A new study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirms that the reflective tape now being required to make trailers on big trucks easier to see is effective in preventing crashes. This 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 United States have been equipped with highly reflective tape.
According to the 55-page study, reflective tape reduces nighttime side and rear impacts into heavy trailers by 29%.
NHTSA requires all heavy trailers manufactured after November 1993 to be equipped with highly reflective tape or its equivalent in the form of reflectors. In March 1999, the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Motor Carriers (now the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) required that on-the-road heavy trailers be so equipped by June 1, 2001.