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Red River Manufacturing, Inc.; Petition for Temporary Exemption From Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 224


American Government

Red River Manufacturing, Inc.; Petition for Temporary Exemption From Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 224

L. Robert Shelton
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
February 2, 1998

[Federal Register: February 2, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 21)]
[Notices]               
[Page 5416]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr02fe98-115]

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

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
[Docket No. NHTSA-98-3355; Notice 1]

 
Red River Manufacturing, Inc.; Petition for Temporary Exemption 
From Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 224

    Red River Manufacturing, Inc., of West Fargo, North Dakota, has 
petitioned for a three-year temporary exemption from Motor Vehicle 
Safety Standard No. 224 Rear Impact Protection. The basis of the 
petition 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 petition is published in accordance 
with agency regulations on the subject and does not represent any 
judgment by the agency about the merits of the petition.
    The applicant manufactures and sells horizontal discharge trailers. 
One type is used in the road construction industry to deliver asphalt 
and other road building materials to the construction site, and the 
other type to haul feed, seed, and agricultural products such as sugar 
beets and potatoes, from the fields to hoppers for storage or 
processing. Both are known by the name ``Live Bottom.''
    Standard No. 224 requires, effective January 26, 1998, that all 
trailers with a GVWR of 4536 Kg or more, including Live Bottom 
trailers, be fitted with a rear impact guard that conforms to Standard 
No. 223 Rear impact guards. The applicant, which manufactured 265 Live 
Bottom trailers in 1996 has asked for an exemption of three years in 
order to develop a rear impact guard that conforms to Standard No. 223 
and can be installed in compliance with Standard No. 224, while 
retaining its functionality and price-competitiveness. In the absence 
of an exemption, it believes that approximately 50 percent of its work 
force would have to be laid off. Its gross revenues would decrease by 
$4,000,000 to $5,000,000 (these have averaged $13,049,311 over its 
1994, 1995, and 1996 fiscal years).
    Present studies show that the placement of a retractable rear 
impact guard would likely catch excess asphalt and agricultural 
products as they were discharged into hoppers. Further, the increased 
cost of the Live Bottom, were it required to comply immediately, would 
likely cause contractors to choose the cheaper alternative of dump 
trucks. Finally, the increased weight of a retractable rear impact 
guard would significantly decrease the payload of the Live Bottom.
    In mid 1996, the applicant's design staff began exploring options 
for compliance with Standard No. 224. Through a business partner in 
Denmark, the company reviewed the European rear impact protection 
systems. Because these designs must be manually operated by ground 
personnel, they would not be acceptable to the applicant's American 
customers. Later in 1996, Red River decided to investigate powered 
retractable rear impact guards. The initial design could not meet the 
energy absorption requirements of Standard No. 223. The company is now 
investigating another design for retractable rear impact guards, which 
``is being refined and analyzed.
    The applicant believes that an exemption would be in the public 
interest and consistent with traffic safety objectives because the Live 
Bottom ``can be used safely where it would be hazardous or impractical 
to use end dump trailers, such as on uneven terrain or in places with 
low overhead clearances.'' These trailers are ``valuable to the 
agricultural sector'' because of the advantages they offer in the 
handling of relatively fragile cargo. An exemption ``would have no 
adverse effect on the safety of the general public'' because the Live 
Bottom spends very little of its operating life on the highway and the 
likelihood of its being involved in a rear-end collision is minimal. In 
addition, the design of the Live Bottom is such that the rear tires act 
as a buffer and reduce the likelihood of impact with the trailer.
    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-401, 400 Seventh Street, SW, Washington, DC 
20590. It is requested but not required that 10 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, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 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 23, 1998.

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

    Issued on: January 28, 1998.
L. Robert Shelton,
Associate Administrator for Safety Performance Standards.
[FR Doc. 98-2486 Filed 1-30-98; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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