A study released yesterday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that the reflective tape now required on trailers to make them more visible is effective in preventing crashes.
The study estimates that fully-implemented federal visibility requirements for heavy trailers will prevent 7,800 crashes annually. The study also estimates that 191 to 350 fatalities per year will be prevented, along with 3,100 to 5,000 injuries, once all heavy trailers in the U.S. fleet have been equipped with the tape.
According to the study, reflective tape reduces side and rear crashes into heavy trailers, particularly at night "when even a vigilant motorist might not see an untreated trailer in time for a crash." The tape reduces non-daylight side and rear impacts into heavy trailers by 29%.
The Florida Highway Patrol and the Pennsylvania State Police collected data for the NHTSA study between 1997 and 1999. The two law enforcement agencies amassed information on 10,959 crash cases involving heavy trailers.
"Better visibility means fewer crashes, and fewer crashes translate into injuries prevented and lives saved," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta. "Reflective tape is proving to be a very effective component in our plan to improve truck safety and support the Bush Administration's goal to reduce the number of truck-related crashes."
NHTSA requires all heavy trailers manufactured after November 1993 to be equipped with highly reflective tape or reflex reflectors. Beginning June 1, all heavy trailers made before December 1993 and used in interstate commerce must be retrofitted with the tape.