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CTEA chafes at rear guard rule

QUEBEC CITY, Que. -- Members of the Canadian Transportation Equipment Association (CTEA) continue to chafe at a dec...

QUEBEC CITY, Que. — Members of the Canadian Transportation Equipment Association (CTEA) continue to chafe at a decision to introduce Canadian-made rules for rear impact guards, finalized Oct. 6.

In an annual conference covering everything from infrastructure-friendly trailers to air brake systems and load security regulations, the group still found time for a last-minute session to address the new rules – and take a shot at Canadian regulators for their approach.

"We continued to hope that harmonization with the U.S. would rule the day, but this was not to be," CTEA president Dave Kell said during his address to the 41st annual meeting. "Our Aug. 8, 2004 letter to the new minister of transport [Jean C. Lapierre], asking that he reconsider harmonization on the issue, was not even formally acknowledged."

Manufacturers now face the reality of having to prove their designs meet the new Canadian standards and the CTEA is now gathering information to upgrade a program that’s used to certify the strength of different designs.

"In particular, rear infrastructure design comparisons will be necessary to make sure the recommendations cover as broad a base of applications as possible," Kell added. "Besides the steel [rear impact guard], we hope to include recommendations for aluminum and stainless steel guards."

The main differences in the Canadian regulations relate to the guard’s strength, and when the maximum distance to the road must be measured.

While U.S. rules test the strength of the bumper along various points, the new Canadian regulations also measure a force applied along the full width of the guard. "It requires the rear impact guard to be a whole lot stronger," National Research Council senior research officer John Billing said during his session that addressed the new rules.

And while the new rules require guards to hang no more than 560 mm above the road, matching the U.S. figure, Canadian regulators expect that height after a collision something particularly difficult considering that such bars tend to push inward and upward after a heavy crash.

The requirements could be met by adding supports, or by building guards on an angle, Billing says.

"Designing a guard that is strong enough is not a problem. Attaching that guard to a vehicle, particularly a van, may be a problem The manufacturer has to figure out how to do it."

The U.S.-based National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is to report by late 2005 or 2006 on plans to update its own rules.

"In my personal opinion, CTEA should continue to press Transport Canada and NHTSA to get their acts together," Billing added, referring to the value of harmonization.

The Canadian standards are effective as of next September, although manufacturers have the option of meeting only the U.S. regulations until September 2007.

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