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Trinity Trailer Mfg., Inc.; Application for Temporary Exemption From Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 224

American Government Topics:  Trinity

Trinity Trailer Mfg., Inc.; Application for Temporary Exemption From Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 224

L. Robert Shelton
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
January 15, 1998

[Federal Register: January 15, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 10)]
[Page 2446]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
[Docket No. NHTSA-98-3306]

Trinity Trailer Mfg., Inc.; Application for Temporary Exemption 
From Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 224

    Trinity Trailer Mfg., Inc. (formerly Farm Bed Mfg., Inc.), of 
Boise, Idaho, has applied for a three-year temporary exemption from 
Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 224 Rear Impact Protection. The basis 
of the application is that compliance would cause substantial economic 
hardship to a manufacturer that has tried in good faith to comply with 
the standard.
    This notice of receipt of the application is published in 
accordance with agency regulations on the subject and does not 
represent any judgment by the agency about the merits of the 
    Trinity Trailer manufactures and sells the ``Eagle Bridge,'' self-
unloading bulk trailers that have small conveyor belts at the lower 
rear of the trailer to unload potatoes and other agricultural products. 
The rear shaft mount for the conveyor belt protrudes 24 inches from the 
rear of the trailer in order to drop the cargo onto another conveyor 
belt that is located at the unloading site. Because Standard No. 224 
excludes a ``special purpose vehicle,'' the applicant had asked NHTSA 
on June 28, 1996, for an interpretation that the Eagle Bridge qualified 
for exclusion because it was manufactured with ``work-performing 
equipment.'' On August 22, 1997, NHTSA replied that the Eagle Bridge 
was not excluded. Paragraph S4 of Standard No. 224 defines a special 
purpose vehicle as ``a trailer or semi-trailer having work-performing 
equipment * * * that, while the vehicle is in transit, resides in or 
moves through the area that could be occupied by the horizontal member 
of the rear underride guard * * *.'' (Emphasis added). As NHTSA wrote 
the applicant, ``[t]he small conveyor belt of the Eagle Bridge at no 
time passes through the area where the horizontal member of the rear 
underride guard would be located, and it certainly does not do so while 
the vehicle is in transit.''
    The applicant received NHTSA's interpretation approximately seven 
months before the due date for compliance. Standard No. 224 requires, 
effective January 26, 1998, that all trailers with a GVWR of 4536 Kg or 
more be fitted with a rear impact guard that conforms to Standard No. 
223 Rear impact guards. Because of the costs involved in re-engineering 
its trailers to accommodate a rear impact guard, Trinity Trailer has 
asked for an exemption of three years. The company presented cost 
estimates indicating that the costs to conform at the end of a three 
year period would be $637,720 with a corresponding increase in the 
price of its trailers of $709, as compared with a cost to conform of 
$882,920 and a trailer price increase of $2,943 at the end of a one-
year exemption. The applicant represents that an increase of this 
magnitude would effectively price its trailers out of the market. In 
the absence of an exemption, Trinity Trailer will be forced to close 
because the Eagle Bridge is its sole product. The company's net income 
for 1996 was only $137,798 which represented a decline from 1995's net 
income of $611,145. The company manufactured 263 trailers in the 12-
month period preceding the filing of its application.
    The applicant believes that it has made a good faith effort to meet 
Standard No. 224, saying that, prior to requesting its interpretation 
from NHTSA, ``hundreds of hours were spent to find an automatically 
retracting rear impact guard,'' only to find that none are available in 
the United States. Its engineers have not been successful ``in making a 
moveable guard or a moveable rear shaft and tail fins.'' The 
application contains the alternate means of compliance that have been 
examined, and sets forth the reasons for the rejection of each. It 
believes that it can achieve full compliance by the end of a three-year 
exemption period.
    The applicant believes that an exemption would be in the public 
interest and consistent with traffic safety objectives because there is 
no history of injuries from motor vehicle accidents involving the rear 
conveyor belt system on its trailers. Further, ``the possibility of 
injury to occupants of a vehicle impacting the rear of a Trinity 
trailer is minimal because of Trinity's wheels-back design.'' These 
trailers are used extensively by the agricultural industry in the 
Pacific Northwest, and the applicant estimates that ``well over half of 
all potatoes harvested in the States of Idaho and Washington are hauled 
in Trinity trailers.
    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on the petition 
described above. Comments should refer to the docket and notice number, 
and be submitted to: Docket Management, National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration, room PL-410, 400 Seventh Street, SW, Washington, DC 
20590. It is requested but not required that 2 copies be submitted.
    All comments received before the close of business on the comment 
closing date below will be considered, and will be available for 
examination in the docket at the above address both before and after 
that date, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To the extent possible, comments 
filed after the closing date will also be considered. Notice of final 
action on the petition will be published in the Federal Register 
pursuant to the authority indicated below.
    Comment closing date: February 4, 1998.

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30113; delegations of authority at 49 CFR 
1.50 and 501.4.

    Issued on January 9, 1998.
L. Robert Shelton,
Associate Administrator for Safety Performance Standards.
[FR Doc. 98-999 Filed 1-14-98; 8:45 am]

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