DOT Regulations on Conspicuity

[box type=”shadow”]The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which regulates the Department of Transportation (DOT), published a new federal law requiring reflective tape on all trailers and semi trucks that are at least 80 inches wide and weigh more than 10,000 pounds. The law is intended to cut down on accidents caused by poor visibility at night and in poor weather. The law also includes positioning requirements.

[box type=”shadow”]Trailer
Install red and white retroreflective sheeting or reflex reflectors on trailers with an overall width of 2,032 mm or 80 inches and manufactured on or after Dec. 1, 1993. Comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 108 (49 CFR 571.108) when applying sheeting and reflectors, whether for original use or replacement. The manufacturers of reflectors and sheeting have the responsibility to obtain compliance certification markings for their product. Certification markings vary depending on the type of conspicuity material. Examples are DOT-C (rectangular reflex reflectors), DOT-C2 (50 millimeters wide retroreflective sheeting, DOT-C3 75 (75 mm wide retroreflective sheeting) and DOT-C4 (100 mm wide retroreflective sheeting.)

Rectangular Trailers
Trailers that are rectangular must have red and white along the entire bottom of the back of the trailer and the entire lower rear bar as well. They also must have red and white on the bottom of both sides from front to back. This can be broken up into even segments, but tape must cover at least 50 percent of the total side length.

Top of Rectangular Trailers
Rectangle trailers must also have white or silver tape along the top corners in the back, forming an L shape, and each strip must be at least 12 inches long. The silver tape is not required along the top of the sides for a rectangular trailer.

Circular Trailers

Circular trailers used to carry gas or other liquid material have the same tape requirements along the bottom of the back as well as the sides. Due to the circular top, though, the white or silver tape must be placed at the highest outer portion of the top.

Truck Tractors
Install red and white retroreflective material on truck tractors manufactured on or after July 1, 1997. The NHTSA requires the material to be placed on the rear of the tractor in the same manner as reflective materials are placed in trailers. The manufacturers of the truck tractors have the option of either installing retroreflective sheeting or reflex reflectors.

Put retroreflective tape or reflex reflectors on trailers and semi-trailers that fall under retrofit conditions mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). The specific conditions are trailers and semi-trailers that were manufactured before Dec.1, 1993, trailers and semi-trailers with an overall width of at least 2,032 mm (80 inches) and have a gross weight rating of 4,536 kg (10,001 pounds) and above. An additional condition is trailers and semi-trailers used in interstate commerce.