim to be confidential business information, to the Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration, Office of Legislation and Regulations, MAR–225, W24–220, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590. Include a cover letter setting forth with specificity the basis for any such claim and, if possible, a summary of your submission that can be made available to the public. Privacy Act In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT posts these comments, without edit, to www.regulations.gov, as described in the system of records notice, DOT/ALL–14 FDMS, accessible through www.dot.gov/privacy. To facilitate comment tracking and response, we encourage commenters to provide their name, or the name of their organization; however, submission of names is completely optional. Whether or not commenters identify themselves, all timely comments will be fully considered. If you wish to provide comments containing proprietary or confidential information, please contact the agency for alternate submission instructions. Authority: 49 CFR 1.93(a), 46 U.S.C. 55103, 46 U.S.C. 12121. * * * * * Dated: December 2, 2020. By Order of the Maritime Administrator. T. Mitchell Hudson, Jr., Secretary, Maritime Administration. [FR Doc. 2020–26843 Filed 12–4–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–81–P E:\FR\FM\07DEN1.SGM 07DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 235 (Monday, December 7, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 78918-78921]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-26772]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2020-0122]


Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Application 
for an Exemption From Grote Industries, LLC

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

ACTION: Notice of final disposition; grant of exemption.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) 
announces its decision to grant Grote Industries, LLC's (Grote) 
application for a limited 5-year exemption to allow motor carriers 
operating trailers and van body trucks to install amber brake-activated 
pulsating warning lamps on the rear of trailers and van body trucks in 
addition to the steady-burning brake lamps required by the Federal 
Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). 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 effective December 7, 2020 and ending December 
2, 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 
Dockets Operations, 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 Dockets 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)).

Grote's Application for Exemption

    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.
    Grote applied for an exemption from 49 CFR 393.25(e) to allow motor 
carriers operating trailers and van body trucks to install brake-
activated pulsating warning lamps on the rear of trailers and van body 
trucks in addition to the steady-burning brake lamps required by the 
FMCSRs. Specifically, Grote requested allowance to use: (1) An upper 
pair of brake-activated warning lamps centered about the centerline of 
the trailer such that the centerline of the outermost identification 
(ID) lamps to the centerline of the auxiliary braking lamps is between 
6-12 inches and collinear with the three ID lamp cluster; (2) a single 
brake-activated warning lamp centrally located on or below the rear 
sill collinear with the stop/tail/turn lamps; (3) an upper pair of 
brake-activated warning lamps (as described in (1) above) and a single 
brake-activated warning lamp centrally located on or below the rear 
sill collinear with the stop/tail/turn lamps; (4) a lower pair of 
brake-activated warning lamps centered about the centerline of the 
trailer located on or below the rear sill; or (5) an upper pair of 
brake-activated warning lamps (as described in (1) above and a lower 
pair of brake-activated warning lamps as described in (4) above). The 
same brake-activated warning lamp options would also be applicable to 
van body straight trucks. These brake-activated warning lamps would be 
amber in color and act as a Class II strobe (pulsate) for up to 4 
seconds with each application of the brake, then steadily burn red for 
the duration of the time the brake circuit is activated. The brake-
activated pulsating warning lamps would be in addition to the steady-
burning brake lamps required by the FMCSRs.
    Grote is a manufacturer of vehicle lighting and safety equipment, 
and requests this relief on behalf of interstate motor carriers because 
previous research has demonstrated that the use of pulsating brake-
activated warning lamps increases visibility of equipment and vehicles. 
The use of amber pulsating brake-activated warning lamps, in addition 
to steady-burning red brake lamps required by the FMCSRs, would allow 
commercial carriers to not only maintain operational safety levels, but 
also implement more efficient and effective operations.
    A copy of the application is included in the docket referenced at 
the beginning of this notice.

[[Page 78919]]

    Grote contended that the addition of the brake-activated pulsating 
lamp would improve safety, and stated that research shows that 
pulsating brake lamps installed in addition to required steady-burning 
red brake lamps improve visibility and prevent accidents. Grote also 
noted that FMCSA has previously granted a similar, but not identical, 
temporary exemption to 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).
    Grote included in the application 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. Grote stated that the 
additional amber brake-activated pulsating 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 application in the Federal Register 
on May 12, 2020, and asked for public comment (85 FR 28136). The Agency 
received comments from the Transportation Safety Equipment Institute 
(TSEI), and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA).
    TSEI stated that ample research has demonstrated that the use of 
pulsating amber lamps increases visibility of equipment and vehicles 
and would maintain operational safety levels, but also implement more 
efficient and effective operations. TSEI expressed a concern that the 
widespread use of amber brake-activated pulsating warning lamps may 
reduce the overall effectiveness of amber strobe lamps frequently used 
by emergency and service vehicles. TSEI recommended that human factors 
studies be conducted to ensure that amber brake-activated warning lamps 
do not affect amber strobe lamp effectiveness for emergency and service 
vehicles.
    CVSA agreed with Grote's assessment that the previous NHTSA 
research identifies the safety benefits of amber brake-activated 
pulsating lamps, and supported allowing motor carriers operating 
trailers and van body trucks to install amber brake-activated pulsating 
warning lamps on the rear of trailers and van body trucks in addition 
to the steady-burning brake lamps required by the FMCSRs.

FMCSA Decision

    The FMCSA has evaluated the Grote exemption application and the 
comments received. The Agency acknowledges TSEI's concerns, but 
believes the technical analysis provided by the applicant and the body 
of research the Agency considered and discussed below adequately 
address those concerns.
    The Agency believes that granting the temporary exemption to allow 
motor carriers operating trailers and van body trucks to install amber 
brake-activated pulsating warning lamps 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 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.1 2
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    \1\ 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).
    \2\ 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).
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    Both FMCSA and NHTSA have conducted research 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.\3\ 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 when 
rear-end collisions can occur (e.g., when 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.
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    \3\ 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).
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    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 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

[[Page 78920]]

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).4 5
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    \4\ 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).
    \5\ 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).
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    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 on-road study. 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.\6\ FMVSS 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.
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    \6\ 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).
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    FMCSA acknowledges the concerns of TSEI that the widespread use of 
amber brake-activated pulsating warning lamps may reduce the overall 
effectiveness of amber strobe lamps frequently used by emergency and 
service vehicles. FMCSA believes that the FMCSA and NHTSA research 
programs demonstrating the ability of alternative rear-signaling 
systems to reduce the frequency and severity of rear-end crashes, are 
sufficient to conclude that implementation of amber brake-activated 
pulsating warning lamps on the rear of trailers and van body trucks, 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 December 7, 2020 and ending December 2, 2025. During the 
temporary exemption period, motor carriers operating trailers and van 
body trucks will be allowed to install brake-activated pulsating 
warning lamps on the rear of trailers and van body trucks, in addition 
to the steady-burning brake lamps required by the FMCSRs. Specifically, 
the exemption will allow the use of: (1) An upper pair of brake-
activated warning lamps centered about the centerline of the trailer 
such that the centerline of the outermost identification (ID) lamps to 
the centerline of the auxiliary braking lamps is between 6--12 inches 
and collinear with the three ID lamp cluster; (2) a single brake 
activated warning lamp centrally located on or below the rear sill 
collinear with the stop/tail/turn lamps; (3) an upper pair of brake-
activated warning lamps (as described in (1) above) and a single brake-
activated warning lamp centrally located on or below the rear sill 
collinear with the stop/tail/turn lamps; (4) a lower pair of brake-
activated warning lamps centered about the centerline of the trailer 
located on or below the rear sill; or (5) an upper pair of brake-
activated warning lamps (as described in (1) above and a lower pair of 
brake-activated warning lamps as described in (4) above). The same 
brake-activated warning lamp options shall also be applicable to van 
body straight trucks. The brake-activated warning lamps shall be amber 
in color and act as a Class II strobe (pulsate) for up to 4 seconds 
with each application of the brake, then steadily burn red for the 
duration of the time the brake circuit is activated. The brake-
activated warning lamps are 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 
trailers and van body trucks 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 trailers and van body trucks allowed to 
install amber brake-activated pulsating warning lamps on the rear of 
trailers and van body trucks, in addition to the steady-burning brake 
lamps required by the FMCSRs, are 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

[[Page 78921]]

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. 2020-26772 Filed 12-4-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P