Beefing up in Canada

NEITHER OF THE TWO MAJOR trailer manufacturers in Canada — Manac and Trailmobile Canada — had any difficulty meeting Transport Canada's new amendments to the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations dealing with stronger rear-impact guards.

That's because the amendments, which went into effect September 23, brought Canada in line with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 223, Rear Impact Guards (Sec. 571.223) of the Code of Federal Regulations of the United States — and both manufacturers already were meeting those standards.

Now they have two years to meet the second echelon of standards, which will exceed FMVSS 223.

The new regulations, which are designed to reduce rear-impact fatalities by 25-40%, will apply to newly manufactured trailers with a gross vehicle weight rating of 9980 lb or more. Trailers with a low chassis or those whose wheels or structure prevent or limit underride will not be affected.

“We've been preparing for this,” says Charles Jacques, director of special projects and project development for Manac. “We've been looking at it. We knew it was coming.

“We already had a solution for van trailers. On flatbeds, we're looking at it. We are not expecting any major issues. It takes a little more steel in the structure, but in our case, it won't be a big deal due to our design. Our trailers have a very strong rear end that can be tailored easily to a different capacity.”

Says Don Brown, director of engineering for Trailmobile Canada, “It's going to impact us. It is a stronger underride. I'm still in the beginning stages of exploring our possibilities. We did meet US regulations, and we met them readily. It wasn't a borderline deal.”

According to Canada's Technical Standards Document (TSD):

When the vehicle to which the guard is attached is resting on level ground, unloaded, with its full capacity of fuel, and with its tires inflated and air suspension, if so equipped, pressurized in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations, the guard shall comply with the requirements of S5.1.1 through S5.1.3.

The outermost surfaces of the horizontal member of the guard shall extend outboard to within 100 mm of the longitudinal vertical planes that are tangent to the side extremities of the vehicle, but shall not extend outboard of those planes.

The vertical distance between the bottom edge of the horizontal member of the guard and the ground shall not exceed 560 mm at any point across the full width of the member. Notwithstanding this requirement, guards with rounded corners may curve upward within 255 mm of the longitudinal vertical planes that are tangent to the side extremities of the vehicle.

At any height 560 mm or more above the ground, the rearmost surface of the horizontal member of the guard shall be located as close as practical to a transverse vertical plane tangent to the rear extremity of the vehicle, but no more than 305 mm forward of that plane. Notwithstanding this requirement, the horizontal member may extend rearward of the plane, and guards with rounded corners may curve forward within 255 mm of the longitudinal vertical planes that are tangent to the side extremities of the vehicle.

Guards shall be attached to the vehicle's chassis by the vehicle manufacturer in accordance with the installation instructions or procedures provided pursuant to S5.5 of Standard 223, Rear Impact Guards (Sec. 571.223) of the US Code of Federal Regulations. The vehicle must be of a type identified in the installation instructions as appropriate for the guard.

“The 4×4 bar that is used presently will probably still be good,” Jacques says. “The only thing is to make sure there is a stronger retaining structure, like the uprights. For some people, that may mean a redesign. But in our case, we have no major redesign to do. Our structure can be readily adapted to the capacity we want.

“I think it will be harder to meet for van trailers. For flatbed trailers, due to the strength of the frame in the back, it will be relatively easy to build a structure to meet that. Our trailer will not have a different appearance than it has now. It will just be a mater of dimensioning certain components in it. We already have a structure that is very strong. We can tailor it. If we want 60,000 lb, it's very easy for us. The change will marginally increase the cost of a trailer — by a few bucks.”

For Manac and Trailmobile Canada, the task now is to conduct testing.

Manac has its own in-house testing equipment, developed eight years ago. Manac used it for a real-life crash test with a tractor-trailer on November 8, 2000. Manac crashed a car traveling at 35 mph into the rear-impact guard, which stopped the car.

Brown says Trailmobile Canada has been asked by the Canadian Transportation Equipment Association to join a group of companies that will pool resources for a test, which would produce a generic design.

“I'm not real sure that's the way I want to go,” Brown says. “If we don't do it — our decision right now is not to go that way, though you can always change your mind — we'll be doing our own individual testing. That's what we did before to meet the US standards. It's going to be a priority in the next six to eight months.”

Canada's TSD lists these test procedures:

  • Point test procedure.

    With the guard mounted on the rigid test fixture or attached to a complete trailer, determine the test locations (as shown on the accompanying diagram on page 64).

    Test location P1 is the point on the rearmost surface of the horizontal member of the guard that: (a) is located at a distance of 3/8 the width of the guard from the longitudinal vertical plane passing through the center of the horizontal member; (b) lies on either side of the center of the horizontal member; and (c) is 50 mm above the bottom of the horizontal member.

    Test location P2 is the point on the rearmost surface of the horizontal member of the guard that:

    (a) lies in the longitudinal vertical plane passing through the center of the horizontal member; and (b) is 50 mm above the bottom of the horizontal member.

    Test location P3 is the point on the rearmost surface of the horizontal member of the guard that:

    (a) in the case of a guard that has only two attachment points to the horizontal member, lies at the junction of the support and the tested portion of the horizontal member; or (b) in the case of a guard that has more than two attachment points to the horizontal member, is located not less than 355 mm and not more than 635 mm from the longitudinal vertical plane passing through the center of the horizontal member; and (c) is 50 mm above the bottom of the horizontal member.

    The force application device to be employed for the point tests consists of a rectangular solid block of steel that:

    (a) is 203 mm in height, 203 mm in width, and 25 mm in thickness, with each edge of the contact surface of the block having a radius of curvature of 5 mm (plus or minus 1 mm); and (b) whose 203 mm by 203 mm face is used as the contact surface for application of the specified forces.

    Before applying a force to the guard, position the force application device so that: (a) the center point of the contact surface is aligned with and touching the guard test location; (b) its longitudinal axis passes through the test location and is perpendicular to the transverse vertical plane that is tangent to the rearmost surface of the horizontal member; and (c) it is guided to prevent rotation and so that the location of its longitudinal axis remains constant at all times during the application of force.

    After the force application device has been positioned, apply the necessary force in the following manner: (a) to the guard in a forward direction, at a rate such that the test is completed within five minutes from the application of the force, but without the average displacement rate of the force application device exceeding 90 mm per minute; and (b) until the force requirements have been exceeded or until the displacement of the force application device has reached at least 125 mm, whichever occurs first.

  • Uniform test load procedure.

    The force application device to be employed in applying the uniform test load is to be unyielding, have a height of 203 mm, and have a width that exceeds the distance between the outside edges of the outermost supports to which the tested portion of the horizontal member is attached.

    Before applying a force to the guard, position the force application device so that: (a) when applying the uniform test load, the center of the contact surface is aligned with the longitudinal vertical plane passing through the center of the horizontal member; (b) the uniform load is applied in a direction that is perpendicular to the transverse vertical plane that is tangent to the rearmost surface of the horizontal member; and (c) it is guided to prevent rotation.

    At the option of the manufacturer, apply the load in a forward direction, at a rate such that the test is completed within five minutes from the application of the load, but without the average displacement rate of the force application device exceeding 90 mm per minute. The load is to be applied until the load requirements have been exceeded or until the displacement of the force application device has reached at least 125 mm, whichever occurs first.

  • Energy absorption test procedure.

    The calculation of energy absorption that is required by section 223 of Schedule IV to the MVSR must be based on measurements taken during the uniform load test specified in section 5 or the P3 point load test specified in section 4 of this test method, at the option of the manufacturer, and must be carried out in accordance with the following: The force is to be applied to the guard until displacement of the force application device has reached 125 mm; the value of the force is to be recorded at least 10 times per 25 mm of displacement of the contact surface of the force application device; and the force is to be reduced until the guard no longer offers resistance to the force application device.

Transport Canada says over 20 fatalities and 100 injuries occur every year due to vehicles sliding under the rear of a trailer in rear-end collisions. The majority of fatal rear-end collisions occur when a vehicle strikes the rear of a trailer at a speed that differs from that of the trailer by over 30 mph.

“Small cars in Canada need better protection,” Jacques says. “What led to this is that we had a far higher percentage of subcompact cars in Canada, compared to the US, because of higher fuel costs — more than $4US per gallon.”

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