DOT Announces Trailer Reflector Retrofit

March 28, 1999

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A new Federal Highway Administration requirement will make trucking companies install reflective tape or reflectors on trailers.

FHWA Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle said that the final rule symbolizes the department’s commitment to exploring new ways to improve highway safety. It is the first time that the agency has required trucking companies to retrofit vehicles to meet a new vehicle standard. The department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since 1993 has required trailer manufacturers to equip new trailers with red and white reflective tape or reflex reflectors.
The final rule, applicable to trailers manufactured before Dec. 1, 1993, becomes effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register and requires motor carriers to complete retrofitting of older trailers within two years of the effective date.
As part of the rulemaking, the FHWA is allowing motor carriers that have voluntarily fitted pre-1993 trailers with colors other than red and white tape to continue using the non-conforming colors for 10 years.
However, the rule requires that, at the end of the 10-year transition period, all trailers must be equipped with red-and-white reflective tape or reflex reflectors.
According to the FHWA, this rulemaking will save more than 100 lives and prevent more than 1,700 injuries associated with passenger cars colliding with trailers over the next 10 years. In addition, the rule will prevent approximately 2,550 property-damage-only crashes.
The rule is available on the Internet at and will be published in the Federal Register this week.

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