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European semi-trailer manufacturers working to comply to new underride regulation

A NEW underride (under-run) regulation with strength requirements twice current standards takes effect March 11 in Europe.

European semi-trailer manufacturers have been working to develop guards that will meet the mandates of the European Commission's amendment of Directive 70/221/EEC. The rule strengthens a directive that was introduced in 2006.

Much like NHTSA's underride standards, the European guards are tested outboard, near the support members, and in the middle. The under-run protection on the outside (11.8 inches from the outside edge) and in the middle must be able to withstand a test force of 50 kN. This corresponds to approximately 5.5 tons. In the area of the longitudinal supports, the guard must withstand a force equivalent to 11 tons.

Directive 70/221/EEC is one of the separate directives pertaining to the European Community type-approval procedure, the process by which vehicles are certified for compliance with European safety regulations.

If the trailer does not meet the requirements related to rear under-run protection, member nations will refuse its registration or prohibit its sale or entry into service. The directive also addresses underride devices sold as separate equipment. If the under-run device does not comply, it cannot be sold or allowed to enter into service.

The amendment requires that a vehicle shall be tested under the following conditions:

  • It must be at rest on a level, flat, rigid, and smooth surface.

  • The front wheels must be in the straight-ahead position.

  • The tires must be inflated to the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

  • If the vehicle is equipped with hydropneumatic, hydraulic, or pneumatic suspension or a device for automatic leveling according to load, it must be tested with the suspension or device in the normal running condition specified by the manufacturer.

Among the products designed to comply with the directive, German trailer maker Kögel Fahrzeugwerke has introduced a new rear design that includes separate light bracket and under-run protection. This enables the new light bracket to be replaced independently from the under-run protection if damaged. It is made of impact-resistant plastic and is corrosion-free.

Swedish manufacturer VBG says it now has a complete range of under-run protection kits for trucks and trailers.

“The system of safety beams and end plates can be adapted to most types of trucks,” says VBG sales & marketing manager Howard Ostle.

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