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WHAT IS A TMA TRUCK?

A TMA truck, or truck mounted attenuator truck, is a safety truck that is placed strategically in a highway work zone to protect workers from errant vehicles in oncoming traffic. The truck has an impact attenuator, or crash cushion, that absorbs the kinetic energy of the colliding vehicle. This type of work zone safety vehicle that is used as a protective barrier may also be referred to as: safety truck, crash truck, scorpion truck, impact attenuator truck, cushion truck, bumper truck, hero truck, or traffic control truck.

WHAT ARE OTHER NAMES FOR A TMA TRUCK?

TMA trucks may be referred to by many different names such as Attenuator Truck, Crash Truck, Safety Truck, Scorpion Truck, Shadow Truck or Vehicle, Impact Attenuator Truck, Cushion Truck, Traffic Control Truck, Bumper Truck, Hero Truck, or Impact Protection Vehicle.  To learn more about TMA trucks, take our virtual TMA truck tour or visit our blog

ARE TMA TRUCKS ONLY USED FOR ROADWAY OPERATIONS?

No. While TMA trucks have traditionally been used to protect workers in highway construction and traffic control operations, they have also become increasingly important to traffic incident management (TIM). Emergency responders including law enforcement, fire/EMS personnel, and tow truck operators face the same dangers of being injured or killed given their direct exposure to passing traffic. With a TMA present, these workers can safely and effectively work on the operation at hand with less probability of a secondary incident or impact event.

WHAT MAKES ROYAL TMA TRUCKS DIFFERENT?

While many TMA trucks may look the same, they’re not all built the same.  The engineering and details that go into building a Royal truck are the result of decades of experience combined with direct feedback from our customers.  For example, where our competitors bolt-on, we weld.  Where they provide an open man bucket, we provide one with an adjustable safety hoop for worker protection.  Where they lack important safety features such as locking lids, caution decals, edge definition, and stationary racks, we offer all of these plus swinging racks that lock and latch.  From wiring, harness, plugs, body and ballasting, we build our trucks with only the best parts and using best practices to provide the safest and highest quality trucks on the market.    

What else sets us apart?

    • We affix a Final Stage Manufacturer’s Decal to each new and used build, federally certifying the truck.
    • We manufacture TMA trucks for all 50 state-specific builds and Canada.
    • We warranty new and used trucks and provide full support in the event of a TMA impact.
    • We are a Certified Repair Facility for Scorpion and Blade.  In the event of a crash, we are qualified to repair and recertify the TMA for use.
    • Our exclusive body design is not only customizable but also completely modular so you can save time, effort and money with easily unplugging and removing your attenuator when it needs servicing or repair.  

WHAT IS AN ATMA?

The ATMA (Autonomous TMA) truck is a self-driving TMA truck that operates completely unmanned in a Follower mode when paired with a Leader vehicle. This eliminates the need for a worker to drive a vehicle that is intended to be hit. The innovative technology was first developed for use by the U.S. military and has since been adapted for the roadway construction industry through our partnership with Kratos Defense. Read more about our Autonomous TMA Truck.

HOW DANGEROUS ARE WORK ZONES?

Extremely! In 2018, there were over 750 fatalities in work zones across the country. Just last year, 67% of highway contractors in the United States reported crashes in their construction work zones. In fact work zone crashes have become so common that its no longer if a crash occurs but rather when it will occur. Given these concerning statistics, not having a TMA truck in your work zone leaves your work crews exposed to errant drivers and puts them at risk of significant injury or even death. For the latest statistics, visit the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse.

WHY SHOULD I HAVE A TMA TRUCK IN MY FLEET?

The most important reason is to keep your workers safe.  A work zone crash occurred every 5.6 minutes in the United States in 2017 and, in the past year, 54% of workers reported motor vehicle crashes in their work zones.  It has become a matter of when – not if – your workers will experience at least one or possibly more work zone crashes during their career.  For information about TMA regulations and requirements in your state, request a copy of our free book.

WHAT IS ROLL AHEAD DISTANCE?

Roll ahead distance, or RAD, is the distance a TMA truck will be displaced in the event of an impact. This is extremely important to know so your attenuator truck does not roll into your work zone and injure your workers. Many states require a specific distance between the TMA truck and workers. To learn more about regulations in your state, request a copy of our FREE Attenuator Truck Regulations Book.

DOES THE WEIGHT OF A TMA TRUCK MATTER?

Yes. If you plan to utilize the truck on roads with speed limit of greater than 60mph, your TMA truck should have a minimum operating weight of 20,000lbs +/- 1,000lbs. An attenuator truck that does not meet this recommended weight is susceptible to an increased roll ahead distance.  In the event of a crash, this puts working crew members in potential danger, increasing the likelihood of injuries or fatalities.

WHY CHOOSE AIR BRAKES OVER HYDRAULIC BRAKES?

While hydraulic brakes and air brakes are both acceptable for a TMA truck, hydraulic brakes are not recommended.  Why?  Upon impact, they can fail, allowing the truck to free-wheel into your work zone.  With hydraulic brakes, the parking brake housing consists of 2 small brake shoes that hold the drive shaft by using the cable tension of the hand brake.  These small brake shoes can explode upon the impact of a heavy vehicle – lunging the truck forward and endangering the safety and lives of the men and women working in front of the truck.

CAN I RAISE OR LOWER THE ATTENUATOR WHILE DRIVING?

No. You should never raise or lower the attenuator while the truck is in motion. Always come to a complete stop, park the vehicle, and ensure the area around your TMA truck is clear before deploying or stowing the attenuator.

DO I NEED A CDL TO DRIVE A TMA TRUCK?

Not for TMA trucks built by Royal Truck & Equipment.  We build our trucks on underrated cab and chassis to bring the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) under 26,000lbs.  This allows for drivers to operate the truck without a commercial driver’s license (CDL). To confirm the GVWR on your specific truck, refer to the Final Stage Manufacturer’s Decal typically located inside the driver’s side door jamb.

DO I NEED ANY SPECIAL TRAINING TO DRIVE A TMA TRUCK?

In the United States, there is no formal training required to be a TMA truck driver.  However if you are considering driving a TMA truck, we recommend looking into training offered by ATSSA (American Traffic Safety Services Association), specifically the course for “Operation and Application of Truck-Mounted Attenuators (TMAs)“.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY TMA TRUCK WAS HIT?

If your TMA truck has been hit, you should not attempt to repair it yourself.  Instead, take it to a Certified Attenuator Repair Facility where it will undergo the necessary post-impact procedure.  This procedure is used to determine the extent of the damage and whether the attenuator can be repaired or needs to be replaced.  Once this inspection procedure is completed, only then can the TMA truck safely return to the work zone.  It is critical that you have the procedure performed by a certified facility as structure damage may sometimes be internal and not visibly obvious. Learn more about the process by watching our Crash Protocol video.

DOES THE TMA TRUCK'S ATTENUATOR DEPRECIATE AFTER AN ACCIDENT?

No. Attenuators (both truck-mounted and trailer-mounted) are considered sacrificial “life saving devices that are purposely placed in harm’s way”.  As such, its value is measured by its ability to perform. The only time its value can ever be depreciated by insurance is if it can no longer attenuate the energy from a crash into it to the same degree as it did when it was new. At that point, it must be removed from service and repaired or replaced.

WHAT DOES "MASH-APPROVED" ATTENUATOR MEAN?

An attenuator’s crashworthiness is determined through tests outlined in the Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH). A MASH-approved TMA is an attenuator that has passed all of the tests outlined in this manual.  As these critical safety tests are made to replicate real world crash scenarios, we highly recommend only having MASH-approved attenuators on the trucks in your fleet. To learn more about MASH visit our page “What to know about MASH testing“.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MASH AND NCHRP 350?

The NCHRP Report 350 was the original set of testing parameters and uniform guidelines that represented recommended procedures for the performance evaluation of permanent and temporary highway safety features. MASH was first published in 2009 and was updated in 2016 – it became the replacement for the NCHRP 350. MASH expands upon the testing requirements listed in the NCHRP 350 Report and primarily focuses on test vehicles, impact condition criteria and evaluation criteria. Key to the new guidelines is that they also address the question of when MASH-tested and approved attenuators must be used on TMA trucks.

DOES A TMA TRUCK REQUIRE FREQUENT MAINTENANCE?

Routine maintenance is required to ensure that your TMA truck is operating properly and continuously providing the needed level of safety to protect workers in the work zone. For more information about how to properly maintain your TMA, watch our Maintenance Series videos.  If you own a Royal truck and have questions about maintenance, contact our Service and Parts Team

I NEED TO RENT A TMA TRUCK IN THE FUTURE. HOW FAR IN ADVANCE SHOULD I CONTACT ROYAL?

As soon as possible, especially if you need to rent more than one truck. TMA trucks are becoming necessary in many more roadway construction operations across the U.S. so finding available trucks is increasingly difficult, especially during peak season.  By contacting us as soon as possible, you are more likely to secure your rentals. Through our national Royal Rental Network, we will always work with you to connect you with the trucks you need whenever and wherever you need them! To learn more about our Rental Network or to request a rental, visit our TMA truck rentals page.

MY COMPANY PERFORMS DIFFERENT OPERATIONS. HOW CAN I GET THE MOST OUT OF MY FLEET?

Under-utilized fleets are a harsh reality for many organizations. Needing specialized vehicles for different operations leads to long periods of inactivity when they are not in use. To help our customers maximize their fleet utilization, we’ve developed the 3-in-1 (stake body truck, TMA truck, cone safety truck) and the Hook ‘N Go truck. Both multi-purpose trucks can be altered in minutes for your varying operations. Learn more about our multi-purpose trucks for your fleet.

IS THERE A SAFE WAY TO PREPARE MY WORKERS OR TEST NEW HIRES?

A comprehensive training program is a critical step in ensuring your workers are performing their jobs safely. Traditional training programs such as video, text, and classroom instruction are effective methods for teaching work zone safety however they fall short in experiencing work zone safety. Virtual Reality training (or VR, for short) has been developed to bridge this gap and better prepare workers for the reality of work zone dangers.  VR allows them to experience what it feels like to be in a work zone, firsthand, but from the safety of an office.  Visit our sister company, Royal Innovative Solutions, to learn more about VR training for safer work zones.