Senior Manager of Engineering
1900 North Street
P.O. Box 111
Marysville, Kansas 66508
Dear Mr. Anderson:
This responds to your letter concerning our December 10, 1996, interpretation to your associate Mr. Thomas Joyce, regarding Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 224, "Rear Impact Protection." I apologize for the delay in responding. You asked us to reexamine the letter as it would affect your tilt bed trailers.
As we stated in the December 10 letter, to be excluded from Standard 224, work performing equipment on the vehicle must reside in or move through the area specified for the underride guard "while the vehicle is in transit." The quoted language means during the period that the vehicle itself is traveling over the road. Your letter appears to assume that because your frame rails are work performing equipment that move through the area specified for the underride guard, the special purpose vehicle exclusion must apply to your trailers. As the regulation is currently written, that is not so. The fact that the frame rails move out of that area while your vehicle is in transit and, as your letter says, cannot move through that area during transit, means that the exclusion does not apply to your vehicles.
Under one of our regulations (49 CFR Part 555), vehicle manufacturers may apply for a temporary exemption from the Federal motor vehicle safety standards. Under Sec. 555.6(a), a manufacturer whose yearly production is not more than 10,000 units may ask for an exemption of up to three years on the basis that compliance would cause it substantial economic hardship and that it has attempted in good faith to comply with the standard from which it has asked to be excused. I have enclosed a copy of Part 555 for your information. Please note that it takes three to four months from the date of submittal before a decision can be made on such an application because it has to be submitted for public comment.
I understand that you and Paul Atelsek of my staff discussed possible engineering solutions that you have not yet explored. If you need further assistance, please contact Mr. Atelsek at (202) 366-2992.
Acting Chief Counsel
Enclosure: 49 CFR Part 555