Straight Blade Snowplow
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Is your plow truck safe and legal according to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS)? Here are a few tips for snow and ice contractors regarding ballast weight, backup cameras, and lighting for your FISHER® snow plow and spreader equipment.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issues FMVSS standards in order to prevent and reduce vehicle crashes. Although each state and municipality may have their own specific laws and ordinances, there are a few standards that winter service contractors should be highly aware of.
Understanding Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings (GVWR) and Gross Axle Weight Ratings (GAWR) are important to make sure weight limits are not exceeded and safety conditions are met. The vehicle manufacturer sets these requirements so equipment manufacturers know how much additional weight the truck is meant to safely carry and can design products to meet those needs.
Contractors must comply by installing the proper snow plow and/or spreader that is not too heavy and adequately ballasted for proper weight distribution. Find the right FISHER fit for your vehicle using the eMatch system to easily identify viable plow options or the spreader selector tool to determine your spreader match.
Before 2014, the law just focused on the need for rearview mirrors but has now evolved to include backup cameras as well. Expanding the required field-of-view for all vehicles less than 10,000 pounds GVWR to include the 10-foot by 20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle too.
Active Backups Cameras Are Required by Federal Law
Some truck tailgates need to be removed when installing a spreader, like the STEEL-CASTER™ and POLY-CASTER™. If that’s the case, federal law requires a replacement backup camera to provide the same level of visibility. A hitch mounted spreader may work since the camera view is not completely obstructed. It is the responsibility of the person altering the vehicle to make sure the visibility requirements for FMVSS 111 are satisfied.
When installed according to the product installation instructions, FISHER snowplows will meet FMVSS 108. Check your local ordinance to see what the law requirements are for plow drivers and if you are allowed strobe lighting or any additional lighting to be compliant.
Aiming Your Plow Headlights Properly
Plow headlights that are improperly aimed can make it difficult for the occupant and oncoming driver to see. Here is a video on how to adjust them for optimal visibility. Be careful when using aftermarket plow headlights or adding an LED bulb in halogen-headlamp housing—these are not the intended design to provide safe light output and are illegal.
The FISHER INTENSIFIRE™ LED Headlamps with patented EdgeView™ technology are rated at the highest LED light output in the market that the standard allows. Offering a full 180 degrees of light visibility with solid optics that specifically place light exactly where it needs to be.
When a complete vehicle is initially produced, the manufacturer certifies that the vehicle meets all applicable FMVSS in effect at that time—including FMVSS 208 in the event of a crash. When an installer of snowplow equipment works on a new, untitled vehicle, they are required to certify the vehicle will continue to meet all FMVSS requirements, including occupant crash protection. For a previously titled vehicle, the installer of snowplow equipment is not allowed to render the vehicle out of compliance, even though there is no certification required.
Fortunately, Fisher Engineering does the compliance testing and evaluation work for our plow installers by:
FISHER Plow Truck Crash Testing
Fisher Engineering is one of the few snowplow manufacturers in North America that perform our own crash testing to ensure FMVSS 208 compliance. We utilize certified vehicle testing labs that also perform crash testing for the federal government and vehicle manufacturers.
It is because of this process that an installer of a FISHER truck plow can be confident that they have not rendered the vehicle’s occupant crash protection systems inoperable, they will be able to meet FMVSS 208 requirements and certify if needed (assuming it was installed per installation instructions and plow application guidelines).
Complying with FMVSS standards is important for the safe use of the vehicle and snow plow operators. Having the proper ballast weight, rearview visibility, and safe lighting are key to staying road legal while driving a plow truck.