The specialty equipment parts industry and Maryland 4x4 enthusiasts were relieved by the decision of the Maryland State Police (MSP) to withdraw a proposed regulation that would have banned certain combinations of aftermarket equipment and established tight restrictions on the amount a vehicle’s suspension and body could be raised.
The MSP cited the detailed technical and legal arguments provided by the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and the opposition of vehicle hobbyists and affected businesses as the primary reasons for declining to take further regulatory action at this time.
SEMA was surprised at the severity of the Maryland proposal after having worked closely with the MSP in the past to fashion fair and reasonable regulations. If promulgated, the proposed regulation would have prohibited a body or suspension lift that exceeded 2 inches and banned tires larger than those originally installed by the vehicle manufacturer or a manufacturer upgrade size. The proposal also sought to ban the combination of body and suspension lift. SEMA referred to the lack of engineering evaluation or safety data that would have necessitated restrictive raised vehicle regulations.
In its comments to Maryland regulators, SEMA noted, "The MSP appears concerned with safety considerations from the standpoint of both stability (i.e. rollover) and vehicle override/underride. However, the MSP provides no data which suggests these concerns are warranted. Meanwhile data available through the relevant federal agencies and an opinion of the high court of Maryland indicate the regulations are not necessary."
Steve McDonald, SEMA director of state relations commented, "Reasonable alterations are necessary and useful to provide improved clearance for on-/off-road capability as well as to accommodate heavy loads, larger wheels and improved suspension, particularly in off-road circumstances. Reasonable vehicle lift also allows improved water clearance of the interior compartment when launching watercraft from trailers and in fording water while off-road. We are pleased that the MSP ultimately recognized the severity of the proposal and the burdens it would have placed on raised vehicle owners without actually improving safety."
MSP officials said that they may choose to pursue some type of raised vehicle regulation in the future and that SEMA would be invited to participate in formulating any proposal.