NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Reflective Tape Truck Rule Stuck In Red Tape

December 11, 1998

Federal Highway Administration bureaucrats have been mulling whether to require truckers to put strips of reflective tape or reflectors across the backs and sides of older rigs so drivers will be better able to spot the vehicles. So far, the mulling has taken nearly five years.

  • The American Trucking Association says the tape is difficult and costly to apply to older trucks -- 1.4 million trailers would have to be marked at a cost $200 to $2,000 per truck.
  • The Federal Highway Administration says it will cost $316 per vehicle.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a tape rule for all trucks manufactured after 1993 -- but the Federal Highway Administration wants trucks made before then to get the same treatment.
  • A group called Advocates for Highway Safety has chimed in with a plea that tape markings be uniformly red and white -- and that other colors not be permitted.

Referring to NHTSA's first involvement with the issue, one Senator wrote the Secretary of Transportation that "nearly 30 years will have passed before motor carriers will be required to meet these rules."

A spokeswoman for the Federal Highway Administration is doing "everything possible" to issue a final rule, and she saw "nothing unusual" in the length of time it has taken so far.

Source: Cindy Skrzycki, "Trucking Along Without a Rule on Reflective Tape," Washington Post, December 11, 1998


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