“We’ve been trying to get people to recognize that compliance decal,” says Lancaster, “so fleet managers and rental stores have some assurance that a third-party entity has gone to that plant, looked at their operation, looked at their product and ensured that they at least meet the minimum manufacturing requirements.”
Compliance verification as a requirement for NATM membership went into effect at the beginning of this year. To put this in perspective, about 30% of all trailer manufacturers are members of the NATM, and those companies produce about 80% of the trailers in use today.
Brake standard coming soon
In addition to addressing trailer safety among its members, the NATM is approaching the issue from a broader perspective. Last year, it brought in the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association and National Marine Manufacturers Association to create an industry work group for standardized brake performance.
“We’re trying to develop a standard for brake performance that we can accept as an industry,” says Lancaster.
The group is close to finishing its draft of the standard, which will then go to SAE to be fully developed. “Once we have that standard, then we can go back to members and say, ‘This is the way you should do it.’ It won’t be the law, but it will be the first step,” Lancaster indicates.
If all goes as planned, there could be an official braking standard by the end of 2012, which could then be implemented as early as the beginning of 2013. “Once implemented, it’s still a voluntary standard,” says Lancaster. “But we intend to put this brake standard into our compliance inspections.”
Take responsibility for safety
The NATM is working to ensure the safety of trailers on the road, and the initiatives it’s pursuing promise to further that goal.
In the meantime, it’s up to equipment owners to be aware of the current safety standards in the state(s) in which you operate, and to do what you can to ensure compliance by purchasing trailers that have the NATM compliance decal on them. Doing so not only benefits the general public, it helps to protect your business from potential liability and needless expense should your equipment be found to not meet regulations.