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Full text of "Federal motor vehicle safety standards and regulations, with amendments and interpretations"










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EfFacHvt: Morch 18, 1976 



PREAMBLE TO AMENDMENT TO MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208 

Occupant Crash Protection 
(Docket No. 75-33; Notice 2) 



This notice amends Standard No. 208, Occu- 
pant Crash Protection, to permit certain U.S. 
Postal Service vehicles to meet the requirements 
of the standard that were in effect until January 
1, 1976, instead of the new requirements that 
became effective on that date. 

The NHTSA proposed this modification of 
Standard No. 208 (49 CFR 571.208) in a notice 
published December 31, 1975 (40 FR 60075). 
The occupant protection requirements in the 
standard imtil January 1, 1976, specified either a 
Type 1 or Type 2 seat belt assembly at the 
driver's position of the light delivery vehicles 
used by the Postal Service on delivery routes. 
The Postal Service's safety research organization 
developed a seat belt design that met the re- 
quirements and resulted in improved usage by 
vehicle operators. 

The newer requirements now in effect for the 
light delivery vehicles in question require the 
same seat belt assembly installations as in most 
passenger cars, including a Type 2 seat belt as- 
sembly with non-detachable shoulder belt at each 
front outboard designated seating position. The 
Service judges that installation of Type 2 seat 
belts at the driver's position with non-detachable 
shoulder portion will decrease the percentage of 
seat belt use by their mail delivery personnel. 

The Postal Service indicated its support for 
the proposal. Ford Motor Company objected to 
the basis of the vehcile category as a "single user 
exemption." The agency, while in agreement 
that categorization based on the status of a single 
user is not generally utilized, recognizes the dis- 



tinctive scope and nature of U.S. Postal Service 
operations. The Service is a part of the Federal 
government, its delivery activities are unique in 
scope and variety, and the organization has an 
active safety research effort that addresses the 
particular environment of mail delivery by motor 
vehcile. No other comments were received. The 
agency concludes that the new requirements for 
Type 2 seat belt assemblies at the driver's posi- 
tion in this limited category of vehicle are not 
justified, because their interference with the 
many entries and exits from the vehcile may 
discourage usage. 

In consideration of the foregoing, S.4.2.2 of 
Standard No. 208 (49 CFR 571.208) is amended 
by the addition of the phrase "vehicles designed 
to be exclusively sold to the U.S. Postal Service," 
following the phrase "motor homes." 

E-ffective date: March 18, 1976. Because this 
amendment creates no additional requirements 
for any person, and in view of the Postal Serv- 
ice's need to contract for vehicles with appro- 
priate seat belt assemblies at the earliest 
opportunity, an immediate effective date is found 
to be in the public interest. 

(Sec. 103, 119, Pub. L. 89-563, 80 Stat. 718 
(15 U.S.C. 1392, 1407); delegation of authority 
at 49 CFR 1.50.) 

Issued on March 10, 1976. 

James P. Gregory 
Administrator 

41 F.R. 11312 
March 18, 1976 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 65-66 



PREAMBLE TO AMENDMENT TO MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208 

Occupant Crash Protection 
(Docket No. 74-14; Notice 6) 



This notice amends Standard No. 208, Occu- 
pant Crash Protection, to continue until Au<rust 
31, 1977, the present three options available for 
occupant crash protection in passenjrer cars. 

This extension of the present occupant crash 
protection options of Standard No. 208 (49 CFR 
571.208) was proposed July 19, 1976 (41 FR 
29715), alonp^ with several other subjects that 
will be the subject of a future notice. Vehicle 
manufacturers supported the proposal but re- 
quested that the options be extended indefinitely 
instead of being limited to a 1-year extension. 
Mr. Benjamin Redmond advocated the use of an 
interlock system to increase usage of active belt 
systems. Ms. Lucie Kii-jlak expressed a prefer- 
ence for active occupant crash protection systems. 
The National Motor Vehicle Safety Advisory 
Council did not take a position on the proposal. 

The Secretary of Transportation has initiated 
a process for the establishment of future occu- 
pant crash protection requirements under Stand- 
ard No. 208 (41 FR 24070, June 14, 1976). The 
Secretary's proposal addresses the long temi is- 
sues involved, and this 1-year extension of re- 
quirements is intended to pi-ovide the time 
necessarj' to reach that decision. Because a 1- 
year extension is consistent with the process that 
has been established and because a longer exten- 
sion was not proposed for comment, the NHTSA 
declines to extend the existing requirements as 
recommended by the manufacturers. 

Other matters proposed in the notice that 
underlies this action will be treated at a later 



date, following the receipt of comments that are 
due on October 20, 1976. 

The NHTSA notes that no effective date was 
proposed for the other matters addressed by the 
proposal. Those matters involve modification of 
the existing passive protection options so that 
they conform to the proposal of the Department 
of Transportation, and to reduc* somewhat the 
femur force requirement. Also, further specifi- 
cation of dummy positioning in the vehicle was 
addressed. The agency proposes an immediate 
effective date for these changes, because they rep- 
resent relaxation of the requirements. However, 
the views of interested persons, particularly 
Volkswagen (which is certifying compliance 
under one passive option), are solicited by 
October 20, 1976. 

In consideration of the foregoing, the heading 
and text of S4.1.2 of Standard No. 208 (49 CFR 
571.208) are amended by changing the date 
"August 31, 1976" to "August 31, 1977" wherever 
it appears. 

Effective date : August 26, 1976. 
(Sees. 103, 119, Pub. L. 89-563, 80 Stat. 718 
(15 U.S.C. 1392, 1407) ; delegation of authority 
at 49 CFR 1.50.) 

Issued on August 26, 1976. 

John W. Snow 
Administrator 

41 F.R. 36494 
August 30, 1976 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 67-68 



Effective: January 19, 1977 



PREAMBLE TO AMENDMENT TO MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208 

Occupant Crash Protection 
(Docket No. OST 44; Notice 77-3) 



This notice amends Standard No. 208, Occu- 
pant Crash Protection, to extend indefinitely the 
current occupant crash protection requirements 
for passenger cars. 

In a notice published June 14. 1!)76 (41 FR 
24070), I i)roposed five alternative courses of 
action for future occupant crash protection re- 
quirements under vStandard No. 208 (49 CFR 
571.208). Based on an analysis of connnents 
received, a decision was reached to call upon the 
automobile manufacturers to join the Federal 
government in conducting a large-scale demon- 
stration program to exhibit the eilectiveness of 
pa.ssive restraint systems. The reasoning that 
underlines that decision is contained in a Decem- 
ber 6, 1976, document ("The Secretary's Decision 
Concerning Motor Veiiicle Occupant Crasli Pro- 
tection") that is hereby incorporated by refer- 
ence in this notice. The effect of that decision 
on Standard No. 208 is to require the contimui- 
tion of the current requirements for passenger 
cars, as proposed in the first of tlie five alterna- 
tive courses of action. 

The first alternative was written as a three- 
year extension (to August 31, 1979), although 
the preamble discussion made clear that the 
length of the extension was open to discussion. 
It is now apparent that a continuation of the 
existing requirements is best effectuated by a de- 
letion of any tennination date. This action ac- 
cords with the intent of the first alternative to 
maintain current occupant crash protection re- 
quirements for the indefinite future. Because 
this action represents a cont intuition of existing 
manufacturing practices, it is the Department's 
finding that no new significant economic or en- 
vironmental impacts result from this amendment. 



I have directed tiie National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration (NHTSA) to propose 
comparable changes in the requirements for 
multipurpose passenger vehicles and light trucks. 
The NHTSA has also been directed to take final 
action on the substantive changes to Standard 
\o. 20S that were proposed in its notice of July 
19, 1976 (41 FR 2971.5). 

The Department hereby closes OST Docket 
No. 44, which is transferred to the NHTSA's 
docket on occupant crash protection. I want to 
make it clear, however, that by closing OST 
Docket No. 44 and amending Standard No. 208 
to extend indefinitely the current occupant crash 
protection requirements for passenger cars, I have 
not in any way foreclosed a future Secretary or 
Administrator of NHTSA from instituting at 
any time a rulemaking to amend Standard No. 
208 either to place a tenninate date on Standard 
No. 208 or to mandate passive restraints on some 
or all passenger cars. 

In consideration of the foregoing, the heading 
and text of S4.1.2 of Standard No. 208 (49 CFR 
571.208) are amended in part to read as follows: 

S4.1.2 Passenger cars manufactured on or 
after September /, 1973. Passenger cars manu- 
factured on or after September 1, 1973, shall 
meet the requirements of S4.1.2.1, S4.1.2.2. or 
S4.1.2.3. * * *. 

Effective date; Januaiy 19, 1977. 

(Sees. 103, 119, Pub. L. 89-563, 80 Stat. 718 
(15 U.S.C. 1392, 1407.) 

Issued on January 19, 1977. 

William T. Coleman, Jr. 
Secretary of Ti-ansportation 
42 F.R. 5071 
January 27, 1977 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 69-70 



Effetflve: June 2, 1977 



PREAMBLE TO AMENDMENT TO MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208 

Occupant Crash Protection 
(Docket No. 74-14; Notice 9) 



This notice amends Standard No. 208, Occu- 
pant Crash Protectio-n, to extend indefinitely the 
current occupant crasli protection requirements 
for light trucks and multipurpose passenger ve- 
hicles. The question of future requirements for 
occupant crash protection is presently being con- 
sidered by the Secretary of Transportation, and 
thus the current requirements for light trucks 
and multipurpose passenger vehicles should be 
continued for the indefinite future. 

Effective date: June 2, 1977. 

Addresses: Requests for reconsideration should 
refer to the docket number and be submitted to: 
Docket Section, Room 5108, National Highway 
Traffic Safety Administration, 400 Seventh 
Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20590. 

For further information contact : 

Guy Hunter 

Motor Vehicle Programs 

National Highway Traffic Safety 

Administration 
Washington, D.C. 20590 
(202-426-2265) 

The requirements of Standard No. 208 (49 
CFR 571.208) have been implemented in three 
stages. The current stage for trucks and multi- 
purpose passenger vehicles (MPV's) with a gross 
vehicle weight rating (G\^VR) of 10,000 pounds 
or less specifies a choice of three means to pro- 
vide occupant protections (S4.2.2) and is sched- 
uled to end August 14, 1977. After that date 
many of these vehicles would be required by 
S4.2.3 of Standard No. 208 to provide occupant 
crash protection by means that require no action 
by vehicle occupants (commonly known as pas- 
sive protection). In the original promulgation 
of Standard No. 208 in its present form (36 FR 



4600; March 10, 1971) it was established that 
thic modification of occupant protection should 
follow a similar modification of protection in 
passenger cars by two years, to provide manu- 
facturers with time to assimilate and benefit 
from passenger car experience. 

The issue of future occupant protection in 
passenger cars is being decided at this time, in 
a notice of proposed i-ulemaking issued by the 
Secretary of Transportation (42 FR 15935; 
March 24, 1977). Thus, light truck and MPV 
naanufacturers have not had the benefit of ex- 
perience with new systems in passenger cars as 
originally anticipated. In view of this fact and 
the fact that they are not prepared to meet re- 
quirements other than the existing performance 
options after August 14, 1977, the agency has 
decided to continue the existing requirements in- 
definitely. 

This action does not preclude future rulemak- 
ing to modif)' occupant crash protection for the 
affected vehicles, but notice and opportunity for 
comment will be provided prior to further action. 

Because this action represents a continuation 
of existing manufacturing practices, it is the 
agency's finding that no new significant economic 
or environment impacts result from this amend- 
ment. 

The lawyer principally responsible for the pre- 
paration of this document is Tad Herlihy of the 
NHTSA Office of Chief Counsel. 

The economic and inflationai-y impacts of this 
rulemaking have been carefully evaluat«d in ac- 
cordance with 0MB Circular A-107, and an 
Inflation Impact Statement is not required. 

In view of the fact that future occupant pro- 
tection requirements are not established and 
manufacturers are prepared only to meet exist- 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 71 



Effective: June 2, 1977 

ing occupant protection requirements after (Sec. 103, 119, Pub. L. 89-563, 80 Stat. 718 

August 1977, the agency finds that notice and (15 U.S.C. 1392, 1407); delegation of authority 

public procedure on this amendment to continue at 49 CFK 1.50.) 

existing requirements is unnecessary and contrary 

to the public interest in knowning next model Issued on May 27, 1977. 

year's i-equirements as soon as possible. The 

agency also finds that this amendment may be- Joan Claybrook 

come effective immediately, because the amend- Administrator 

ment relieves a restriction. 

In consideration of the foregoing, Standard 42 F.R. 28135 

No. 208 (49 CFR 571.208) is amended. . . . June 2, 1977 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 72 



Effective: July 5, 1978 



PREAMBLE TO AMENDMENT TO MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208 

Occupant Crash Protection 
(Docket No. 74-14; Notice 11; Docket No. 73-8; Notice 7) 



This notice amends occupant crash protection 
Standard Xo. 208 and its acconipanyinu: test 
dummy specification to further specify test pro- 
cedures and injury criteria. The chanjjes are 
minor in most respects and reflect comments by- 
manufacturers of test dummies and vehicles and 
the XHTSA's own test experience witli the stand- 
ard and the test duimny. 

Date : Effective date July 5, 1978. 

Addresses: Petitions for reconsideration should 
refer to the docket number and be submitted to : 
Docket Section, Room 5108, Xassif Building, 400 
Seventh Street. S.W., Washington, D.C. 20590. 

For further information contact: 
Mr. Guy Hunter 
Motor Veliicle Programs 
X^ational Highway Traffic Safety 

Administration 
Washington, D.C. 20590 
(202) 426-2265 

Supplemental information: Standard X'^o. 208, 
Occupant Crash Protection (4!) CFR 571.208). 
is a Department of Transportation safety stand- 
ard that requires manufacturers to provide a 
means of restraint in new motor vehicles to keep 
occupants from impacting the vehicle interior in 
the event a crash occurs. The standard has, 
since January 1968, required the provision of 
seat belt assemblies at each seating position in 
pas.senger cars. In January 1972 the require- 
ments for seat belts were upgraded and options 
were added to permit the provision of restraint 
that is "active" (requiring some action be taken 
by the vehicle occupant, as in the case of seat 
belts) or "passive" (providing protection with- 
out action being taken by the occupant). 

In a separate notice issued today (42 FR 
34289; FR Reg. 77-19137), the Secretarj' of 



Transportation has reached a decision regarding 
the future occupant crash protection that must 
be installed in passenger cars. The implementa- 
tion of that decision will involve the testing of 
pa.ssive restraint systems in accordance with the 
test procedures of Standard Xo. 208, and this 
notice is intended to make final several modifica- 
tions of that procedure which have been proposed 
for change by the XHTSA. This notice also 
responds to two petitions for reconsideration of 
rulemaking involving the test diunmy that is 
used to evaluate the compliance of passive re- 
straint systems. 

DOCKET 74-14; XOTICE 05 
Xotice 5 was issued July 15, 1976 (41 FR 
29715; July 19, 1976) and proposed that Stand- 
ard X'^o. 208's existing specification for passive 
protection in frontal, lateral, and rollover modes 
(S4.1.2.1) be modified to specify passive protec- 
tion in the frontal mode only, with an option to 
provide passive protection or Ijelt protection in 
the lateral and rollover crash modes. Volkswagen 
had raised the question of the feasibility of small 
cars meeting the standard's lateral impact re- 
quirements: A 20-mpii impact by a 4,000-pound, 
60-inch-high flat surface. The agency noted the 
particular vulnerability of small cars to side im- 
pact and the need to provide protection for them 
based on the weight of other vehicles on the 
liighway, but agreed that it would be difficult to 
provide passive lateral protection in the near 
future. Design problems also underlay the pro- 
posal to provide a belt option in place of the 
existing passive rollover requirement. 

Ford Motor Company argued that a lateral 
option would be inappropriate in Standard No. 
208 as long as the present dummy is used for 
measurement of passive system performance. 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 73 



Effective: July 5, 1978 



This question of dummy use as a measuring de- 
vice is treated later in this notice. General 
Motors Corporation (GM) supported the option 
without qualification, noting that the installation 
of a lap belt with a passive system "would pro- 
vide comparable protection to lap/shoulder belts 
in side and rollover impacts." Chrysler did not 
object to the option, but noted that the lap belt 
option made the title of S4.1.2.1 ("complete 
passive protection") misleading. Volkswagen 
noted that its testing of belt systems without the 
lap belt portion showed little loss in efficacy in 
rollover crashes. No other comments on this 
proposal were received. The existing option 
S4.1.2.1 is therefore adopted as proposed so that 
manufacturers will be able to immediately under- 
take experimental work on passive restraints on 
an optional basis in conformity with the Secre- 
taiy's decision. 

There were no objections to the agency's pro- 
posal to permit either a Type 1 or Type 2 seat 
belt assembly to meet the requirements, and thus 
it is made final as proposed. 

The NHTSA proposed two changes in the in- 
jui-y criteria of S6 that are used as measures of 
a restraint system's qualification to Standard No. 
208. One change proposed an increase in per- 
missible femur force limits from 1,700 poimds to 
2,250 pounds. As clarification that tension loads 
are not included in measurement of these forces, 
the agency also proposed that the word "com- 
pressive" be added to the text of S6.4. Most 
commenters were cautionary about the changes, 
pointing out that susceptibility to fracture is 
time dependent, that acetabular injury could be 
exacerbated by increased forces, and that angular 
applications of force were as likely in the real 
world as axial forces and would more likely 
fracture the femur. 

The agency is aware of and took into account 
these considerations in proposing the somewhat 
higher femur force limit. The agency started 
with the actual field experience of occupants of 
GM and Volkswagen vehicles that have been 
shown to produce femur force readings of about 
1,700 pounds. Occupants of these vehicles in- 
volved in crashes have not shown a significant 
incidence of femur fracture. The implication 
from this experience that the 1,700-pound figure 
can safely be raised somewhat is supported in 



work by Patrick on compressive femur forces of 
relatively long duration. The Patrick data 
(taken with aged embalmed cadavers) indicate 
that the average fracture load of the patella- 
femur-pelvis complex is 1,910 pounds. This 
average is considered conservative, in that ca- 
daver bone structure is generally weaker than 
living human tissue. While these data did not 
address angular force applications, the experience 
of the GM and Volkswagen vehicle occupants 
does suggest that angular force application can 
go higher than 1,700 pounds. 

The agency does not agree that the establish- 
ment of the somewhat higher outer limit for 
permissible femur force, loads of 2,250 pounds is 
arbitrary. Wliat is often ignored by the medical 
community and others in commenting on the in- 
jury criteria found in motor vehicle safety stand- 
ards is that manufacturers must design their 
restraint systems to provide greater protection 
than the criteria spe^'ified, to be certain that each 
of their products will pass compliance tests con- 
ducted by the NHTSA. It is a fact of industrial 
production that the actual performance of some 
units will fall below nominal design standards 
(for quality control and other reasons). Volks- 
wagen made precisely this point in its comments. 
Because the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle 
Safety Act states that each vehicle must comply 
(15 U.S.C. § 1392(a)(1) (a)), manufacturers 
routinely design in a "compliance margin" of 
superior performance. Thus, it is extremely un- 
likely that a restraint system designed to meet 
the femur force load criterion of 2,250 pounds 
will in fact be designed to provide only that 
level of performance. With these considerations 
in mind, the agency makes final the changes as 
proposed. 

While not proposed for change, vehicle manu- 
facturers commented on a second injury criterion 
of the standard : A limitation of the acceleration 
experienced by the dunnny thorax during the 
barrier crasli to 60g, except for intervals whose 
cumulative duration is not more than 3 milli- 
seconds (ms). Until August 31, 1977, the agency 
has specified the Society of Automotive Engi- 
neers' (SEA) "severity index" as a substitute for 
the 60g-3ms limit, because of greater familiarity 
of the industry with that criterion. 



PAKT 571; S 208— PKE 74 



Effcclive: July 5, 1978 



General Motors recommended that the severity 
index l>e continued as tlie chest injury criterion 
until a basis for using chest deflection is devel- 
oped in place of chest acceleration. GM cited 
data whicli indicate that chest injury from cer- 
tain types of hlunt frontal impact is a statistically 
significant function of chest deflection in humans, 
while not a fimction of impact force or spinal 
acceleration. GM suggested that a shift from 
the temporary severity index measure to the 
60g-3ms measurement would be wasteful, because 
there is no "strong indication" that the 60g-3ms 
measurement is more meaningful than the sever- 
ity index, anil some restraint systems might have 
to be redesigned to comply with the new require- 
ment. 

Unlike GM. Chrysler argued against the use of 
acceleration criteria of either type for the chest, 
and rather advocated that the standard be de- 
layed until a dummy chest with better deflection 
characteri.stics is developed. 

The Severity Index Criterion allows higher 
loadings and therefore increases the possibility 
of adverse effects on the chest. It only indirectly 
limits the accelerations and hence the forces 
which can be applied to the thorax. Acceleration 
in a specific impact environment is considered to 
be a better predictor of injury than the Severity 
Index. 

NHTSA onlj' allowed belt systems to meet the 
Severity Index Criterion of 1,000 instead of the 
60g-3ms criterion out of consideration for lead- 
time problems, not because the Severity Index 
Criterion was considered superior. It is recog- 
nized that restraint systems stich as lap-shoulder 
belts apply more concentrated forces to the 
thorax than air cushion restraint, and that injury 
can result at lower forces and acceleration levels. 
It is noted that the Agency is considering rule- 
making to restrict forces that may be applied to 
the thorax by the shoulder belt of any seat belt 
assembly (4l" FR .")4961; December 16^ 1976). 

With regard to the test procedures and condi- 
tions that imderlie the recjuircments of the stand- 
ard, the agency proposed a temperature range 
for testing that would be compatible with the 
temperature sensitivity of the test dummy. The 
test dunmiy specification (Part 572, Anthropo- 
morphic Test Dummy, 49 CFR Part 072) con- 



tains calibration tests that are conducted at any 
temperature between 66" and 78° F. This is 
because properties of lubricants and nonmetallic 
parts used in the dummy will change with large 
temi)erature changes and will affect the dummy's 
objectivity as a test instrument. It was proposed 
that the Standard No. 208 crash tests be con- 
ducted within this tempeiature range to eliminate 
the potential for variability. 

The only manufacturers that objected to the 
temperature specification were Porsche. Bayer- 
ische Motoren "Werke (B\nV), and American 
Motors Corporation (AMC). In each case, the 
manufacturers noted that dynamic testing is con- 
ducted outside and that it is unreasonable to 
limit testing to the few days in the year when 
the ambient temperature would fall within the 
specified 12-degree range. 

The commenters may misunderstand their cer- 
tification responsibilities under the National 
Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Section 
108 (b)(2) limits a manufacturer's responsibility 
to the exercise of "due care" to assure compliance. 
The NHTSA has long interpreted this statutory 
"due care" to mean that the manufacturer is free 
to test its products in any fashion it chooses, as 
long as the testing demonstrates that due care 
was taken to assure that, if tested by NHTSA 
as set forth in the standard, the product would 
comply with the standard's requirements. Thus, 
a manufacturer could conduct testing on a day 
with temperatures other than those specified, as 
long as it could demonstrate through engineering 
calculations or otherwise, that the difference in 
test temperatures did not invalidate the test re- 
sults. Alternatively a manufacturer might 
choose to perform its preparation of the vehicle 
in a temporarily erected structure (such as a 
tent) that maintains a tetnperature within the 
specified range, so that only a short esposure 
during acceleration to the barrier would occur 
in a higher or lower temperature. To assist any 
such arrangements, the test temperature condi- 
tion has been limited to require a stabilized tem- 
perature of the test dunuuy only, just prior to 
the vehicle's travel toward the barrier. 

In response to an earlier suggestion from GM, 
the agency proposed further specificity in the 
clothing worn by the dummy during tlie crash 
test. The onlv couunent was filed by GM, which 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 75 



EfFeclive: July 5, 1978 



argued that any shoe specification other than 
weight would be unrelated to dummy perform- 
ance and therefore should not be included in the 
specification. The agency disagrees, and notes 
that the size and shape of the heel on the shoe 
can affect the placement of the dummy limb 
within the vehicle. For this reason, the clothing 
specifications are made final as proposed, except 
that Ihe requirement for a conforming "config- 
uration" has been deleted. 

Renault and Peugeot asked for confirmation 
that pyrotechnic pretensioners for belt retractors 
are not prohibited by the standard. The stand- 
ard's requirements do not specify the design by 
which to provide the specified protection, and 
the agency is not aware of any aspect of the 
standard that would prohibit the use of preten- 
sioning devices, as long as the three performance 
elements are met. 

With regard to the test dummy used in the 
standard, the agency proposed two modifications 
of Standard No. 208 : a more detailed positioning 
procedure for placement of the dummy in the 
vehicle prior to the test, and a new requirement 
that the dummy remain in calibration without 
adjustment following the barrier crash. Com- 
ments were received on both aspects of the pro- 
posal. 

The dummy positioning was proposed to elim- 
inate variation in the conduct of repeatable tests, 
particularly among vehicles of different sizes. 
The most important proposed modification was 
the use of only two dummies in any test of front 
seat restraints, whether or not the system is de- 
signed for three designated seating positions. 
The proposal was intended to eliminate the prob- 
lem associated with placement of three 50th- 
percentile male dummies side-by-side in a smaller 
vehicle. In bench seating with three positions, 
the system would have to comply with a dummy 
at the driver's position and at either of the other 
two designated seating positions. 

GM supported this change, but noted that 
twice as many tests of 3-position bench-seat ve- 
hicles would be required as before. The company 
suggested using a simulated vehicle crash as a 
means to test the passive restraint at the center 
seat position. The agency considers this ap- 
proach unrepresentative of the actual crash pulse 



and vehicle kinematic response (e.g., pitching, 
yawing) that occur during an impact. To the 
degree that GM can adopt such an approach in 
the exercise of "due care" to demonstrate that 
the center seating position actually complies, the 
statute does not prohibit such a certification 
approach. 

Ford objected that the dummy at the center 
seat position would be placed about 4 inches to 
the right of the center of the designated seating 
position in order to avoid interference with the 
dummy at the driver's position. While the 
XHTSA agrees that a small amount of displace- 
ment is inevitable in smaller vehicles, it may well 
occur in the real world also. Further, the physi- 
cal dimensions of the dummy preclude any other 
positioning. With a dummy at the driver's posi- 
tion, a dummy at the center position cannot 
physically be placed in the middle of the seat in 
all cases. In view of these realities, the agency 
makes final this aspect of the dummy positioning 
as proposed. 

GM suggested the modification of other stand- 
ards to adopt "2-dummy" positioning. The com- 
patibility among dynamic tests is regularly 
reviewed by the NHT8A and will be again fol- 
lowing this rulemaking action. For the moment, 
however, only those actions which were proposed 
will be acted on. 

As a general matter with regard to dummy 
positioning. General Motors found the new speci- 
fications acceptable with a few changes. GM 
cautioned that the procedure might not be suf- 
ficiently reproducible between laboratories, and 
Chrysler found greater variation in positioning 
with the new procedures than with Chrysler's 
own procedures. The agency's use of the proce- 
dure in 15 different vehicle models has shown 
consistently repeatable results, as long as a reason- 
able amount of care is taken to avoid the effect 
of random inputs (see "Repeatability of Set Up 
and Stability of Anthropometric Landmarks and 
Their Influence on Impact Response of Automo- 
tive Crash Test Dummies." Society of Automo- 
tive Engineers, Technical Paper No. 770260, 
1977). The agency concludes that, with the 
minor improvements cited below, the positioning 
procedure should be made final as proposed. 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 76 



Effective July 5, 1978 



The dummy is placed at a seating: position so 
that its midsagittal plane is vertical and longi- 
tudinal. Volkswajren argued against use of the 
midsagittal plane as a reference for dummy 
placement, considering it difficult to define as a 
practical matter during placement. The agency 
has used plane markers and plane lines to define 
the midsagittal plane and has experienced no 
significant difficulty in placement of the dummy 
with these techniques. For this reason, and be- 
cause Volkswagen suggested no simpler orienta- 
tion technique, the agency adopts use of the 
midsagittal plane as proposed. 

Correct spacing of the dummy's legs at the 
driver position created the largest source of ob- 
jection by commenters. Ford expressed concern 
that an inward-pointing left knee could result in 
unrealistically high femur loads because of 
femur-to-steering column impacts. GM asked 
that an additional 0.6 inch of space be specified 
between the dummy legs to allow for installation 
of a device to measure steering column displace- 
ment. Volkswagen considered specification of 
the left knee bolt location to be redundant in 
light of the positioning specification for the right 
knee and the overall distance specification be- 
tween the knees of 14.5 inches. 

The commenters may not have understood that 
the 14.5- and 5.9-inch dimensions are only initial 
positions, as specified in S8.1.11.1.1. The later 
specification to raise the femur and tibia center- 
lines "as close as possible to vertical" without 
contacting the vehicle shifts the knees from their 
initial spacing to a point just to the left and 
right of the steering column. 

As for GM's concern about instrumentation, 
the agency does not intend to modify this posi- 
tioning procedure to accommodate instrumenta- 
tion preferences not required for the standard's 
purposes. GM may, of course, make test modi- 
fications so long as it assures, in the exercise of 
due care, that its vehicles will comply when 
tested in accordance with the specification by the 
agency. 

In the case of a vehicle which is equipped with 
a front bench seat, the driver dummy is placed 
on the bench so that its midsagittal plane inter- 
sects the center point of the plane described by 
the steering wheel rim. BMW pointed out that 



the center plane of the driver's seating position 
may not coincide with the steering wheel center 
and that dunmiy placement would therefore be 
unrealistic. Ford believed that the specification 
of the steering wheel reference point could be 
more precisely specified. 

The agency believes that BifW may be de- 
scribing offset of the driver's seat from the steer- 
ing wheel in bucket-seat vehicles. In the case of 
bench-seat vehicles, there appears to be no reason 
not to place the dummy directly behind the steer- 
ing wheel. As for the Ford suggestion, the 
agency concludes that Ford is describing the 
same point as the proposal did, assuming, as the 
agency does, that the axis of the steering column 
passes through the center point described. The 
Ford description does have the effect of moving 
the point a slight distance laterally, because the 
steering wheel rim upper surface is .somewhat 
higher than the plane of the rim itself. This 
small distance is not relevant to the positioning 
being specified and therefore is not adopted. 

In the case of center-position dummy place- 
ment in a vehicle with a drive line tunnel. Ford 
requested further specification of left and right 
foot placement. The agency has added further 
specification to make explicit what was implicit 
in the specifications proposed. 

Volkswagen suggested that the NHTSA had 
failed to specify knee spacing for the passenger 
side dummy placement. In actuality, the speci- 
fication in S8.1. 11.1.2 that the femur and tibia 
centerlines fall in a vertical longitudinal plane 
has the effect of dictating the distance between 
the passenger dummy knees. 

The second major source of comments con- 
cerned the dummy settling procedure that assures 
uniformity of placement on the seat cushion and 
against the seat back. Manufacturers pointed 
out that lifting the dummy within the vehicle, 
particularly in small vehicles and those with no 
rear seat space, cannot be accomplished easily. 
While the NHTSA recognizes that the procedure 
is not simple, it is desirable to improve the uni- 
formity of dummy response and it has been ac- 
complished by the NHTSA in several small cars 
(e.g., Volkswagen Rabbit, Honda Civic, Fiat 
Spider, DOT HS-801-754). Therefore, the re- 
quests of GM and Volkswagen to retain the 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 77 



EfFective: July 5, 1978 



method that, does not involve lifting has been 
denied. In response to Renault's question, the 
dummy can be lifted manually by a strap routed 
beneath the buttocks. Also, Volkswagen's re- 
quest for more variability in the application of 
rearward force is denied because, while difficult 
to achieve, it is desirable to maintain uniformity 
in dummy placement. In response to the requests 
of several manufacturers, the location of the 
9-square-inch push plate has been raised 1.5 
inches, to facilitate its application to all vehicles. 

Volkswagen asked with regard to SIO.2.2 for 
a clarification of what constitutes the "lumbar 
spine'" for purposes of dummy flexing. This 
refers to the point on the dummy rear surface 
at the level of the top of the dummy's rubber 
spine element. 

BMW asked the agency to reconsider the place- 
ment of the driver dummy's thumbs over the 
steering wheel rim because of the possibility of 
damage to them. The company asked for an 
option in placing the hands. The purpose of the 
specification in dummy positioning, however, is 
to remove discretion from the test personnel, so 
that all tests are run in the same fashion. An 
option under these circumstances is therefore not 
appropriate. 

Ultrasystems, Inc., pointed out two minor er- 
rors in SI 0.3 that are hereby corrected. The 
upper arm and lower arm centerlines are oriented 
as nearly as possible in a vertical plane (rather 
than straight up in the vertical), and the little 
finger of the passenger is placed "barely in con- 
tact" with the seat rather than "tangent" to it. 

Two corrections are made to the dummy posi- 
tioning procedure to correct obvious and unin- 
tended conflicts between placement of the dummy 
thighs on the seat cushion and placement of the 
right leg and foot on the acceleration pedal. 

In addition to the positioning proposed. Gen- 
eral Motors suggested that positioning of the 
dummy's head in the fore-and-aft axis, would be 
beneficial. The agency agrees and has added 
such a specification at the end of the dummy 
settling procedure. 

In a matter separate from the positioning pro- 
cedure, General Motors, Ford, and Renault re- 
quested deletion of the proposed requirement that 
the dummy maintain proper calibration follow- 



ing a crash test without adjustment. Such a 
procedure is routine in test protocols and the 
agency considered it to be a beneficial addition 
to the standard to further demonstrate the cred- 
ibility of the dummy test results. GM, however, 
has pointed out that the limb joint adjustments 
for the crash test and for the calibration of the 
lumbar bending test are different, and that it 
would be unfair to expect continued calibration 
without adjustment of these joints. The NHTSA 
accepts this objection and, until a means for sur- 
mounting this difficulty is perfected, the proposed 
change to S8.1.8 is witlidrawn. 

In another matter unrelated to dummy posi- 
tioning, Volkswagen argued that active belt sys- 
tems should be subject to the same requirements 
as passive belt systems, to reduce the cost differ- 
ential between the compliance tests of the two 
systems. As earlier noted the NHTSA has issued 
an advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (41 
FR 54961, December 16, 1976) on this subject 
and will consider Volkswagen's suggestion in the 
context of that rulemaking. 

Finally, the agency proposed the same belt 
warning requirements for belts provided with 
passive restraints as are presently required for 
active belts. No objections to the requirement 
were received and the requirement is made final 
as proposed. The agency also takes the oppor- 
tunity to delete from the standard the out-of-date 
belt warning requirements contained in S7.3 of 
the standard. 

RECONSIDERATION OF DOCKET 
73-8; NOTICE 04 

The NHTSA has received two petitions for 
reconsideration of recent amendments in its test 
dummy calibration test procedures and design 
specifications (Part 572, Anthropomorphic Test 
Dummy, 49 CFR Part 572) . Part 572 establishes, 
by means of approximately 250 drawings and 
five calibration tests, the exact specifications of 
the test device referred to earlier in this notice 
that simulates the occupant of a motor vehicle 
for crash testing purposes. 

Apart from requests for a technical change of 
the lumbar flexion force specifications, the peti- 
tions from General Motors and Ford contained a 
repetition of objections made earlier in the rule- 
making about the adequacy of the dummy as an 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 78 



Effective: July 5, 1978 



objective nieasurinp device. Tliree issues were 
raised : lateral response characteristics of the 
dummy, failure of the dummy to meet the five 
subassembly calibration limits, and the need for 
a "whole systems" calibration of tiu' assemliled 
dummy. Following receipt of these comments, 
the ajrency published notification in the Federal 
Register that it would entertain any other com- 
ments on the issue of objectivity (42 FR 28200; 
June 2. 1977). General conunents were received 
from Chrysler Corporation and American Motoi-s. 
repeating their positions fioni earlier comments 
that the dununy does not (jualify as objective. 

The objectivity of the dinnmy is at issue be- 
cause it is the measuring device that rejristers the 
acceleration and force readings specified by 
Standard No. 208 during a 30-mph impact of the 
tested vehicle into a fixed barrier. The resulting 
readings for each vehicle tested must remain be- 
low a certain level to constitute compliance. 
Certification of compliance by the vehicle manu- 
facturer is accomplished by crash testing repre- 
sentative vehicles with the dunmiy installed. 
Verification of compliance by the \HTSA is 
accomplished by crash testing one or more of the 
same model vehicle, also with a test dummy in- 
stalled. It is important that readings taken by 
different dummies, or by the same dummy re- 
peatedly, accurately reflect the forces and ac- 
celerations that are being experienced by the 
vehicle during the barrier crash. This does not 
imply that the readings pro<luced in tests of two 
vehicles of the same design must be identical. 
In the real world, in fact, literally identical ve- 
hicles, crash circumstances, and test dummies are 
not physically attainable. 

It is apparent from this discussion that an 
accurate reflection of the forces and accelerations 
experienced in nominally identical vehicles does 
not depend on the specification of the test dunuuy 
alone. For example, identically specified and 
responsive dummies would not provide identical 
readings unless reasonable care is exercised in 
the preparation and placement of the dummy. 
Such care is analogous to that exercised in posi- 
tioning a ruler to assure that it is at the exact 
point where a measurement is to commence. No 
one would blame a ruler for a bad measurement 
if it were carelessly placed in the wrong position. 



It is equally apparent that the forces and ac- 
celerations experienced in nominally identical 
vehicles will only be identical by the greatest of 
coincidence. The small diffeTences in body struc- 
ture, even of mass-produced vehicles, will affect 
the crash pulse. The particular deployment 
speed and shape of the cushion |)ortion of an 
inflatal)le restraint system will also affect results. 

All of these factors would affect the accelera- 
tions and forces experienced by a hinnan occupant 
of a vehicle certified to comply with the occupant 
restraint .standard. Thus, achievement of identi- 
cal conditions is not only impossible (due to the 
inherent differences between tested vehicles and 
underlying conditions) but would be unwise. 
Literally identical tests would encourage the de- 
sign of safety devices that would not adequately 
serve the variety of circum.stances encountered in 
actual crash explosure. 

At the same time, the safety standards must 
be "stated in objective terms" so that the manu- 
facturer knows how its product will be tested and 
under what circumstances it will have to comply. 
A complete lack of dummy positioning proce- 
dures would allow placement of the dunmiy in 
any posture and would make certification of com- 
pliance virtually impossible. A balancing is 
provided in the test procedures between the need 
for realism and the need for objectivity. 

The test dummy also represents a balancing 
between realism (biofidelity) and objectivity 
(repeatability). One-piece cast metal dummies 
could be placed in the seating positions and in- 
strumented to register crash forces. One could 
argue that these dummies did not act at all like 
a human and did not measure what would hap- 
pen to a human, but a lack of repeatability could 
not be a.scribed to them. At the other end of the 
spectrum, an extremely complex and realistic 
surrogate could be substituted for the existing 
Part 572 dununy, which would act realistically 
but differently each time, as one might expect 
different humans to do. 

The existing Part 572 dummy represents 5 
years of effort to provide a measuring instrument 
that is sufficiently realistic and repeatable to serve 
the purposes of the crash standard. Like any 
measuring instrument, it has to be used with care. 
As in the case of any complex instrumentation. 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 79 



Effective: July 5, 1978' 



particular care must be exercised in its proper 
use, and there is little expectation of literally 
identical readings. 

The dummy is articulated, and built of ma- 
terials that permit it to react dynamically, simi- 
larly to a human. It is the dynamic reactions of 
the dummy that introduce the complexity that 
makes a check on repeatability desirable and 
necessary. The agency therefore devised five 
calibration procedures as standards for the eval- 
uation of the important dynamic dummy response 
characteristics. 

Since the specifications and calibration proce- 
dures were established in August 1973, a substan- 
tial amount of manufacturing and test experience 
has been gained in the Part 572 dummy. The 
quality of the dummy as manufactured by the 
three available domestic commercial sources has 
improved to the point where it is the agency's 
judgment that the device is as repeatable and 
reproducible as instramentation of such complex- 
ity can be. As noted, GM and Ford disagree and 
raised three issues with regard to dummy objec- 
tivity in their petitions for reconsideration. 

Lateral response characteristics. Recent sled 
tests of the Part 572 dummy in lateral impacts 
show a high level of repeatability from test to 
test and reproducibility from one dummy to 
another ("Evaluation of Part 572 Dummies in 
Side Impacts"— DOT HS 020 858). Further 
modification of the lateral and rollover passive 
restraint requirements into an option that can be 
met by installation of a lap belt makes the lateral 
response characteristics of the dummy largely 
academic. As noted in Notice 4 of Docket 73-8 
(42 FR 7148; February 7, 1977), "Any manu- 
facturer that is concerned with the objectivity of 
the dummy in such [lateral] impacts would pro- 
vide lap belts at the front seating positions in 
lieu of conducting the lateral or rollover tests." 

While the frontal crash test can be conducted 
at any angle up to 30 degrees from perpendicular 
to the barrier face, it is the agency's finding that 
the lateral forces acting on the test instrument 
are secondary to forces in the midsagittal plane 
and do not operate as a constraint on vehicle aild 
restraint design. Compliance tests conducted by 
NHTSA to date in the 30-degree oblique impact 
condition have consistently generated similar 



dummy readings. In addition, they are consid- 
erably lower than in perpendicular barrier im- 
pact tests, which renders them less critical for 
compliance certification purposes. 

Repea.tahility of dummy calibration. Ford 
questioned the dummy's repeatability, based on 
its analysis of "round-robin" testing conducted 
in 1973 for Ford at three different test labora- 
tories (Ford Report No. ESRO S-76-3 (1976)) 
and on analysis of NHTSA calibration testing 
of seven test dummies in 1974 (DOT-HS-801- 
861). 

In its petition for reconsideration. Ford 
equated dummy objectivity with repeatability of 
the calibration test results and concluded "it is 
impracticable to attempt to meet the Part 572 
component calibration requirements with test 
dummies constructed according to the Part 572 
drawing specification." 

The Ford analysis of NHTSA's seven dummies 
showed only 56 of 100 instances in which all of 
the dummy calibrations satisfied the criteria. 
The NHTSA's attempts to reproduce the Ford 
calculations to reach this conclusion were unsuc- 
cessful, even after including the H03 dummy 
with its obviously defective neck. This neck 
failed badly 11 times in a row, and yet Ford 
apparently used these tests in its estimate of 56 
percent compliance. This is the equivalent of 
concluding that the specification for a stop watch 
is inadequate because of repeated failure in a 
stop watch with an obviously defective part. In 
this case, the calibration procedure was doing 
precisely its job in identifying the defective part 
by demonstrating that it did not in fact meet the 
specification. 

The significance of the "learning curve" for 
quality control in dummy manufacture is best 
understood by comparison of three sets of dummy 
calibration results in chronological order. Ford 
in earlier comments relied on its own "round- 
robin" crash testing, involving nine test dummies. 
Ford stated that none of the nine dummies could 
pass all of the component calibration require- 
ments. What the NHTSA learned through 
follow-up questions to Ford was that three of the 
nine dummies were not built originally as Part 
572 dummies, and that the other six were not 
fully certified by their manufacturers as qualify- 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 80 



Effective; July 5, 1978 



in<r as Part o72 dummies. In addition. Ford 
instructed its contractors to use the dummies as 
provided whether or not tliev met the Part r>72 
specifications. 

In contrast, recent NHTSA testing conducted 
l.y Calspan (DOT-HS-6-01.514, May and June 
1077 progress reports) and the results of tests 
conducted by GM (USG 1502, Docitot 73-8. GR 
64) demonstrate good repeatability and reproduc- 
ibility of dummies. In the Calspan testing a 
total of 152 calibration tests were completed on 
four dummies from two manufacturers. The re- 
sults for all five calibration tests were observed 
to be within tlie specified performance criteria 
of Part 572. The agency concludes that the 
learning curve in the manufacturing process has 
reached the point where repeatability and repro- 
ducibility of the dummy has been fully demon- 
strated. 

Interestingly. Ford's own analysis of its round- 
robin testing concludes that variations among the 
nine dummies were not significant to the test 
results. At the same time, the overall accelera- 
tion and force readings did vary substantially. 
Ford argued that this showed unacceptable 
variability of the test as a whole, because they 
had used "identical" vehicles for crash testing. 
Ford attributed the variations in results to 
"chance factors," listing as factors placement of 
the dummy, postural changes during the ride to 
the barrier, speed variations, uncertainty as to 
just what part of the instrument panel or other 
structure would be impact loaded, instrumenta- 
tion, and any variations in the dynamics of air 
bag deployment from one vehicle to another. 

The agency does not consider these to be un- 
controlled factors since they can be greatly re- 
duced by carefully controlling test procedures. 
In addition, they are not considered to be un- 
acceptable "chance factors" that should be elimi- 
nated from the test. The most important 
advantage of the barrier impact test is that it 
simulates with some realism what can be experi- 
enced by a human occupant, while at the same 
time limiting variation to achieve repeatability. 
As discus.sed, nominally identical veliicles are not 
in fact identical, the dynamics of deployment will 
vary from vehicle to vehicle, and humans will 
adopt a large number of different seated positions 



in the real world. The .30-mph barrier impact 
requires the manufacturer to take these variables 
into accoimt by providing adequate protection 
for more than an overly structured test situation. 
At the same time, dummy positioning is specified 
in adequate detail so that tlie manufacturer 
knows how the NHT8A will set up a vehicle 
prior to conducting compliance test checks. 

^^ Whole systems''' calibrafi.on: Ford and GM 
both suggested a "whole systems" calibration of 
tlio dummy as a necessary additional check on 
dunuuy repeatability. The agency has denied 
these requests previously, because the demon- 
strated repeatability and reproducibility of Part 
572 dumiiiies based on current specification is 
adequate. The use of whole systems calibration 
tests as suggested would be extremely expensive 
and would unnecessarily co!nplicate compliance 
testing. 

It is instructive that neither General Motors 
nor Ford has been specific about the calibration 
tests they have in mind. Because of the variables 
inherent in a high energy barrier crash test at 
80 mph, the agency judges that any calibration 
readings taken on the dummy would be over- 
whelmed by the other inputs acting on the dummy 
in this test environment. The Ford conclusion 
from its round-robin testing agrees that dummy 
variability is a relatively insignificant factor in 
the total variability experienced in this type of 
test. 

GM was most specific about its concern for 
I'epeatability testing of the whole dununy in its 
comments in response to Docket 74—14; Notice 
01: 

Dunuuy whole body response requirements 
are considered necessary to assure that a 
dummy, assembled from certified components, 
has acceptable response as a completed struc- 
ture. Interactions between coupled components 
and subsystems must not be assumed acceptable 
simply because the components themselves have 
been certified. Variations in coupling may 
lead to significant variation in dummy response. 

There is a far simpler, more controlled means 
to assure oneself of correct coupling of compo- 
nents tiian by means of a "whole systems" cali- 
bration. If, for example, a laboratory wishes to 
assure itself that the coupling of the dummy 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 81 



Effective: July S, 1978 



neck structure is properly accomplished, a simple 
statically applied input may be made to the neck 
prior to coupling to obtain a sample reading, 
and then the same simple statically applied in- 
put may be repeated after the coupling has been 
completed. This is a commonly accepted means 
to assure that "bolting together" the pieces is 
properly accomplished. 

Lumbar spine ftexion. The flexibility of the 
dummy spine is specified by means of a calibra- 
tion procedure that involves bending the spine 
through a forward arc, with specified resistance 
to the bending being registered at specified angles 
of the bending arc. The dummy's ability to flex- 
is partially controlletl by the characteristics of 
the abdominal insert. In Notice 04, the agency- 
increased the level of resistance that must be 
registered, in conjunction with a decision not to 
specify a sealed abdominal sac as had been pro- 
posed. Either of these dummy characteristics 
could affect the lumbar spine flexion perfonii- 
ance. 

Because of the agency's incomplete explanation 
for its actions. Ford and General Motors peti- 
tioned for reconsideration of the decision to take 
one action without the other. Both companies 
suggested that the specification of resistance levels 
be returned to that which had existed previously. 
The agency was not clear that it intended to go 
forward with the stiffer spine flexion perfomi- 
ance, quite apart from the decision to not specify 
an abdomen sealing specification. The purpose 
for the "stiffer" spine is to attain more consistent 
torso return angle and to assure better dummy 
stability during vehicle acceleration to impact 
speed. 

To assure itself of the wisdom of this course of 
action, the agency has performed dummy cali- 
bration tests demonstrating that the amended 
spine flexion and abdominal force deflection 
characteristics can be consistently achieved with 
both vented and unvented abdominal inserts 
(DOT HS-020875 (1977)). 

Based on the considered analysis and review 
set forth above, the NHTSA denies the petitions 
of General Motors and Ford Motor Company for 
further modification of the test dummy specifi- 



cation and calibration procedures for reasons of 
test dunnny objectivity. 

In consideration of the foregoing. Standard 
No. 208 (49 CFR 571.208) is amended as pro- 
posed with changes set forth below, and Part 
572 (49 CFR Part 572) is amended by the addi- 
tion of a new sentence at the end of § 572.5, 
Geiheral Desc-nptlon, that states : "A specimen of 
the dummy is available for surface measurements, 
and access can be arranged through : Office of 
Crashworthiness, National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., 
Washington, D.C. 20590." 

In accordance with Department of Transpor- 
tation policy encouraging adequate analysis of 
the consequences of regulatory action (41 FR 
16200; April 16, 1976), the Department has eval- 
uated the economic and other consetjuences of this 
amendment on the public and private sectors. 
The modifications of an existing option, the 
simplification and clarification of test procedures, 
and the increase in femur force loads are all 
judged to be actions that simplify testing and 
make it less expensive. It is anticipated that the 
"two dummy" positioning procedure may occa- 
sion additional testing expense in some larger 
vehicles, but not the level of expense that would 
have general economic effects. 

The effective date foi' the changes has been 
established as one year from the date of publica- 
tion to permit Volkswagen, the only manufac- 
turer presently certifying compliance of vehicles 
using these test procedures, sufficient time to 
evaluate the effect of the changes on the com- 
pliance of its products. 

The program official and lawyer principally 
responsible for the development of this amend- 
ment are Guy Hunter and Tad Herlihy, respec- 
tively. 

(Sec. 103, 119, Pub. L. 89-563, 80 Stat. 718 
(15 U.S.C. 1392, 1407); delegation of authority 
at 49 CFR 1.50.) 

Issued on June 30, 1977. 

Joan Claybrook 
Administrator 

42 F.R. 34299 
July 5, 1977 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 82 



Effective: September I, 1981 



PREAMBLE TO AMENDMENT TO MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208 

Occupant Crash Protection 

(Docket No. 74-14; Notice 10) 



The existing motor vehicle safety standard for 
occupant cra.sh protection in new passenjxer cars 
is amended to require tlie provision of ''passive'' 
restraint protection in passenger cars with wheel - 
hases greater than 114 inches manufactured on 
and after September 1. 1981, in passenger cars 
with wheelbases greater than 100 inches on and 
after September 1. 1982. and in all passenger cai-s 
manufactured on or after September 1, 1983. 
The low usage rate of active seat belt systems 
negates much of their potential safety benefit. 
However, lap belts will continue to be required 
at most front and all rear .seating positions in 
new cars, and the Department will continue to 
recommend their use to motorists. It is found 
that upgraded occupant crash protection is a 
reasonable and necessary exercise of the mandate 
of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety 
Act to provide protection through improved 
automotive design, consti-uction, and performance. 

Dates: Effective date September 1, 1981. 

Addresses: Petitions for reconsideration should 
refer to the docket number and be submitted to: 
Docket Station, Room 5108— Nassif Building, 400 
Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, B.C. 20590. 

For further information contact : 
Tad Herlihy 
Office of Chief Counsel 
National Higliway Traffic Safety 

Administration 
Washington, D.C. 20590 
(202) 426-9511 

Supplementary Information : 
Considerations Underlying the Standard 

Under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle 
Safety Act, as amendefl (the Act) (15 U.S.C. 
1381 et seq.), the Department of Transportation 



is responsible for issuing motor vehicle safety 
standards tliat, among other things, protect the 
public against unreasonable risk of death or in- 
jury to persons in the event accidents occur. 
The Act directs the Department to consider 
whetlier a standard would contribute to carrying 
out the purposes of the Act and would be reason- 
able, practicable, and appropriate for a particular 
type of motor vehicle (15 U.S.C. 1392(f)(3)). 
The standard must, as formulated, be practicable, 
meet the need for motor vehicle safety, and be 
stated in objective terms (15 U.S.C. 1392(a)). 
The Senate Committee drafting the statute stated 
that safety would be the overriding consideration 
in the issuance of standards. S. Rep. No. 1301, 
89th Cong., 2d Sess (1966) at 6. 

The total number of fatalities annually in 
motor vehicle accidents is approximately 46,000 
(estimate for 1976), of which approximately 
25,000 are estimated to be automobile front seat 
occui)ants. Two major hazards to which front 
seat occupants are exposed are ejection from the 
vehicle, which increases the probability of fatal- 
ity greatly, and impact with the vehicle interior 
during the crash. Restraint of occupants to pro- 
tect against these hazards has long been recog- 
nized as a means to substantially reduce the 
fatalities and serious injuries experienced at the 
front seating positions. 

One of the Department's first actions in imi)le- 
mcnting the Act was promulgation in 1967 of 
Standard No. 208, Occupant Cm.<ih Protection 
(49 CFR 571.208), to make it possible for vehicle 
occupants to help protect themselves against the 
hazards of a crash by engaging seat belts. The 
standard requires the installation of lap and 
shoulder seat belt assemblies (Type 2) at front 
outl)oard designated seating positions (except in 
convertibles) and lap belt assemblies (Type 1) 



PART 571 ; S 208— PRE 83 



Effective: September 1, 1981 



at all other designated seating positions. The 
standard became effective January 1, 1968. 

Wliile it is generally agreed that when they 
are worn, seat belt assemblies are highly effective 
in preventing occupant impact with the vehicle 
interior or ejection from the vehicle, only a 
minority of motorists in the United States use 
seat belts. For all types of belt systems, 
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 
(XHTSA) studies show that about 20 percent of 
belt systems are used (DOT HS 6 01340 (in 
process)). The agency's calculations show that 
only about 2,600 deaths (and corresponding 
numbers of injuries) of front seat occupants were 
averted during 1976 by the restraints required by 
Standard No. 208 as it is presently written. 

Two basic approaches have been developed to 
increase the savings of life and mitigation of 
injury afforded by occupant restraint systems. 
More than 20 nations and two provinces of 
Canada have enacted mandatory seat belt use 
laws to increase usage and thereby the effective 
lifesaving potential of existing seat belt systems. 
The other approach is to install automatic passive 
restraints in passenger cars in place of, or in 
conjunction with, active belt systems. These 
systems are passive in the sense that no action by 
the occupant is required to benefit from the re- 
straint. Passive restraint systems automatically 
provide a high level of occupant crash protection 
to virtually 100 percent of front seat occupants. 

The two foniis of passive restraint that have 
been commercially pi'oduced are inflatable occu- 
pant restraints (commonly known as air bags) 
and passive belts. Air bags are fabric cushions 
that are rapidly filled with gas to cushion the 
occupant against colliding with the vehicle in- 
terior when a crash occurs that is strong enough 
to register on a sensor device in the vehicle. The 
deployment is accomplished by the rapid genera- 
tion or release of a gas to inflate the bag. Passive 
belt systems are comparable to active belt systems 
in many respects, but are distinguished by auto- 
matic deployment around the occupant as the 
occupant enters the vehicle and closes the door. 

HISTORY OF STANDARD NO. 208 
Because of the low usage rates of active belt 
systems and because alternative technologies were 



becoming available, the initial seat belt require- 
ments of Standard No. 208 were upgraded in 
1970 to require passive restraints by 1974 (35 FR 
16927; November 3, 1970). Most passenger car 
manufacturers petitioned for judicial review of 
this amendment (Chrysler v. DOT, 472 F.2d 659 
(6th Cir. 1972)). The Sixth Circuit's review 
upheld the mandate in most respects but re- 
manded the standard to the agency for further 
specification of a test dummy that was held to be 
insufficiently objective for use as a measuring 
device in compliance tests. The court stated with 
regard to two of the statutory criteria for issu- 
ance of motor vehicle safety standards: 

We conclude that the issue of the relative 
effectiveness of active as opposed to passive 
restraints is one which has been duly delegated 
to the Agency, with its expertise, to make; we 
find that the Agency's decision to require 
passive restraints is supported by substantial 
evidence, and we cannot say on the basis of the 
record before us that this decision does not 
meet the need for motor vehicle safety. 472 
F.2d at 675. 

... we conclude that Standard 208 is prac- 
ticable as that term is used in this legislation. 
472 F.2d at 674. 

As for objective specification of the test dummy 
device, a detailed set of specifications (49 CFR 
Part 572) was issued in August 1973 (38 FR 
20449; August 1, 1973) and updated with minor 
changes in February 1977 (42 FR 7148; Feb- 
ruary 7, 1977). A full discussion of the test 
dummy specifications is set forth in a rulemaking 
issued today by the NHTSA concerning technical 
aspects of Standard No. 208 (42 FR 34299; FR 
Doc. 77-19138). 

In March 1974, the Department made the 
finding that the test dummy is sufficiently objec- 
tive to satisfy the Chryshr court remand (39 
FR 10271; March 19, 1974). In the same notice, 
mandatory passive restraints were again pro- 
posed. Based on the comments received in re- 
sponse to that notice, the passive restraint 
mandate was once again proposed in a modified 
form in June 1976 (41 FR 24070; June 14, 1976). 
In the interim. General Motors Corporation 
manufactured, certified, and sold approximately 
10,000 air-bag-equipped full-size Buicks, Olds- 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 84 



Effective: September 1, 198) 



mobiles, and Cadillacs. Volkswagen has manu- 
factured and sold approximately 65,000 passive- 
belt-i>quipped Rabbit model passenger cars. 
Volvo Corpoi-ation has also introduced a rela- 
tively small number of air-bag-equipped vehicles 
into service. Ford Motor Company had earlier 
manufactured 831 air-bag-ecjuipped Mercurys. 
These vehicles were manufactured under one of 
two options placed in the standard in 1071 to 
permit optional production of vehicles with 
passive restraint systems in place of seat belt 
assemblies otherwise recjuired. In 1972, the 
standard was also amended to require an "igni- 
tion interlock" system on front seat belts to force 
their use before the vehicle could be started. 
This requirement, effective in September 1973, 
was revoked in October 1974 in response to a 
Congressional prohibition on its specification 
(Pub. L. 93-492, § 109 (October 27, 1974)). 

The Department's final action on its June 1976 
proposal ("The Secretary's Decision Concerning 
Motor Vehicle Occupant Crash Protection," here- 
inafter "the December 1976 decision") continued 
the existing requirements of the standard (42 
FR o07l : January 27, 1977) and created a dem- 
onstration program to fanuliarize the public 
with passive restraints. The Department nego- 
tiated contracts with four automobile manufac- 
turers for the production of up to 2.50,000 passive- 
equipped vehicles per year for introduction into 
the passenger car fleet in model years 1980-1. 
Mercedes-Benz agreed to manufacture 2,250 such 
passenger cars, and Volkswagen agreed to manu- 
facture 125,000 of its passive-belt-equipped 
Rabbit models. Ford agreed to participate by 
"establishing the capability of manufacturing" 
140,000 compact model passenger cars, and Gen- 
eral Motors agreed to "establish production ca- 
pacity" to manufacture 300,000 intermediate size 
passenger cars. The December 1976 decision was 
based on the finding that, although passive re- 
straints are technologically feasible at reasonable 
cost and would prevent 9,000 fatalities annually 
when fully integrated into the fleet, possible ad- 
verse reaction by an uninformed public after the 
standard took eff'ect could inspire their prohibi- 
tion b\- Congress with substantial attendant 
economic waste and incalculable harm to the 
cause of highway safety. This finding was based 
in large part on the Department's experience 



with the ignition interlock on 1974- and 1975- 
model passenger cars, wliicli was prohibited by 
Congress in response to industn' and public 
opposition. 

Early in 1977, the Department reconsidered 
the December 1976 decision because public ac- 
ceptance or rejection of passive restraints is not 
one of the statutory criteria which the Depart- 
ment is charged by law to apply in establishing 
.standards. In addition, the demonstration pro- 
gram introduced a minimum 3-year delay in 
implementation of mandatory passive restraints. 
The Department questioned the premise that 
passive restraint systems would fo.ster consumer 
resistance as had the ignition interlock system. 
AVhile the ignition interlock system forced action 
by the motorist as a condition for operating an 
automobile, passive restraints eliminate the need 
for any action by the occupant to obtain their 
crash protection benefits. 

A third reason for reassessment of tlie De- 
cember 1976 decision was the certainty that an 
increasing proportion of the passenger car fleet 
will be small cars, in response to the energy 
situation and the automotive fuel economy pro- 
gram established by the Energy Policy and 
Conservation Act. The introduction of these 
new, smaller vehicles on the highway holds the 
prospect of an increase in the fatality and injury 
rate unless countenneasures are undertaken. 

Based on this reconsideration, the Department 
proposed (42 FR 15935; March 24, 1977) that 
the future crash protection requirements of 
Standard No. 208 take one of three forms: (1) 
continuation of the present requirements, (2) 
mandatory passive restraints at one or more seat- 
ing positions of passenger cars manufactured on 
or after September 1, 1980, or (3) c(mtinuation 
of the existing requirements in conjunction with 
proposed legislation to establish Federal or State 
mandatory seat belt use laws. 

The proposal foi' an occupant restraint system 
other than seat belts invoked a provision of the 
Act (15 U.S.C. § 1400(b)) that requires notifica- 
tion to Congress of the action. The Act also 
recjuires that a public hearing be held at which 
any member of Congress or any other interested 
person could present oral testimony. The pro- 
posal was transmitted to the Congress on March 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 85 



Effective: September 1, 1981 



21, 1977, with an invitation to appear at a public 
hearing chaired by the Secretary on April 27 and 
28, 1977, in Washington, D.C. A transcript of 
this meeting, along with written comments on the 
March 1977 proposal, are available in the public 
docket. 

DISCUSSION OF ISSUES 

The March 1977 proposal of three possible 
courses of action for future occupant crash pro- 
tection is grounded in a large, complex adminis- 
trative record that has been developed in the 8 
years since passive restraints were first contem- 
plated by the Department. Interested persons 
are invited to review the NHTSA public docket 
that has been compiled under designations 69-7, 
73-8, and 74—14. Consideration of the issues and 
questions that have arisen during the years of 
rulemaking can be found in the preambles to the 
Department's numerous rulemaking notices on 
passive restraints. Although many of the com- 
ments on the March 1977 proposal raised issues 
that have been discussed in previous notices, the 
significant issues will be addressed here again, in 
light of the most recent information available to 
the Department. 

The need far rulemaking action. An important 
reason to consider anew the occupant crash pro- 
tection issue is the basic and positive changes 
that the automobile will undergo in the years 
ahead. Until recently, the basic characteristics 
of automobiles sold to the American public have 
evolved for the most part in response to the 
forces of the market place. High premium was 
placed upon styling, roominess, and acceleration 
performance. In a cheap-energy society, rela- 
tively little attention was paid to efficiency of 
operation. Nor, until relatively recently, was 
serious consideration given to minimizing the 
adverse impact of the automobile upon air 
quality. 

Recent circumstances, however, have drastically 
altered the situation, and have made it abun- 
dantly clear that the automobile's characteristics 
must reflect broadly defined societal goals as well 
as those advanced by the individual car owner. 
The President has announced a new national 
energy policy that recognizes a compelling need 
for changes in the American lifestyle. Congress 
has implemented statutory programs to improve 



the fuel economy of automobiles, as one result of 
which this Department has just issued demand- 
ing fuel economy standards for 1981 through 
1984 passenger cars. Right now, the Congress is 
deliberating over amendments to the Clean Air 
Act which will impose relatively stringent emis- 
sions requirements effective over the same time 
frame. 

The trend toward smaller cars to improve 
economy and emissions performance contains a 
potential for increased hazard to the vehicles' 
occupants. But technology provides the means 
to protect against this hazard, and this Depart- 
ment's statutory mandate provides authority to 
assure its application. The Report of the Fed- 
eral Interagency Task Force on Motor Vehicle 
Goals for 1980 and Beyond indicated that simul- 
taneous achievement of ambitious societal goals 
for the automobile in the areas of fuel economy, 
emissions, and safety is technologically feasible. 
Integrated test vehicles developed by this De- 
partment confirm that finding and, further, dem- 
onstrate that the resulting vehicles need not 
unduly sacrifice the other functional and esthetic 
attributes traditionally sought by the American 
car buyer. 

Moreover, the socially responsive automobile of 
the 1980's need not bring a penalty in economy 
of ownership. The just-issued passenger car fuel 
economy standards are calculated to reduce the 
overall costs of operating an automobile by $1,000 
over the vehicle's lifetime. In the case of im- 
proved safety performance, the occupant restraint 
improvements specified in this notice can be ex- 
pected to pay for themselves in reduced first- 
person liability insurance premiums during the 
life of the vehicle. 

The issue of occupant crash protection has been 
outstanding too long, and a decision would have 
been further delayed while the demonstration 
programs was conducted. A rigorous review of 
the findings made by the Department in Decem- 
ber 1976 demonstrates that they are in all sub- 
stantial respects correct as to the technological 
feasibility, practicability, reasonable cost, and 
lifesaving potential of passive restraints. The 
decision set forth in this notice is the logical 
result of those findings. 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 86 



Effective: September I, 1981 



In reassessinp the December 1076 decision, the 
Dei)artinent has considered each available means 
to increase crash protection in arriviiifr at the 
most rational approach. As proposed, the possi- 
bility of "driver-side only" passive protection 
was considered, but was rejected because of the 
unsatisfactory result of havin<r one front-seat 
pas,senper offered protection superior to that 
offered other front-seat passengers in the same 
vehicle. On balance, there was found to be little 
cost or lead-time advantage to this approach. 
The possibility of reinstitutinsr a type of safety 
belt interlock was rejected because the agency's 
authority was definitively removed by the Con- 
gress less than three years ago and there is no 
reason to believe that Congress has changed its 
position on the issue since that time. 

Mahdalory belt use laws. One of the means 
proposed in the March notice to achieve a large 
reduction in highway deaths and injuries is Fed- 
eral legislation to induce State enactment of 
mandatory seat belt use laws, either by issuance 
of a highway safety program standard or by 
making State passage of such laws a condition 
for the receipt of Federal highway construction 
money. 

The prospects for passage of mandatory seat 
l)elt use laws by more than a few States appear 
to be poor. None of the commenters suggested 
that passage of such laws was likely. A public 
opinion survey sponsored by the Motor Vehicle 
Manufacturers Association and conducted by 
Yankelovich, Skelly, and White, Inc. indicated 
that a 2-to-l majority nationwide opposes belt 
use laws. Many such bills have been presented; 
no State has enacted one up to now. Also, Con- 
gress denied funding for a program to encourage 
State belt use laws in 1974, suggesting that it 
does not look favorably upon Federal assistance 
in the enactment of these laws. 

More recently. Congress removed the Depart- 
ment's authority to withdraw Federal safety 
funding in the case of States that do not mandate 
the use of motorcycle helmets on their highways 
(Pub. L. 94-280, Sec. 208(a), May 5, 1976). The 
close parallel between requiring helmet use and 
requiring seat belt use argues against the likeli- 
hood of enactment of belt use laws. 

These strong indications that Congress would 
not enact a belt use program in the foreseeable 



future demonstrate, in large measure, why the 
-success of other nations in enacting laws is not 
parallel to the situation in the Ignited States. In 
the belt use jurisdictions most often <-ompared to 
the United States (Australia and the Provinces 
of Canada), the laws were enacted at the State 
or Province level in the first instance, and not at 
the Federal level. In the Department's judgment, 
the most reasonable course of action to obtain 
effective belt use laws in the United States will 
be to actively encourage their enactment in one 
or more States. An attempt to impose belt use 
laws on citizens by the Federal government 
would create difficulties in Federal-State rela- 
tions, and could damage rather than further the 
interests of highway safety. 

EffectivenesH of passive restraints. The De- 
cember 1976 decision concluded that the best esti- 
mates of effectiveness in preventing deaths and 
injuries of the various types of restraint .systems 
under consideration were as set forth in Table I. 
Using the effectiveness estimates from Table I, 
the projection of benefits attributable to various 
restraint systems is summarized in Table II. 
Several comments concerning the effectiveness of 
passive restraint S3'stems were submitted in re- 
sponse to the March 1977 proposal. 

Insurance company commenters generally sup- 
ported the Department's estimates. General 
Motors, however, disputed the validity of the 
estimates in the December 1976 decision, arguing 
that the results experienced by the approximately 
10,000 GM vehicles sold the public indicated a 
much lower level of effectiveness. It made com- 
parisons between accidents involving those cars 
and other accidents with conventional cars, se- 
lected to be as similar as possible in type and 
.severity. On the basis of this study, GM stated 
that the data indicate that the "current air 
cushion-lap belt system, if available in all cars, 
would save le.ss than the nearly 3,000 lives that 
can be saved by (mly 20 percent active lap/ 
shoulder belt use." 

The Department finds the methods used in the 
General Motoi-s study to be of doubtful value in 
arriving at an objective assessment of the experi- 
ence of the air-bag-equipped vehicles. General 
Motors is a va.stly interested party in these pro- 
ceedings, and the positions that it adopts are 
necessarily those of an advocate for a particular 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 87 



Effective: September 1, 1981 



result. This is in no sense a disparagement; 
advocacy of desired outcomes by interested 
parties is an essential part of the administrative 
process. But if a study advanced by an inter- 
ested advocate is to be seriously considered from 
a "scientific" viewpoint, it must be carefully de- 
sigjied to avoid dilution of its objectivity by the 
bias of the sponsoring party. The GM study 
fails that test. Its foundation is a long series of 
qualitative judgments, which are made by em- 
ployees of the party itself. An equally serious 
fault is that the basic body of accident data from 
which the comparison accidents are selected is 
not available to the public, so that countering 
analyses cannot be made by opposing parties, nor 
can the judgments in the original study be 
checked. General Motors had previously sub- 
mitted to an earlier Standard No. 208 docket a 
study of restraint system effectiveness based on 
similarly qualitative judgments by its own em- 
ployees (69-07-GR-256-01). The shoulder belt 
effectiveness figui-es arrived at in that study were 
about one-half of what are now generally recog- 
nized to be the actual values. While this later 
study utilizes a somewhat different methodology, 
it suffers from the same flaws in its failure to 
preclude dilution of its objectivity by the bias of 
its sponsor. 

Economics and Science Planning, Inc., sub- 
mitted three studies that made estimates of air 
bag effectiveness. In one, the estimate of air bag 
effectiveness was at least as high as the theoreti- 
cal projections made in Table II. In another, a 
very low estimate of air bag effectiveness was 
made — from 15 to 25 percent. 

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 
submitted another estimate of fl,ir bag effective- 
ness based on the experience with the GM cars 
in highway use. A selection was made of acci- 
dents in which the air bag was designed to oper- 
ate, based on frontal damage, direction of impact, 
and age of occupant. In these accidents, air bags 
were determined to have reduced fatalities by 66 
percent, as compared to 55 percent for three- 
point belts. However, the narrow selection of 
accidents limits the application of the figures 
derived in the IIHS study. 

The Department considers that the most re- 
liable method of evaluating the experience of the 
air-bag-equipped cars at this time is to compare 



the number of injuries, at various levels, sustained 
by their occupants with the number that is ex- 
perienced in the general population of vehicles 
of this type. The vehicles in question are not a 
sampling of the general vehicle population : they 
are relatively new, and mostly in the largest 
"luxury" size class. Some adjustment must be 
made for these factors. 

The adjustment for the size of the vehicles has 
been made by multiplying the overall injury 
figures by a factor of 0.643, which has been found 
in one study (Joksch, "Analysis of Future Ef- 
fects of Fuel Storage and Increased Small Car 
Usage Upon Traffic Deaths and Injuries," Gen- 
eral Accounting Office, 1975) as the ratio of 
fatalities per year for this size of vehicles to the 
figure for the general population. The newness 
of the vehicles has a double-edged aspect: newer 
vehicles are evidently driven more miles per year 
than older ones, but they also appear to experi- 
ence fewer accidents per mile traveled (Dutt and 
Reinfurt, "Accident Involvement and Crash In- 
jury Rates by Make, Model, and Year of Car," 
Highway Safety Research Center, 1977). These 
two factors can be accounted for if it is assumed 
that they cancel each other, by using vehicle 
years, rather than vehicle miles, as the basis of 
comparison. With these adjustments, the ex- 
pected number of all injuries of AIS-2 (an index 
of injury severity) and above in severity for 
conventional vehicles equivalent to the air-bag- 
equipped fleet during the period considered was 
91. The actual number experienced was 38, indi- 
cating an effectiveness factor for these injury 
classes of 0.58. 

A possibility of bias in these estimates exists 
in that injuries that have occurred in the air bag 
fleet may not have been reported, despite the 
three-level reporting system (owners, police, and 
dealers) that has been established. This bias is 
less likely to be present in frontal accidents, 
where the air bag is expected to (and generally 
does) deploy. For frontal accidents only, the 
number of injuries expected is 60, or 66 percent 
of the total ("Statistical Analysis of Seat Belt 
Effectiveness in 1973-1975 Model Cars Involved 
in Towaway Crashes," Highway Safety Research 
Center, 1976) ; only 29 have been experienced, 
indicating an effectiveness factor of 0.52. 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 88 



Effectiva: September I, 1981 



These figures ronfirni (and in fact exceed) the 
effectiveness estimates of the December 1376 de- 
cision. For injuries of lii»rher severity levels, the 
numbers experienced are mucii too small to be 
statistically significant. 

The various assumptions and adjustments that 
must be made to arrive at u valid "expected" 
figure, and the possibility that some injuries were 
unreported, leaves substantial room for uncer- 
tainty and argument as to the true observed 
effectiveness of the restraint systems. Neverthe- 
less, the results of the field experience are en- 
couraging. Even if the observed-effectiveness 
figures arrived at by these calcidations were high 
1)V a factor of 2, they would still substantially 
confirm the estimates of the December 1976 deci- 
sion. Considering all the argimients on both 
sides of the issues, the Department concludes that 
the observed experience of the vehicles on the 
road equipped with air bags does not cast doubt 
on the effectiveness estimates in the December 
1976 decision. 

It has been argued that the Department should 
not issue a passive restraint standard in the ab- 
sence of statistically significant real world data 
which confirm its estimates of effectiveness. 
Statistical '"proof" is certainly desirable in deci- 
sionmaking, but it is often not available to resolve 
public policy decisions. It is also clear from the 
legislative hi.story of the Act that the Department 
was not supposed to wait for the widespread 
introduction of a technology- before it could be 
mandated. The Senate report for example re- 
fers to the "failure of safety to sell" in automo- 
biles, and describes how the Department was 
intended to piish the manufacturers into adopt- 
ing new safety technologA' tiiat would not be 
introduced voluntarily (S. Rep. 1301, 89th Cong. 
•2nd Scss. 4 (1966)). The Chi^slcr case foimd 
that "The explicit purpose of the Act is to enable 
ti»e Federal Goveninient to impel automobile 
manufacturers to develop and apply new tech- 
nology to the task of improving the .safety design 
of automobiles as readily as possible." (47'2 
F.2d at 671.) 

Cost of /la-snirc rt-HtraintK. Passive belts have 
l)een estimated in the past by the Department to 
add $25 to the price of an automobile, relative to 
the price of cars with present active belt systems. 



The increaseil operating cost over the life of a 
vehicle with passive belts is estimated to be $5. 
These figures are assumed valid for purposes of 
this review, and were not contsted in the com- 
ments received. 

This I)ei)artment, General Motors, Ford, De- 
Lorean. and Alinicars all have produced estimates 
of the passenger car price increase due to the in- 
clusion of air bags. These are sufficiently detailed 
and current to be comi)ared. and are set forth in 
Table III. The Department estimate has been 
raised somewhat above its previous ones because 
of the $14 increase in the price of the compo- 
nents of an air bag .system quoted by a supplier. 

The General Motors estimates have been re- 
vised from previous estimates in several respects. 
Research and development, engineering, and tool- 
ing expenses are no longer amoi-tized entirely in 
the first yeai', but are spread over 8 years (other 
estimates spread these costs over 5 years). The 
allowance for removal of active belt hardware 
has been reduced to conform more closely to the 
Depai'tment's estimates. The newer figuies re- 
flect a somewhat more complex system, including 
new sensors. Of the $81 spread between the 
Department and the GM estimates, all but $11 
can be attributed to differences in the following 
areas: GM*s estimate of dealer profit which is 
based on sticker prices (rather than actual sale 
l)rice). GM's shorter amortization period, added 
complexity of the 1977 system over the 1976 sys- 
tem, and the cost of major modifications of the 
vehicle which the agency (juestions. The remain- 
ing $11 difference must be con.sidered as disagree- 
ment concerning the elements of cost shown in 
the table. 

The Ford estimate is the same as previously 
submitted. Forty-two dollars of the difference 
from the Department estimate is a higher profit 
figure arising from Ford's use of sticker prices 
rather than actual i)rice of sale, which gives the 
dealer less mark-up. A substantial amount of 
difference is for a complex electronic diagnostic 
module, extra sensors that the Department does 
not view as neces.sary, and the use of a knee 
bolster instead of a cheaper knee air bag. Thirty- 
nine dollars represents unreconcileil differences. 

Operating costs consist mainly of the cost of 
replacing a deployed bag, fuel cost, and mainte- 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 89 



Effective: September 1, 1981 



nance. Ford also includes an amount for periodic 
inspection. The Department estimate for re- 
placement cost differs from the GM and Ford 
estimates almost entirely as a result of the lower 
estimate for the first cost of the system. The 
fuel costs differ primarily as a result of different 
weijDfht figures for the passive systems, which may 
be design choices of the manufacturers. The 
Department's evaluation of manufacturers' cost 
objections is being placed in the public docket as 
required by § 113 of the Act. 

If, as projected, passive restraints are effective 
in saving lives and reducing injuries, as compared 
to existing belt systems at present use I'ate, the 
insurance savings that will result will offset a 
major portion, and possibly all, of the cost to the 
consumer of the systems. There may be some 
doubt on this point that arises from skepticism 
concerning the behavior of insurers. 

The vast majority of auto occupant injuries 
beyond the minor level result in automobile, 
health, or life insurance claims. In some States, 
insurers may lack a degree of flexibility in the 
adjustment of premiums because of pressures 
from insurance commissions. However, the evi- 
dence indicates that premiums are fundamentally 
based on claims experience. 

In its comments to the docket. Nationwide 
Mutual Insurance Companies estimated that sav- 
ings in insurance premiums should average $32.50 
per insured car per year, if all cars were equipped 
with air bags. Of this amount, 75 percent is the 
result of an assumed savings of 24.6 percent in 
the bodily injury portion of automobile insurance 
premiums, 21 percent from a 1.5 percent reduc- 
tion in health insurance premiums (30 percent 
of the 5 percent of the premiums that pay for 
auto-related injuries), and the remainder from 
savings in life insurance premiums. The Ameri- 
can Mutual Insurance Alliance and Allstate re- 
ferred to existing 30 percent discounts in first- 
party coverage and concluded that comparable 
reductions would be expected to follow a mandate 
of passive restraints. 

It has been argued that these savings would be 
largely offset by the increased cost of collision 
and property damage insurance due to the in- 
creased cost of repairing a car with a deployed 
air bag. This claim appears to be largely un- 



founded. Using figures based on field tests, it is 
estimated that each year 300,000 automobiles will 
be in accidents of sufficient severity to deploy the 
air bag. (Cooke, "Usage of Occupant Crash 
Protection Systems," NHTSA, July 1976, #74- 
14-GR-30, App. A.) Accepting vehicle manu- 
facturer estimates, it is further assumed that the 
cost of replacing an air bag will be 2.5 times the 
original equipment cost. If a car more than 6 
years old is involved in an air-bag-deploying 
accident, it is assumed scrapped rather than being 
repaired. Combining these assumptions with the 
estimated $112 cost of installing a full front air 
cushion in a new vehicle gives a total annual cost 
of replacement of $50.4 million, or a per car cost 
of less than 51 cents per year. Increases in col- 
lision premiums should, therefore, not exceed $1 
per car- per yeai'. It is noted that deployment in 
non-crash cases would be covered by "comprehen- 
sive" insurance policies. 

The $32.50 annual insurance savings estimated 
by Nationwide would be sufficient to pay for the 
added operating cost (around $4 per year) of an 
air-bag-equipped car with enough left over to 
more than pay for the initial cost of the system. 
Discounting at the average interest rate on new 
car loans measured in real terms (6 percent), the 
air bag would almost recover the initial cost in 
4 years, with a savings over operating cost of 
$107. 

Economic and Science Planning, Inc. (ESP) 
has submitted a differing estimate, that insurance 
savings with full implementation of passive re- 
straints would be only $3.60, rather than $32.50 
per year. About one-half of the difference arises 
from ESP's assumption that seat belt usage 
would voluntarily rise to the 44 percent level by 
1984. This seems highly improbable, based on 
experience to date. 

Moreover, that assumption does not support 
the deletion of projected insurance savings re- 
sulting from passive restraints, but suggests that 
other courses of action (such as whatever might 
be done to increase belt usage to 44 percent) 
might also produce savings. The remaining dif- 
ferences aie based on such factors as the portion 
of injury costs that is paid for by insurance. If 
the assumptions of ESP are allowed to remain, 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 90 



Effscllve: September 1, 1981 



the savinjrs per year would he ahout $lfi. and tlie 
present value of auto-lifetime saviiitrs would be 
$120. 

Side effects of ah' bag iixstallafion. Some con- 
cerns were expressed in the comments about air 
baps that mipht be frroupetl as possible undesir- 
able side effects. One of these was injuries that 
might be caused by design deployment. There 
is no question that any restraint system that 
must decelerate a human body from 30 mph or 
more to rest within approximately 2 feet can 
cause injury. Belt systems often cause bruises 
and abrasions in protecting occupants from more 
serious injuries. The main question is whether 
any injuries caused by air bags are generally 
within acceptable limits, and are significantly less 
severe than those that would have been suffered 
had the occupants in (juestion not been restrained 
by the air bags. The evidence from the vehicles 
on the road indicates that this is indeed the case. 
The injuries cited by GM as possibly caused or 
aggravated by air bag deployment are in the 
minor to moderate (AIS-1 and -2) categoiy. 
From this it can be concluded that injuries 
caused by design deployment, though worthy of 
careful monitoring with a view to design im- 
provements by manufacturers, <lo not provide a 
serious argument against a passive restraint re- 
quirement. 

A closely related (juestion that has caused con- 
cern in the past is whether air bags pose an 
unreasonable danger to occupants who are not in 
a normal seating position, such as children stand- 
ing in front of a dashboard or persons who have 
l)een moved forward by panic braking. Much 
development work has been devoted to this prob- 
lem in the past, to design systems that minimize 
the danger to pei-sons who are close to the infla- 
tion source. The most important change in this 
area has piobably been the general shift away 
from inflation systems that depend on stored 
high-pressure gas. in favor of pyrotechnic gas 
generators. \\'\i\\ these systems the flow of gas 
can be adjusted to make the rate slower at the 
l)eginning of inflation, so that an out -of -posit ion 
occupant is pushed more gently out of the way 
before the maximum inflation rate occurs. 

With one exception, there have been no cases 
where out-of-position occupants have been found 



to be seriously injured in crashes in which air 
bags have deployed. Five of the crashes involv- 
ing GM vehicles liave involved children in front 
seating positions (although not necessarily out 
of [)osition). and others have involved children 
unbelt('(l in the rear seat. 

The only exception has been tlie death of an 
infant that was lying laterally on the front seat 
unrestrained. Apparently during panic braking 
that proceeded the crash, the infant was thrown 
from the seat. While this constitutes an out-of- 
position situation technically, it is not the type 
of circumstance in which the air bag contributes 
to injury of the out-of-position occupant. 

Inadvertent actuation of an air bag may be a 
particular concern to the public, as noted by both 
General Motors and Ford. The sudden deploy- 
ment of an air bag in a non-crash situation would 
generally be a disconcerting experience. The 
experience with vehicles on the road, and tests 
tliat have been performed on 40 subjects who 
were not aware that there were air bags in their 
vehicles, indicate the loss of control in such sit- 
uations should be rare: none has occurred in the 
incidents up to now. There is little (juestion, 
however, that inadvertent actuation could cause 
loss of control by .some segments (aged, inexperi- 
enced, distracted) of the driving population, and 
it must be viewed as a small but real cost of air 
bag protection. 

The frequency of inadvertent actuation is 
therefore of special concern. The Ford fleet of 
air-lmg-equipped cars (about 800 vehicles that 
have been on the road since late 1972, with around 
.")00 now taken out of service) has experienced 
no inadveitent actuations at all. The General 
Motors fleet, about 10,000 sold mostly to private 
buyers during 1974 and 1975, has experienced 
three inadvertent actuations on the road. Six 
others have occurred in the hands of mechanics 
and body shop personnel, two in externally 
caused fires or explosions, and one from tamper- 
ing in a driveway. The Volvo fleet of 7.") vehicles 
has experienced none. It is believed that the 
causes of the GM inadvertent deployments arc 
understood, and that the means of eliminating or 
considerably reducing the likelihood of all the 
known causes of inadvertent deployments have 
been found. These include shielding of the 
squibs (the device to ignite the propellant ma- 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 91 



Effective: September 1, 1981 



terial in the bag inflators) against electromag- 
netic radiation, automatically disarming the 
system through the ignition system when the car 
is not in operation, and routing wiring so that it 
is less accessible to tampering or degradation. 

If the figures for the combined fleets are 
projected onto the U.S. vehicle population, they 
would amount to around 7,000 on-the-road in- 
advertent actuations annually, or one for every 
15,000 vehicles. The chances of an individual 
experiencing one as a vehicle occupant during 
his or her lifetime would be on the order of 1 in 
200. This estimate probably overstates the like- 
lihood of occurrence since the inadvertent actua- 
tions in the GM cars to date are believed to be 
due to design deficiencies that are correctable. 
Thus, although it will probably continue to be a 
public concern, the infrequency with which in- 
advertent actuation occurs leads to the conclusion 
that it does not constitute a weighty argument 
against a passive restraint requirement. 

Some private individuals expressed, in their 
comments, concern over possible eai- damage, or 
injuries that might be cau.sed to persons with 
smoking materials in their mouths, or wearing 
eyeglasses. Although some early tests with over- 
sized cushions of prototype design produced 
some temporary hearing losses, later designs have 
reduced the sound pressures to the point where 
ear damage is no longer a significant possibility. 
AVith respect to eyeglasses and smoking materials, 
the results from the vehicles on the road have 
been favorable. Of the occupants that had been 
involved in air cushion deployments as of a re- 
cent date, 71 had been smoking pipes or wearing 
eyeglasses or other facial accessories. None of 
these received injuries beyond the minor (AIS-1) 
level. From this it can be concluded that these 
circumstances do not create particular hazards to 
occupants of air-bag-equipped vehicles. 

Toyo Kogyo and some private individuals 
questioned whether air bags might experience 
reliability problems in high-mileage and older 
vehicles. The fact that air bags have only one 
moving part, and most of the critical components 
rest in sealed containers during their non-deploy- 
ment life, indicates that they should perform 
well in this regard. The systems in the vehicles 
in the field, some of which have been in use for 
almost 5 years, have demonstrated extremely good 



durability, with no apparent flaws. Manufac- 
turers use sophisticated techniques such as ac- 
celerated test cycles to assure a high level of 
reliability. 

Reliability of restraint systems is, of course, 
absolutely necessary. Unlike the failure of acci- 
dent prevention systems such as lights and brakes 
where failure does not necessarily result in harm 
to occupants, the failure of a restraint system 
when needed in a serious crash almost certainly 
means injury will result. Vehicle and component 
manufacturers are fully aware of this and take 
the special precautions to ensure reliability which 
might not be taken for less critical systems. The 
Department is equally aware of it and has moni- 
tored manufacturer efforts to date to ensure fail- 
safe performance of crash-deployed systems. As 
an example, copies of reliability information re- 
quest letters from the Department to manufac- 
turers preparing for the demonstration program 
or otherwise involved in air bag systems have 
been made public in the docket. 

The projections of reliability to date are, of 
necessity, based on pilot production volumes, and 
cannot demonstrate fully that reliability prob- 
lems associated with mass production will never 
occur. So that manufacturers can avoid these 
types of reliability problems, the Department has 
settled on a phase-in of the I'equirements which 
is described later in greater detail. 

General Motors and the National Automobile 
Dealers Association commented that product lia- 
bility arising from air bag performance would 
be a major expense. The insurance company 
coumienters, on the other hand, suggested that 
the presence of air bags in vehicles could reduce 
auto companies' product liability. 

The new risk of liability, attached to a require- 
ment for passive lestraints, does not differ from 
the risk attached to the advent of any device or 
product whether mandated by the Federal gov- 
ernment or installed by a manufacturer by its 
own choice. Just as liability might arise because 
of the malfunctioning of a seat belt system or 
braking system, liability may also arise because 
of the malfimctioning of a passive restraint sys- 
tem. The mandating of a requirement by the 
Federal government has, in fact, often served to 
limit liability, since most jurisdictions accord 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 92 



EfFective: September 1, 1981 



preat weight to evidence showinjr tliat a device 
has met Federal standards. 

There is little evidence that the mandating of 
passive restraints will lead to increases in product 
liahility insurance premiums. Although the ad- 
vent of new technology has often been accom- 
panied by an increase in products liability 
insurance, it is unclear liow much of the increase 
is attributable to increased risk and how much 
to inflation. Officials of the Department of Com- 
merce and at least two major insurance companies 
doubt that Fedei'al passive resti-aint requirements 
will lead to increased risk and insurance pre- 
miums. They point out that Federal require- 
ments are imposed to make products safer, and 
safe products are less likely to cause injur\-. 

It is noteworthy that the Allstate Insurance 
Company agreed to sell product liability insur- 
ance for the GM cars which were to be equipped 
with passive restraint systems pursuant to the 
demonstration program, at a rate no greater than 
the product liability insurance rate for cars not 
equipped with passive restraint systems. 

Small cars. An important consideration in the 
decision concerning passive restraints is their 
suitability and availability for small cars, which 
because of the energy shortage will comprise an 
increasing segment of the vehicle populatitm in 
future years. Passive belts have been sold as 
standard equipment in over 6.5,000 Volkswagen 
cars, and must be viewed as a proven means of 
meeting a passive restraint requirement. Some 
vehicle body designs may require some modifica- 
tion for their installation, but passive belts could 
Ih" used as restraints for most bucket -seat ar- 
rangements at moderate cost with present tech- 
nology. 

Some manufacturers have expressed doubt that 
a large proportion of their customers would find 
passive belts acceptable, because of their rela- 
tively obtrusive nature and the i-esistance shown 
by the U.S. public to wearing seat belt systems. 
i.e., Ijelts that occupants must buckle and un- 
buckle. These manufacturers submitted no sup- 
porting market surveys. Further, there is reason 
to believe that the experience with active belt 
systems is not an accurate indicator of the ex- 
perience to be expected with passive belts. The 
Department anticipates that some manufacturers 



will install passive belts in the front seats of 
small cars having only two front seats. Passive 
belts would not confront the occupants of those 
seats with the current inconvenience of having 
to buckle a belt system to gain its protection or 
of having to unbuckle that system to get out of 
their cars. ITnlike the interlock active belt sys- 
tems of several years ago. the passive belt systems 
will have no effect on the ability of drivers to 
start their cars. 

Nevertheless, the question of the acceptability 
of passive belts may make the suitability of air 
bags for small cars an important one. Although 
the shorter crush distance of small cars may im- 
pose more stringent limits on air bag deployment 
time, the evidence from studies conducted by the 
Department with air bags in small cars is that 
there are no insujjerable difficulties in meeting 
the 30-mph crash re(|uireinents of Standard 208 
in cars as small as 2000 pounds gross vehicle 
weight rating with existing air bag designs (see, 
for example, "Small Car Driver Inflatable Re- 
straint System Evaluation Program." Contract 
DOT-HS-6-01412. Status Report April 15. 
1977). 

The "packaging" problems of installing air bag 
systems are greater for small cars than for larger 
ones. They occupy space in the instrument panel 
area that might othenvise be utilized by other 
items such as air conditioning duct,s, glove com- 
partment, or controls and displays. Toyo Kogyo 
(Mazda) and Honda indicated that their instru- 
ment panels might have to be displaced 4 inches 
rearward, that some engine compartment and 
wheelbase changes might be needed, and that 
some dash-mounted accessories might have to be 
deleted or mounted elsewhere. This type of prob- 
lem is expected to be important to the existing 
choice between aii' bag and passive belt systems. 

It is not the role of the government to resolve 
these problems since, in the Department's judg- 
ment, they reflect design choices of the manufac- 
turei-s. Xo manufacturer lias claimed, much less 
demonstrated, that it would be impracticable to 
install air bags in small cais without increasing 
vehicle size. Occupation of instrument panel 
space is certainly <me of the uiupiantified costs 
of air bags, however, and the cost is more onerous 
in a small car than in a large one. At the same 
time, small car makers mav choose to use the less 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 93 



Effective: September 1, 1981 



costly passive belt system. The evidence pre- 
sented to date indicates tliat small-car manufac- 
turers would be able to meet a passive restraint 
requirement by making reasonable design com- 
promises without increasing vehicle size. 

Lead time and production readiness. There 
was considerable discussion in the comments to 
the docket about the ability of the automobile 
industry to develop the production readiness to 
provide passive restraint systems for all passen- 
ger cars. The installation of passive restraint 
systems requires the addition of new hardware 
and modification of vehicle structures in such a 
way that the system provides performance ade- 
quate to meet the standard and a high level of 
safety and reliability on the road. A new in- 
dustrial capacity will have to be generated to 
supply components for air bag systems. Major 
capital expenditures will have to be made by the 
vehicle industry to incorporate air bag systems 
into production models. The Department esti- 
mates that the total capital required for tooling 
and equipment for the production of passive re- 
straint systems in new cars is approximately $500 
million. 

Establishment of an industry to produce com- 
ponents for air bag systems centers on the pro- 
duction of the inflator component. Five major 
companies have indicated an interest in produc- 
ing inflators for air bags. The propellant pres- 
ently being considered for use is sodium azide. 
The primary source of sodium azide, Canadian 
Industries Ltd., has a capacity of around 1 mil- 
lion pounds per year, sufficient for only about 
S00,000 full front seat air bag systems. Thus, 
additional capacity of 10 million pounds or more 
of sodium azide will have to be generated, or 
alternative propellants would have to be used. 
The Department's analysis of the capital require- 
ments and lead time to develop sufficient capacity 
indicates that adequate propellant can be avail- 
able for annual production levels of several mil- 
lion units in less than three years. The production 
of inflators (from several sources) can reach sev- 
eral million units within two to three years of 
the receipt of firm orders, including design speci- 
fications, from the automobile manufacturers. A 
new capacity has already been generated to sup- 
ply the demonstration program which is being 
pursued at this time. 



The vehicle manufacturers face substantial 
work to incorporate air bags in their production. 
In the case of domestic manufacturers alone, the 
instrument panels of approximately half of the 
new cars that will be manufactured in the early 
1980's will have to be completely redesigned to 
provide space for the passenger bag and structure 
to accept the loading on the passenger bag. In 
some cases, relocation of the instrument cluster 
is needed to facilitate visibility over the bag 
module in the steering hub. 

The burden placed on the vehicle manufactur- 
ers to redesign the instrument panel and related 
components to accept air bags can be reduced 
considerably by phasing in the passive restraint 
requirements over several years. With phased 
introduction, the redesigning of instrument panels 
and other components can be done at roughly the 
same pace that these components would ordinarily 
be redesigned, although perhaps not within the 
manufacturer's preferred schedule. 

The rulemaking docket contained a number of 
references to additional reasons for phased intro- 
duction of new systems like passive restraints : 
to establish quality systems in production, to ob- 
tain experience with these systems in the hands 
of a more limited segment of the public, and to 
obtain feedback on the performance and reliabil- 
ity of the systems. If production levels are rela- 
tively small at the beginning of a mandated 
requirement, any unforeseen issues that arise are 
made more manageable by the limited number of 
vehicles affected. A major automotive supplier, 
Eaton Corporation, stressed this aspect of pro- 
duction feasibility over all others. 

Based on its evaluation, the Department has 
determined that a lead time of four full years 
should precede the requirement for the produc- 
tion of the first passive-equipped passenger cars. 
This lead time accords with General Motors' re- 
quested lead time to accomplish the change for 
all model lines. Equally important, the 4-year 
lead time represents a continuation to its logical 
conclusion of the early voluntary production of 
passive restraints represented by the Decembei' 
1976 decision. The continued opportunity for 
early, gradual, and voluntary introduction of 
passive restraints to the public in relatively small 
niunbers offers a great deal of benefit in assuring 
the orderly implementation of a mandatory 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 94 



Effective: September 1, 1981 



passive restraint reqniroinent. Experience vvitli 
the limited quantities of early passive-restraint- 
oqiiipped vehicles can confinii in the jjublic's 
Miind tile value of these systems prior to manda- 
tory production. Because of the value of such a 
voluntary phase-in approach to both the manu- 
facturer and the public, the Department antici- 
pates that the manufacturers which were parties 
to the earlier demonstration pro<rram ajrreements 
will continue their current preparations for vol- 
untary production of passive restraints. The 
Department also expects that othei- manufactur- 
ers will undertake to [)roduce litnited quantities 
prior to the efl'ectivity of the mandate. The 
Department intends to vigorously support tlie 
efforts of manufacturers to foster sales on a vol- 
untary basis, both throujrh major public infor- 
mation proprrams and throu<rh efforts to encourage 
their i)urchase by Federal, other government 
agencies, and private-fleet users. 

The Department also intends to initiate an 
intensive monitoring program to oversee the im- 
plementation plans of both vehicle manufacturei-s 
and their suppliers. The purpose of the moni- 
toring program will be not only to confirm that 
adequate levels of reliability and quality are 
being achieved in implementing designs to com- 
ply with the standard, but also to provide assur- 
ance to the public that the issues that have been 
raised on passive restraint reliability are being 
resolved under the auspices of the Secretary of 
Transportation. 

In addition to a long lead time, the Depart- 
ment considers that the mandate should lie ac- 
complished in three stages, with new standard- 
and luxury-size cars (a wheelbase of more than 
114 inches) meeting the requirement on and after 
September 1, 1981, new intermediate- and com- 
pact-size cars (a wheelbase of more than 100 
inches) also meeting the requirements on and 
after September 1, 1982. and all new passenger 
cars meeting the requirement on and after Sep- 
tember 1, 1983. 

"WTieelbase was chosen as a measure to delineate 
the phasing requirements because it is a well- 
defined cjuantity that does not vary significantly 
within a given car line. With the downsizing of 
most automobiles made in the United States, 
wheelbases are being reduced by four to six 
inches on most standard-intermediate- and com- 



pact-size cars. As a result, in the period of 
phased implementation (the 1982 through 1984 
model years) standard-size cars will generally 
liave wheelbases in a range of 115" to 120", 
intermediate-size cars will have wheelbasesS in a 
range of 107" to 113", and compact-cai"s will 
generally have wheelbases in a range of 102" to 
108". Subcompact-size cars will continue to have 
wheelbases below 100". 

The determination of which car sizes to in- 
clude in each year of the phased implementation 
was made in consideration of the effect on each 
manufacturer and the difficulty involved in engi- 
neering passive restraints into each size class of 
automobile. Because of the extensive experience 
with passive restraints in full-size cars, and the 
space available in the instrument panels of these 
cars to receive air bag systems, this size car was 
deemed to be most susceptible to early imple- 
mentation. 

The gradual phase-in schedule is intended to 
permit manufacturers to absorb the impact of 
introducing passive restraint systems without un- 
due technological or economic risk at the same 
time they undertake efforts to meet the challeng- 
ing requirements imposed by emissions and fuel 
economy standards for automobiles in the early 
1980's; 

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS 

Section 104(b) of the Act directs that the 
Secretary consult with the National Motor Ve- 
hicle Safety Advisory Council on motor vehicle 
safety standards. The Council has announced in 
an April 26, 1977, letter to the Department that 
"The Council feels that the time has come to 
move ahead with a fully passive restraint stand- 
ard.'" The Council stated that it was recom- 
mending passive protection in the lateral and 
rollover modes as well as the frontal mode pro- 
posed by the Department. The Department 
thei-efore will take under consideration the Coun- 
cil recommendation, with a view to expanding 
the passive restraint requirement as new tech- 
nology is advanced. The Council also recom- 
mended that mandatory seat belt u.se laws should 
al.so be promoted until the entire vehicle fleet is 
equipped with passive restraints. As noted, the 
Department intends to encourage States to enact 
such laws in their jurisdictions. 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 95 



EfFeclive: September 1, 1981 



It is noted that the National Transportation 
Safety Board supported the mandate of passive 
restraints, with a cautionary note to preserve the 
present performance specification that permits 
meeting the requirement by means of passive 
belts as well as inflatable passive restraints. 

The United Auto Workers Union, which rep- 
resents the vast majority of the workers whose 
industry is affected by the mandate, has also 
advocated mandatory passive restraints to the 
Department. 

The Council on Wage and Price Stability (the 
Council) supported the mandate of passive re- 
sti'aints, based on the assumptions that no serious 
technical problems exist with either the air bag 
or the passive belt system concept and that the 
Department's cost estimates are substantially cor- 
rect. The Council based its support on the com- 
parative costs of achieving benefits under the 
three approaches, finding passive restraints to be 
the most cost effective. 

The Council urged that passive belt systems 
continue to be permitted as meeting the perform- 
ance requirements of the standard, because they 
represent the least costly passive restraint system 
currently commercially available. Standard No. 
208 has always been and continues to be a per- 
formance standard, and any device that provides 
the performance specified may be used to comply 
with the standards. With regard to passive belt 
systems, it is important that they remain avail- 
able, particularly in the case of smaller-volume 
manufacturers who may not care to provide air 
bag type protection because of its engineering 
and tooling costs relative to production volume. 

In accordance with S 102(2) (C) of the Na- 
tional Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 
U.S.C. 4332(2) (C)), as implemented by Execu- 
tive Order 11514 (3 CFR, 196&-1970 Comp., p. 
902) and the Council on Environmental Quality's 
Guidelines of April 23, 1971 (36 FR -7724), the 
Department has carefully considered all environ- 
mental aspects of its three proposed approaches. 
A Draft Environmental Impact Statement 
(DEIS) was published March 25, 1977, and com- 
ments have been received and analyzed. The 
Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) 
is released today. Petitions for reconsideration 



based on issues and information raised in the 
FEIS may be filed for the next 30 days (49 CFR 
Part 553.35). 

There was substantial agreement by comment- 
ers with the agency's conclusions about impacts 
on the consumption of additional natural re- 
sources, the generation of pollutants in the manu- 
facturing process and in transporting the system 
throughout the vehicle's life, and on solid waste 
disposal problems. In response to the comments 
of General Motors and others on the DEIS, sev- 
eral estimates were revised. In the Department's 
view, the two most significant consequences of 
a passive restraint mandate are the use of large 
amounts of sodium azide as the generator of gas 
for air bags, and the increased consumption of 
petroleum fuel by automobiles because of the 
added weight of air bags. 

Sodium azide is a substance that is toxic and 
that can burn extremely rapidly. The agency is 
satisfied that the material can be used safety both 
in an industrial setting and in motor vehicles 
during its lifetime, due to inaccessibility and 
strength of the sealed canisters in which it is 
packed. The problem is to assure a proper means 
of disposal. Junked vehicles that are .shredded 
have batteries and gas tanks removed routinely, 
and the air bag could be easily deployed by an 
electric charge at the same time. A hazard re- 
mains, however, for those vehicles that are simply 
abandoned. However, the agency judges that the 
chemical's relative inaccessibility will discourage 
attempts to tamper with it. The proportion of 
abandoned cars is less than 15 percent of those 
manufactured. The Department will work with 
the Environmental Protection Agency to develop 
appropriate controls for the disposal of air bag 
systems employing sodium azide. 

The additional weight of inflatable passive re- 
straints was judged to increase the annual con- 
sumption of fuel by automobiles by 0.71 percent 
(about 521 million gallons annually). While this 
increase is not insignificant, the Department be- 
lieves that it is fully justified by the prospective 
societal benefits of passive restraints. The De- 
partment took full account of the impact of a 
passive restraint standard in its recent proceed- 
ing to set fuel economy standards for 1981-1984 
passenger automobiles. 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 96 



Effective: September 1, 1981 



In accordance with Department policy encour- 
aging adequate analysis of the consetpiences of 
refrulatory action (41 FR Ifi'iOO, April 1(5. 1976), 
the Department has evaluated the economic and 
other consequences of this amendment on the 
public and private sectors. The basic evaluatio?i 
is contained in a document ("Supplemental In- 
flation Impact Evaluation'') that was developed 
in conjunction with the Department's June 1976 
proposal of mandatory pa.ssive restraints. That 
evaluation has been reviewed and a supplement 
to it represents the Department's position on the 
effect of tiiis rulemaking on the nation's economy. 

The standard, as set forth below, allows manu- 
facttirers two options for compliance. First, a 
manufacturer may provide passive occupant 
crash protection in frontal modes only. If this 
option is chosen, the manufacturer must also pro- 
vide lap belts at all seating positions in the auto- 
mobile. The lap belts are provided to give crash 
protection in side and rollover crashes, and have 
a demonstrated effectiv^eness in these crash modes. 

A second option for manufacturers is to pro- 
vide full passive protection for front seat occu- 
pants in three crash modes: frontal, side and 
rollover. If a manufacturer can achieve this 
performance, it would not have to provide seat 
belts in the front seat. Under this option, lap 
belts would continue to be required for all rear 
seating positions. 

The Department has found that use of any 
seat belt installed in accordance with the stand- 
ard is necessary to enhance the safety of vehicle 
occupants. Thus, the Department continues to 
advocate the use of all seat belts installed at all 
seating positions in motor vehicles, regardless of 
whether the vehicle is also equipped with passive 
restraints. 

In consideration of the foregoing. Standard 
No. 208 (49 CFR 571.208) is amended 



Effective date fnding: Under § 125 of the Act, 
an amendment of Standard No. 208 that specifies 
occupant restraint other than belt systems shall 
not become effective under any circumstances 
imtil the expiration of the 60-day review period 
provided for by Congress under that section 
"unless the standard s{M>cifies a later date." Sec- 
tion 125 also provides that the standard does not 
become effective at all if a concurrent resolution 
of disapproval is passed by Congress during the 
review period. The Department's view of this 
section is that a "later date" can be established 
at the time of promulgation of the rule, subject 
to the possibility of reversal by the concurrent 
resolution. 

The amendment is therefore issued, to become 
effective beginning September 1, 1981, for those 
passenger cars first subject to the new require- 
ments. The reasons underlying the effective 
dates set forth in the standard have been dis- 
cussed above. The establishment of the effective 
dates is accomplished at this time to provide the 
maximum time available for preparations to meet 
the requirements. The Congressional review 
period will be completed prior to the commitment 
of significant new resources by manufacturers to 
meet the upcoming requirements of the standard. 

The program official and lawyer principally 
responsible for the development of this rulemak- 
ing document are Carl Nash and Tad Herlihy, 
respectively. 

(Sees. 103, 119, Pub. L. 89-563, 80 Stat. 718 
(15U.S.C. 1392, 1407)) 

Issued on June 30, 1977. 

Brock Adams 

Secretary of Transportation 

42 F.R. 34299 
July 5, 1977 



PART 571; S 208— PRE 97-98 



PREAMBLE TO AMENDMENT TO 
MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208 

Occupant Restraint Systems 
{DoektM No. 74-14; NoUm 19 



With the exception of minor perfecting amend- 
ments, tliis notice denies petitions for reconsid- 
eration of tiie Department's decision to require 
the provision of automatic occupant crash pro- 
tection in future passenger care, commencing in 
some models on September 1, 1981, and in all 
models by September 1, 1983. Six petitions for 
re>consideration and one application for stay of 
the standard's etfective dat« pending judicial re- 
view were filed by parties that disagreed with 
aspects of the DOT decision to upgrade occupant 
crash protection as a reasonable and ne«essaiy 
exercise of the mandate of the National Traffic 
and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (the Act) to pro- 
vide protection through improved automobile 
design, construction, and performance. This 
notice denies the petitions and establishes the 
automatic crash protection requirements and ef- 
fective dates of S4.1.2 and S4.1.3 as final for 
purposes of judicial review under § 105(a) (1) of 
the Act as to any person who will be adversely 
affected by them. One petition for reconsidera- 
tion of a related rulemaking action ("Notice 11") 
is granted in this notice. 

Effective date : December 5, 1977. 

For further information contact : 

Mr. Ralph Hitchcock, Motor Vehicle Pro- 
grams, National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration, Washington, D.C. 20590 
(202-426-2212). 

Supplementary information: On June 30, 1977 
(42 FR 34289; July 5, 1977) the DOT upgraded 
the existing occupant restraint requirements of 
Standard No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection, 
to require the provision of automatic crash 
protection in passenger cars with wheelbases 



greater than 114 inches manufactured on or 
after September 1, 1981, in passenger cars with 
wheelbases greater than 100 inches manufac- 
tured on or after September 1, 1982, and in all 
passenger cars manufactured on or after Sep- 
tember 1, 1983. In place of the lap/shoulder seat 
belt combinations provided in the front seats of 
most of today's passenger cars, the standard man- 
dates a performance standard for crash protec- 
tion that must be met by means that require no 
action by the vehicle occupant. The automatic 
protection must be provided in the frontal mode — 
specifically, when the vehicle impacts a fixed col- 
lision barrier at any speed up to and including 
30 mpli and at any angle not more than 30 de- 
grees to the left or right of perpendicular, the 
t«st dummies installed at the front seating {x>si- 
tions must remain in the vehicle and be protected 
against specified head, chest, and femur injuries 
by passive means (means that require no action 
by the vehicle occupants). A manufacturer may 
meet lateral and rollover crash requirements by 
the provision of active or passive belt systems. 

This amendment to the existing standard in- 
voked a provision of the Act (15 U.S.C. 1400(b) ) 
that provides for a 60-day Congressional review 
of the action. A resolution of disapproval from 
both Houses of Congress was specified as neces- 
sary to disapprove the action. Hearings were 
held by both the Senate and the House in Sep- 
tember 1977, and votes were conducted in October 
1977. The House Committee on Interstate and 
Foreign Commerce adopted its Subcommittee's 
adverse report on the disapproval resolution and 
voted to table it. The Senate also voteil to table 
the disapproval resolution by a vote of 65 to 31. 
The 60-day review period ended October 14, 1977. 



PART 671; S aOS-PRE 9» 



Six petitions for reconsideration of the decision 
were filed by interested parties, along with an 
application for stay of the effective date of the 
decision pending disposition of a i^etition for 
judicial review of the standard filed by the Pacific 
Legal Foundation on September 1, 1977. One 
petition requested an effective date change in a 
related rulemaking action. 

Disposition of Petitions 

Effectiveness. A central factor in the Depart- 
ment's decision to upgrade occupant crash pro- 
tection requirements was a determination that 
passive restraint teclmology could substantially 
reduce fatalities and injuries in crashes. 

Comprehensive analyses of the effectiveness of 
passive restraints in preventing fatalities and 
reducing injuries appear in the preamble to the 
decision, the "Explanation of Rule Making Ac- 
tion" that accompanied the decision, and in 
underlying research and analyses that were con- 
ducted by and for the Department's National 
Highway Traffic Safety Administration 
(NHTSA) and placed in the public rule making 
docket throughout the Standard's eight-year rule 
making history. 

The estimates of restraint system effectiveness 
are based on extensive field data with active 
safety belt restraint systems, evaluate-d in con- 
junction with thousands of crash and sled tests 
comparing the performance of various active and 
passive restraint technologies in occupant protec- 
tion with each other and with the performance 
of unrestrained occupants. The analyses show 
that air bags and passive belt systems are ap- 
proximately equivalent in overall protective 
ability to combined lap and shoulder belts when 
worn. However, usage of passive restraints will 
be substantially higher than the 20-percent usage 
rate of active safety belts observed at present. 

General Motors (GM) petitioned for suspen- 
sion of the decision while an oi'ganization not 
involved in the passive restraint issue"audits" the 
DOT and GM effectiveness estimates. A mod- 
erate amount of field experience with the GM 
1974-1976 air bag fleet of 10,000 vehicles is now 
available, and GM sought to obtain an effective- 
ness estimate from the field data by comparing 
injuries in the air bag accidents that have oc- 



curred with injuries in accidents of comparable 
severity found in GM insurance company files. 
Based on this methodology, GM concluded that 
air bags are little more effective than no restraint 
at all. 

Analysis of GM's "matching case" methodology 
indicates a failure to correct their statistical con- 
clusions for known differences between the air 
bag and insurance file fleets. For example, be- 
cause air bags were only offered in GM's full 
size and luxury cars, the occupants of the air bag 
cars were older than the general population of 
motorists represented in the matcliing insurance 
files by an average of about 12 years. Older 
persons are more susceptible to injury in crashes 
than the generally younger population of Ameri- 
can inotorists. This age bias alone could result 
in an underestimation of air bag effectiveness of 
about 30 percent. 

A further source of error in the GM meth- 
odology results from matching the air bag crashes 
with a range of similar crashes in the insurance 
files. For example, consider an air bag car crash 
into a pole resulting in 17 inches of crush to the 
front of the car. This case was matched against 
"similar" crashes into poles or trees of non-air 
bag cars with between 14 and 20 inches of crush. 
Since the insurance files contain many more lower 
speed crashes than higher speed crashes, the com- 
parison group of "similar" crashes will always 
contain a range of severity that is biased toward 
less severe crashes. When air bag crashes are 
matched in this way, a downward bias is intro- 
duced that could reduce estimates of air bag 
effectiveness by 50 to 100 percent. 

DOT finds that proper analytical corrections 
for age distribution and downward severity of 
the case matching technique yields an air bag 
effectiveness value of about 40 percent for AIS-3 
or greater injuries. Tlie Department's decision 
in June 1977 (Table I) estimated air bag effec- 
tiveness for AIS-3 injuries at 30 percent and for 
AIS-4 to 6 at 40 percent. 

A more direct and definitive comparison can 
be made of passive and active restraint effective- 
ness using field data on the accident experience 
of 80,000 VW Rabbits with passive belt systems 
that have been sold in the U.S. These data show 
that the rate of fatalities in Rabbits equipped 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 100 



with passive belts is less than onc-tliinl of the 
rate for Rabbits of the same years of manufac- 
ture equipped witli active lap/shoulder beh 
systems. 

p]conomics and Science Pianninfr. Inc. (ESP). 
asked that the passive re.straint decision be modi- 
fietl to require pa.ssive belts in all 2-fr(mt-seatin<r- 
position passenper cars on and after September 1. 
1981, witli passive requirements for other care to 
follow only after further evaluation of air bajj; 
effectiveness. The seatin<f-position distinction 
reco^izes that passive belts may not be j)ractical 
yet for 3-passeng:er bencli-seat contiffuiations. 
ESP's basis for advocatinjr passive belts is the 
preliminaiy data on experience with passive-belt - 
efjuipped \'ollcswa^en Kabbits. 

Standard No. 208 is a performance standard 
that can be met by several (lesijrns. im-ludinfr the 
air bag and passive belt that have already been 
shown to be commercially feasible. The same 
performance wouhl be required of any system 
chosen by the manufacturer. 

ESP's preference for passive belts is grounded 
in its air bag analysis which, in the Department's 
opinion, seriously underestimates air bag effec- 
tiveness. ESP compared the experience of 
accident-involved 1973, 1974, and 1975 model cars 
equipped with seat belts (DOT-HS-.5-01255-1) 
(RSEP study) with accident-involved air bag 
cars from tlie 10,000-car GM fleet now in high- 
way service. 

In attempting the comparison ESP maile two 
major errors. Because the towaway mileage 
figures for the air-bag fleet are not known, ESP 
simply speculated what this critical fac-tor would 
be, with no credible grounds for the validity of 
its estimates. The other error was to compare 
the two data sets, ignoring relevant differences 
in the ratio of urban to rural exposure, the pro- 
portions of vehicles of various sizes in the sets, 
the crash modes and severity of the crashes, and 
the age and sex of the vehicle occupants involved. 
When ESP corrected its analysis, in a later sub- 
mission to the Department to eliminate these 
errors, it obtained results that tend to support 
the DOT estimates. 

The ESP petition for deferral of air-bag-type 
passive restraints is also grounded in the un- 
founded assertion that seat belt usage is or can 



Ije expected in the future to rise to 44 percent. 
ESP relies on a finding from the RSEP study 
tliat Ih'U use was as high as 44 percent in 1974 
and 1975 model cars observed during 1974 and 
the first part of 1975. But this isolated finding 
cannot be used out of context as a general pre- 
ilictor of belt usage rates. Most of these vehicles 
were originally ecjuipped with ignition interl(K'ks 
and sequential warning systems, many of which 
had not yet been disabled and tluis induced oc- 
cupants to buckle up. Subsequent observations 
confirm that belt usage in those motlel year care 
has now dropped to less than 30 percent. In the 
most recent model year cars (1976 and 1977 
mwlels) with only a brief reminder system, usage 
is only about 20 percent (DOT-HS-6-01340). 

ESP suggested that future belt u.sage could be 
higher than DOT observations, based on its be- 
lief tiiat usage is higher (1) in rural areas where 
DOT observations were not concentrated, (2) in 
high-risk situations because drivers j)erceive a 
risk and take appropriate action, and (3) in small 
cars that will become a higher proportion of the 
fleet in the future. This speculation has no basis 
in fact. The RSEP stutly shows belt usage to be 
higher in urban areas where DOT observations 
were concent I'ated, tending if anytliing to bias 
the observation in favor of high usage rates. 
The same study provides evidence that belt usage 
is no more likely in higher i-isk situatitms. Usage 
was lower for vehicles that sustained higher levels 
of damage. The higher belt usage in smaller cars 
is more likely attributable to the general attitudes 
of existing small car buyers than simply to occu- 
pancy of a smaller vehicle. 

Chiysler, Ford, and AMC alluded to air bag 
effectiveness but raised no i)oints that have not 
already been addres.se<l as a part of the passive 
restraint decision at the time of its issuance. No 
basis in these petitions exists upon whicli to re- 
con.sider the decision. 

Implementation schedule. The Center for .\uto 
Safety (the Center) and Ralph Nader petitioned 
for modification of the effective tlate and phase-in 
to make the recjuircments Injcome effective for all 
cars on September 1, 1980. The Center argued 
that installation in that time peritxl is technically 
feasible, that compliance of large care first, and 
less crashworthy small care last, contradicts the 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 101 



Act's mandate to reduce death and injury, that 
phase-in of requirements by wheelbase length is 
not authorized by the Act, and that insufficient 
notice of the implementation schedule was pro- 
vided by the Department. 

The introduction of passive restraint systems 
in all new cai-s will require the design, testing, 
and manufacture of components for a variety of 
passive restraint systems, in many variations to 
accommodate all sizes and models of passenger 
automobiles sold in the domestic market. Parties 
to the rulemaking generally agreed wliat tasks 
are necessary to redesign new automobiles to ac- 
commodate passive belts and air bags. However, 
some disputed the length of time needed to ac- 
complish these tasks effectively and in an orderly 
manner for all cars sold in the United States 
during the time frame from now into the early 
1980's. 

A comprehensive discussion of the considera- 
tions underlying the establislunent of the stand- 
ard's implementation schedule appears in the 
Production Readiness and Introduction /Schedule 
section of the "Explanation of Rule Making 
Action" underlying the decision. 

The Department estimates that the new re- 
quirements will apply to approximately 2.8 
million five- and six-passenger full size care in 
September 1981, an additional 4.9 million inter- 
mediate and compact cars in September 1982, 
and an additional 3.2 million sub-compact and 
mini-compact cars in September 1983. 

Depending on the amount of research and de- 
velopment conducted to date, the product lines, 
and the resources of the various manufacturers, 
lead time required by each will vary significantly. 
Some manufacturers have done preparatory de- 
velopment work toward the installation of passive 
systems, and some have done very little. Thus, 
the varying capabilities and state of the develop- 
ment programs of most manufacturers must be 
considered in establishing technically feasible 
lead times, and not simply the capability of the 
most or least advanced. 

Facilities for manufacturing air bag inflator 
components in large numbers do not exist and 
must be developed. The development of this new 
industrial capacity cannot be expected to coincide 
fully with the development and planning activi- 



ties of the vehicle manufacturers alone, because 
component supplier investments will probably not 
be made without the suppliers having firm orders. 
This is particularly so where the passive restraint 
requirements have been issued and remanded 
several times over the last seven years. Vehicle 
manufacturere generally do not order components 
from the suppliers until they have developed, 
tested, and settled on the configurations necessary 
to meet the standard in their products. The 
serial nature of development, design, testing, and 
tooling processes for mass production strongly 
affects lead time requirements. 

The NHTSA estimates that the lead time for 
the major and secondary design changes (such 
as to the instrument panel, stefering colunan, door 
structure, and "B" pillar) that would be required 
to place air bags or passive belts in new automo- 
biles can vary from less than 26 months to more 
than 38 months for a typical large manufacturer. 

Another factor affecting lead time is the period 
of time needed to develop a large scale production 
capacity for pyrotechnic propellant materials. 
Based on existing inflator technology and produc- 
tion capacity, the Department estimates that 
approximately 3 years will be necessary to pro- 
duce sufficient inflators for the entire annual 
production of passenger cars without an extra- 
ordinary commitment from this industry. The 
development of large scale inflator manufacturing 
capacity is likely to occur only after the design 
and initial testing of air bag systems by the auto 
manufacturers. 

A final and extremely important factor that 
must be considered in establishing lead time re- 
quirements is the necessity to assui'e that systems 
furnished to comply with the standard will pro- 
vide trouble-free, durable, and marketable char- 
acteristics in service. Reduction in lead time, or 
inefficient use of lead time, may increase the 
probability of defects occurring in sei'V'ice. 

From these considerations, it is apparent that 
installation of either air bags or passive belts 
would not be practical for all new automobiles 
within less than 3 years as requested by the 
Center. To provide reasonable opportunity for 
development, design, testing, and tooling of 
passive restraint systems with adequate durabil- 
ity, quality, reliability, and overall perfonnance, 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 102 



48 months of lead time is justified. This is par 
ticularly true for smaller-volume manufarturei"s 
who have done little passive restraint develop- 
ment work and are only now studying specific 
designs for their 1982 and 1983 model year 
products. 

It should be noted that the lead time author- 
ized is required by the facts and circumstances 
presented in this particular and complex rule- 
making and in no way is to lie considered as a 
precedent for the calculation of lead time in any 
other standard which may later l)e promulgated 
by the agency. 

The Center also advocated that the changes 
necessary to install passive restraints should oc- 
cur at the same time instead of being phased-in 
over thre« years. The Center suggested that ac- 
commodation of the manufacturers" preferences, 
specifically their plans to meet future emissions 
and fuel economy requirements, had dictated the 
3-phase implementation. This is not the case. 
The major vehicle redesign and retooling for 
materials conservation, fuel economy, and emis- 
sions that has been and will occur through the 
early 1980's must be considered in reaching any 
determination about the technical and economic 
feasibility of automotive regulatory actions of 
DOT. A thorough evaluation of the consequences 
of this passive restraint decision requires no less. 

However, the requirements for improved occu- 
pant restraints were not subordinated to the 
attainment of fuel economy or emissions require- 
ments. The preamble to DOT's fuel economy 
rulemaking makes clear that downward adjust- 
ment in the fuel economy levels was made to 
accommodate the weight of passive restraints. 
As earlier explained, a 4-year lead time was 
judged to be reasonable and appropriate to assure 
that a satisfactory product could he developed 
by most manufacturers in the United States 
market for most of their products. 

The decision to require only a portion of pro- 
duction to comply in the first year further rec- 
ognizes the limit on the available tooling industry 
capacity to accomplish major changes, and the 
demands this industry will face within the next 
several years because of an unprecedented com- 
bination of regulatory requirements and commer- 
cial pressures. A manufacturer with several 



vehicle offerings ordinarily undertakes major 
product changes in only a portion of its produc- 
tion at one time. Assuming a 4-year cycle within 
the industry for substantial changes, for example, 
it is evident that only about one-fourth of the 
engineering and tooling capacity reso\irce^s neces- 
sary to change the entii-e production are in place 
and available for use in any one year. The lead 
times provided are based on reasonable utilization 
of available tooling and the objective that reliable 
and effective passive restraint sy.stems be devel- 
oped. 

The longer lead time allowed for smaller cars 
is also intended to provide the alternatives to 
small-car mantifacturers for the installation of 
air bag systems in lieu of the simpler pa.ssive belt 
systems. The development of either type of oc- 
cupant crash protection for smaller oars presents 
a greater engineering challenge than for large 
cars, and some makers of smaller cars have sig- 
nificantly smaller engineering resources than do 
the makers of the majority of larger cars. The 
Department intended to provide .sufficient lead 
time so that the most effective designs can be 
fully considered and tested before production 
decisions must be reached. The agency considers 
that its analysis, reported in the "P^xplanation 
of Rule Making Action."" provides ample justifi- 
cation for a phase-in as the practicable approach 
to meeting the need for motor vehicle safety in 
upgrading automobile occupant crash protection. 

The Center argued that a phase-in of recpiire- 
ments in stages that distinguish among vehicles 
on the basis of a design characteristic (wheelbase 
length) is not authorized by the Act. The Cen- 
ter argue^l that "type" distinction does not in- 
clude wheelbase distinctions. The Center also 
asserts that the DOT believes it has only "across- 
the-board" authority to implement standards, and 
that Congress acquiesed in this view by not pro- 
viding DOT additional phase-in authority in the 
1974 amendments to the Act. 

The Department has repeatedly utilized "type" 
distinctions based on design in cariying out the 
Act. The basic vehicle type distinctions used to 
distingxnsh the phasing of requirements among 
passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, 
and light trucks are not expressly authorized by 
the Act. DOT established the distinction to ra- 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 103 



tionally implement the Act. The wheelbase dis- 
tinction has been used in the bumper safety 
standard Xo. 215, Exterior Protection.^ to imple- 
ment upgraded requirements as expetlitiously as 
possible. This regular practice contradicts the 
assertion that DOT itself believes it has "across- 
the-board" 'authority only. The DOT 1974 re- 
quest for "percentage of production" phase-in 
authority in no way applies to the question of 
phase-in authority based on design distinctions 
such as wheelbase length, weight, or chassis type, 
that the Department already had. 

Congress has in fact implicitly approved 
phase-in based on design distinction by its 1974 
ratification of Standard Xo. 301-75, Fuel System, 
Integrity, in a form that contains a gross vehicle 
weight rating (GVWR) phase-in criterion. Such 
design distinctions have been relied on by DOT 
and acquiesed in by Congress, the industry, and 
the public since the Act's inception. 

Finally, the agency does not agree that the 
legislative history cited by the Center supports 
the proposition that phase-ins are illegal. The 
quoted statement by Senator Magnuson states 
that standards will apply to every vehicle, but 
does not address the question of when they would. 
The refusal by Congress to authorize phase-in 
by "customary model change" criteria in no way 
excludes the authority to phase-in by design dis- 
tinction. The Senate Report language addresses 
particular vehicle changes that take more than a 
year to implement, and simply notes tliat the 
DOT is authorized to set later dates for those 
changes. This passage does not address the ques- 
tion of later dates for a particular category of 
vehicle. 

The Center asserted that inadequate notice of 
the implementation schedule had been provided 
by the Department, because the September 1981 
date was adopted in place of the proposed 1980 
date, and because the wheelbase phase-in was 
adopted in place of the proposed phase-in by 
occupant position. While conceding that "every 
precise change ultimately adopted need not be 
published", the Center believed that inadequate 
opportunity was made available to the public to 
address the implementation schedule. 

The Department has fully considered the Cen- 
ter's objection in the light of its public notices. 



hearings, and the rulemaking record on Standard 
208. The question is whether the public has had 
sufficient notice of the issue (the timing of man- 
datoiy passive restraint installation). As a gen- 
eral matter, some changes from the proposal are 
inherent in the notice and comment process so 
that the nilemaker can benefit from comments 
and modify the rulemaking without having to 
repropose every time new information is learned. 
In this case, the notice proposed a timing 
schedule, and the notice indicated that the im- 
plementation was tentative, even suggesting a 
phase-in at occupant positions as an alternative 
timing approach. The Draft Environmental 
Impact Statement described phase-in alternatives, 
and many parties in their written and oral com- 
ments raised the issue of the timing for the 
mandate. The Center itself commented on tim- 
ing which demonstrates that they were sufficiently 
aware of the issue to comment on it. 

Implementation of the Standard 

An important element in implementing the 
passive restraint requirements is to ensure that 
they are introduced in significant numbers prior 
to the time they are required by mandate. While 
passive belt systems are already in use in sub- 
stantial numbers on the Volkswagen Rabbit 
(about 80,000 cars), relatively few air bag sys- 
tems are in highway service. The two major 
reasons to have passive restraints voluntarily 
produced prior to the mandate are to familiarize 
the public with passive restraint technology and 
to work out early problems in production systems 
that could interfere with orderly implementation 
of the mandate and jeopardize success of the 
program. 

The Department is taking steps to provide for 
voluntary early introduction. In addition to 
Volkswagen, GM and Ford have indicated plans 
to introduce passive belts as an option as early 
as the 1979 and 1980 model yeare, respectively. 
Ford and GM have also announced the intention 
of making an air bag option available in one or 
more models in the 1981 model year, one year 
before the mandate. The Department conunends 
this initiative and is encouraging these companies 
to expand this commitment to introduce air bags 
voluntarily in the 1980 model year and in other 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 104 



than full-size cars. The Department will con- 
tinue to monitor the perfonuanoe of voluntarily 
introduced systems, botli air baj^ and passive 
belts, as it has to date. 

In support of manufacturers' efforts to market 
air baps earlier than the mandate, th© Depart- 
ment has contacted the General Services Admin- 
istration, State and local {joverrunent ojierators 
of fleet vehicles, the insurance companies, rental 
fleet owners, taxi operators, and other institutional 
users of passenger cars to encourage the purchase 
of air bag cars. This is the most direct induce- 
ment to the manufacturers to make air bags 
available earlier than the initial September 1981 
effective date. Complementary activities to assist 
the early introduction of the systems are: (1) a 
DOT public education campaign that is already 
underway throughout tJie country. (2) monitor- 
ing component and vehicle manufacturers' im- 
plementation programs to assure proper attention 
is given to cost, reliability, and effectiveness, and 
(3) continued research, development, and evalua- 
tion of passive restraint systems to insure that 
the best overall passive restraint technology is 
available to manufacturers and the public, both 
now and in the future. 

Other Issues 

The Pacific Legal Foundation filed a petition 
for review of the rule in the Court of Appeals 
for the District of Columbia. It then asked the 
Department to stay the effective date of the rule 
for a period of time equal to the length of ju- 
dicial review. 

The Foundation, in its application for a stay, 
listed in general terms a number of items it said 
the Department failed to consider or evaluate 
appropriately. The Department did, however, 
review and assess all of those items before an- 
nouncing the rule. It discussed many of them 
extensively in the preamble to the rule and the 
accompanying "Explanation of Rule Making 
Action". Upon receiving the application for a 
stay the Department reconsidered all of those 
items and it finds that the Pacific Legal Founda- 
tion's list of objections has no merit. 

The Foundation argued that the Department 
should stay the rule pending judicial review 
because manufacturers will make capital ex- 
penditures preparing to comply with the rule 



in model year 1982 and if the Court then over- 
turns the rule, manufacturers may abandon the 
passive re.straint program and pass on these 
preparation expenses to new car buyers. The 
Foundation thus asks the Department to balance 
a possible loss of a relatively small amount of 
money against a certain loss of lives and increase 
in injuries. The Department does not know- 
how nmch time the Court will need to review 
the rule, but each year's continuance of the rule 
will add only a few dollars to the price of a new- 
car while each years delay of the rule w-ill 
idtimately cost the public thousands of prevent- 
able fatalities and many more thousands of pre- 
ventable serious injuries. The potential harm 
the Pacific Legal Foundation seeks to avoid 
through a stay is trival compared to the cost of 
a stay in lives that cannot be restored, injury 
that cannot be repaired, and suffering that can- 
not be erased. This rule has already remained 
unresolved for too long. The Department denies 
Pacific Legal Foundation's application for a stay. 

Some manufacturei-s repeated many of their 
earlier objections, all of which were extensively 
addressed in the preamble that accompanied the 
decision and the supplementary "Explanation 
of Rule Making Action". Not only were these 
issues fully ventilated in the rulemaking action, 
but they were also extensively treated in the 
hearings and subsequent reports of the Senate 
and House Conunerce Committees as a part of 
their review of the standard. The Department 
does not consider repetitious i^etitions as a part 
of the reconsideration process (49 CFR §553.21) 
and accordingly denies them. 

One new issue raised was Ford's complaint 
that the NHTSA response on test dummy ob- 
jectivity had misinterpreted Ford data on testing 
conducted in 1973. While the Ford dummy test 
program performed in 1973 may have been an 
ambitious attempt to investigate all of the var- 
iables involved in a vehicle crash test, subse- 
quent development and test programs to reduce 
sources of test variability have made the Ford 
test series obsolete. As noted in the preamble 
to Notice 11, dummy manufacturers have gained 
experience in the manufacture of dununies, the 
Part 572 specifications and test procedures have 
been further defined, and the dummy positioning 
procedures in Standard No. 208 have been modi- 



PABT 671; S 206-PRB 106 



fied for bench-seat cars to eliminate the problem 
noted in the Ford tests of fitting 3 dummies side- 
by-side in tlie test. 

Ford did not contest the more recent findings 
(DOT-HS-6-01514) of hard-seat sled tests of 
pairs of dummies with l>elts, air bags, and unre- 
strained, showing coefScients of variation on the 
pooled data basis for head accelerations from 
1.2 percent to 10.7 percent, for chest acceleration 
from 1.6 percent to 8.5 percent, and for femur 
compressive force from 3.51 percent to 24.2 per- 
cent. Similar results were obtained in sled test 
oblique impacts (DOT-HS-802-570). In the 
face of this unrebutted conclusive evidence of the 
repeatability of current commercial dummy pro- 
duction, the agency finds the test instrument and 
associated procedure to be objective. 

It has been brought to the attention of the 
Department that the NHTSA's decision to con- 
tinue indefinitely the existing requirements for 
multipurpose passenger vehicles and light trucks 
was imperfeetly stated. A corrective amendment 
of S4.2.2 is accomplished by this notice. 

Volkswagen petitioned to have a longer transi- 
tion period between the existing requirements 
for dummy positioning and the upcoming ones 
published "in Notice 11 (42 FR 34299, July 5. 
1977), because the company will not be able to 
evaluate the new requirements by July 5, 1978, 
yet must continue to certify its passive-belt- 
equipi>ed Rabbit model. The Automobile Im- 
porters Association and General Motors sug- 
gested that compliance with either the old or new 
requirements, at the manufacturer's option, be 
permitted immediately. The NHTSA considers 
optional procedures more desirable than specify- 
ing the old procedures longer than one year as 
suggested by Volkswagen. Undei' optional pro- 
cedures, Volkswagen can continue its certification 
of the Rabbit model, effecting a transition at any 
time, wliile the manufacturers undertaking new 
development efforts can immediately utilize the 
new procedures. To accomplish this, the effec- 
tive dates of the requirements of Notices 10 and 
11 are changed to become effective immediately. 



with modifications of the language as necessary 
to preserve the old procedures as an option until 
September 1, 1981. These minor adjustments 
are accomplished in this notice. 

Ford noted that the dummy head adjustment 
procedure of SlO.4 was not consistent with 
dummy construction, which positions the head 
automatically. The XHTSA had intended that 
the dummy head and neck system be shimmed 
to compensate for different seat back angles in 
vehicles being tested. Because of the relative 
difficulty in accomplishing this in relation to 
the amount of specificity gained thereby, the 
NHTSA hereby deletes S10.4 as requested by 
Ford. 

For the reasons stated above and after full 
consideration of the petitions by all parties sub- 
mitted, the Department of Transportation denies 
petitions for reconsideration of its June 30, 1977, 
decision to require the installation of automatic 
crash protection in future passenger cars. The 
requirements set forth at 42 FR 34289 and 42 FR 
34299 (July 5, 1977) are final for purposes of 
review in accordance with § 105(a) of the Act. 

In consideration of the foregoing. Standard 
No. 28 (49 CFR 571.208) is amended. . . . 

Effective date fnd.mg: Because tlie amend- 
ments provide an option and do not create addi- 
tional requirements for any person, it is found 
that an immetliate effective date is in the public 
interest so that manufacturei'S may take advan- 
tage of the new option as rapidly as possible. 

The program official and lawyer principally 
responsible for the development of this nale- 
making document are Ralph Hitchcock and Tad 
Herlihy, respectively. 

(Sec. 103, 119, Pub. L. 89-563, 80 Stat. 718 
(15 U.S.C. 1392, 1407) 

Issued on December 5, 1977. 

Brock Adams 

Secretary of Transpoitation 

42 F.R. 61466 

December 5, 1977 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 106 



PREAMBLE TO AMENDMENT TO 
FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208 

Occupant Crash Protection in Passenger Cars, Multipurpose Passenger 

Vehicles, Trucks and Buses 



(Docket No. 74-14; Notice 14) 



Action: Final rule. 



Summai'y : The purpose of this notice is to 
amend Safety Standard Xo. 208. Occupant Crash 
Protection, to provide for the optional use by 
motor vehicle manufacturers of alternatives to 
latches for releasing occupants from passive seat- 
belt systems in emergencies and to allow means 
other than pushbuttons to operate the emergency 
release mechanisms of passive belt systems. The 
amendment is based on a proposal issued in re- 
sponse to a petition from General Motors Corp. 
to allow manufacturers greater latitude in de- 
signing emergency release mechanisms for passive 
belt systems. The amendment will allow manu- 
facturers to experiment with various emergency 
release mechanisms aimed at encouraging passive 
belt use by motorists, prior to the effective date 
of passive restraint requirements specified in this 
standard. 

Ejfective date : November 13, 1978. 

Address: Petitions for reconsideration should 
refer to the docket number and notice number 
and be submitted to : Docket Section, Room 5108, 
Nassif Building, 400 Seventh Street SW., Wash- 
ington, D.C. 20590. 

For further information contact : 

Guy Hunter, Office of Vehicle Safety Stand- 
ards, National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration, Washington, D.C. 20590, 
202-426-2265. 

SupplemerUary information: Safety Standard 
No. 208, 49 CFR 571.208, currently specifies that 
a seatbelt assembly installed in a passenger 
car shall have a latch mechanism that re- 



leases at a single point by pushbutton action. 
General Motors petitioned for relief from tliis 
recjuirement for passive l)elts, following the issu- 
ance of the final rule requiring passenger cars to 
be equipped with passive restraints (air bags, 
passive belts, or other means of passive, i.e.. 
automatic, protection) (42 FR 34289, July 5, 
1977). The petition described a "spool release" 
design General Motors would like to use on one 
of its passive belt systems. The system would 
include a shoulder belt that would not detach at 
either end. Rather, tlie design would allow the 
belt to "l)lay out" or unwind from the retractor 
in an emergency, allowing sufficient slack for the 
door to be opened and the occupant to exit from 
the vehicle. The purpose of such a "spool re- 
lease" design is to minimize the disconnection of 
the passive belt system by motorists. Under the 
current latch mechanism and pushbutton require- 
ments for belts, a passive belt system could be 
easily disconnected by a buckle release identical 
to buckles on current active belt systems (i.e.. 
belts that motorists must manually put into 
place). As long as the belt remains disconnected, 
the "passivity" of the system would be destroyed 
for future use. 

In response to the GM petition, the NHTSA 
issued a proposal to amend standard 208 to allow 
alternative release mechanisms for passive belts 
(43 FR 21912, May 22, 1978). As noted in that 
proposal, the NHTSA is very concerned about 
the usage rate of passive belts by motorists since 
it ap{)ears that there may be many new cars in 
the 1980"s equippeil with these systems. If mo- 
torists who would prefer air bags in a particular 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 107 



car line can only obtain passive belts from the 
manufacturer the defeat I'ate of the belts could 
be high. The agency is, therefore, interested in 
fostering any passive belt design that is effective 
and that minimizes the rate of disconnection. 
The notice pointed out, however, that there are 
other factors to be considered in the proposed 
change. 

The original purpose of the latch mechanism 
and pushbutton requirements of standard 208 was 
to insure uniformity of buckle design for the 
purpose of facilitating routine fastening and un- 
fastening of active belts, encouraging belt use by 
making the belts as convenient as possible and 
facilitating the exiting of vehicle occupants in 
emergency situations. Since the proposed amend- 
ment would allow various types of release mech- 
anisms, the agency was concerned that the 
resulting nonuniformity might liave adverse con- 
sequences in emergency egress situations from 
passive belts. In order to examine the implica- 
tions of the General Motors petition thoroughly, 
the proposal sought public comments on four 
specific questions concerning the efficacy and ad- 
visability of allowing alternative release mech- 
anisms to latches for passive belt systems. The 
four questions were as follows : 

1. "How should the NHTSA or the vehicle 
manufacturers monitor the efficacy of and public 
reaction to various systems for discouraging dis- 
connection of passive belts (such as the latch 
mechanism with a 4-8 second audible/visible 
warning system that operates if the belt is not 
connected when the ignition is turned on, a latch 
mechanism with additional warning or interlock 
systems voluntarily installed by a vehicle manu- 
facturer, or a lever operated spool release as 
requested by General Motors) ?" 

2. "Are there safety or other considerations 
that would make it inadvisable to allow the spool 
release at this time as an option to vehicle manu- 
facturers which install passive belts?" 

3. "Compared with a passive belt system 
equipped with the currently required latch mech- 
anism, would a passive belt system equipped with 
a spool release whose actuation lever is located 
between the seats have substantial disadvantages 
for emergency exit or extraction from a vehicle 



that would offset any possible increase in usage 
in the passive belts?" 

4. "If the \HTSA decides to permit the use of 
alternative occupant release mechanisms, should 
such use be permitted indefinitely oi' only for a 
finite period, e.g., several yeai-s, to allow field 
testing of the various systems ? If a finite period 
were to be established, when should it begin and 
end?" 

All 15 comments to the May 22, 1978, notice 
supported the intent of the proposed change to 
allow alternative release mechanisms for passive 
belts. Most conunentei-s agreed that a nonsep- 
arable passive belt should discourage disconnec- 
tion by motorists and that this should be given 
higher priority consideration than possible ad- 
vei-se effects .such a belt might have on emergency 
occupant egress. Volkswagen did express some 
concern that the benefits achieved by increased 
belt usage might Ido somewhat offset if problems 
with emergency exiting arise, but agreed that 
more flexibility in passive belt design should be 
allowed to encourage belt use. 

Volkswagen urged the use of the passive belt 
system utilized on its Deluxe Rabbit — a pushbut- 
ton release latch mechanism guarded by an igni- 
tion interlock. The company stated that this 
type system is simple and works well in emer- 
gency situations regardless of the condition of 
the retractor or the positioning of the webbing 
(potential problems of a "spool release" type 
design). Volkswagen pointed out that a system 
that is too complex will require close monitoring 
to insure effectiveness. 

While the Volkswagen system has shown high 
use rates in the field, there is a possibility that 
widespread use of this type system could lead to 
adverse public reaction because of the interlock 
feature. As pointed out by the Alliance of 
American Insurers in its support of the proposed 
amendment, there could be a second public. "back- 
lash" from a return to the use of starter inter- 
locks, even if placed on the vehicle voluntarily 
by the manufacturer. Alliance stated tliat the 
"spool release" system proposed by General 
Motors should be preferable to the interlock from 
a public acceptance standpoint. 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 108 



The Center for Auto Safety and the Prudential 
Property & CasuaUy Insurance Co. both com- 
mented that ''spool release" type mechanisms 
should be self-restorin<j to insure that in sub- 
sequent uses of tlie vehicle the passive belt is 
ready to provide the automatic protection for 
which it was desired. The self-restoring fea- 
ture would automatically retract the belt after 
the manual release has been activated to allow 
the belt to "play-out." The NHTSA believes 
that both self-restoring "spool release" designs 
and manual restoration designs have distinct ad- 
vantages. The automatic restoration does not 
require the vehicle user to have any knowledge 
of the system to reactivate the passive belt. How- 
ever, a manual restoration design would be less 
complex and would probably be more reliable. 
The manual design could be coupled with audible 
and visible warnings to indicate when the lock- 
up portion of the retractor is inoperative. The 
amendment set forth in this notice allows both 
types of restoration systems for "spool release" 
passive belt designs. 

The majority of commenters argued that the 
proposed amendment should be elfective in- 
definitely, and not merely during the interim 
period until the passive restraint requirements 
become effective. The comments statetl that man- 
ufacturers should be given the greatest possible 
design latitude to encourage the early introduc- 
tion of innovative passive belt systems that are 
designed to minimize disconnection by motorists. 
The industry noted that manufacturers will be 
hesitant to initiate such new programs and pas- 
sive belt designs if alternative release designs 
are allowed only for an interim period. Further, 
the commenters stated that an interim rule would 
not allow time for an adequate examination of 
the effectiveness of the various new designs that 
might be developed. The agency has concluded 
that these argimients have merit. Accordingly, 
this amendment is effective indefinitely. 

Several comments stated that the new passive 
belt designs should be standardized, so that the 
public will understand their use and problems of 
emergency occupant egress will lx> minimized. 
While the agency agrees that unifonnity in re- 
lease design is advantageous, it is not practical 
to standardize .systems that are only in the de- 
velopment stage. Further, if manufacturers are 



not given latitude in their passive belt designs, 
the purpose of this amendment would be defeated. 
It is unclear at this time which passive belt sys- 
tems will be the most effective in encouraging 
belt use and at the same time be accepted by the 
public. The agency will, of course, monitor all 
new passive belt systems as closely as possible, 
and efforts to standardize systems could be made 
in the future. 

Ford Motor Co. commented that the revision 
of standard No. 208 as requested in the General 
Motors petition would provide greater latitude 
than presently exists, but that the requested 
wording is restrictive in that it would inhibit the 
development of methods .of release other than 
those specifically related to the retractor. Ford 
requested that the proposed revision include lan- 
guage permitting manufacturers the greatest pos- 
sible design latitude. The agency emphasized in 
the previous notice that the proposal was tenta- 
tive as to the language and substance of an 
amendment that might be adopted in response 
to the General Motors petition. Accordingly, 
this amendment is broader than that proposed 
in the General Motors i^etition and does not limit 
the types of passive belt designs that may be 
developed. 

In order to insure that vehicle occupants are 
aware if their passive belts are inoperable be- 
cause a release mechanism has been activated, 
this amendment specifies that the warning light, 
"Fasten Belts," remain illuminated until the l)elt 
latch mechanism has been fastened or the release 
mechanism has been deactivated. This warning 
light of indefinite duration is in addition to the 
4- to 8-second audible warning signal currently 
required by the standard. The agency believes a 
continuous warning light is essential since this 
amendment will allow various types of unfa- 
miliar release systems for passive l)elts. 

In summary, the agency has concluded that 
manufacturers should be given considerable lati- 
tude in designing emergency release mechanisms 
for passive l)elt systems. This will permit the 
development of innovative systems aimed at lim- 
iting passive belt disconnection by motorists. 
Otherwise, the use rate of passive belt systems 
could be as low as the current use rate for active 
belt systems. This amendment will allow manu- 



PART 671; S 208-PRE 109 



facturers to experiment with various passive belt 
designs before the effective date of the passive 
restraint requirements and determine which de- 
signs are the most effective and at the same time 
acceptable to the public. 

The agency does not believe that the use of 
alternative release mechanisms will cause serious 
occupant egress problems if manufacturers take 
precautions to instruct vehicle owners how the 
systems work through the owner's manual and 
through their dealers. While uniformity in re- 
lease mechanisms is certainly important for pur- 
poses of emergency occupant egress, the agency 
has concluded that this consideration is at least 
temporarily outweighed by the importance of 
insuring passive belts are not disconnected. The 
agency will, however, monitor all new passive 
belt designs to assure that the release mechanisms 
are simple to understand and operate. If the 



methods of operation of the various release mech- 
anisms are self-evident, the problem of lack of 
uniformity in design will be less important in 
terms of emergency occupant egress. 

The agency has concluded that this amendmwit 
will have no adverse economic or environmental 
impacts. 

The engineer and lawyer primarily responsible 
for the development of this rule are Guy Hunter 
and Hugh Gates, respectively. 

(Sec. 103, 119, Pub. L. 89-563, 80 Stat. 718 (15 
U.S.C. 1392, 1407), delegation of authority at 49 
CFR 1.50.) 

Issued on November 1, 1978. 

Joan Claybrook 
Administrator 
43 F.R. 52493 
November 13, 1978 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 110 



PREAMBLE TO AN AMENDMENT TO FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD 

NO. 208 

Occupant Protection 

(Docket No. 78-16; Notice 3) 



SUMMARY: This notice responds to petitions for 
reconsideration of the November 29, 1979, notice 
(44 F.R. 68470) amending Standard No. 208, Occu- 
pant Crash Protection. In response to petitions 
from the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association 
and Chrysler Corporation, the agency is deleting 
the requirement for emergency-locking or auto- 
matic-locking seat belt retractors at the outboard 
seating positions of the second seat in forward con- 
trol vehicles. The effect of this deletion is to permit 
manufacturers to continue to use manual adjusting 
devices for the seat belts at those seating positions. 

EFFECTIVE DATE: March 27, 1980. 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. 

William E. Smith, Office of Vehicle Safety 
Systems, National Highway Traffic Safety Admin- 
istration, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, 
D.C. 20590. (202-426-2242) 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On Novem- 
ber 29, 1979, NHTSA published a notice amending 
Standard No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection (44 
F.R. 68470). The amendment deleted the exemp- 
tion for forward control vehicles from several of 
the occupant restraint system requirements of the 
standard. (A forward control vehicle is one with a 
short front end. More than half of the engine is 
located to the rear of the forward point of the 
windshield base and the steering wheel hub is in 
the forward quarter of the vehicle.) 

Chrysler Corporation and the Motor Vehicle 
Manufacturers Association (MVMA) filed petitions 
for reconsideration concerning the amendment. 
They argued that the November 1978 notice of pro- 
posed rulemaking for the amendment only proposed 
a change in the requirements for the safety belt 
systems in the front seat of forward control 



vehicles and did not give adequate notice about a 
change in the requirements for belts in the second 
seat of forward control vehicles (43 F.R. 52264). 
They said that the amendment adopted in the final 
rule requires forward control vehicles to have lap 
and shoulder belts in the front outboard designated 
seating positions and have automatic-locking or 
emergency-locking retractors at the outboard des- 
ignated seating positions of the second seat of the 
vehicle. 

The petitioners have correctly described the 
requirements added by the amendment. The 
amendment applies the requirements of § 4.2.2 of 
Standard No. 208 to all forward control vehicles 
manufactured after September 1, 1981. Section 
4.2.2 requires a manufacturer to meet one of the 
following three occupant crash protection 
requirements: $ 4.1.2.1, complete automatic pro- 
tection, $ 4.1.2.2, head-on automatic protection or 
$ 4.1.2.3, lap and shoulder belt protection system. 
Manufacturers choosing to comply with $ 4.1.2.3 
must install seat belt assemblies meeting the 
adjustment requirements of $ 7.1 of the standard. 
The provisions of $ 7.1 require that the seat belt 
assemblies installed at the outboard seating posi- 
tions of the front and second seats adjust by means 
of an emergency-locking or automatic-locking 
retractor. Seat belt assemblies installed at all other 
seating positions can adjust either by an 
emergency-locking or automatic-locking retractor 
or by a manual adjusting device. Prior to the 
November 1979 amendment of Standard No. 208, 
forward control vehicles did not have to meet the 
requirements of $ 4.2.1.3 but instead could meet 
$ 4.2.1.2, which did not require the use of 
emergency-locking or automatic-locking retractors 
in the outboard seating positions of those vehicles. 

The agency's November 1978 notice of proposed 
rulemaking was addressed to the specific portion 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-lll 



of Standard No. 208 exempting forward control 
vehicles from the shoulder belt requirements. The 
final rule eliminating the exemption inadvertently 
changed the requirements for the second seats of 
light trucks and vans as well. Therefore, the 
agency is amending the standard to retain the cur- 
rent seat belt requirement for the second seat in 
light trucks and vans. The agency notes that one 
manufacturer (GM) of forward control vehicles 
voluntarily equips its vehicles with automatic- 
locking retractors and urges Chrysler to do the 
same. The agency will consider eliminating the 



remaining forward control exemptions from 
Standard No. 208 in future rulemaking. 

The principal authors of this notice are Mr. 
William E. Smith, Office of Vehicle Safety 
Systems, and Mr. Stephen L. Oesch, Office of 
Chief Counsel. 

Issued on March 18, 1980. 

Joan Claybrook, 
Administrator, 

45 F.R. 20103 
March 27, 1980 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-112 



PREAMBLE TO AN AMENDMENT TO FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD 

NO. 208 

Occupant Crash Protection 

(Docket No8. 1-18 and 74-14; Notices 16 and 18) 



ACTION: Final rule (correction). 

SUMMARY: The purpose of this notice is to cor- 
rect an amendment to Safety Standard No. 208, 
Occupant Crash Protection, that was issued 
September 27, 1979 (44 F.R. 55579). That notice 
amended the seat belt warning system require- 
ments of the standard to specify the use of the seat 
belt telltale symbol that is specified in Safety 
Standard No. 101-80, Controls and Displays. In 
that amendment, certain warning system require- 
ments, which had previously been deleted from 
Standard No. 208, were incorrectly reinserted in 
the standard. This notice corrects those errors. 
Further, this amendment makes clear that the 
telltale symbol of Standard No. 101-80 will 
supersede certain existing requirements in Stand- 
ard No. 208 after Standard No. 101-80 becomes 
effective September 1, 1980. 

DATES: These amendments are effective on July 
14, 1980. 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. 

Hugh Gates, Office of Chief Counsel, National 
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 400 
Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20590. 
(202-426-2992) 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The seat 
belt warning system requirements of Safety Stand- 
ard No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection (49 CFR 
571.208), currently specify that under certain con- 
ditions, when seat belts are not fastened, the 
words "Fasten Belts" or "Fasten Seat Belts" shall 
be displayed on the vehicle dashboard. On June 26, 
1978, the NHTSA published Safety Standard No. 
101-80 (49 CFR 571.101-80) to establish new 
uniform requirements for the location, identifica- 
tion, and illumination of controls and displays in 



motor vehicles. That standard specifies a telltale 
symbol that is to be illuminated when a vehicle's 
front seat belts have not been fastened. The stand- 
ard is to become effective September 1, 1980. 

On September 27, 1979, the agency amended 
Safety Standard No. 208 to permit the optional use 
of the seat belt telltale symbol specified in Safety 
Standard No. 101-80 prior to the effective date of 
that standard (44 F.R. 55579). However, that 
amendment failed to clarify that, after the effec- 
tive date of Standard No. 101-80 (September 1, 
1980), the telltale symbol will be required to be 
used in a vehicle's belt warning system. This notice 
clarifies that point. 

When the seat belt telltale symbol was added to 
Safety Standard No. 208, the amendment inac- 
curately stated the pertinent sections of the stand- 
ard that were to be modified. Further, paragraph 
S4.5.3.3(b) (1) inadvertently omitted language con- 
cerning the audible warning. This notice adds the 
omitted language for that paragraph and, addi- 
tionaUy, deletes the parenthetical "(1)" in the 
paragraph heading. Since there is no longer a sub- 
paragraph "(2)," the heading should be specified as 
"S4.5.3.3(b)." 

The 1979 amendment also incorrectly added two 
sections to the warning system requirements that 
had previously been deleted from the standard, 
S7.3.1 and S7.3a. This mistake occurred because 
the warning system requirements are incorrectly 
codified in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regula- 
tions. On July 5, 1977 (42 F.R. 34299), Safety 
Standard No. 208 was amended to delete section 
S7.3 and to redesignate section S7.3a as S7.3 (as 
the sections were numbered at that time). When 
this amendment was codified in the Code of 
Federal Regulations, however, only paragraph 
S7.3 was deleted, not the entire section (S7.3 
through S7.3.5.4). Instead, S7.3a was transposed 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-113 



as S7.3 and S7.3.1 through S7.3.5.4 remained. Un- Issued on July 7, 1980. 

fortunately, these deleted sections were used as a Michael M. Finkelstein, 

reference when the seat belt telltale symbol Associate Administrator for Rulemaking. 

amendment was added to Standard No. 208. This 

notice also corrects that error. *^ ^•"- 47151 

July 14, 1980 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-114 



PREAMBLE TO AN AMENDMENT TO FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD 

NO. 208 

Occupant Crash Protection 

(Docket No. 74-14; Notice 19) 



ACTION: Final rule. 

SUMMARY: This notice amends Safety Standard 
No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection, to specify 
additional performance requirements for both 
manual and automatic safety belt assemblies 
installed in motor vehicles with a Gross Vehicle 
Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds or less. 
These performance requirements are specified in 
order to prevent the installation of particularly 
inconvenient and uncomfortable belt assemblies 
and to ensure that people are not discouraged from 
using belts because of their design or performance. 
This amendment does not include several provi- 
sions that were contained in the notice or proposed 
rulemaking preceding this rule. Based on com- 
ments received in response to the proposal, the 
agency has determined that only certain of the 
specifications should become mandatory at the 
present time. Consideration involving cost, lead- 
time and the encouragement of innovative seat 
belt designs have led the agency to conclude that 
the other provisions should be issued only as 
performance guidelines that manufacturers should 
follow where possible, or find alternative means to 
accomplish the same ends. The performance 
guidelines will be published in a separate Federal 
Register notice. 

DATE: Effective date: September 1, 1982. 

ADDRESS: Any petitions for reconsideration 
should refer to the docket number and notice 
number and be submitted to: National Highway 
Traffic Safety Administration, 400 Seventh Street, 
S.W., Washington, D.C. 20590. 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. 

Robert Nelson, Office of Vehicle Safety Standards, 
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 
Washington, D.C. 20590. (202-426-2264) 



SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Safety 
Standard No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection (49 
CFR 571.208), currently requires most motor 
vehicles to be equipped with safety belts at each 
designated seating position. Beginning in 
September 1981, and phasing in over the following 
two years, new passenger cars will have to provide 
automatic occupant crash protection (i.e., occupant 
restraint that requires no action by occupants, 
such as fastening seat belts, to be effective). Many 
new automobiles will be equipped with automatic 
belts to comply with the automatic restraint re- 
quirements (automatic belts move into place 
around a vehicle occupant automatically when he 
or she enters the car and closes the door). The 
requirements specified in this amendment are 
designed to remove some of the most egregious 
disincentives to use of current belt designs to en- 
sure that both the automatic belts and the manual 
belts installed in future vehicles will be comfortable 
and convenient to use. 

The requirements specified in this notice are 
applicable to seat belt assemblies installed in all 
vehicles with a GVWTl of 10,000 pounds or less, 
except for Type 2 manual belts Gap and shoulder 
combination belts) installed in front seating posi- 
tions in passenger cars through the 1983 model 
year. As noted in the proposal preceding this 
amendment (44 F.R. 77210), Type 2 manual belts 
will be phased out in passenger cars when the 
automatic restraint requirements of Standard No. 
208 become effective. Accordingly, the agency 
believes that manufacturers should be allowed to 
focus their efforts and resources regarding com- 
fort and convenience on manual belts in vehicles 
other than passenger cars and on developing the 
Type 1 manual belts (lap belts) which will be in- 
stalled in rear seats in passenger cars and in some 
front seats in conjunction with air bags and single 
diagonal automatic belts. 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-115 



As stated in the notice of proposed rulemaking 
the discomfort and inconvenience of current seat 
belt designs are among the most prominent factors 
resulting in the current low rate of safety belt use 
(approximately 11 percent). The proposal cited 
various studies which conclude that comfort and 
convenience play a determinative role in whether 
people continue to use the safety belts installed in 
their vehicles after they first try them (DOT 
HS-801-594; DOT HS-803-370). Some of the 
problems identified in these studies include: many 
belts are difficult to reach; many belts do not fit 
properly (e.g., they cross the occupant's neck); the 
pressure of many shoulder belts is felt to be 
excessive, particularly by women; many belts are 
difficult to buckle; and many belts become too tight 
after they have been worn for several minutes and 
their users have moved around. 

In order to alleviate the most serious of these 
problems, the notice of proposed rulemaking 
sought to establish a variety of relatively simple, 
objective performance requirements that would 
improve the comfort and convenience of seat belt 
systems. Specifications involving the following 
performance areas were therefore proposed: torso 
belt occupant fit; belt retraction; adjustable 
buckles for certain belts; belt/ seat cushion 
clearance; torso belt body contact pressure; 
automatic locking retractors (ALR's) were to be 
restricted; "comfort clips" were to be precluded; 
latchplate accessibility; webbing guides; conven- 
ience hooks for belt webbing clearance between 
webbing and the occupant's head; and specifica- 
tions for motorized belt systems. 

There were 38 comments in response to the pro- 
posal from vehicle manufacturers, seat belt 
assembly manufacturers, public interest groups 
and consumers. All comments were considered and 
the most significant are discussed in this notice. In 
response to those comments, and for reasons set 
forth more fully below, the agency has concluded 
that this amendment will only include specifica- 
tions relating to: latchplate accessibility; seat belt 
guides; adjustable buckles for certain belts; 
shoulder belt pressure; convenience hooks; belt 
retraction; and comfort devices. The other provi- 
sions of the proposal will be issued to the public 
only as performance guidelines which manufac- 
turers may voluntarily follow if they choose. Those 
guidelines will be issued in a separate Federal 
Register notice. 



Proposed Provisions Not Included in This 
Amendment 

(The following section sets forth the major com- 
ments to the proposed provisions that are not 
being included in this amendment. A general 
discussion of the agency's response to these com- 
ments follows after the summary.) 

There were nine comments to the proposed 
amendment from concerned citizens. Five of these 
consumers supported the proposed rulemaking and 
stated that they have experienced extreme com- 
fort and convenience problems with their seat belt 
systems. Three citizens opposed the proposal on 
the basis that the rulemaking represents unwar- 
ranted government interference. Finally, one com- 
menter objected to the technical nature of the pro- 
posal, stating that the specifications were difficult 
to understand. 

Almost all vehicle manufacturers supported the 
concept of the proposal that seat belt assemblies 
should be convenient to use and comfortable to 
wear. However, most manufacturers disagreed 
with the agency's contention that there is a 
demonstrable relationship between seat belt com- 
fort and convenience and belt usage rates and that 
improving comfort and convenience will improve 
those rates. Additionally, most manufacturers did 
not agree that the specifications proposed by the 
agency would lead to belt designs that are ap- 
preciably more comfortable and convenient. For 
example, Ford Motor Company stated that 
although it does not deny that there may be some 
correlation between comfort and convenience and 
wearing rates at the extremes (i.e., for very com- 
fortable belts or belts that are particularly uncom- 
fortable), there is no objective evidence that a 
measurable relationship exists between comfort 
and convenience and wearing rates. Ford also 
stated that certain of the proposed requirements 
would not accommodate a large number of vehicle 
occupants (e.g.. Ford stated that the fit zone 
specified in the proposal would only ensure that 
belts properly fit 60 percent of the population. The 
proposal stated the agency's belief that the fit zone 
would ensure over 90 percent of the population had 
comfortable belts). The Motor Vehicle Manufac- 
turers Association stated that experience has 
shown that the incorporation of features in belt 
systems to improve their comfort and convenience 
has not resulted in increased seat belt use, and that 
comfort and convenience are highly subjective con- 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-116 



cepts that are not readily quantifiable. Chrysler 
Corporation stated that comfort and convenience 
improvements alone will not result in a substantial 
increase in belt use. Chrysler stated that the only 
way to improve seat belt use is to enact mandatory 
seat belt use laws. Volkswagen of America stated 
that the proposed modifications would actually 
eliminate several of the most promising existing 
automatic seat belt designs because of design 
restrictions. General Motors Corporation cited a 
study conducted for it by MOR, Inc., which in- 
dicated that removal of all perception of discom- 
fort and inconvenience in belt systems would result 
in only a 1.7 percent increase in seat belt usage. 
The NHTSA proposal indicated that usage could be 
increased about 8 percent, and took exception to 
the MOR study. General Motors argued that the 
NHTSA has not adequately demonstrated, 
however, why the conclusions in the MOR study 
are invalid. American Motors Corporation stated 
that manufacturers already incorporate adequate 
comfort and convenience features in their belt 
systems and that regulatory action is, therefore, 
not warranted in this case. 

The American Seat Belt Council, Hamill 
Manufacturing Company and other commenters 
supported the rationale of the proposal totally. 
Hamill stated that comfort and convenience is of 
paramount importance to 75-80 percent of the 
non-user segment of the driver population, who 
already perceive that seat belts are effective in 
mitigating the risk of death and injury in vehicle 
crashes but are dissuaded from using the belts 
because of perceived inconvenience and discom- 
fort. Volvo of America Corporation acknowledged 
that comfort and convenience is one factor that in- 
fluences usage, but stated that the major reason 
for the low rates of seat belt use is lack of motiva- 
tion on the part of the motoring public. 

In addition to the general negative comments 
concerning the relationship between seat belt com- 
fort and convenience and wearing rates, many 
commenters (vehicle manufacturers) argued that 
certain of the proposed specifications would 
adversely affect belt effectiveness in vehicle 
crashes. For example, several manufacturers 
argued that the comfort zone for belt webbing 
specified in the proposal would require belt an- 
chorages in some vehicle models to be in locations 
that are not the optimum location for belt perform- 
ance in restraining victims in a crash situation. 



Torso Belt Occupant Fit (Manual and 
Automatic Belts) 

To alleviate problems of torso belt fit such as rub- 
bing of the occupant's neck, the proposal specified a 
zone in which the torso belt would have to lie on a 
test dummy placed in a vehicle. The zone was 
established to ensure that belts are installed so that 
the torso belt crosses the occupant's shoulder and 
chest approximately midway between the neck and 
shoulder tip, and crosses the sternum approxi- 
mately midway between the breasts. The proposed 
requirements specified geometric criteria to 
describe the required chest-crossing envelope. 

The motor vehicle manufacturers were unani- 
mous in their opposition to the proposed torso belt 
fit requirement. Their objections were primarily 
rela.ted to: the location of the specified compliance 
zone on the Part 572 test dummy; the location of 
the test dummy in the vehicle; the width of the 
compliance zone on the Part 572 test dummy; and 
the test procedure to determine compliance. 

Manufacturers argued that the test procedure is 
not objective and repeatable because of the com- 
plexities and variability associated with locating 
the dummy in a specific position in the vehicle. 
They also argued that the procedure for placing 
the belt around the test dummy (the "rocking" 
procedure) is not objectively stated. Most manufac- 
turers argued that the 3-inch width of the fit zone 
specified in the proposal is too design restrictive. 
Additionally, Ford argued that its tests show that 
the 3-inch zone would only assure proper fit on ap- 
proximately 60 percent of the driving population 
(the agency stated in the proposal that 90 percent 
of the population would have the proper fit with 
the proposed specifications). Ford did not substan- 
tiate how it arrived at this conclusion, however. 
Manufacturers argued that the fit zone should be 
at least 3.6 inches wide and possibly as much as 
five inches wide in order to ensure repeatability of 
the compliance procedure. Manufacturers stated 
that the location of the compliance zone on the test 
dummy would not necessarily place the belt in the 
optimum position for effectiveness in crashes in 
certain vehicle models. They based this assumption 
on the fact that in certain current vehicle models 
both the belt anchorages would have to be moved 
to place the belt in the specified zone. The 
manufacturers argued that these new anchorage 
locations would degrade belt performance in some 
instances. 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-117 



Clearance Between Webbing and Seat Cushion 
(Automatic Belts) 

As noted in the notice of proposed rulemaking, 
the shift from manual to automatic belts may in- 
itially lead to confusion on the part of some per- 
sons. The lower end of many automatic shoulder 
belt designs is attached between the two front 
seating positions. The upper end is attached to the 
rear upper comer of the front door. If the lap belt 
or torso belt of an automatic belt system is de- 
signed so that it lies on the seat cushion or against 
the seatback cushion(s) when the belt system is 
reeled-out in its open-door position, some people 
are likely to be confused about how to get into the 
vehicle. Additionally, if the belt is lying on or hang- 
ing slightly above the seat cushion, it is likely to 
pull against clothing in an irritating fashion as the 
occupant tries to sit down. These factors led the 
agency to propose minimum specifications for web- 
bing/seat clearance (three inches) so that people 
would not be encouraged to disconnect automatic 
belts because of the inconvenience. 

Most manufacturers opposed the minimmn 
specification for webbing /seat clearance. The com- 
ments stated that there is no safety rationale for 
the requirement because any misconception con- 
cerning the proper way to enter the vehicle would 
be removed after the occupant became familiar 
with the vehicle. Peugeot stated that experience 
has shown that the occupant can easily push the 
strap aside for a moment in order to enter the vehi- 
cle. The company argued that the proposed re- 
quirement is tantamount to requiring the installa- 
tion of an automatic mechanism to move the belt 
system's top anchor's position. (Note: In response 
to this specific comment, the agency would not 
consider a belt system that had to be manually 
moved out of the way by the occupant to be an 
"automatic" system that would satisfy the re- 
quirements of the standard; see 39 F.R. 14594, 
April 25, 1974). Several manufacturers stated the 
minimum specification could degrade belt effec- 
tiveness in a crash. These manufacturers argued 
that the specification would preclude a belt, par- 
ticularly a lap belt, from fitting securely around the 
occupant. This could result in the occupant "sub- 
marining" under the belt during a crash. 

Motorized Track Systems— Webbing/Head 
Clearance 

Some automatic belt designs rely on overhead, 
motorized track-puller systems instead of the open- 



ing of the door to move the webbing automatically 
out of the occupant's way when getting in and out 
of the vehicle. These systems pull the webbing 
toward the dashboard when the vehicle door is 
opened and then pull it toward the rear of the vehi- 
cle to deploy around the occupant after the door is 
closed. If such a system is used, the vehicle design 
should be such that the belt webbing does not pass 
too close to the occupant's head during its move- 
ment. Webbing that passes too close to or brushes 
the occupant's face or head could be annoying or 
disconcerting (perceived as hazardous by the in- 
tended user) and cause the occupant to defeat the 
automatic belt system (by unbuckling or cutting 
the belt, for example). The proposal specified a 
webbing /head clearance envelope that was in- 
tended to ensure that a moving torso belt would 
not come within a certain specified distance of an 
occupant's head and face. 

Industry objected to this proposed requirement 
on the basis that many small vehicle models could 
not comply with the requirement without substan- 
tial changes to the vehicle structure (i.e., because 
of limited head room in these small cars). Toyota 
Motor Company stated that an automatic belt 
design it has already introduced in the market 
would have to be withdrawn if this proposed 
requirement were finalized because there is not 
sufficient room in its vehicle model to obtain the 
specified clearance. Volkswagen stated that any 
specification for webbing/ head clearance should 
only specify that the webbing cannot touch the 
occupant's face while it is articulating, and that a 
minimum distance specification is too design 
restrictive. General Motors stated that the 
spherical zone specified in the proposal falls out- 
side the vehicle on some GM body styles, and would 
thus preclude motorized belt systems in these 
vehicles. 

Rate of Movement of Motorized Belts 

The agency stated its belief in the proposal that 
motorized belt systems will be unacceptable to the 
public if the rate of belt movement is too slow, 
since the occupant would be delayed in exiting the 
vehicle. Systems that move too rapidly might also 
be unacceptable since they could be viewed by vehi- 
cle occupants as a possible hazard. Each of these 
problems could lead vehicle occupants to defeat the 
automatic belt system. Therefore, the proposal 
specified minimum and maximum times allowed 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-118 



for belts to move forward and backward on 
motorized track systems (between 1.5 and 1.9 
seconds from start to stop). 

Manufacturers stated that this proposed specifi- 
cation should be deleted because of the variation in 
performance of motorized systems due to 
environmental conditions. The comments pointed 
out that ambient temperature greatly affects 
motor speeds and battery conditions and that the 
movement time, therefore, could not be held 
stable. Several commenters argued that a single 
movement time is impractical because of the wide 
variety of vehicle sizes and the varying distances a 
belt system would have to move. The commenters 
stated that if such a requirement is retained it 
should be stated as a rate rather than total times 
allowed. In this way, the movement of all systems 
would be uniform even though it would take longer 
for the belt webbing to move down the track in a 
large vehicle than in a small vehicle. 

Agency Response to Comments on 
Unadopted Proposals 

The agency does not agree with the general 
negative response of most vehicle manufacturers 
regarding the relationship between seat belt com- 
fort and convenience and belt use. Likewise, the 
agency believes that the specification in the notice 
of proposed rulemaking would greatly improve the 
comfort and convenience of seat belt systems, par- 
ticularly the new automatic belt systems that will 
be introduced in the future. Although the agency 
agrees that many factors influence belt use, it con- 
tinues to believe that belts which are inconvenient 
to use and uncomfortable to wear will be used less 
regardless of these other factors. The research 
studies cited in the notice of proposed rulemaking 
clearly establish that there is a definite problem 
with many current seat belt designs, and that seat 
belt systems can be improved with relatively minor 
changes. Removing the most egregious problems 
with seat belt designs will, at a minimum, remove 
an impediment that currently thwarts other pro- 
grams designed to increase seat belt use. For 
example, seat belt education campaigns will have 
little effect if people attempt to wear the belts but 
find them inconvenient and uncomfortable. 

The agency also does not agree with many of the 
comments regarding specific provisions included in 
the proposal. Proper torso belt fit is an extremely 
important aspect of ensuring that belts are com- 



fortable to wear and do not cross the neck or face. 
The problems cited by the industry with the pro- 
posed specification and test procedure are prob- 
lems the agency believes can be solved. While it is 
true that some vehicle models may require signifi- 
cant modifications to comply with the fit zone, the 
agency believes that this is due primarily to the 
fact that in the past vehicles have been designed 
with little attention given to how the belt system 
will fit when installed in the vehicle. Belt systems 
are typically added as an afterthought long after 
the vehicle's structural design has been completed, 
with no systematic effort to coordinate a particular 
belt design to a particular structural design. 

The industry's comments that webbing/seat 
clearance for automatic belts will not be a problem 
after occupants learn how to get into the vehicle 
only address part of the problem. In the months 
since issuance of the proposal, the agency has 
observed many prototype and production auto- 
matic belt designs. These observations have dem- 
onstrated that webbing /seat clearance is extremely 
important to ensure that the belt webbing does not 
scrub across the occupant's clothing when entering 
the vehicle. Some of the designs that were observed 
had such minimal clearance that buttons and shirt 
pocket contents were snagged by the belt system 
as an occupant entered the vehicle. This is obviously 
a problem that would encourage disconnection of 
the belt system. In addition, if the webbing/ seat 
clearance is so minimal that the person has to 
manually move the belt out of the way to enter the 
automobile, the system is not really "automatic" 
and would not satisfy the automatic restraint 
requirements of the standard. The agency has con- 
cluded that these problems outweigh the percep- 
tion problem discussed in the proposal. Conse- 
quently, the agency believes that the 3-inch 
specification in the proposal is inadequate and a 
greater clearance is desirable. While it is true that 
greater clearance may require innovative designs, 
the agency believes these are problems that can 
and should be solved. 

Although these basic disagreements do exist be- 
tween the NHTSA and vehicle manufacturers, the 
agency does believe that many of the specific 
comments to the proposal have merit. Also, the 
agency is aware that many of the problems cited by 
the industry are legitimate concerns. The agency is 
cognizant of the fact that there are a multitude of 
vehicle configurations that would have to be dealt 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-119 



with in complying with all of the provisions included 
in the notice of proposed rulemaking. In certain 
situations it may be true that strict compliance 
with the provisions as originally specified might 
compromise belt effectiveness in crashes to a 
limited degree, if applied to existing, unchanged 
structural configurations. Most manufacturers 
stated that the injury criteria of the standard could 
be met under the specifications of the proposal, but 
that in some instances the margin of safety would 
not be as great. Obviously, the agency does not 
want belt system performance to be degraded in 
the attempt to make belts comfortable and con- 
venient enough that they will be used. However, 
the agency does not believe that such a com- 
promise is necessary if belt system design and vehi- 
cle structural design are coordinated at the outset. 

The agency has also considered the numerous 
comments concerning the leadtime that would be 
necessary to implement the proposed requirements 
in certain vehicle models, as well as the costs 
associated with making the changes after design 
plans have already been completed. 

These considerations and the factors mentioned 
below have led the agency to conclude that re- 
quirements for torso belt fit, webbing/ seat 
clearance, webbing /head clearance, and motorized 
belt track speed should not be included in this final 
rule. The agency believes that manufacturers 
should be encouraged to rapidly develop innovative 
automatic belt designs that will coordinate belt 
comfort and convenience and belt effectiveness to 
the greatest extent possible. In some vehicle con- 
figurations, particularly in smaller cars, strict com- 
pliance with the proposed specifications mentioned 
earlier may hamper these efforts. While the agency 
believes that it is possible and desirable to design 
comfortable and convenient safety belts meeting 
all of the proposed specifications, it does not wish 
to retard the introduction of automatic restraints 
because of minor technical problems in particular 
vehicle configurations. If all of the proposed re- 
quirements were issued in this final rule, additional 
leadtime would have to be given because of the 
special problems in a few vehicle models. The agency 
believes it is preferable to encourage voluntary 
compliance with some of the proposed provisions 
so that a majority of vehicles can be introduced at 
an earlier date with the comfort and convenience 
features incorporated. 



The agency also intends to continue development 
of the proposed specifications in order to refine 
comfort zones and test procedures. Although the 
provisions as proposed would represent an impor- 
tant improvement in seat belt comfort and conven- 
ience if incorporated in current vehicle designs, 
comments from the industry have led the agency to 
conclude that some modifications and adjustments 
in the specifications may be desirable. Instead of 
delaying the introduction of improvements in seat 
belt design while the agency continues this 
development work, it has been determined that it 
is wiser to urge voluntary compliance with the 
major provisions included in the proposals so that 
they may be introduced as soon as possible. As 
automatic belts are introduced in the market, 
valuable data will be received concerning con- 
sumer perception of comfort and convenience. 
These data will be helpful to both the agency and 
the industry in further improving the belt systems. 

Another factor influencing the decision not to 
include the proposed specifications in this final rule 
is the fact that there are automatic belt designs 
currently in production that do not comply with all 
the provisions proposed. The agency does not wish 
to preclude the continual production of these 
designs because, for example, they are V4 inch out- 
side the torso belt fit zone. This is particularly true 
since the automatic belts currently on the road 
were introduced voluntarily by the manufacturers 
prior to the effective date of the standard. 

As stated earlier, the agency does urge manufac- 
turers to voluntarily incorporate the performance 
specifications that were proposed but that are not 
included in this final rule. The agency believes all 
of the provisions deal with seat belt design features 
that substantially affect the comfort and conven- 
ience of seat belt systems, and therefore help 
determine whether a particular belt system will be 
worn. The agency also believes that the provisions 
adequately specify performance criteria and that 
manufacturers can design systems that are in con- 
formity with the specifications and that also 
optimize belt effectiveness in crash situations. 
Although some variations may be required for 
specialized vehicle configurations, the great 
majority of the specifications should prove to be 
extremely helpful to manufacturers attempting to 
develop seat belt designs that are comfortable to 
wear and convenient to use. 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-120 



In order to aid both seat belt manufacturers and 
vehicle manufacturers, the NHTSA will publish in 
a later Federal Register notice suggested perform- 
ance guidelines for torso belt fit, belt /head 
clearance, belt/ seat cushion clearance, and speed 
of motorized belt track systems. The agency will 
also include in that notice tabulation of all research 
reports, studies and other data concerning the 
improvement of seat belt comfort and convenience 
that are available at the National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration. The agency urges all 
manufacturers to use the information that is 
available and to incorporate these performance 
guidelines so that vehicle occupants will not be 
discouraged from using seat belts because of their 
discomfort or inconvenience. 

Provisions Included In This Amendment 

In addition to the provisions discussed already, 
the notice of proposed rulemaking included 
specifications dealing with seat belt guides, torso 
belt pressure, latch plate accessibility, adjustable 
buckles for certain belts having emergency-locking 
retractors, convenience hooks for automatic belts, 
emergency-locking retractors in lap belts, belt 
retraction and belt comfort devices. The proposed 
provisions relating to these topics were intended to 
alleviate some of the most serious problems with 
current seat belt designs. Most manufacturers 
agreed that there are problems in these areas, 
although there was not total agreement on all of 
the remedies specified in the proposal. After con- 
sidering the comments, the agency has concluded 
that improvements in these areas can and should 
be made. The changes required by this amendment 
are not burdensome and can be accomplished 
rapidly. The major objections of the industry to the 
proposal related primarily to the proposed provi- 
sions that are not being included in this amend- 
ment (discussed earlier in this notice). 

Seat Belt Guides 

Seat belt webbing and buckles in motor vehicles 
often fall or are pushed down behind the seat. Con- 
sequently, occupants are discouraged or actually 
precluded from using the belts. Therefore, the pro- 
posal specified that belt webbing at any designated 
seating position shall pass through flexible stiff- 
eners or other guides in the seat cushion to ensure 
that the belts are easily accessible to occupants. 
The provision also specified that belt buckles and 



latchplates are to remain above the rear cushions 
at all times, even in folding or tumbling seats, and 
that all buckles are to be "free-standing" to allow 
one-hand buckling. These provisions were included 
in response to a petition for rulemaking submitted 
some time ago by the Center for Auto Safety. 

The American Seat Belt Council supported the 
proposed requirements for both seat belt guides 
and "free-standing" buckles. Vehicle manufac- 
turers requested that several changes be made in 
the specification or that it be deleted altogether. 
Volkswagen stated that it would be difficult to 
comply with the requirement for seats that both 
fold and tumble and for seats designed to convert 
into beds. The agency believes that suitable 
designs can be developed to ensure that belts re- 
main above seats that both fold and tumble. Two 
vehicles were furnished by Volkswagen which 
showed two different rear seat configurations. The 
agency determined that belts could be developed 
for either that would comply with the provision. 
However, one design configuration would require 
seat-mounted belts, with a considerable increase in 
cost for the belts and increased weight for the vehi- 
cle. Based on its consideration of available designs 
and their costs, NHTSA has concluded that the 
cost of requiring seats that both fold and tumble 
seats to comply with the requirement may not be 
justified. Therefore, this type of seat is not subject 
to this amendment. 

Several manufacturers stated that the proposed 
requirement should not apply to fixed seats since 
the purpose of the requirement can be accomplished 
without guides or conduits for fixed seats. The 
agency disagrees. The problem addressed in this 
proposed requirement has been most prevalent 
with fixed seats. Latchplates and buckles that get 
lost behind fixed seat cushions are more difficult to 
retrieve than buckles behind movable seats. While 
it is true that fixed seats can be designed so that 
there is little clearance between seat backs and 
seat cushions, buckles and latchplates can still be 
forced down behind the seat when a person sits on 
the seat. 

The proposal specified that the belt latchplate 
and buckle must remain in fixed positions in rela- 
tion to the seat cushion and vehicle interior. 
Several manufacturers pointed out that the belt 
hardware could not remain in a "fixed" position 
with adjustable seats. The agency agrees that this 
aspect of the provision was inaccurately stated. 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-121 



The intent of the provision was only to require that 
the belt hardware pass through guides or conduits 
to maintain the location of the buckle and latch- 
plate on top of the seat cushion. The provision is 
modified accordingly in this amendment. 

Several manufacturers also objected to the 
specification for the "freestanding" buckles and 
"one-hand" buckling on the basis that the criteria 
is design restrictive and not stated in objective 
terms. The agency continues to believe that these 
provisions would increase the convenience of 
buckling a seat belt. Nevertheless, after consider- 
ing the comments, the agency has decided that the 
specification would be difficult to enforce and may 
be too design restrictive in some instances. Addi- 
tionally, a majority of vehicle manufacturers have 
already begun using stiffeners and other devices to 
make buckling of belts more simple. If this trend 
continues, a provision regarding this aspect of belt 
performance will not be necessary. Therefore, the 
agency is not including a requirement for "free- 
standing" buckles in the amendment at this time. 
The agency does urge, however, manufacturers to 
voluntarily design their belt system so that buckles 
are "freestanding" or of some other design that 
facilitates easy buckling by consumers. 

Torso Belt Body Contact Pressure 
(Manual and Automatic Belts) 

NHTSA research indicates that occupants are 
likely to complain about belt pressure if the torso 
belt net contact force is greater than .7 pound. 
Therefore, the proposal specified that the torso 
portion of any belt system shall not create a con- 
tact pressure exceeding that of a belt with a total 
net contact force of .7 pound. 

Most manufacturers objected to the belt contact 
force limitation. Many commenters stated that the 
agency has not adequately demonstrated that .7 
pound of belt webbing force is the optimum upper 
limit in all seating configurations. In lieu of the 
proposed limitation, various manufacturers sug- 
gested force limitations ranging from 1 pound to 
11 pounds. Manufacturers also argued that the 
.7-pound pressure does not allow for engineering 
tolerances. Ford stated that its tests using the pro- 
posed procedure indicate that test variability 
amounts to ±.3 pound. Other manufacturers 
stated that the proposed force level is so low that it 
would be difficult to also meet the proposed re- 
quirement that belts retract completely when un- 



buckled by the vehicle occupant, i.e., the retractor 
forces would have to be too low to meet the "self 
stow" provisions. Chrysler Corporation and 
General Motors stated that a more precise test pro- 
cedure for measuring belt contact force is needed. 
This comment was echoed by several foreign 
manufacturers. 

The agency does not agree with most of these 
objections. In a detailed study conducted by Man 
Factors, Inc., webbing retractor forces were 
varied in an experimental belt system mounted in a 
production vehicle. A series of male and female 
test subjects experienced each force level during 
on-the-road driving tests and reported whether the 
pressure felt was satisfactory or too great. That 
study showed that belt pressure greater than 0.7 
pound was unacceptable to more than 60 percent 
of the test subjects. Therefore, manufacturers' 
comments that belt pressure should be as high as 1 
to 11 pounds have little, if any, credence. Regard- 
ing other comments, the study that was conducted 
to determine maximum tolerable belt pressure was 
not conducted for a myriad of seating configura- 
tions since a given belt pressure will likely be either 
acceptable or unacceptable to an occupant 
regardless of the seating configuration. In 
automobiles that presently meet this pressure re- 
quirement, retraction has not been found to be a 
problem. Their belts retract in compliance with the 
proposed retraction requirements. The agency 
believes that comments stating that a test pro- 
cedure should be included in the standard to 
measure the belt pressure have merit. Therefore, 
this amendment specifies a .7-pound maximum 
pressure limitation and includes a procedure for 
measuring belt pressure. 

Latch Plate Accessibility 

As noted in the proposal, one of the most 
inconvenient aspects of using many current seat 
belt designs is the difficulty that seated occupants 
have in reaching back to grasp the belt latchplate 
when the belt is unbuckled and in its retracted posi- 
tion. The greater the difficulty in reaching the 
latchplate to buckle the belt, the more likely that 
belt usage will cease or never begin. Poor ac- 
cessibUity of latchplates results from two main fac- 
tors: Location of the latchplate beyond the conven- 
ient reach of some seated vehicle occupants, and 
inadequate clearance between the seats and side of 
the vehicle to allow easy grasping of the latchplate. 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-122 



The proposal specified requirements to define 
limits on reach distance for latchplates and to 
prescribe minimum clearances for arm and hand 
access. 

There were several comments from the vehicle 
manufacturers recommending changes in the pro- 
posed specifications. The proposed test procedures 
for this provision specified that the vehicle seat is 
to be placed in its forwardmost position when 
testing for compliance with the reach envelope (the 
position in which there would presumably be the 
most problems). Ford Motor Company stated that 
the requirement should be modified to specify that 
the seat be located in the mid-track position since a 
50th percentile adult would not normally have the 
seat in the forwardmost position (the proposal 
specified that a 50th percentile dummy be used to 
test for compliance with the reach envelope). The 
NHTSA agrees that some difficulty may be en- 
countered in placing the 50th percentOe test 
dummy in the forwardmost seat adjustment posi- 
tion. If this occurs, there is nothing that would 
preclude manufacturers from removing the test 
dummy's legs, since legs are irrelevant to the arm 
reach envelope. However, the agency believes that 
the requirement should specify that the seat be in 
its forwardmost adjustment position since many 
current latchplates are blocked with the seat in this 
position although they are not when the seat is in 
its mid-position. Since a significant number of vehi- 
cle occupants will have the seat in the forwardmost 
position (particularly women), the agency beheves 
that the latchplate should be within easy reach for 
these occupants or they will be discouraged from 
wearing the belt system. 

One manufacturer stated that it is not clear from 
the proposal whether the latchplate access 
specifications would apply to all seats or to just the 
front outboard seating positions. The requirement 
applies only to the front outboard seats, and the 
specification is modified in this amendment to 
clarify this point. Several commenters stated that 
the size of the test block used to measure latchplate 
access should be modified and that the block should 
be designed to articulate to represent the forearm 
and wrist of a human being. The agency does not 
agree with this recommendation. This size of the 
test block was designed to account for the limita- 
tion of the human arm and hand as they would 
articulate through various openings (in this case, 
between the seat and vehicle structure). The 



dimension was based on a detailed study conducted 
by Man Factors (See IX)T-HS-7-01617, December 
1978). The agency also believes that the test ap- 
paratus would be unnecessarily complicated if 
specifications were included for articulation. For 
these reasons, the test block specification and test 
procedure is unchanged in this notice, except for 
minor technical changes in the string dimensions 
and the deletion of one illustration (Figure 3) that 
was included in the proposal. These minor 
technical changes are in response to comments and 
are included for clarification purposes. 

Convenience Hooks for Automatic Belts 

Some automatic belt designs might include a 
manual "convenience hook" located, for example, 
on the dashboard near the A-pillar, which would 
enable occupants to manually move the belt web- 
bing totally out of the way as they are about to exit 
the vehicle. These devices would only be permitted 
as additional equipment since automatic belts must 
operate automatically, i.e., manual hooks could not 
be used as the sole means of moving the belt web- 
bing out of the occupant's way. The proposal 
specified that if manufacturers install such "con- 
venience hooks," the hook must automatically 
release the belt webbing so that it will deploy 
around the occupant prior to the vehicle being 
driven. The proposal specified that the hook would 
have to automatically release the webbing when 

(a) The vehicle ignition switch is moved to the 
"on" or "start"position. 

(b) The vehicle's drive train is engaged. 

Manufacturers did not object to the proposed re- 
quirements for "convenience hooks," although 
there were several comments that the provision 
needs clarification. Jaguar Rover Triimiph, Inc. 
stated that it is not clear from the proposal 
whether conditions (a) and (b) mentioned in the 
preceding paragraphs are sequential or alter- 
natives. This notice modifies the language of the 
requirement to clarify that the "hook" must 
release the belt webbing when the ignition switch 
is in the "on" or "start" position and the vehicle's 
drive train is engaged at the same time (i.e., when 
both condition (a) and (b) exist at the same time). 
An optional condition "(c)" is added in response to 
a comment by American Honda Motor Co. to allow 
vehicles with manual transmissions to have the 
"hook" release the webbing when the ignition is on 
and the vehicle's parking brake is released at the 
same time. 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-123 



Belt Retraction 

Many persons find seat belts inconvenient 
because the belt webbing will not retract completely 
to its stowed position when the system is unbuckled, 
so that the webbing is an obstacle when the occu- 
pant is trying to exit the vehicle. Therefore, the 
proposal included a specification to ensure that 
belts do retract completely and automatically when 
they are unbuckled. While there were no serious 
objections to the proposed requirement, several 
manufacturers requested changes in the test pro- 
cedures. For example, it was requested that 
manufacturers be allowed to remove the arms on 
the test dummy during the compliance test since 
the belt webbing can get hung-up on the dummy's 
arms while retracting. The agency believes that 
this suggestion has merit since a human occupant 
can move his arm out of the way when a seat belt is 
retracting and that flexibility cannot be incor- 
porated in the test dummies currently available. 
Manufacturers also requested that the test be con- 
ducted with the vehicle door open, since some 
systems are designed to automatically retract 
when the door latch is released (i.e., the retraction 
force is stronger in this mode). The agency agrees 
with this suggestion also, and it is incorporated in 
this notice. 

Automatic Locking Retractors 

Seat belts incorporating automatic locking 
retractors (ALR's) in the lap belt portion of the 
system have been identified as a major item of 
complaint by vehicle occupants because of the 
feature's discomfort and inconvenience. Many 
vehicle occupants report that belts incorporating 
the ALR's tighten excessively under normal driv- 
ing conditions, making it necessary to unbuckle 
and refasten the lap belt to relieve pressure on the 
pelvis and abdomen. This discomfort causes many 
persons to stop using their belts. 

Belt systems having ALR's have also been found 
very inconvenient to use, particularly if the ALR is 
incorporated as part of the latchplate assembly. 
During the process of putting the belt on, the occu- 
pant must extend the belt in a single continuous 
movement to a length sufficient to allow buckling. 
Otherwise, the retractor locks before sufficient 
webbing has been withdrawn to accomplish buck- 
ling, and the belt has to be fully retracted before 
the occupant can repeat the donning process. 
Many persons have found this characteristic of 



ALR's extremely irritating and consequently have 
avoided use of the belt. In addition, ALR's inhibit 
the driver's normal movement to pay tolls, reach 
the glove compartment, etc. With emergency lock- 
ing retractors (ELR's) instead of automatic lock- 
ing retractors, these problems would be alleviated. 

Safety Standard No. 208 currently requires lap 
belts at outboard seating positions to be equipped 
with either automatic locking retractors or 
emergency locking retractors, in order to assure 
that belts are sufficiently tightened to be effective 
during a crash. However, this effectiveness feature 
can be achieved by ELR's without the concomitant 
discomfort and inconvenience associated with 
ALR's. Therefore, the proposal sought to 
eliminate ALR's as an alternative in the standard 
for front outboard designated seating positions. 

The proposal also specified that emergency lock- 
ing retractors for the lap belt portion of the belt 
system at the front outboard passenger's position 
shall be equipped with a manual locking device so 
that child restraint systems can be properly 
secured. Since emergency locking retractors allow 
some movement when the belt is fastened, the 
agency and some child safety experts were con- 
cerned that the child restraint system could slide 
out of position prior to a crash if the retractor can- 
not be manually locked. 

Few manufacturers objected to the requirement 
that lap belts at front outboard designated seating 
positions be equipped with emergency locking 
retractors. However, nearly all manufacturers ob- 
jected to the requirement that these emergency 
locking retractors be equipped with a manual lock- 
ing device for securing child restraint systems. 
Ford Motor Company stated that the manual lock 
requirement is design restrictive and will preclude 
the installation of continuous loop manual belts 
and certain three-point automatic belts. Also, Ford 
stated that the proposed requirement is inconsis- 
tent with another proposal precluding any device 
that allows the introduction of slack in a belt 
system (e.g., comfort devices). Ford argued that 
the manual lock could be used to introduce ex- 
cessive slack in the belt when worn by an adult. 
Toyota Motor Company stated that an emergency 
locking retractor is definitely superior to an 
automatic locking retractor from the standpoint of 
comfort and convenience. Toyota argued, 
however, that its tests with the GM child seat 
(braking, fast cornering, driving on rough roads) 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-124 



have demonstrated that the performance of 
emergency locking retractors in restraining this 
child seat is satisfactory without a manual locking 
device. 

The Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association 
pointed out that the Economic Commission of 
Europe (which sets international motor vehicle 
safety standards) does not even permit manual lock- 
ing devices on emergency locking retractors. 
Volkswagen of America stated that the proposed re- 
quirement would impair the operation of these belts 
by allowing too much slack in the system, and 
argued that parents should be encouraged to place 
their child restraints in rear seating positions that 
have automatic locking retractors. General Motors 
argued that the agency's data is totally inconclusive 
in demonstrating that emergency locking retractors 
without locking devices cannot adequately secure 
child restraint systems. General Motors cited its 
own tests which it states demonstrated child 
restraints are adequately secured with emergency 
locking retractors. Finally, several manufacturers 
stated that the manual locking devices could pose a 
hazard in emergency situations if the emergency 
locking retractor is located on the vehicle door. 
These commenters pointed out that the vehicle door 
would be impossible to open from the outside if the 
retractor is locked. 

After considering these comments, the agency 
has decided that while emergency locking retrac- 
tors should be required for lap belts at front out- 
board designated seating positions, these retrac- 
tors should not be required to have manual locking 
devices. The agency believes that the points raised 
in the comments represent legitimate concerns. 
Further, agency tests conducted after the issuance 
of the proposal indicate that there may not be a 
substantial problem with Type 2 belts incor- 
porating emergency locking retractors restraining 
child seats. However, the agency is planning to 
conduct further research regarding the use of Type 
1 belts with ELR's to secure child restraints. Addi- 
tionally, the agency recently issued a proposal to 
amend Safety Standard No. 210, Seat Belt An- 
chorages, to require that lap belt anchorages be 
present at front outboard seating passenger posi- 
tions that are not equipped with lap belts (e.g., 
vehicles equipped with a two-point, single diagonal 
automatic belt). Therefore, if that proposal is 
adopted, parents wishing to place child seats in 
front seating p)ositions in the affected vehicles can 



purchase a lap belt having an automatic locking 
retractor or a manual webbing adjusting device. In 
light of these considerations, and the cost of in- 
stalling manual locking devices on emergency lock- 
ing retractors, the manual locking device of the 
proposal is not adopted. 

The proposal also included a provision to allow 
manual adjustment devices on seat belt assemblies 
in rear seating positions that have emergency lock- 
ing retractors. Although automatic locking retrac- 
tors are allowed in rear seating positions, some 
manufacturers are currently installing emergency 
locking retractors. These manufacturers have re- 
quested that manual webbing adjustment devices 
be allowed on these belt systems, specifically for 
facilitating the securement of child restraint 
systems. Nearly all commenters agreed with this 
provision and it is included in this amendment. 

In summary, although manual locking devices 
are not being required on emergency locking 
retractors in front seating positions, these devices 
or manual webbing adjustment devices are being 
allowed in rear seating positions. The manual web- 
bing adjustment device would not be permitted in 
front seating positions, but manufacturers would 
be permitted to voluntarily install manual locking 
devices on belts in front seating positions. 

Devices That Introduce Slack in Belt Webbing 

Some current seat belt designs include devices 
that are intended to relieve shoulder belt pressure. 
These "comfort clips," "window-shade" devices, or 
other tension-relieving devices can reduce the effec- 
tiveness of belts in crash situations if the occupant 
uses the device to put excessive slack in the belt 
webbing, i.e., so that the belt is not snugly against 
the occupant. Therefore, the proposal included a 
provision to prohibit any device, either manual or 
automatic, that would permit the introduction of 
slack in the upper torso restraint. The proposal 
stated that such devices would not be necessary to 
relieve the discomfort caused by excessive belt 
pressure since the proposal also included a limita- 
tion on belt pressure. 

Several manufacturers objected to an outright 
ban on tension-relieving devices. The American 
Seat Belt Council stated that an appropriate 
performance requirement should be developed that 
will allow a small, controlled amount of slack in belt 
systems. General Motors stated that its tension- 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-125 



relieving devices allow some slack but that this slack 
could not be introduced inadvertently. General 
Motors argued that such devices should be allowed 
provided the slack is cancelled when the vehicle 
door is opened, i.e., so that there is no slack at all 
when an occupant uses the belt on a subsequent oc- 
casion. The commenters argued that some persons 
do not like any belt pressure at all, not even the .7 
pounds that would be the maximum allowed under 
the proposed belt pressure provisions. 

The agency believes there is some merit to these 
arguments particularly in regard to automatic belt 
systems that are required to comply vnth the injury 
criteria of Safety Standard No. 208. Therefore, 
tension-relieving devices are not prohibited in this 
amendment in automatic belt systems provided the 
belt system can comply with the injury criteria of 
the standard with the belt placed in any position to 
which it can be adjusted. This means that if six 
inches of slack can be introduced in the automatic 
belt system by means of the tension-relieving 
device, the belt must be able to comply with the in- 
jury criteria with the belt webbing in that position. 
Since manual seat belt systems are not required to 
comply with the injury criteria of the standard 
generally, they would also not be required to com- 
ply just because they include tension-relieving 
devices. The agency does urge manufacturers to 
voluntarily limit the amount of slack that can be in- 
troduced in their manual belt systems, however. 

Seat Belt Warning System 

The proposal included a provision for a new 
sequential seat belt warning system in all motor 
vehicles which are not passenger cars and which 
have a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 
pounds or less. 

Safety Standard No. 208 currently requires a 
visual and audible warning system to remind vehi- 
cle occupants to fasten their manual safety belts. 
The present standard requires a warning system 
which activates, for a period of 4 to 8 seconds, a 
reminder light each time the vehicle ignition is 
operated, and an audible warning if the driver's lap 
belt is not in use. Studies of manual seat belt usage 
in passenger vehicles have shown that a sequential 
logic system which incorporates a visible reminder 
light of continuous duration and a 4- to 8-second 
audible warning could produce usage rates signifi- 
cantly greater than those obtained with the warn- 



ing systems currently required. The sequential 
logic warning system activates unless buckling of a 
person's belt occurred after the person sat down in 
his seat. Under the current 208 requirement, the 
warning system can be permanently defeated if the 
belt is buckled and pushed behind the seat cushion 
and left there during subsequent occasions on 
which the vehicle is used. 

Only the American Seat Belt Council supported 
the requirement for a sequential warning system. 
The vehicle manufacturers uniformly objected to 
the requirement, stating that such a system would 
cost $25 to $35 per vehicle (this is much higher 
than the agency's estimated cost figure). Also, 
manufacturers disputed the agency's data and 
argued that there is no documentation demonstrat- 
ing that a sequential warning system will substan- 
tially increase belt use in vehicles other than 
passenger cars. 

The agency agrees that the data relied upon in 
the proposal dealt primarily with sequential warn- 
ing systems in passenger cars (The Phoenix Study, 
DOT-HS-801-953). There is no conclusive 
evidence that such a system would also improve 
seat belt use in light trucks and vans to a com- 
parable degree. Although the agency is convinced 
that an effective warning system similar to or like 
that proposed would result in some increased seat 
belt use in these other vehicles, the agency has con- 
cluded that manufacturers should be allowed to 
voluntarily install such systems under an im- 
plementation schedule suited to particular vehicle 
models in order to minimize costs. Therefore, the 
proposed requirement is not included in this 
amendment. Specifications for a sequential warn- 
ing system will, however, be included in the volim- 
tary performance guidelines that will be issued in 
the near future, however, for the benefit of 
manufacturers that are interested in such a 
system. 

The proposal also included a specification for 
warning systems for automatic seat belts, to en- 
sure that motorized systems are locked into place 
before the vehicle begins moving. If for some 
reason the motorized belt has not returned and 
locked into its protective mode, the occupant 
would be alerted by the continuous light and by a 
4-to 8-second audible warning. Although several 
manufacturers objected to this requirement, again 
primarily because of cost, the agency believes such 
a requirement is essential for motorized automatic 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-126 



belt systems. It is therefore included in this amend- 
ment. 

The proposal also included an illustration chart 
specifying the weights and dimensions of various 
human body sizes (e.g., 5th percentile female). The 
comments to the proposal indicated that some per- 
sons were confused about inclusion of the chart. 
Some commenters interpreted the figures in the 
chart to represent a change in the Part 572 dummy 
dimension. The chart was included in the proposal 
to be republished in the standard since it had been 
inadvertently deleted by the Code of Federal 
Regulations some time ago. The chart, however, 
was not intended to make any changes in the Part 
572 test dummy. 

In order to give manufacturers sufficient lead 
time to implement the changes required by this 



notice, and to minimize the cost of such changes, 
the effective date of this amendment is September 
1, 1982. 

Note — The agency has determined that this amendment does 
not qualify as a significant regulation under Executive Order 
12221, "Improving Government Regulations," and the Depart- 
mental guidelines implementing that order. Therefore, a 
regulatory analysis is not required. A regulatory evaluation con- 
cerning the amendment has been prepared and placed in the 
public docket under the docket number and notice number of 
this Federal Register notice. 



Issued on December 31, 1980. 



Joan Claybrook, 

Administrator. 

46 F.R. 2064 
January 8, 1981 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-127-128 



PREAMBLE TO AN AMENDMENT TO 

FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208 

Occupant Crash Protection 
(Docket No. 208; Notice 21) 



ACTION: Final rule. 

SUMMARY: The purpose of this notice is to amend 
Safety Standard No. 208, Occupant Crash Protec- 
tion, to delay for one year the effective date of the 
first phase of the automatic restraint require- 
ments of the standard. Prior to this notice, the 
automatic restraint requirements were scheduled 
to become effective for large cars on September 
1, 1981 (model year 1982), for mid-size cars on 
September 1. 1982 (model year 1983), and for 
small cars on September 1, 1983 (model year 
1984). As amended by this notice, the require- 
ment for equipping large cars with automatic 
restraints will not take effect until September 1, 
1982, or model year 1983. 

This one-year delay in the automatic restraint 
requirements is being specified in light of 
dramatic changes in production plans for the 
model-year 1982 fleet (fewer large cars and more 
small cars) and because the economic and other 
justifications for the existing phase-in schedule 
have changed drastically since the standard was 
adopted in 1977. 

The one-year delay will also allow the Depart- 
ment sufficient time to re-evaluate the entire 
automatic restraint standard as required by the 
Presidential Executive Order 12291 (February 
17, 1981). The Department is simultaneously issu- 
ing a notice of proposed rulemaking in today's 
issue of the Federal Register discussing further 
possible changes in the automatic restraint 
standard. 

DATES: The new effective date of the automatic 
restraint requirements for large cars is Septem- 
ber 1, 1982. 

ADDRESSES: Any petitions for reconsideration 
should refer to the docket number and notice 
number of this notice and be submitted to: Docket 



Section, Room 5109, Nassif Building, 400 Seventh 
Street. S.W., Washington, D.C. 20590. 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: 

Mr. Michael Finkelstein,Officeof Rulemaking, 
National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration, Washington, D.C. 
20590 (202-426-1810) 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On February 
12, 1981, the Department of Transportation 
issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to delay 
for one year the first phase of the automatic 
restraint requirements of Safety Standard No. 
208, Occupant Crash Protection, (46 FR 12033). 
Automatic restraints are systems that require no 
action by vehicle occupants, such as buckling a 
seat belt, to be effective. Two existing systems 
that qualify as automatic restraints are air 
cushion restraints (air bags) and automatic seat 
belts (belts which automatically envelop an occu- 
pant when entering the vehicle and closing the 
door). 

The automatic restraint requirements were 
added to Standard No. 208 on July 5, 1977 (42 FR 
34289), and require installation in accordance 
with the following schedule: 

• For full-size cars (wheelbase greater than 114 
inches) beginning September 1, 1981 (1982 model 
year); 

• For mid-size cars (wheelbase not more than 114 
inches but greater than 100 inches) beginning 
September 1, 1982 (1983 model year); 

• For small cars (wheelbase less than 100 inches) 
beginning September 1, 1983 (1984 model year). 

The February notice issued by the Department 
proposed to alter this phase-in schedule by 



PART 571; S208-PRE 129 



deferring the first phase (large cars) for one year, 
from model 1982 to model year 1983. The proposal 
noted that such a change may be appropriate 
because of the effects of implementation in model 
year 1982 on large car manufacturers, because of 
the added significance which those effects assume 
due to the change in economic circumstances 
since the schedule was adopted in 1977, and 
because of the undermining by subsequent events 
of the rationale underlying the original phase-in 
schedule. (See the notice of proposed rulemaking 
for a full discussion of the facts which led to the 
proposed alteration of the phase-in schedule.) 

Comments Upon Proposal 

The responses to the proposal were equally 
divided between those commenters adamantly 
opposed to any delay in the automatic restraint 
requirement and those commenters in favor of 
both the delay and a total revocation of the re- 
quirements. The comments and data supporting 
these factions were as diametrically opposed as 
the competing economic interests involved, in 
this instance the automobile and the insurance in- 
dustries. Following is a summary of the major 
comments submitted in response to the proposal. 
A more detailed summary of representative com- 
ments is included as an appendix at the end of this 
notice. 

The automobile insurance industry was 
unanimously against the proposed delay in the 
first phase of the automatic restraint re- 
quirements, unless the standard is also amended 
to require an earlier implementation of automatic 
restraints for small cars (i.e., a delay and reversal 
of the current schedule). The commenting in- 
surance companies stated that the automatic 
restraint requirements will save thousands of 
lives and prevent hundreds of thousands of 
serious injuries. They argued that the proposed 
delay of the 1982 requirements would, therefore, 
result in a significant number of fatalities and in- 
juries that would not otherwise occur. These com- 
panies also argued that the monetary savings 
that would result from the proposed delay are so 
small that they would not significantly help the 
ailing automobile industry. The commenters 
pointed specifically to the fact that most of the 
capital expenditures have already been made for 
installing automatic restraints on 1982-model 
large cars. 



In urging a reversal of the implementation 
schedule, the insurance companies noted the 
dramatically increasing number of small cars, and 
pointed to insurance research which shows small 
cars are inherently more dangerous for occupants 
than large cars. (NHTSA statistics show that a 
person is eight times more likely to be killed in a 
small car than in a full-size car in a crash between 
the two.) Since small cars will represent a major- 
ity of the 1983-model passenger car fleet, the com- 
panies argued that more lives could ultimately be 
saved if automatic restraints are required on 
small cars in that model year, than under the ex- 
isting implementation schedule. 

Many of these same sentiments were also 
voiced by consumer g^roups and health organiza- 
tions, the majority of which were also opposed to 
the proposed delay of the MY 1982 requirements. 
Like the insurance companies, most of these 
groups asserted that usage rates for automatic 
belts will be relatively high and that the auto- 
matic restraint standard as a whole wiU save 
thousands of lives. 

Several consumer groups and air bag compo- 
nent suppliers stated that they could support the 
proposed delay provided there is also a require- 
ment that vehicle manufacturers at least offer air 
bags as options on some of their model lines. 
These groups are concerned that further delay of 
the automatic restraint standard will drive the 
remaining air bag component suppliers out of the 
market and that, as a result, the life-saving poten- 
tial of air bags will be lost. 

The insurance industry and a majority of the 
consumer groups argued that the benefits of the 
1982-model year requirements outweigh the 
costs. A detailed analysis by Professor William 
Nordhaus of Yale University was submitted on 
behalf of several insurance companies. This 
analysis concludes that the economic costs of the 
proposed delay would be approximately five 
times greater than the benefits, for a net cost of 
$200 million. These figures are based on computa- 
tions regarding the societal costs of deaths and in- 
juries that would result without the MY 1982 
automatic restraint requirement. 

Several of the commenting insurance com- 
panies and consumer groups also argued that as a 
matter of law and statutory authority the Depart- 
ment cannot rely on the general economic health 
of the automobile industry to justify a delay in 



PART 571; S208-PRE 130 



the automatic restraint standard. The National 
Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (the Vehicle 
Safety Act) (15 U.S.C §1381, et seq.) provides that 
motor vehicle safety standards shall be "reason- 
able" and "practicable." These commenters noted 
that the legislative history of the Vehicle Safety 
Act indicates that in promulgating standards, 
safety shall be the overriding consideration. The 
commenters contend that the current poor 
economic condition of the automobile industry 
does not make the 1982 model-year requirements 
impracticable. 

In addition to comments from the above groups 
and organizations, the Department also received 
comments from numerous private citizens, who 
were equally divided in their support or opposi- 
tion to the proposed delay. 

The proposed delay in the 1982 model-year re- 
quirements was unanimously supported by the 
automobile industry, both foreign and domestic. 
In addition, most manufacturers urged the 
Department to reconsider the entire standard, to 
provide additional leadtime for all phases of the 
implementation schedule, or to revoke the 
automatic restraint requirements altogether. 
Regarding a possible reversal of the current im- 
plementation schedule, nearly all of the foreign 
automobile manufacturers joined Chrysler Cor- 
poration and American Motors in stating that it 
would be impossible to install automatic 
restraints on 1983-model small passenger cars 
because of insufficient leadtime. 

In support of a complete rescission of the 
automatic restraint requirements, the vehicle 
manufacturers made several arguments. The 
manufacturers believe that automatic seat belts 
will be so unacceptable to the public that they will 
create a consumer "backlash" greater than that 
caused by ignition interlock devices required by 
NHTSA to be installed on 1974-75 models. These 
devices made it impossible to start the vehicle 
unless front seat belts were fastened, and were 
specifically precluded by the Congress by amend- 
ment to the Vehicle Safety Act in 1974. 

The manufacturers contend that automatic 
seat belts will produce such a reaction because of 
their coercive nature and obtrusiveness. They 
also contend that automatic belts must be de- 
signed so that they are easily detachable (and 
presumably thereby more acceptable to the 
public). In such case, they argue that the usage 



rate for automatic belts would be no greater than 
for current manual belts, and that the increased 
cost of automatic belts would not be justified. 

Auto manufacturers also argued that the ex- 
tremely high price of air bags makes them 
impractical, and allege that few will be installed 
on future passenger cars. Consequently, they con- 
tend, the only benefits attributable to the 
automatic restraint standard will be those de- 
rived from automatic belts, which for the above 
reasons will not be effective. 

Only two vehicle manufacturers. Ford Motor 
Company and General Motors, produce any 
significant number of large cars. Therefore, the 
existing automatic restraint requirements for 
1982 models would only directly affect these two 
companies. 

Ford Motor Company supported the proposed 
delay and stated that it considers its original 
1982-model, three-point automatic belt designs to 
be "out of date" because of their release concepts 
(i.e., they include a feature to frustrate release 
and thus defeat of the system). Ford believes this 
could lead to significant public dissatisfaction 
with MY 1982 automatic belts. In response to this 
concern. Ford had decided to add a conventional 
release buckle to this three-point belt, so that it 
can be detached by those motorists who refuse to 
wear a belt. Ford's submission stated that the 
company projects that as many as 100,000 pur- 
chasers would switch to mid-size cars in the 1982 
model year rather than buying large cars with an 
automatic belt. Ford plans to redesign its 
automatic belts, but states that such a program 
has major leadtime implications which would 
make it impractical to install improved automatic 
belts in small cars before September 1, 1983. 

General Motors Corporation stated that its 
planned 1982-model automatic belt designs are 
easily detachable (i.e., there will be a buckle 
release mechanism without an interlock or other 
mechanism to discourage defeat of the system). 
With this type belt, according to GM, the impact 
on safety will depend upon voluntary use of the 
automatic belt, so use would not likely be any 
greater than with current manual belt systems. 
Therefore, General Motors argues that the pro- 
posed delay should have only a minimal adverse 
safety impact. 

General Motors stated that the proposed delay 
would result in a net increased sales revenue to 



PART 571; S208-PRE 131 



the company of $760 million, and that the com- 
pany could realize a savings of approximately $13 
million in capital investment for the 1982 model- 
year program. General Motors explained the $760 
million figure with the following rationale: 

Automatic belts will be regarded by many as 
an unnecessary inconvenience, and they will 
deprive purchasers of six passenger seating 
capacity. Thus, 1982 full-size cars equipped 
with such a restraint will be at a competitive 
disadvantage in that consumers can avoid the 
penalties of increased cost and reduced accom- 
modation either by purchasing vehicles not 
subject to passive restraint requirements in 
that year, or by deferring their purchases. The 
proposed delay will allow the consumer to pur- 
chase a full size car in 1982, without a cost 
penalty, which fully meets his needs and expec- 
tations. 

General Motors' concern in this regard derives 
from the fact that large cars with automatic seat 
belts will be able to have only two front seating 
positions, since no company has developed an 
automatic belt system for the center seat posi- 
tion. With the automatic restraint requirements 
delayed. General Motors would be able to install 
bench front seats with three seating positions in 
its large cars. General Motors estimates that the 
reduced seating capacity thus caused by auto- 
matic belts will result in 120,000 fewer large car 
sales: 50,000 purchasers will shift from large 
cars to GM mid-size cars, and 70,000 potential 
purchasers will defer buying a new large car in 
the 1982 model year if they cannot obtain a 
six-passenger large car. General Motors 
contends that these factors will result in a 
revenue loss to the company of $760 million if the 
automatic restraint requirements are not 
delayed. 

Rationale For Agency Decision 

The agency has given thorough consideration 
to all comments submitted in response to the pro- 
posed delay of the first phase of the automatic 
restraint requirements, and carefully analyzed all 
such information and data in the Record of this 
proceeding. The wide diversity among factual, 
analytical and policy-related positions urged by 
those supporting and those opposing the pro- 
posed delay illustrates the degree to which this 



proceeding involves questions for which there are 
currently no concrete answers. 

For example, the usage rate of automatic belts 
will be extremely dependent on the exact design 
of a particular belt system. Consumer expecta- 
tions (for example, that six-seat cars will be 
available), consumer acceptance (for example, the 
purchase of cars with automatic belt systems 
which cost more than current belt systems) and 
actual rates of usage are values crucial to the 
Department's decision-making process. These fac- 
tors, which are dependent on the desires and 
reaction of the American public, cannot be quan- 
tified or predicted with certainty. 

On the basis of the record herein, the Depart- 
ment has concluded that the applicability of 
FMVSS 208 in MY 1982 to large cars would be im- 
practicable and unreasonable. Requiring such 
compliance would reduce sales and profits, and in- 
crease unemployment, for the manufacturers of 
such vehicles. The Department believes that it is 
in the public interest to avoid these unnecessary 
costs and impacts by providing an additional year 
of leadtime. 

The February 12, 1981 notice detailed many of 
the specific reasons which led to the proposed 
delay. As specified in that notice, many of the fac- 
tual assumptions and premises which led to adop- 
tion of the phase-in schedule have been proven 
wrong by subsequent events. The economic situa- 
tion of the industry and of consumers and the 
economy as a whole have drastically changed 
since the standard was adopted in 1977. 

The current phase-in schedule for automatic 
restraints was intended to permit manufacturers 
to introduce automatic restraints without undue 
technological or economic risk. Such risks would 
otherwise have had to have been assumed con- 
temporaneously with the risks involved in having 
to meet the requirements imposed by emission 
and fuel economy standards applicable to 
automobiles in the early 1980's. 

Large cars were chosen for the first phase of 
the schedule because at that time there was more 
experience with air bags in such full-size cars. A 
phased schedule to cover progressively smaller 
cars, in stages, was adopted to provide manufac- 
turers with a chance to gain similar levels of ex- 
perience in smaller cars. To ensure that manufac- 
turers would in fact have the maximum flexibility 
to choose between equipping smaller cars with air 



PART 571; S208-PRE 132 



bags or automatic belts, those cars were to be 
phased in last. This justification for a phased im- 
plementation schedule is no longer valid. Gasoline 
shortages, price increases (especially those occur- 
ring since the Iranian oil cut-off in 1979), and 
continuing uncertainty about levels of future 
petroleum supplies have led to dramatic in- 
creases in production plans for small cars. The 
small car share of new production is growing at a 
much faster pace than was anticipated by the 
Department when the automatic restraint re- 
quirements were issued. 

In 1977, the Department projected that new car 
production in the model year 1982-1985 period 
would be approximately 24 percent large cars, 53 
percent mid-size cars, and 23 percent small cars. 
However, NHTSA now estimates that actual pro- 
duction of large cars will be about 11 percent in 
model year 1982 while mid-size and small cars are 
expected to increase commensurately in that 
model year. 

Thus, under the state of facts now facing the 
Department, about 11 percent of the 1982 model- 
year cars would be required to have automatic 
restraints under the 208 standard. 

This major shift in the absolute and relative 
numbers of cars which would be subject to the 
first year of the standard will have important 
adverse impacts upon the benefits to be achieved 
by the first year of application of the standard. 
Consumer acceptance of the automatic restraints 
now anticipated to be used in the 1982 model-year 
cars is likely to be substantially less than was 
assumed in 1977. There will be more than a 
million fewer vehicles with automatic restraints 
than was previously expected. With fewer cars 
equipped with automatic restraints, the vehicles 
which are so equipped will be far more vulnerable 
to negative consumer reaction. 

The Department has long recognized that any 
costly, arguably coercive restraint system will 
cause a certain percentage of the population to 
react negatively. The factors leading to such 
negative reaction will be magnified as the per- 
centage of new 1982-model cars equipped with 
automatic restraints decreases. Adverse con- 
sumer preferences leading to deferral of the pur- 
chase of large cars, or to shifts to the purchase of 
mid-size cars, will predictably occur. 

Concern about providing additional leadtime to 
adapt air bags to small cars is also less important 



now as a result of changes in facts occurring since 
1977. When the standard was issued, the Depart- 
ment assumed that manufacturers would equip a 
great majority of their vehicles (75%) with air 
bags in preference to belt systems. However, 
most manufacturers now indicate that they in- 
tend to offer air bags on very few of their large 
cars, and on almost none of their smaller cars. 
Almost all 1982 model-year cars are planned to 
use automatic belts. 

The absence of any opportunity to select be- 
tween automatic restraint systems will materi- 
ally affect public acceptance of the automatic 
restraint standard. General Motors has pointed 
out that two automatic belt designs recently of- 
fered as options on its Chevette line produced 
very low purchaser interest, even though the cost 
was minimal and the car line was in high demand. 
GM states that fewer than 13,000 of 415,000 
1980-model Chevettes sold were equipped with 
the automatic belt option, despite the fact that 
the option was offered at no cost to most pur- 
chasers, GM salesmen were to be given an addi- 
tional commission of $25 for each sale, and over $1 
million was spent on advertising and marketing. 

Similar low interest has been shown in an 
automatic belt system offered as an option on 
General Motor's 1981 Cadillac. 

The poor consumer acceptance of these auto- 
matic belt options substantiates the Department's 
assumption that automatic belts installed on only a 
limited percentage of a particular model-year fleet 
will have difficult public acceptance problems. 

The public acceptance of 1982-model automatic 
restraints is a valid concern of the Department 
and is of primary importance in determining the 
reasonableness and practicability of the standard, 
and whether there is good cause for the delay. As 
stated by the Court of Appeals in Pacific Legal 
Foundation \. Department of Transportation, 593 
F.2d 1338 (D.C. Cir.). cert, denied, 444 U.S. 830 
(1979): 

We believe that the agency cannot fulfill its 
statutory responsibility unless it considers 
popular reaction. Without public cooperation 
there can be no assurance that a safety system 
can "meet the need for motor vehicle safety." 
And it would be difficult to term 'practicable' a 
system, like the ignition interlock, that so an- 
noyed motorists that they deactivate it. 



PART 571: S208-PRE 133 



The Department is unable to conclude from its 
current data, taking into account the large 
number of private citizens who took the time and 
effort to file comments reflecting their opposition 
to automatic restraints, that the 1982 automatic 
belt designs planned by the manufacturers will 
receive "public cooperation." 

The proposal stated that the changed economic 
circumstances may make the current implemen- 
tation schedule for automatic restraints imprac- 
ticable. Several commenters argued that the 
general economic situation of the automobile in- 
dustry is not a legitimate criterion for determin- 
ing whether a safety standard is practicable 
under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle 
Safety Act. The legislative history of the Vehicle 
Safety Act clarifies that economic considerations 
may be considered in determining the "prac- 
ticability" of a particular safety standard: 

This would require consideration of all relevant 
factors, including technological ability to 
achieve the goal of a particular standard as 
well as consideration of economic factors. (H.R. 
Rep. No. 776. 89th Cong., 2d Sess. (1966) at 16.) 

One commenter stated that the term "prac- 
ticable" must be viewed as relating solely to the 
economic and technological capability of the in- 
dustry to meet the timetables established by the 
particular safety standard in question, and not to 
the general economic health of the industry. The 
Department disagrees with this reading of the 
Vehicle Safety Act and its legislative history. 

The reasonableness and practicability of the 
current phase-in schedule cannot be determined 
in a vacuum. What is reasonable and practicable 
for a healthy firm or industry may not be for an 
ailing one. The proposal noted the current finan- 
cial difficulties of the automobile industry. Vehi- 
cle sales remain at depressed levels and 
unemployment in the domestic industry is ex- 
tremely high. Approximately 200,000 workers 
have been indefinitely laid off, and more have 
been temporarily laid off. These losses come at a 
time when the domestic manufacturers are 
spending unprecedented sums to meet the contin- 
uing demand for more fuel efficient cars. 

The Department concludes further that 
economic hardship to the affected industry and 
individual companies must be balanced with 
all other considerations in determining the 



"reasonableness" and "practicability" of a par- 
ticular safety standard. None of the individual 
factors involved in the deliberations may prop- 
erly be applied without regard to the other fac- 
tors. This proposition holds both in promulgating 
a standard and in retaining a standard when rele- 
vant factors have materially changed since the 
standard was first adopted. 

The same commenter also argued that the 
Department had not shown "good cause" for pro- 
posing to delay the effective date of the automatic 
restraint requirements, in light of the require- 
ments of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act that the 
leadtime for the effective date of safety stand- 
ards shall be no longer than one year, unless the 
Secretary finds, for good cause shown, that an 
earlier or later effective date is in the public in- 
terest (15 U.S.C. 1392). 

The leadtimes associated with the existing im- 
plementation schedule were much longer than 
one year. These were upheld by the Court in the 
Pacific Legal Foundation case, supra. In that case, 
the court relied heavily on the inability of the 
manufacturers to comply with the requirement in 
one year's time, and on the need for considering 
the likelihood that the public will accept the 
change: 

When dealing with a "technology-forcing" rule 
like Standard 208, the agency must consider 
the abilities of producers to comply with the 
new requirement and of the public to grasp the 
need for the change. 

As was stated earlier, the Department is now 
concerned that 1982-model large cars might be 
seriously unacceptable to a large portion of the 
public. 

The Department concludes that "good cause" 
exists for the proposed delay. The public interest 
in the economic viability of the industry and, with 
respect to the proposed delay, the particular cir- 
cumstances of the manufacturers of the vehicles 
involved, requires that inequitable burdens and 
unnecessary costs be avoided where possible in 
implementing FMVSS 208. Large cars are not ex- 
pected to be produced beyond MY 1985. Applica- 
tion of the standard to large cars in advance of 
smaller cars would thus involve such burdens and 
could involve such costs. 

In addition to these considerations, the Depart- 
ment believes that the proposed delay must be 



PART 571; S208-PRE 134 



viewed as a separate regulatory action insofar as 
leadtime is concerned. The leadtime specifica- 
tions for the existing implementation schedule 
were upheld by the court in Pacific Legal Founda- 
tion. The proposed delay represents a new con- 
sideration of the factors which will determine 
whether automatic restraints are reasonable and 
practicable for large cars in the 1982 model year, 
with primary attention being given to acceptabil- 
ity of these systems by the public. 

Opponents of the proposed delay have pointed 
to the adverse safety impacts that might result, 
stating specifically that the safety benefits of the 
1982 model-year requirements outweigh the 
costs. The Department's proposal stated that a 
delay of the first phase requirement could over 
the ten-year life of the vehicles involved result in 
a loss of 600 lives, and the accrual of 4,300 more 
injuries than would have occurred without the 
delay. After reviewing the information submitted 
in response to the proposal and analyzing more 
current data, however, the Department now con- 
cludes that its earlier estimate of adverse effects 
is invalid. 

First, the assertion that 600 lives would be lost 
was based upon earlier estimates of benefits that 
would arise from 100 percent usage of automatic 
restraint systems. This calculation in turn had 
been based primarily on 1977 assumptions that 
air bags would be the technology of choice. As 
stated earlier, however, the Department now 
knows that very few air bags are planned for the 
1982 model-year. 

Unlike air bags, estimates of benefits arising 
from compliance with the automatic restraint 
standard by means of automatic belts must be 
based upon projected usage rates. The most op- 
timistic expectations of automatic belt use for the 
1982 model-year now appear to be a usage rate of 
60 percent. Moreover, given the planned design of 
the 1982-model automatic belts, NHTSA now 
believes that a much lower usage rate will in fact 
occur. Both General Motors and Ford plan 
automatic belt designs which have a release 
buckle identical to the buckle on current manual 
belt systems. Motorists would therefore be able 
to disconnect the proposed belts with the same 
ease with which current active belt systems can 
be released. NHTSA believes it is likely that a 
large percentage of motorists would adopt this 
usage pattern, and detach the automatic belts. 



Usage could thus in fact turn out to be low, and 
approach levels similar to that of current manual 
belt systems (7%). 

The final regulatory analysis thus now includes 
a range of possible usage rates for 1982-model 
automatic belts, in analyzing possible benefits to 
be foregone by deferring the MY 82 standard for 
one year. If usage rates for the automatic belts 
otherwise required for that model-year were to 
be 15 percent, more than double the rate of use of 
current manual belts, retention of the 1982 re- 
quirements might save a total of 75 lives over the 
projected ten-year life of the large cars involved. 
If usage rates were to occur at the level of 60 per- 
cent, this number could possibly increase to as 
many as 490 lives over the same ten-year period. 

NHTSA now believes that the potential usage 
of 1982-model automatic belt designs would more 
likely be near the bottom end of this scale. 
NHTSA data on observed usage rates for the belt 
systems employed in some models of the Volks- 
wagen Rabbit, for example, are relevant. All such 
belts are optional, and were chosen by the pur- 
chaser either as a separate option or as a part of 
the "Deluxe" package. Moreover, the VW system 
employs an interlock mechanism, so that the 
engine may not be started if the system is not in 
place. Despite these factors, usage rates have 
been observed to be only 81%. That is, of the pur- 
chasers who specifically selected this optional 
system, nearly 20% thereafter in practice enter 
their vehicles, start their engines, and then 
deliberately disconnect the belt system when 
driving. 

Moreover, actual accident data relating to such 
vehicles show even lower usage rates, of 55-57%. 
(See Regulatory Analysis, at V-11, 13 for discus- 
sion.) 

After analyzing the data submitted in response 
to the proposal, the Department has determined 
that the one-year delay will result in a cost sav- 
ings to consumers of approximately $105 million. 
Capital investment savings for the industry will 
be about $30 million. Net income available for 
reinvestment would be increased to $292 million 
by the delay. Over 13,000 jobs will be saved in the 
automobile manufacturer and supplier industry, a 
savings of $159 million. The basis for these 
figures is explained in detail in the final 
regulatory analysis. Given the current economic 
situation of the American public and the domestic 



PART 571; S208-PRE 135 



automobile industry, these savings are signifi- 
cant, particularly when viewed in conjunction 
with the Department's belief that the safety im- 
pact of the delay can be minimized. 

While some measure of safety benefits will be 
foregone by this delay, the Department has con- 
cluded that such benefits are relatively minor. 
Moreover, the Department believes that any such 
loss of safety benefits can be offset with a coor- 
dinated effort by all parties involved. The Depart- 
ment believes that an intense seat belt use educa- 
tion campaign, joined by the Department, in- 
dustry and consumer groups and targeted di- 
rectly at the 1982 model-year cars, has the poten- 
tial of affording even greater safety benefits than 
would otherwise accrue. 

Finally, such a targeted campaign to increase 
the use of existing manual seat belts will provide 
further data on the viability of such strategies in 
increasing active seat belt use. Such information 
would be especially valuable for future rulemak- 
ing purposes, since it would in any event be at 
least ten years before all cars in the passenger 
fleet would be expected to be equipped with new 
safety equipment. Such information would enable 
the Department, State and local governments, 
and other interested parties to determine how to 
make the best use of their scarce resources to in- 
crease actual usage of the millions of manual seat 
belts that will remain on the nation's highways 
for years to come. 

Summary of Agency Conclusion 

The Department has determined that the ex- 
isting schedule for the first year of implementa- 
tion of FMVSS 208 is no longer reasonable or 
practicable. The assumptions leading to the 1977 
rule are no longer valid. There will be few, if any, 
air bags installed in passenger cars because 
manufacturers have chosen automatic belts as 
the preferred means of compliance with the 
standard. The number of small cars on the road is 
increasing drastically and these cars are more un- 
safe than large cars. Yet, under the current imple- 
mentation schedule, small cars are to be equipped 
with automatic restraints last. 

The delay of the first phase of the automatic 
restraint requirements will enable the Depart- 
ment to adequately reassess the most viable 
alternatives for the occupant crash protec- 
tion standard. The Department is publishing 



simultaneously with this final rule a Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking addressing alternatives to 
this standard, and attention is specifically 
directed to that proposal. 

The Department is taking these actions 
because courts have found that the Department 
has a statutory responsibility to reexamine its 
safety standards in light of changing circum- 
stances and new data. In those circumstances, the 
Department is required to make necessary revi- 
sions and schedule changes to ensure that the 
standards are practicable, reasonable and ap- 
propriate. As noted above, key assumptions 
underlying the issuance of the automatic 
restraint requirements in 1977 have been 
substantially undermined by subsequent events. 

The delay and reevaluation of FMVSS 208 is 
also consistent with Executive Order 12291, 
which directs all executive branch agencies to 
delay final rules to the extent necessary to re- 
evaluate those rules under criteria specified in 
the Order. 

This amendment has been evaluated as a major 
rule under the guidelines of new Executive Order 
12291 and a final regulatory analysis is being 
placed in the public docket simultaneously with 
the publication of this notice. The major findings 
of that analysis have been discussed in the body 
of this notice. 

The effect of the one-year delay has been 
evaluated in accordance with the National En- 
vironmental Policy Act of 1969. It has been deter- 
mined that this action is not a major Federal ac- 
tion significantly affecting the quality of the 
human environment. An evaluation of the en- 
vironmental consequences of the amendment is 
included in the regulatory analysis. Further infor- 
mation regarding environmental issues concern- 
ing automatic restraints, especially air bags, can 
be found in the environmental impact statements 
published in conjunction with the 1977 automatic 
restraint standard. 

The regulatory analysis also includes a discus- 
sion of the Department's consideration of the 
possible impact of this amendment on small en- 
tities. The analysis shows that the one-year delay 
will have a minimal effect on the automatic seat 
belt-related firms, since it is likely that most of 
the 1982-model large cars will continue to be 
equipped with conventional manual type seat 
belts. Generally, however, the same firms 



PART 571; S208-PRE 136 



produce both automatic and manual belts, and 
none of these direct suppliers qualify as "small 
businesses" under the Regulatory Flexibility Act. 

The effect of the delay on air bag suppliers is 
less certain. Neither Ford or General Motors 
would have installed air bags in 1982 vehicles 
regardless of the delay. The analysis determined 
that some suppliers of the air bag components 
will be adversely affected by the delay to some 
extent and that a few of these qualify as small 
businesses. However, it is doubtful that a 
substantial number of small businesses will be 
adversely affected by the delay to a significant 
degree. 

The analysis also considered the effect of the 
delay on the small governmental units and other 
small fleet purchasers of cars. Since large cars 
are not generally sought for fleet purposes, the 
amendment is likely to have only a minimal effect 
on all types of small fleet purchasers. 

In consideration of the foregoing. Safety Stand- 
ard No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection (49 CFR 
571.208) is amended as follows: 

Section S4.1.2 is amended to read: 

"S4.1.2 Passenger cars manufactured from 
September 1, 197S, to August 31, 1983. Each 



passenger car manufactured from September 
1, 1973, to August 31, 1982, inclusive, shall 
meet the requirements of S4. 1.2.1, S4. 1.2.2, or 
S4. 1.2.3. Each passenger car manufactured 
from September 1, 1982, to August 31, 1983, in- 
clusive, shall meet the requirements of S4. 1.2.1, 
S4.1.2.2, or S4. 1.2.3, except that a passenger 
car with a wheelbase of more than 100 inches 
shall meet the requirements specified in S4.1.3. 
A protection system that meets requirements 
of S4. 1.2.1 or S4. 1.2.2 may be installed at one or 
more designated seating positions of a vehicle 
that otherwise meets the requirements of 
S4.1.2.3." 

(Sees. 103, 119, Pub. L. 89-563, 80 Stat. 718 (15 
U.S.C. 1392, 1407).) 

Issued on April 6, 1981. 



Andrew L. Lewis, Jr. 
Secretary of Transportation 



46 FR 21172 
April 9, 1981 



PART 571; S208-PRE 137 



APPENDIX 
DETAILED DISCUSSION OF COMMENTS 



A. Comments Opposing the Delay 

The insurance industry argued that the 
automatic restraint requirements will save 
thousands of lives and prevent hundreds of 
thousands of serious injuries. The League xln- 
surance Companies stated that the proposed one- 
year delay would be "tragic and costly," adding 
that "there is a legitimate place for regulation 
when the need is great, the cost-benefit is 
demonstrably high, and the structure of the 
market place requires uniformity to be imposed 
on all manufacturers." 

Allstate Insurance Companies argued that the 
growing proportion of small cars will increase 
deaths and injuries by 35 percent during the next 
four years, and that the only way to reverse this 
trend is by implementation of the automatic 
restraint standard. Allstate also argued that the 
proposal's analysis of the economic consequences 
of the scheduled implementation is based only on 
conjecture. The company stated that there is no 
substantial evidence of record that the proposed 
delay would provide any significant financial 
assistance to car makers. According to Allstate, 
however, the proposed delay would result in 
needless deaths and injuries at huge costs to 
society at large and to insurances-buying 
customers. Allstate concluded that it could only 
support a one-year delay in the automatic 
restraint requirements if the delay is coupled 
with a requirement that small cars comply with 
the standard in model year 1983 (i.e., one year 
earlier than the existing schedule). This senti- 
ment was also expressed by the Alliance of Ameri- 
can Insurers and the League Insurance Com- 
panies. Alliance stated that a move to install auto- 
matic restraints on small cars first is consistent 
with insurance research which shows small cars to 
be inherently more dangerous to occupants than 
large cars, and that such a change could also afford 
domestic manufacturers some economic relief. 



State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance 
Company attacked the proposed delay of the 
automatic restraint requirements on several 
grounds. First, State Farm argued that the 
record in this rulemaking proceeding demon- 
strates that full implementation of the automatic 
restraint standard will save thousands of lives 
and avoid tens of thousands of crippling and 
maiming injuries. The company pointed to the 
Department's analysis which found that the pro- 
posed delay would cost the nation 600 deaths and 
approximately 4,300 injuries over the lifetime of 
the 1982-model large cars, and stated that a delay 
is not justified under any cost/benefit calcula- 
tions. State Farm also argued that the proposed 
delay is inconsistent with the overriding mandate 
of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety 
Act (15 U.S.C. 1381, et seq.) and that "the controll- 
ing statutes do not permit the Secretary to defer 
otherwise supportable life-saving regulations 
solely on the basis of current economic conditions 
in the auto industry." 

State Farm concludes that the current eco- 
nomic situation of the auto industry does not 
make the implementation of the current auto- 
matic restraint schedule impractical. First, 
nearly all of the necessary capital commitments 
for automatic restraint implementation for large 
cars have already been made. Second, the 
variable costs associated with installing auto- 
matic restraints on 1982-model large cars are in- 
significant to the industry. State Farm also 
argued that the balance of costs against benefits 
does not support the proposed delay; rather, it 
supports an acceleration of the existing schedule 
if anything. The company cited a recent study by 
Professor William Nordhaus (discussed below) 
which contends that the annual economic costs of 
the proposed deferral of the model year 1982 re- 
quirements relative to the current schedule are 
five times greater than the economic benefits to 
the auto industry. 



PART 571; S208-PRE 138 



It is State Farm's position that as a matter of 
law and statutory power, the Department cannot 
rely on the general economic health of the 
automobile industry to justify a delay in the im- 
plementation of the life-saving automatic 
restraint standard. The comment cites the Senate 
report concerning the Vehicle Safety Act which 
stated that safety is "the overriding considera- 
tion" in carrying out the purposes of the Act (S. 
Rep. No. 1301. 89th Cong., 2d Sess. 6 (1966)). State 
Farm argues that econoniic considerations in 
rulemaking by the Department and NHTSA 
under the Vehicle Safety Act must relate to the 
costs and benefits of the standard itself and not to 
the general health of the auto industry: ". . . if the 
Secretary were to implement the proposed delay 
in this rulemaking on the basis of the general 
employment, production, and economic status of 
the auto industry, he would be acting arbitrarily 
and capriciously and outside the scope of his 
statutory authority." The legal memorandum 
submitted in support of State Farm's contentions 
included the following argument: 

If the general economic condition of the auto in- 
dustry could justify suspending implementation 
of the automatic restraint standard in the face of 
such cost and benefit data, the industry's 
economic condition could also be used to justify 
suspension or elimination of other safety stand- 
ards. The industry's current problems could 
thus be used to effectively nullify the National 
Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. 

Professor William Nordhaus of Yale University 
submitted comments concerning the economic 
ramifications of the proposed delay in the first 
phase of the automatic restraint requirements. 
(The submission was sponsored by Allstate, 
Kemper, Nationwide, and State Farm Insurance 
Companies.) (For a full discussion of the 
methodology and bases for these calculations, one 
should refer to the Nordhaus submission filed at 
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administra- 
tion under Docket 74-14, Notice 20. NHTSA's 
response to this analysis is set forth in detail in 
the Appendix to the Regulatory Impact 
Analysis.) The basic conclusions contained in the 
Nordhaus comment are as follows (verbatim): 

1. The current passive restraint requirement 
(FMVSS 208) has very substantial net benefits 



compared to current lap and shoulder belt 
usage. According to the economic analysis 
presented here, the current rule has net 
benefits of approximately $10 billion for model 
years 1982-85. The substantial economic gain 
from passive restraints should not be ignored 
in debates on fine-tuning the phase-in. 

2. Using standard analysis, the ranking of op- 
tions in terms of net benefits is as follows (with 
the first having the highest net benefits and 
the last the lowest net benefits): 

(1) Simultaneous 1983 implementation (all 
cars equipped with passive restraints in 1983). 

(2) Delay and reversal (small cars in 1983, 
intermediate cars in 1984, large cars in 1985). 

(3) The current rule (large cars in 1982, in- 
termediate cars in 1983, and small cars in 1984). 

(4) The proposed delay (large and inter- 
mediate cars in 1983, small cars in 1984). 

(5) General rollback (large cars in 1983, in- 
termediate cars in 1984, large cars in 1985). 

3. A sensitivity analysis shows the ranking of 
alternatives is unchanged under a wide range 
of alternative assumptions. 

4. Any deferral of requirements to install 
passive restraints on any size automobile has 
net costs unless it is "traded in" on an accelera- 
tion of requirements on a larger number, or a 
smaller sized, set of automobiles. 

5. In terms of the costs and benefits of dif- 
ferent options, there is no justification for 
either the proposed delay or for a general 
rollback. In particular, the economic costs of 
the proposed delay are approximately 5 times 
greater than the benefits, for a net cost of over 
$200 million. The net costs of the general 
rollback are significantly greater, in the order 
of $4.5 billion. 

6. There appears to be strong economic 
justification for the simultaneous 1983 option if 
it is technically feasible. 

7. The analysis indicates that the delay and 
reversal option has the highest net benefits of 
any of the four considered in the proposal and 
regulatory analysis. The superior net benefit of 
delay and reversal arises because the reversal 
of the requirement to small cars first affects a 
larger number of automobiles more quickly and 
because the net economic benefits per vehicle 
are greater for small cars than for large and in- 
termediate cars. 



PART 571; S208-PRE 139 



8. The estimated impact of the proposed 
delay on the automobile industry is minuscule. 
There will be little or no improvement in the 
"health" of the domestic automobile industry 
from the proposed delay. For this reason, 
nonregulatory considerations discussed in the 
notice (the effect on imports, the conditions of 
the automobile industry, or freedom-of-choice 
arguments) should not, from an economic point 
of view, enter in this rulemaking. 

The proposed delay of the automatic restraint 
requirements was also opposed by various con- 
sumer groups and health-related organizations, 
including: the Consumer Federation of America, 
the National Spinal Cord Injury Foundation, the 
Epilepsy Foundation of America, the Consumers 
Union, the Automotive Occupant Protection 
Association, the National Safety Council, the 
Houston Independent School District, the 
American College of Surgeons, the Georgia 
Department of Human Resources, the New York 
Department of Transportation, and the Center 
for Auto Safety. The National Safety Council con- 
ceded that the economic situation of the auto in- 
dustry is serious, but stated that any adjustment 
of the implementation schedule for automatic 
restraints should also include consideration of an 
earlier implementation for small cars, since the 
need for protection is much greater in these 
vehicles. 

The Automotive Occupant Protection Associa- 
tion stated that it could support the proposed 
delay of the automatic restraint requirements for 
one year, as well as a reversal of the implementa- 
tion schedule, provided there is a requirement for 
the major automobile manufacturer to offer op- 
tional air bag systems on at least one model line. 
The association is concerned that further delay of 
the automatic restraint standard could drive the 
remaining air bag supplier manufacturers out of 
the business, and the life-saving potential of air 
bags could be lost. The Epilepsy Foundation of 
America echoed this sentiment and stated that 
"consumers deserve a guarantee that would 
assure the air bag option will be available in any 
model they wish to purchase." 

The Consumers Union argued that the auto in- 
dustry's financial condition should not be used to 
justify "less safe automobiles." Moreover, accord- 
ing to the Union, the proposed delay is unlikely to 



significantly alleviate the financial problems fac- 
ing domestic automobile manufacturers. 

The Center for Auto Safety argued that the 
proposed delay of the first-phase automatic 
restraint requirements will not help the auto in- 
dustry solve its current economic problems. In 
addition, the Center stated that the projected 
savings of 600 lives and 4,300 injuries associated 
with the first-phase requirements represents an 
economic gain of approximately $170 million, and 
this far outweighs any savings to the industry. In 
regard to a possible reversal of the existing im- 
plementation schedule for automatic restraints, 
the Center stated that automatic belts can be in- 
stalled on all small cars with a leadtime as short 
as one year because automatic belts are so well 
developed. 

Comments were also received from two manu- 
facturers which supply air bag system com- 
ponents, Thiokol and Rocket Research Company. 
Rocket Research stated that it could support the 
proposed delay and reversal of the implementa- 
tion schedule provided any such change also con- 
tains a requirement that the major manufac- 
turers "tool for and offer for sale" air bag systems 
on at least one car line. The company stated that 
without such a guarantee there is little incentive 
for air bag suppliers to remain in the business. 
Rocket Research stated that an indefinite delay 
of the automatic restraint requirements over the 
next five years would amount to a business loss of 
23 percent. The company also stated that cost 
savings accruing to General Motors and Ford 
because of the one year delay (estimated in the 
proposal to be approximately 37 million dollars) 
would be reduced if air bag programs are delayed 
or eventually canceled since both Rocket 
Research and Hamill Manufacturing Company 
have substantial claims against the two com- 
panies for capital expenditures to build and equip 
production plants to make air bag modules. 
(Rocket Research stated that these claims are 
based on letters of agreement and contingent 
liability statements.) 

Thiokol stated that the model year 1982 
automatic restraint requirements for large cars 
resulted in the first major production program 
for Thiokol, and that substantial funds have been 
expended for manpower, tooling and facilities 
to meet this requirement. According to Thiokol, 
a one-year delay in the program would add 



PART 571; S208-PRE 140 



substantial additional expenses and result in a 
reduction of manpower, facility use and vendor 
capability. In response to questions contained in 
the notice of proposed rulemaking, Thiokol stated 
that another year of delay would discourage 
rather than encourage further design im- 
provements and research efforts in automatic 
restraint systems. 

B. Comments Favoring the Delay 

The Pacific Legal Foundation supported the 
proposed one-year delay, and stated four primary 
reasons why such a delay is warranted. 

1. The proposed delay would create additional 
time for the Department of Transportation 
to implement an adequate evaluation pro- 
gram for air bags. 

2. The proposed delay would give the Ameri- 
can public an additional year of freedom to 
choose their means of occupant protection. 

3. The proposed delay would allow additional 
time for the public to familiarize itself with 
passive restraints [which have been or will 
be voluntarily installed prior to a mandatory 
effective date]. 

4. The proposed delay would reduce the like- 
lihood of costly Congressional action on the 
passive restraint standard after its im- 
plementation. 

The proposed delay of the first phase of the 
automatic restraint requirements was unani- 
mously supported by all commenting automobile 
manufacturers, both domestic and foreign. Addi- 
tionally, most manufacturers urged the Depart- 
ment to reconsider the entire standard and to 
provide additional leadtime for all phases of the 
implementation schedule or to revoke the 
automatic restraint requirements altogether. 
Regarding a possible reversal of the current im- 
plementation schedule, nearly all of the foreign 
automobile manufacturers stated that it would be 
impossible to install automatic restraints on 1983 
model small passenger cars because of insuffi- 
cient leadtime. 

Chrysler Corporation also urged that the 
automatic restraint requirements be withdrawn 
entirely. The company argued that automatic 
belts will be disconnected by many motorists and 
that purchasers will turn to models that are not 
equipped with automatic belts. Chrysler predicts 



that automatic belts would create a consumer 
"backlash" greater than that resulting from igni- 
tion interlocks (devices installed on 1974-75 
models which made it impossible to start the vehi- 
cle unless the seatbelt was fastened). 

In lieu of automatic restraints, Chrysler urged 
the Department to mount a national educational 
effort to increase the use of current manual seat 
belt systems: "Increased usage of these systems 
is the most cost effective and immediate method 
of reducing injuries and fatalities in motor vehicle 
accidents." Regarding a possible reversal of the 
current implementation schedule, Chrysler 
stated that it would be impossible at this time to 
advance automatic belt installation for small cars 
prior to the 1984 model year. 

American Motors Corporation recommended 
that a delay in effective date of the automatic 
restraint requirements be adopted for all cars to 
permit a re-evaluation of all issues. The company 
particularly does not support a reversal of the im- 
plementation schedule so that small cars would 
be phased in first, since the company will rely on 
technology developed for or by other automobile 
manufacturers after it is proven in actual volume 
production. American Motors also recommended 
that if a new phase-in schedule is adopted, at least 
a one-year delay for low-volume manufacturers 
(e.g., less than 200,000 sales) be included in the 
change. 

Foreign vehicle manufacturers produce few, if 
any, large passenger cars (i.e., cars with 
wheelbases over 114 inches), but all the foreign 
manufacturers supported the proposed delay of 
the first phase of the automatic restraint re- 
quirements. However, these manufacturers were 
unanimously against any reversal of the existing 
implementation schedule that would require 
small passenger cars to be equipped with 
automatic restraints a year earlier than currently 
required. 

Fiat Motors of North America recommended 
that the entire automatic restraint schedule be 
delayed for one year (i.e., each phase delayed one 
year). The company stated that if its small cars 
were not required to comply until model year 
1985, it would give the company more time to 
develop appropriate automatic belt designs for 
its convertibles. Fiat stated that it is currently 
having difficulty with its convertibles in terms of 
finding adequate automatic belt attachments and 



PART 571; S208-PRE 141 



fittings for existing vehicle structures. Fiat 
stated that it would prefer to see the automatic 
restraint standard revoked and mandatory seat 
belt use laws implemented. 

Nissan Motor Company stated that it would 
not be possible to equip its small cars with 
automatic restraints by September 1, 1982. 
Nissan's objection does not relate to capital ex- 
penditure or retail price increase, but rather, to 
"the lack of proper leadtime needed to develop 
acceptable, reliable and high quality vehicles for 
the consumer." Nissan argued that automatic 
belts already face a tough challenge in winning 
consumer acceptance without forcing the imposi- 
tion of hastily developed designs. 

Toyota Motor Company also stated that it 
could not comply with a change in the effective 
date for small cars from September 1, 1983, to 
September 1, 1982. Toyota stated that if such a 
change is adopted, it would have to drop from 
production certain of its volume passenger car 
lines for the 1983 model year, thereby limiting 
the freedom of choice of the customers who wish 
to purchase Toyota cars. 

Volvo of America Corporation requested that 
the implementation schedule for automatic 
restraints be amended to reflect the fact that the 
current market situation has forced the industry 
to be flexible with respect to model year in- 
troductions. Volvo refers specifically to the 
desire of some manufacturers to continue model 
lines past the September 1 effective dates for the 
three phases of the current implementation 
schedule, and to discontinue these lines at the 
beginning of the new calendar year. Volvo argues 
that tooling for installation of automatic 
restraints on model lines that will be discon- 
tinued six months after the effective date of the 
standard is cost prohibitive. Consequently, 
without a change in the implementation sched- 
ule, manufacturers would be required to cease 
production of certain models sooner than they 
would like. 

Volvo recommends that the implementation 
schedule be amended to provide that the effec- 



tive dates for the three phases is "September 1 
or the date of production start of the new model 
year if this date falls between September 1 and 
December 31." 

Rolls-Royce Motors produces three models 
that would have to be equipped with automatic 
restraints by September 1, 1981, under the ex- 
isting schedule. Rolls-Royce originally planned to 
offer air bags in these models but changed plans 
after General Motors announced in 1979 that it 
would delay the introduction of air bags. Conse- 
quently, Rolls-Royce states that it got a late start 
with automatic belts and the automatic belt 
system it has planned for the 1982 models is not 
developed to a degree of refinement normally 
associated with Rolls-Royce cars. In support of 
the proposed one-year delay in the automatic 
restraint requirements, Rolls-Royce made the 
following comment: 

Refinement, weight and cost will all be subject 
to continuous development anyway but one 
year extra leadtime would permit full develop- 
ment of the system before the customer is 
charged a cost premium for the restraint 
system. 



(NOTE: Allstate Insurance Company requested 
that a public hearing be held on the one-year 
delay in the large car requirement. However, due 
to the limited time available before the previous 
effective date of this requirement, the agency 
must deny this request. The issues on which this 
decision is based are primarily technical and 
economic, lending themselves well to written 
presentations. Interested parties have taken full 
advantage of the opportunity to provide their 
views in writing in this proceeding. Further, an 
additional opportunity for comment on issues 
relating to the automatic restraint standard is 
provided in the notice of proposed rulemaking 
issued today.) 



PART 571; S208-PRE 142 



PREAMBLE TO AN AMENDMENT TO FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD 

NO. 208 

Occupant Crash Protection 

(Docket No. 74-14; Notice 25) 



ACTION: Final rule. 

SUMMARY: The purpose of this notice is to amend 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208, 
Occupant Crash Protection, to rescind the re- 
quirements for installation of automatic restraints 
in the front seating positions of passenger cars. 
Those requirements were scheduled to become ef- 
fective for large and mid-size cars on September 1, 
1982, and for small cars on September 1, 1983. 

The automatic restraint requirements are being 
rescinded because of uncertainty about the public 
acceptability and probable usage rate of the type of 
automatic restraint which the car manufacturers 
planned to make available to most new car buyers. 
This uncertainty and the relatively substantial cost 
of automatic restraints preclude the agency from 
determining that the standard is at this time 
reasonable and practicable. The reasonableness of 
the automatic restraint requirements is further 
caUed into question by the fact that all new car 
buyers would be required to pay for automatic belt 
systems that may induce only a few additional peo- 
ple to take advantage of the benefits of occupant 
restraints. 

The agency is also seriously concerned about the 
possibility that adverse public reaction to the cost 
and presence of automatic restraints could have a 
significant adverse effect on present and future 
public acceptance of highway safety efforts. 

Under the amended standard, car manufacturers 
will continue to have the current option of pro- 
viding either automatic or manual occupant 
restraints. 

DATES: The rescission of the automatic restraint 
requirements of Standard No. 208 is effective 
December 8, 1981. Any petitions for reconsidera- 
tion must be received by the agency not later than 
December 3, 1981. 



ADDRESS: Any petitions for reconsideration 
should refer to the docket number and notice 
number of this notice and be submitted to: 
Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., 
Washington, D.C. 20590. 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. 

Michael Finkelstein, Associate Administrator for 
Rulemaking, National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., 
Washington, D.C. 20590. (202-426-1810) 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On April 9, 
1981, the Department of Transportation published 
a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) setting 
forth alternative amendments to the automatic 
restraint requirements of Standard No. 208 (46 
F.R. 21205). The purpose of proposing the alter- 
natives was to ensure that Standard No. 208 
reflects the changes in circumstances since the 
automatic restraint requirements were issued (42 
F.R. 34289; July 5, 1977) and to ensure that the 
standard meets the requirements of the National 
Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 and 
Executive Order 12291, "Federal Regulations" 
(February 17, 1981). 

Background and NPRM 

The automatic restraint requirements were 
adopted in 1977 in response to the high number of 
passenger car occupants killed annually in crashes 
and to the persistent low usage rate of manual 
belts. The manual belt is the type of belt which is 
found in most cars today and which the occupant 
must place around himself or herself and buckle in 
order to gain its protection. Then, as now, there 
were two types of automatic restraints, i.e., 
restraints that require no action by vehicle oc- 
cupants, such as buckling a belt, in order to be ef- 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-143 



fective. One type is the air cushion restraint (air 
bag) and the other is the automatic belt (a belt 
which automatically envelopes an occupant when 
the occupant enters a vehicle and closes the door). 

In view of the greater experience with air bags in 
large cars and to spread out capital investments, 
the Department established a large-to-small car 
compliance schedule. Under that schedule, large 
cars were required to begin compliance on 
September 1, 1981, mid-size cars on September 1, 
1982, and small cars on September 1, 1983. 

On April 6, 1981, after providing notice and op- 
portunity for comment, the Department delayed 
the compliance date for large cars from September 
1, 1981, to September 1, 1982. As explained in the 
April 6, final rule, that delay was adopted 

. . . because of the effects of implementation in model year 
1982 on large car manufacturers, because of the added 
significance which those effects assume due to the change in 
economic circumstances since the schedule was adopted in 1977, 
and because of the undermining by subsequent events of the ra- 
tionale underlying the original phase-in schedule. 

Simultaneous with publishing the one-year delay 
in the effective date for large cars, the Department 
also issued a proposal for making further changes 
in the automatic restraint requirements. This ac- 
tion was taken in response to a variety of factors 
that raised questions whether the automatic 
restraint requirements represented the most 
reasonable and effective approach to the problem 
of the low usage of safety belts. Among these fac- 
tors were the uncertainty about public acceptabil- 
ity of automatic restraints in view of the absence of 
any significant choice between automatic belts and 
air bags and the nature of the automatic belt 
designs planned by the car manufacturers, the con- 
sequent uncertainties about the rate of usage of 
automatic restraints, and the substantial costs of 
air bags even if produced in large volumes. 

The three principal proposals were reversal of 
phase-in sequence, simultaneous compliance, and 
rescission. The reversal proposal would have 
changed the large-to-small car order of compliance 
to a requirement that small cars commence com- 
pliance on September 1, 1982, mid-size cars on 
September 1, 1983, and large cars on September 1, 
1984. The proposal for simultaneous compHance 
would have required all size classes to begin com- 
pliance on the same date, March 1, 1983. The 
rescission proposal would have retained the 
manufacturers' current option of equipping their 
cars with either manual or automatic restraints. 



In addition, the Department proposed that, 
under both the first and second alternatives, the 
automatic restraint requirements be amended so 
that such restraints would not be required in the 
front center seating position. 

Following the close of the period for written 
comments on the April NPRM, NHTSA decided, at 
its discretion, to hold a public meeting on the alter- 
natives. The purpose of the meeting was to permit 
interested parties to present their views and 
arguments orally before the Administrator and en- 
sure that all available data were submitted to the 
agency. The notice announcing the meeting in- 
dicated that participants at the hearing would be 
permitted to supplement their previous comments. 
The notice also urged participants to consider the 
issues raised in former Secretary Coleman's Jime 
14, 1976 proposal regarding occupant restraints 
and in former Secretary Adams' March 24, 1977 
proposal regarding automatic restraints. 

Rationale for Agency Decision 

The decision to rescind the automatic restraint 
requirements was difficult for the agency to make. 
NHTSA has long pursued the goal of achieving 
substantial increases in the usage of safety belts 
and other types of occupant restraints. Former 
Secretary Adams clearly believed that he had en- 
sured the achievement of that goal in July 1977 
when he promulgated the automatic restraint re- 
quirements. Now that goal appears as elusive as 
ever. Instead of being equipped with automatic 
restraints that will protect substantially greater 
numbers of persons than current manual belts, 
most new cars would have had a type of automatic 
belt that might not have been any more acceptable 
to the public than manual belts. The usage of those 
automatic belts might, therefore, have been only 
slightly higher than that of manual belts. While 
most of the anticipated benefits have virtually 
disappeared, the costs have not. Vehicle price in- 
creases would have amounted to approximately $1 
billion per year. 

This turn of events may in part reflect the failure 
of the Department in the years following 1977 to 
conduct a long term effort to educate the public 
about the various types of restraints and the need 
to use them. The need for such an undertaking was 
seen by former Secretary Coleman in announcing 
his decision in 1976 to conduct an automatic 
restraint demonstration project prior to deciding 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-144 



whether to mandate automatic restraints. His in- 
struction that NHTSA undertake significant new 
steps to promote safety belt usage was never effec- 
tively carried out. The result of such an effort could 
have been that a substantial portion of the public 
would have been receptive to a variety of 
automatic restraint designs. As a result of concern 
over public acceptance, manufacturers have 
designed their automatic restraints to avoid 
creating a significant adverse reaction. Unfor- 
tunately, the elements of design intended to 
minimize adverse reaction would also minimize the 
previously anticipated increases in belt usage and 
safety benefits of requiring new cars to have 
automatic restraints instead of manual belts. 

The uncertainty regarding the usage of the 
predominant type of planned automatic restraint 
has profound implications for the determinations 
which NHTSA must make regarding a standard 
under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle 
Safety Act. NHTSA has a duty under the Vehicle 
Safety Act and E.O. 12291 to review the automatic 
restraint requirements in light of changing events 
and to ensure that the requirements continue to 
meet the criteria which each Federal Motor Vehicle 
Safety Standard must satisfy. If the criteria cannot 
be satisfied, the agency must make whatever 
changes in the standard are warranted. The agency 
must also have the flexibility to modify its standards 
and programs in its efforts to find effective methods 
for accomplishing its safety mission. 

The agency believes that the post-1977 events 
have rendered it incapable of finding now, as it was 
able to do in 1977, that the automatic restraint re- 
quirements would meet all of the applicable criteria 
in the Vehicle Safety Act. Section 103(a) of the 
Vehicle Safety Act requires that each Federal 
Motor Vehicle Safety Standard meet the need for 
safety and be practicable and objective. Each 
standard must also be reasonable, practicable and 
appropriate for each type of vehicle or equipment 
to which it applies (Section 103(f) (3)). To meet the 
need for safety, a standard must be reasonably 
likely to reduce deaths and injuries. To be found 
practicable, the agency must conclude that the 
public will in fact avail themselves of the safety 
devices installed pursuant to the standard. {Pacific 
Legal Foundation v. Department of Transporta- 
tion, 593 F. 2d 1338, at 1345-6 (D.C. Cir. 1979)). 
To be reasonable and practicable, a standard must 
be economically and technologically feasible, and 



the costs of implementation must be reasonable. 
(S. Rep. No. 1301, 89th Cong., 2d Sess. 6 (1966).) 

In reaching the decision announced by this 
notice, NHTSA has reviewed the enormous record 
compiled by this agency over the past decade on 
automatic restraints. Particular attention was paid 
to the information and issues relating to the 
notices which the Agency or Department has 
issued regarding automatic restraints since 1976. 
All comments submitted in response to the April 
1981 proposal by proponents and opponents of the 
automatic restraint requirements have been 
thoroughly considered. A summary of the major 
comments is included as an appendix to this notice. 
The agency's analysis of those comments may be 
found in this notice and the final regulatory impact 
analysis. A copy of the analysis has been placed in 
the public docket. 

Usage of automatic restraints and safety benefits. 
As in the case of the comments submitted concern- 
ing the one-year delay in automatic restraint re- 
quirements for large cars, the commenters on the 
April 1981 proposal expressed sharply divergent 
views and arguments and reached widely differing 
conclusions concerning the likely usage rates and 
benefits of the automatic restraints planned for 
installation in response to the automatic restraint 
requirements. The wide distance between the posi- 
tions of the proponents and opponents of these re- 
quirements stems primarily from the lack of any 
directly relevant data on the most important issue, 
i.e., the public reaction to and usage rate of 
detachable automatic belts. These disagreements 
once again demonstrate the difficulty in reaching 
reliable conclusions due to the uncertainty created 
by the lack of adequate data. 

In issuing the automatic restraint requirements 
in 1977, NHTSA assumed that the implementation 
of those requirements would produce substantial 
benefits. According to the analysis which NHTSA 
performed in that year, automatic restraints were 
expected to prevent 9,000 deaths and 65,000 
serious injuries once all cars on the road were 
equipped with those devices. That prediction was 
premised on several critical assumptions. Most im- 
portant among the assumptions were those con- 
cerning the safety benefits of automatic 
restraints— reductions in death and injury— which 
in turn are a function of the types of automatic 
restraints to be placed in each year's production of 
new cars. 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-145 



The agency assumed that the combination of air 
bags and lap belts would be approximately 66 per- 
cent effective in preventing fatalities and that 
automatic belts would have a 50 percent level of 
effectiveness. The agency assumed also that air 
bags would be placed in more than 60 percent of 
new cars and that automatic belts would be placed 
in the remaining approximately 40 percent. The 
agency's analysis predicted that air bags would 
provide protection in virtually all crashes of suffi- 
cient severity to cause deployment of the air bags. 
It was further assumed that the automatic belts 
would be used by 60 to 70 percent of the occupants 
of those cars. 

As to public reaction, the agency anticipated that 
the public would, as a whole, accept automatic 
restraints because it could choose between the two 
types of those restraints. Those not wanting 
automatic belts would select an air bag. Partly as a 
function of the expected large volume of air bag 
installation, the agency projected that the cost of 
air bags would be only slightly more than $100 (in 
1977 dollars) more than manual belts. 

As part of its efforts to monitor and facilitate 
implementation of the automatic restraint re- 
quirements, the agency continued its gathering of 
data about the use and effectiveness of air bags and 
of automatic belts with use-inducing features, the 
only type of automatic belt available to the public. 
With respect to automatic belts, this effort was car- 
ried out through a contract with Opinion Research 
Corporation. Under that contract, observations 
were made of seat belt usage during the two year 
period beginning November 1977. These observa- 
tions provided data on usage of manual and 
automatic belts in model year 1975-79 VW Rabbits 
and of manual belts in model year 1978-79 GM 
Chevettes. As a result of voluntary decisions by VW 
and GM, a number of the Rabbits and Chevettes 
were equipped with automatic belts. The observa- 
tion data showed usage rates of about 36 percent for 
manual belts and about 81 percent for automatic 
belts in the Rabbits. The observed rate of manual 
belt usage in Chevettes was 11 percent. There were 
insufficient numbers of model year 1978-79 Che- 
vettes equipped with automatic belts to develop 
reliable usage figures. 

Several telephone surveys were also made under 
contract with Opinion Research. The first survey in- 
volved owners of model year 1979 VW Rabbits and 
GM Chevettes equipped with automatic belts and 



was conducted during 1979. This survey showed 
that 89 percent of Rabbit owners and 72 percent of 
Chevette owners said that they used their automatic 
belts. A second survey was conducted in late 1979 
and early 1980. It covered owners of model year 
1980 Rabbits and Chevettes. The usage rates found 
by the second survey were almost identical to those 
in the first survey. 

Now, however, the validity of the benefit predic- 
tions in 1977 and the relevancy of the extensive 
data gathered by NHTSA on air bags and on 
automatic belts with use-inducing features have 
been substantially if not wholly undermined by 
drastic changes in the types of automatic 
restraints that would have been installed under the 
automatic restraint requirements. Instead of in- 
stalling air bags in approximately 60 percent of 
new cars, the manufacturers apparently planned 
to install them in less than 1 percent of new cars. 
Thus, automatic belts would have been the 
predominant means of compliance, and installed in 
approximately 99 percent of new cars. Thus, the 
assumed life-saving potential of air bags would not 
have been realized. 

Manufacturers have stated that they chose belt 
systems for compliance because of the competitive 
disadvantage of offering the relatively expensive, 
inadequately understood air bag when other 
manufacturers would have been providing 
automatic belts. These explanations seem credible. 

The other drastic change concerns the type of 
automatic belt to be installed. Although some 
aspects of the car manufacturers' automatic belt 
plans are still tentative, it now appears reasonably 
certain that if the automatic restraint re- 
quirements were implemented, the overwhelming 
majority of new cars would be equipped with 
automatic belts that are detachable, unlike the 
automatic belts in Rabbits and Chevettes. Most 
planned automatic belts would be like today's 
manual lap and shoulder belts in that they can be 
easily detached and left that way permanently. 

Again, this design choice would appear to have 
arisen out of concern that without such features 
emergency exit could be inhibited, and, in part as a 
result of a perception of this fact, public refusal to 
accept new designs would be widespread. The 
agency shares this concern, and has since 1977 
required that all such belts provide for emergency 
exit. Agency concerns on this point have been 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-146 



validated by recent related attitudinal research, 
discussed below. 

In its final rule delaying the initial effective date 
of the automatic restraint requirements, the April 
1981 proposal and the associated documents analyz- 
ing the impacts of those actions, NHTSA expressly 
confronted the lack of usage data directly relevant 
to the type of automatic belts now planned to be in- 
stalled in most new cars. The agency stated that 
there were several reasons why the available data 
was of limited utility in attempting to make any 
reliable predictions about the usage of easily 
detachable automatic belts. The most important 
reason, which has already been noted, is that the 
predominant type of planned automatic belt would 
not have had features to ensure that these belts are 
not detached. 

Second, all of the available data relate to only 
two subcompacts, the Rabbit and the Chevette. 
Due to a combination of owner demographics and a 
correlation between driver perception of risk and 
the size of the car being driven, belt usage rates 
are typically higher in small cars than in larger 
ones. Therefore, the usage rates for the two sub- 
compacts cannot simply be adopted as the usage 
rates for automatic belts in all car size classes. 

Third, most of the Rabbit and Chevette owners 
knew that their new car would come with an 
automatic belt and had it demonstrated for them, 
even if many state that they did not consciously 
choose that type of belt. Having voluntarily in- 
vested in automatic restraints, they are more likely 
to use those restraints than someone who is com- 
pelled to buy them. 

The significance of the fundamental difference 
between the nondetachable and detachable auto- 
matic belt bears further discussion. The Rabbit 
automatic belts are, as a practical matter, not per- 
manently detachable since they are equipped with 
an ignition interlock. If the belt is disconnected, 
the interlock prevents the starting of the car. Each 
successive use would therefore require re- 
connection before engine start. The Chevette auto- 
matic belts also were initially equipped with an 
ignition interlock. Beginning in model year 1980, 
the Chevette belts were made both practically and 
literally nondetachable. They consist of a con- 
tinuous, nondetachable shoulder belt. Additional 
webbing can be played out to produce slack in the 
belt; however, the belt remains attached at both 
ends. 



By contrast, the automatic belts now planned for 
most cars do not have any effect on the starting of 
the cars and are easily detachable. Some belt 
designs may be detached and permanently stowed 
as readily as the current manual lap and shoulder 
belts. Once a detachable automatic belt is detached, 
it becomes identical to a manual belt. Contrary to 
assertions of some supporters of the standard, its 
use thereafter requires the same type of affirmative 
action that is the stumbling block to obtaining high 
usage levels of manual belts. If the car owners 
perceive the belts as simply a different configura- 
tion of the current manual belts, this stumbling 
block is likely to remain. They may treat the belt as 
a manual one and thus never develop the habit of 
simply leaving the belt attached so that it can act as 
an automatic belt. 

The agency recognizes the possibility that the ex- 
posure of some new car purchasers to attached 
automatic belts may convert some previously occa- 
sional users of manual belts to full time belt users. 
Present attitudinal survey data clearly establish 
the existence of a population of such occupants 
who could be influenced by some external factor to 
convert to relatively constant users. However, the 
agency believes that many purchasers of new cars 
having detachable automatic belts would not ex- 
perience the potential use-inducing character of at- 
tached automatic belts unless they had taken the 
initiative themselves to attach the belts. 

Thus, the change in car manufacturers' plans has 
left the agency without any factual basis for 
reliably predicting the likely usage increases due to 
detachable automatic belts, or for even predicting 
the likelihood of any increase at all. The only ten- 
tative conclusion that can be drawn from available 
data is that the installation of nondetachable 
automatic belts in other subcompacts could result 
in usage rates near those found in Rabbits and 
Chevettes. Even that use of the Rabbit and 
Chevette data may be questionable, however, 
given the element of voluntarism in the purchase 
of automatic belts by many of the Rabbit and 
Chevette owners. Thus, the data on automatic belt 
use in Rabbits and Chevettes may do little more 
than confirm the lesson of the model year 1974-75 
cars equipped with manual belts and ignition in- 
terlocks, i.e., that the addition to a belt system of a 
feature that makes the belt nondetachable or 
necessitates its attachment before a car can be 
started can substantially increase the rate of belt 
usage. 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-147 



In estimating automatic belt usage rates for the 
purposes of the April final rule and proposal, the 
agency recognized the substantial uncertainty 
regarding the effects of easily detachable auto- 
matic belts on belt usage. NHTSA attempted to 
compensate for the lack of directly relevant data 
by using two different techniques to predict a 
potential range of usage. 

One technique was to assume a consistent multi- 
plier effect, whereby belt usage in cars of all size 
classes would be assumed to be more than slightly 
double as it had in Rabbits. A doubling of the cur- 
rent 10-11 percent manual belt usage rate pro- 
jected over the general car fleet would mean a 22 
percent rate could be achieved with the installation 
of automatic belts. The other technique was to 
assume that there would be a consistent additive 
effect, whereby the same absolute percentage 
point increase in belt usage would occur as there 
had been in the case with Rabbits. Use of this 
method would result in a predicted 50 percentage 
point increase in belt usage, over the entire fleet, 
from the current 10-11 percent to approximately 
60 percent. 

The agency used the results of these two tech- 
niques in an attempt to construct a range of possi- 
ble increases in belt usage. Thus, a range of 15 to 
60 percent was used in both the final regulatory 
impact analysis for the April rulemaking to defer 
the effective date for one year and the preliminary 
analysis for the current action. The figure of 15 
percent was derived by doubling the observed 7 
percent usage levels in the large type cars affected 
by the deferral. A figure of 22 percent would have 
been more appropriate as the low end of the range 
for the current action, since it would represent a 
doubling of the current usage rate of the car fleet 
as a whole. This latter figure has been used in ad- 
dressing this question in the current final 
regulatory analysis. 

Although the agency had no definitive way of 
resolving the uncertainty about the usage of 
detachable automatic belts, the agency estimated 
that belt usage with automatic belts would most 
likely fall near the lower end of either range. This 
estimate was based on a variety of factors. Most 
relate to the previously discussed limitations in the 
relevancy of the observations and surveys of Rab- 
bit and Chevette owners. In addition, those data 
were on their face inconsistent with data regard- 
ing automatic belt usage in crashes involving Rab- 



bits. Those crash data indicated a usage rate of 
55-57 percent instead of the better than 80 percent 
rate indicated by the observation study and 
telephone surveys. 

Thus, the agency made the preliminary judg- 
ment in its impact analyses that the switch from 
manual belts to detachable automatic belts could 
approximately double belt usage. However, the 
April 1981 final rule noted that the actual belt 
usage might be lower, even substantially so. With 
respect to cars with current low usage rates, that 
notice stated that the usage rate of detachable 
automatic belts might only approach levels similar 
to those currently achieved with manual belts. 

The commenters on the April 1981 NPRM did 
not present any new factual data that could have 
reduced the substantial uncertainty confronting 
the agency. Instead, the commenters relied on the 
same data examined by the agency in its impact 
analyses. 

The commenters were sharply divided on the 
question of usage rates. Proponents of the auto- 
matic restraint requirements did not in their 
analyses address the significance of the use- 
inducing nature of the nondetachable automatic 
belts in the Rabbits and Chevettes or the demo- 
graphic factors relating to those car purchasers. 
Instead, they asserted that the usage rates achieved 
in Rabbits and Chevettes would, with slight ad- 
justments, also be achieved in other car size 
classes. In reaching this conclusion, they asserted 
that the usage rate increases of automatic belts 
shown by Rabbit and Chevette owners were the 
same regardless of whether the automatic belts 
were purchased knowingly or unknowingly. There 
was an exception to this pattern of comment 
among the proponents. One public spokesperson 
for an interest group acknowledged that automatic 
belts could be designed in a way that they so closely 
resembled manual belts that their usage rates 
would be the same. 

Opponents of the automatic restraint require- 
ments, relying on the similarity of detachable auto- 
matic belts to manual belts, predicted that the 
automatic belts would not have any substantial ef- 
fect on belt usage. The opponents of the require- 
ments also dismissed the experience of the Rabbit 
and Chevette owners on the grounds that the auto- 
matic belts in those cars had been voluntarily pur- 
chased and were nondetachable. 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-148 



While the public comments did not provide the 
agency with any different or more certain basis for 
estimating belt usage than it already had, they did 
induce the agency to reexamine its assumption 
about the possible automatic belt usage rates. 
Although it is nearly impossible to sort out with 
precision the individual contributions made by 
nondetachability, interlocks, car size, demograph- 
ics and other factors, NHTSA believes that the 
usage of automatic belts in Rabbits and Chevettes 
would have been substantially lower if the auto- 
matic belts in those cars were not equipped with a 
use-inducing device inhibiting detachment. 

In the agency's judgment, there is a reasonable 
basis for believing that most of the increase in 
automatic belt Rabbits and Chevettes is due to the 
nondetachability feature, whether an interlock or 
other design feature, of their belt systems. 
Necessitating the attachment of belts by the addi- 
tion of interlocks to 1974-75 cars resulted in an in- 
crease in manual belt usage by as much as 40 per- 
cent in cars subject to that requirement. A similar 
effect in the case of the Rabbit would account for 
four-fifths of the increase observed in the auto- 
matic belt vehicles. A significant portion of the re- 
maining increase could in fact be attributable to 
the fact many owners of automatic belt Rabbits 
and Chevettes knowingly and voluntarily bought 
the automatic belts. By the principle of self- 
selection, these people would be more inclined to 
use their belts than the purchasers of 1974-75 Rab- 
bits who did not have any choice regarding the pur- 
chase of a manual belt equipped with an interlock. 
This factor would not, of course, be present in the 
fleet subject to the standard. 

The most appropriate way of accounting for the 
detachability problem and other limitations on the 
validity of that Rabbit and Chevette data would be 
to recognize that the levels of usage resulting from 
both the point estimates are based on uncertain con- 
clusion and adjust each appropriately. The agency's 
estimate in the final regulatory impact analysis for 
the April 1981 final rule that usage would likely fall 
near the lower end of the range had the effect of 
substantially adjusting downward the usage rate (60 
percent) produced by the technique relying on the 
absolute percentage point increase (50 percentage 
points) in belt usage in automatic belt Rabbits and 
Chevettes. A similar adjustment could also be made 
in the usage rate (15 percent) indicated by the 
multiplier technique. 



Throughout these sequential analyses, the agency 
has examined the extremely sparse factual data, ap- 
plied those factors which are known to externally 
affect usage rates, and defined for analytical pur- 
poses the magnitude of potential safety effects. 
Aside from the initial data points, all such analyses 
in all cases necessarily involve exercises of discre- 
tion and informed judgment. Resultant conclusions 
are indications of probable usage which always have 
been and always must be relied upon by the agency 
in the absence of additional objective data. 

The agency believes that the results produced by 
both techniques must be adjusted to account for 
the effects of detachability and the other factors af- 
fecting usage rates. Therefore, as the April 1981 
final rule recognized, the incremental usage at- 
tributable to the automatic aspect of the subject 
belts may be substantially less than 1 1 percent. 

The agency's analysis of the public comments 
and other available information leads it to conclude 
that it cannot reliably predict even a 5 percentage 
point increase as the minimum level of expected 
usage increase. The adoption of a few percentage 
points increase as the minimum would, in the agen- 
cy's judgment, be more consistent with the 
substantial uncertainty about the usage rate of 
detachable automatic belts. Based on the data 
available to it, NHTSA is unable to assess the prob- 
ability that the actual incremental usage would fall 
nearer a percentage point increase or nearer 
some higher value like a 5 or 10 percentage point 
increase. 

Thus, the agency concludes that the data on 
automatic belt usage in Rabbits and Chevettes 
does not provide a sufficient basis for reliably ex- 
trapolating the likely range of usage of detachable 
automatic belts by the general motoring public in 
all car size classes. Those data are not even suffi- 
cient for demonstrating the likelihood that those 
belts would be used in perceptibly greater numbers 
than the current manual belts. If the percentage 
increase is zero or extremely small due to the 
substantial similarity of the design and methods of 
using detachable automatic belts and manual belts, 
then the data regarding manual belt usage would 
be as reliable a guide to the effects of detachable 
automatic belts on belt usage as data regarding 
usage of nondetachable automatic belts. Indeed, 
the manual belt data may even be a more reliable 
guide since the data are based on usage by the 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-149 



general motoring public in cars from all size and 
demographic classes. 

In view of the uncertainty about the incremental 
safety benefits of detachable automatic belts, it is 
difficult for the agency to determine that the auto- 
matic restraint requirements in their present form 
meet the need for safety. 

In concluding that for this reason detachable 
automatic belts may contribute little to achieving 
higher belt usage rates, the question then arises 
whether the agency should amend the standard to 
require that automatic belts have a use-inducing 
feature like that of the Rabbit and Chevette auto- 
matic belts. NHTSA believes that such features 
would increase belt usage. The agency does not, 
however, believe that such devices should be man- 
dated, for the reasons discussed in detail below. 

Costs of automatic restraints. In view of the 
possibly minimal safety benefits and substantial 
costs of implementing the automatic restraint re- 
quirements, the agency is unable to conclude that 
the incremental costs of the requirements are 
reasonable. The requirements are, in that respect, 
impracticable. While the car manufacturers have 
already made some of the capital expenditures 
necessary to comply with the automatic restraint 
requirements, they still face substantial, recurring 
variable costs. The average price increase per car 
is estimated to be $89. The costs of air bags and 
some designs of automatic belts would be substan- 
tially higher. With a total annual production of 
more than 10 million cars for sale in this country, 
there would be a price effect of approximately $1 
billion. 

While the car manufacturers might be able to 
pass along some or all of their costs to consumers, 
the necessary price increases would reduce sales. 
There might not be any net revenue loss since the 
extra revenue from the higher prices could offset 
the revenue loss from the lower volume of sales. 
However, those sale losses would cause net 
employment losses. Additional sales losses might 
occur due to consumer uncertainty about or an- 
tipathy toward the detachable automatic belts 
which do not stow so unobtrusively as current 
manual lap and shoulder belts. 

Consumers would probably not be able to recoup 
their loss of disposable income due to the higher car 
prices. There does not appear to be any certainty 
that owners of cars with detachable automatic belts 



would receive offsetting discounts in insurance 
costs. Testimony and written comments submitted 
to the agency indicate premium reductions gener- 
ally are available only to owners of cars equipped 
with air bags, not automatic belts. Some large in- 
surance companies do not now offer discounts to 
any automatic restraint-equipped cars, even those 
with air bags. If insurance cost discounts were to be 
given owners of cars having detachable automatic 
belts, such discounts would be given only after the 
automatic belts had produced significant increases 
in belt usage, and in turn significant decreases in 
deaths and serious injuries. The apparent improb- 
ability of any economic effect approaching the 
magnitude of the consumer cost means that the dis- 
counts would not likely materialize on a general 
basis. 

Insurance company statements at the August 
1981 public meeting reaffirmed this belief as they 
state that they could not now assure reductions in 
insurance premiums but would have to first collect 
a considerable amount of claim data. 

Finally, the weight added to cars by the installa- 
tion of automatic belts would cause either increased 
fuel costs for consumers or further new car price in- 
creases to cover the incorporation of offsetting fuel 
economy improvements. 

The agency does not believe that it would be 
reasonable to require car manufacturers or con- 
sumers to bear such substantial costs without more 
adequate assurance that they will produce benefits. 
Given the plans of the car manufacturers to rely 
primarily on detachable automatic belts and the 
absence of relevant data to resolve the usage ques- 
tion, implementation of the automatic restraint re- 
quirements amounts to an expensive federal 
regulatory risk. The result if the detachable 
automatic belts fail to achieve significant increases 
in belt usage could be a substantial waste of 
resources. 

The agency believes that the costs are particularly 
unreasonable in view of the likelihood that other 
alternatives available to the agency, the states and 
the private sector could accomplish the goal of the 
automatic restraint requirements at greatly re- 
duced cost. Like those requirements, the agency's 
planned educational campaign is addressed primar- 
ily to the substantial portion of the motoring public 
who are currently occasional users of manual belts. 

Effect on public attitude toward safety. Although 
the issue of public acceptance of automatic 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-150 



restraints has already been discussed as it relates 
to the usage rate of detachable automatic 
restraints, there remains the question of the effect 
of automatic restraints on the public attitude 
toward safety regulation in general. Whether or 
not there would be more than minimal safety 
benefits, implementation of the automatic 
restraint requirements might cause significant 
long run harm to the safety program. 

No regulatory policy is of lasting value if it 
ultimately proves unacceptable to the public. Public 
acceptability is at issue in any vehicle safety 
rulemaking proceeding in which the required safety 
equipment would be obtrusive, relatively expensive 
and beneficial only to the extent that significant 
portions of the motoring public will cooperate and 
use it. Automatic belt requirements exhibit all of 
those characteristics. The agency has given the 
need for pubhc acceptability of automatic restraints 
substantial weight since it will clearly determine not 
only the level of safety benefits but also the general 
public attitude toward related safety initiatives by 
the government or the private sector. 

As noted above, detachable automatic belts may 
not be any more acceptable to the public than 
manual belts at any given point in time. If the 
detachable automatic belts do not produce more 
than negligible safety benefits, then regardless of 
the benefits attributable to the small number of 
other types of automatic restraints planned to be 
installed, the public may resent being required to 
pay substantially more for the automatic systems. 
Many if not most consumers could well conclude 
that the automatic belts would in fact provide them 
with no different freedom of choice about usage or 
levels of protection than manual belts currently of- 
fer. As a result, it is not unreasonable to conclude 
that the public may regard the automatic restraint 
requirements as an expensive example of ineffec- 
tive regulation. 

Thus, whether or not the detachable automatic 
belts might have been successful in achieving 
higher belt usage rates, mandates requiring such 
belts could well adversely affect public attitude 
toward the automatic restraint requirements in 
particular and safety measures in general. As 
noted in more detail in the 1976 Decision of 
Secretary Coleman: 

Rejection by the public would lead to administrative or Con- 
gressional reversal of a passive restraint requirement that 
could result in hundreds of millions of dollars of wasted 



resources, severe damage to the nation's economy, and, 
equally important, a poisoning of popular sentiment toward 
efforts to improve occupant restraint systems in the future. 

It can only be concluded that the public attitude 
described by the Secretary at that time is at least 
as prevalent today. The public might ultimately 
have sought the legislative rescission of the 
requirements. Action-forcing safety measures 
have twice before been overturned by Congress. In 
the mid-1970's. Congress rescinded the ignition 
interlock provision and provided that agency could 
not require the States to adopt and enforce motor- 
cycle helmet use laws. Some people might also 
have cut the automatic belts out of their cars, thus 
depriving subsequent owners of the cars of the pro- 
tection of any occupant restraint system. These 
are serious concerns for an agency charged by 
statute with taking steps appropriate for address- 
ing safety problems that arise not only in the short 
term but also the long term. The agency must be 
able to react effectively to the expected increases 
in vehicle deaths and injuries during the 1980's. 

Equity. Another relevant factor affecting the 
reasonableness of the automatic restraint 
requirements and of their costs is the equity of the 
distribution of such costs among the affected con- 
sumers. Responsible regulatory policy should 
generally strive to ensure that the beneficiaries of 
regulation bear the principal costs of that regula- 
tion. The higher the costs of a given regulation, the 
more serious the potential equity problem. The 
automatic restraint requirements of the standard 
would have required the current regular user of 
manual belts not only to pay himself for a system 
that affords him no additional safety protection, 
but in part to subsidize the current nonuser of belts 
who may or may not be induced by the automatic 
restraints to commence regular restraint usage. 

Option of Adopting Use-Compelling Features. As 
noted above, some commenters have suggested 
that the only safety belts which are truly "passive" 
are those with use-compelling features. Such com- 
menters have recommended that the agency 
amend the standard so as to require such features. 
For example, an ignition interlock which prohibits 
the car from starting unless the belt is secured is a 
use-compelling feature. Another example is a 
passive belt design which is simply not detachable, 
because no buckle and latch release mechanism is 
provided. While NHTSA agrees that such use- 
compelling features could significantly increase 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-151 



usage of passive belts, NHTSA cannot agree that 
use-compelling features could be required consist- 
ent with the interests of safety. In the case of the 
ignition interlock, NHTSA clearly has no authority 
to require such a use-compelling feature. The 
history of the Congressional action which removed 
this authority from NHTSA suggests that Con- 
gress would look with some disfavor upon any 
similar attempt to impose a use-compelling feature 
on a belt system. 

But, even if NHTSA were to require that passive 
belts contain use-compelling features, the agency 
believes that the requirement could be counter- 
productive. Recent attitudinal research conducted 
by NHTSA confirms a widespread, latent and irra- 
tional fear in many members of the public that they 
could be trapped by the seat belt after a crash. 
Such apprehension may well be contributing fac- 
tors in decisions by many people not to wear a seat 
belt at all. This apprehension is clearly a question 
which can be addressed through education, but 
pending its substantial reduction, it would be 
highly inappropriate to impose a technology which 
by its very nature could heighten or trigger that 
concern. 

In addition, the agency believes there are com- 
pelling safety reasons why it should not mandate 
use-compelling features on passive belts. In the 
event of accident, occupants wearing belts suffer 
significantly reduced risk of loss of consciousness, 
and are commonly able to extricate themselves 
with relative ease. However, the agency would be 
unable to find the cause of safety served by impos- 
ing any requirement which would further com- 
plicate the extrication of any occupant from his or 
her car, as some use-compelling features would. 
NHTSA's regulations properly recognize the need 
for all safety belts to have some kind of release 
mechanism, either a buckle and latch mechanism 
or a spool-out release which feeds a length of belt 
long enough to extricate a car occupant. 

Alternative methods of increasing restraint 
usage. Finally, the agency believes that it is possi- 
ble to induce increased belt usage, and enhance 
public understanding and awareness of belt 
mechanisms in general, by means that are at least 
as effective but much less costly than the installa- 
tion of millions of detachable automatic belts. 

In the decision noted above. Secretary Coleman 
noted the obligation of the Department of 
Transportation to undertake efforts to encourage 



the public to use occupant restraints, active or 
passive. Toward this point, Secretary Coleman 
directed the Administrator of NHTSA to under- 
take significant new steps to promote seat belt 
usage during the demonstration program. This in- 
struction of the Secretary was not effectively car- 
ried out and, unfortunately, we do not enjoy today 
the benefits of a prolonged Departmental cam- 
paign to encourage seat belt usage. Had such a pro- 
gram been successfully carried out, increased seat 
belt usage could have saved many lives each year, 
beginning in 1977. 

Rather than allowing the Coleman demonstra- 
tion program and its accompanying education ef- 
fort to come to fruition, the Department recon- 
sidered Secretary Coleman's 1976 decision during 
1977. At the conclusion of the reconsideration 
period, the Department reversed that decision, and 
amended the standard to require the provision of 
automatic restraints in new passenger cars, in ac- 
cordance with a phased-in schedule. 

The benefits of any such belt use enhancement 
efforts could have already substantially exceeded 
those projected for the automatic restraint require- 
ments of this standard. Over the next ten years, 
the requirements of the standard would have ad- 
dressed primarily those occasional belt users 
amenable to change who buy new cars during the 
mid and late 1980's. 

Prior to the initiation of rulemaking in February 
of this year, the Department had resolved to 
undertake a major educational effort to enhance 
voluntary belt usage levels. Such efforts will be 
closely coordinated with new and preexisting ma- 
jor initiatives at the State level and in the private 
sector, many of which were discussed at the public 
meeting on the present rulemaking. These efforts 
will address not only those users /purchasers 
amenable to change, but also those currently driv- 
ing and riding in cars, multipurpose passenger 
vehicles and trucks on the road today. The poten- 
tial for immediate impact is thus many times 
greater. Further, with the much greater number of 
persons directly impacted, educational efforts 
would need to raise safety belt usage in the 
vehicles on the road during the 1980's by only a 
few percentage points to achieve far greater safety 
benefits than the automatic restraint requirements 
could have achieved during the same time period. 

This is in no sense to argue or suggest that 
nonregulatory alternatives are or should be con- 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-152 



sidered in all cases appropriate to limit Federal 
regulation. However, the existence of such efforts, 
and their relevance to calculations of benefits in 
the present case, must be and has been considered 
to the extent discussed herein. 

Summary of Agency Conclusion 

As originally conceived, the automatic restraint 
requirement was a far reaching technology forcing 
regulation that could have resulted in a substantial 
reduction in injuries and loss of life on our 
highways. 

As it would be implemented in the mid-1980's, 
however, the requirement has turned into a billion 
dollar Federal effort whose main technological ad- 
vance would be to require seat belts that are an- 
chored to the vehicle door rather than the vehicle 
body, permitting these belts to be used either as 
conventional active belts or as automatic belts. 

To gain this advantage, under the standard as 
drafted, consumers would see the end of the six 
passenger car and an average vehicle price in- 
crease on the order of $89 per car. The almost cer- 
tain benefits that had been anticipated as a result 
of the use of air bag technology have been replaced 
by the gravely uncertain benefit estimates 
associated with belt systems that differ little from 
existing manual belts. 

In fact, with the change in manufacturers' plans 
that in essence replaced air bags vnth automatic 
belts, the central issue in this proceeding has 
become whether automatic belts would induce 
higher belt usage rates than are occurring with 
manual belts. 

Many of the comments in the course of this 
rulemaking were directed specifically at the ques- 
tion of belt use. Most addressed themselves to the 
information in the docket on the usage witnessed 
in the VW Rabbit and Chevette equipped with 
automatic belts. 

The Agency's own analysis of the available infor- 
mation concludes that it is virtually impossible to 
develop an accurate and supportable estimate of 
future belt use increases based upon the Rabbit 
and Chevette automatic belt observations. The 
Agency further believes that it is impossible to 
disaggregate the roles that demographics, use in- 
ducing devices, and automatic aspects of the belt 
played in the observed increases. 

Faced with this level of uncertainty, and the wide 
margins of possible error, the agency is simply 



unable to comply with its statutory mandate to con- 
sider and conclude that the automatic restraint 
requirements are at this time practicable or 
reasonable within the meaning of the Vehicle Safety 
Act. On the other hand, the agency is not able to 
agree with assertions that there will be absolutely 
no increase in belt use as a result of automatic belts. 
Certainly, while a large portion of the population ap- 
pears to find safety belts uncomfortable or refuses 
to wear them for other reasons, there is a sizeable 
segment of the population that finds belts accept- 
able but still does not use them. It is plausible to 
assume that some people in this group who would 
not otherwise use manual belts would not discon- 
nect automatic belts. 

It is this same population that will generate all of 
the benefits that result directly and solely from this 
regulation. This is a population that can also be 
reached in other ways. The Agency, State govern- 
ments and the private sector are in the process of 
expanding and initiating major national belt use 
educational programs of unprecedented scale. 
While undertaken entirely apart from the pending 
proceeding, the fact remains that this effort will 
predominantly affect the same population that the 
automatic belts would be aimed at. 

On the one hand, it could be argued that, the 
success of any belt use program would only be 
enhanced by the installation of automatic belts. In- 
dividuals who can be convinced of the utility of 
safety belts would presumably have an easier time 
accepting an automatic belt. On the other hand, 
there is little evidence that the standard itself will 
materially increase usage levels above those other- 
wise achievable. 

However, the agency is not merely faced with 
uncertainty as to the actual benefits that would 
result from detachable automatic safety belts. 
When the uncertain nature of the benefits is con- 
sidered together with the risk of adverse safety 
consequences that might result from the 
maintenance of this regulation, the agency must 
conclude that such retention would not be 
reasonable, and would not meet the need for motor 
vehicle safety. 

It is useful to summarize precisely what the 
agency believes these risks might be. The principal 
risk is that adverse pubhc reaction could under- 
mine the effectiveness of both the standard itself 
and future or related efforts. 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-153 



The agency also concludes, however, that reten- 
tion would present serious risk of jeopardizing 
other separate efforts to increase manual belt 
usage by the Federal government, States and the 
private sector. A public that believes it is the victim 
of too much government regulation by virtue of the 
standard might well resist such parallel efforts to 
enhance voluntary belt usage. Further, to the ex- 
tent that States begin to consider belt use laws as 
an option, a Federal regulation addressing the 
same issue could undermine those attempts as 
well. 

While one cannot be certain of the adverse ef- 
fects on net belt usage increases, it would be ir- 
responsible to fail to consider them. A decision to 
retain the regulation under any of the schedules 
now being considered would not get automatic 
belts on the road until 1983 and would not apply to 
the entire fleet of new cars until 1984. By the end 
of the 1984 model year, under most options, there 
would have been fewer than 20 million vehicles 
equipped with automatic belts on the road. 

By the same time, however, there will be upward 
of 150 million vehicles equipped with only manual 
belts, drivers and occupants of which will have 
been exposed to interim belt usage encouragement 
efforts. 

Agency analysis indicates that external efforts 
of whatever kind that increase usage by only 5 per- 
cent, will save more than 1,300 lives per year 
beginning in 1983. Installation of automatic belts 
could save an equal number of lives in 1983 only 
with 95 percent belt usage. 

Further, even if one is convinced that automatic 
belts can double belt usage and alternative efforts 
would only increase usage by 5 percent, it would 
not be until 1989 that total life savings attributable 
to automatic belts installed under the automatic 
restraint requirements would reach the total life 
savings achieved through such other efforts. 

NHTSA fully recognizes that neither outcome is 
a certainty. Much closer to the truth is that both 
outcomes are uncertain. However, neither is 
significantly more likely than the other. That being 
the case, to impose the $1 billion cost on the public 
does not appear to be reasonable. 

It is particularly unreasonable in light of the fact 
that the rescission does not foreclose the option to 
again reopen rulemaking if enhanced usage levels 
of both manual and automatic belts do not 



materialize. Long before there would have been 
any substantial number of vehicles on the road 
mandatorily equipped with automatic belts as a 
result of this standard, NHTSA will conclusively 
know whether other efforts to increase belt use 
have succeeded either in achieving acceptable 
usage levels or in increased public understanding 
and acceptance of the need for further use- 
inducing or automatic protection alternatives. If so 
obviously no further action would be needed. If 
such is not the case, rulemaking would again be a 
possibility. Any such rulemaking, following even 
partially successful efforts to increase belt use, 
would be much less likely to face public rejection. 

It has been said that the Vehicle Safety Act is a 
"technology-forcing" statute. The agency concurs 
completely. 

However, the issue of automatic restraints now 
before the agency is not a "technology-forcing" 
issue. The manual seat belt available in every car 
sold today offers the same, or more, protection 
than either the automatic seat belt or the air bag. 
Instead, the agency today faces a decision to force 
people to accept protection that they do not choose 
for themselves. It is difficult to conclude that the 
Vehicle Safety Act is, or in light of past experience 
could become, a "people-forcing" statute. 

NHTSA cannot find that the automatic restraint 
requirements meet the need for motor vehicle 
safety by offering any greater protection than is 
already available. 

After 12 years of rulemaking, NHTSA has not 
yet succeeded in its original intent, the widespread 
offering of automatic crash protection that will 
produce substantial benefits. The agency is still 
committed to this goal and intends immediately to 
initiate efforts with automobile manufacturers to 
ensure that the public will have such types of 
technology available. If this does not succeed, the 
agency will consider regulatory action to assure 
that the last decade's enormous advances in crash 
protection technology will not be lost. 

Impact Analyses 

NHTSA has considered the impacts of this final 
rule and determined that it is a major rulemaking 
within the meaning of E.0. 12291 and a significant 
rule within the meaning of the Department of 
Transportation regulatory policies and procedures. 
A final regulatory impact analysis is being placed 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-154 



in the public docket simultaneously with the 
publication of this notice. A copy of the analysis 
may be obtained by writing to: National Highway 
Traffic Safety Administration, Docket Section, 
Room 5109, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washing- 
ton, D.C. 20590. 

The agency's determination that the rule is ma- 
jor and significant is based primarily upon the 
substantial savings in variable manufacturing 
costs and in consumer costs that result from the 
rescission of the automatic restraint requirements. 
These costs would have amounted to approxi- 
mately $1 billion once all new cars became subject 
to the requirements. The costs would have re- 
curred annually as long as the requirements re- 
mained in effect. There is also a recurring savings 
in fuel costs of approximately $150 million an- 
nually. Implementation of the automatic restraint 
requirements would have increased the weight of 
cars and reduced their fuel economy. In addition, 
the car manufacturers will be able to reallocate 
$400 million in capital investment that they would 
have had to allocate for the purpose of completing 
their efforts to comply with the automatic 
restraint requirements. 

The agency finds it difficult to provide a reliable 
estimate of any adverse safety effects of rescind- 
ing the automatic restraint requirements. There 
might have been significant safety loss if the in- 
stallation of detachable automatic belts resulted in 
a doubling of belt usage and if the question were 
simply one of the implementation or rescission of 
the automatic restraint requirements. The April 
1981 NPRM provided estimates of the additional 
deaths that might occur as a result of rescission. 
However, those estimates included carefully 
drafted caveats. The notice expressly stated that 
the impacts of rescission would depend upon the 
usage rate of automatic belts and of the effec- 
tiveness of the agency's educational campaign. The 
agency has now determined that there is no cer- 
tainty that the detachable automatic belts would 
produce more than a several percentage point in- 
crease in usage. The small number of cars that 
would have been equipped with automatic belts 
having use-inducing features or with air bags 
would not have added more than several more 
percentage points to that amount. Further, any 
potential safety losses associated with the rescis- 
sion must be balanced against the expected results 
of the agency's planned educational program about 



safety belts. That campaign will be addressed to 
the type of person who might be induced by the 
detachable automatic belts to begin regular safety 
belt usage, i.e., the occasional user of manual belts. 
Since that campaign will affect occasional users in 
all vehicles on the road today instead of only those 
in new cars, the campaign can yield substantially 
greater benefits than the detachable automatic 
belts even with a much lower effectiveness level. 

The agency has also considered the impact of this 
action on automatic restraint suppliers, new car 
dealers and small organizations and governmental 
units. Since the agency certifies that the rescission 
would not have a significant effect on a substantial 
number of small entities, a final regulatory flex- 
ibility analysis has not been prepared. However, 
the impacts of the rescission on the suppliers, 
dealers and other entities are discussed in the final 
Regulatory Impact Analysis. 

The impact on air bag manufacturers is likely to 
be minimal. Earlier this year, General Motors, 
Ford and most other manufacturers cancelled their 
air bag programs for economic reasons. These 
manufacturers planned instead to rely almost 
wholly on detachable automatic belts. Therefore, it 
is not accurate to say, as some commenters did, 
that rescission of the automatic restraint require- 
ments will "kill" the air bag. Rescission will not af- 
fect the air bag manufacturers to any significant 
degree. Further, the agency plans to undertake 
new steps to promote the continued development 
and production of air bags. 

The suppliers of automatic belts are generally 
the same firms that supply manual belts. Thus, the 
volume of sales of these firms is not expected to be 
affected by the rescission. However, there will be 
some loss of economic activity that would have 
been associated with developing and producing the 
more sophisticated automatic belts. 

The effects of the rescission on new car dealers 
would be positive. Due to reduced new car pur- 
chase prices and more favorable reaction to 
manual belts than to automatic belts, sales in- 
creases of 395,000 cars were estimated by GM and 
235,000 cars by Ford. While these figures appear 
to be overstated, the agency agrees that rescission 
will increase new car sales. 

SmaU organizations and governmental units 
would be benefited by the reduced cost of purchas- 
ing and operating new cars. Given the indeter- 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-155 



minacy of the usage rate that detachable automatic 
belts would have achieved, it is not possible to 
estimate the effects, if any, of the rescission on the 
safety of persons employed by these groups. 

In accordance with the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969, NHTSA has considered the en- 
vironmental impacts of the rescission and the 
alternatives proposed in the April 1981 NPRM. 
The option selected is disclosed by the analysis to 
result in the largest reductions in the consumption 
of plastics, steel, glass and fuel/energy. A Final 
Environmental Impact Statement is being placed 
in the public docket simultaneously with the 
publication of this notice. 

This amendment is being made effective in less 
than 180 days because the date on which the car 
manufacturers would have to make expenditure 
commitments to meet the automatic restraint re- 
quirements for model year 1983 falls within that 
180-day period. 

In consideration of the foregoing, Federal Motor 
Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208, Occupant Crash 
Protection (49 CFR 571.208), is amended as set 
forth below. 



§571.208 [Amended] 

1. 84. 1.2 is amended by revising it to read: 

84 . 1 . 2 Passenger cars manufactured on or after 
September 1, 1973. Each passenger car manufac- 
tured on or after September 1 , 1973, shall meet the 
requirements of 84.1.2.1, 84.1.2.2 or 84.1.2.3. A 
protection system that meets the requirements of 
S4.1.2.1 or S4.1.2.2 may be installed at one or 
more designated seating positions of a vehicle that 
otherwise meets the requirements of 84.1.2.3. 

2. The heading of 84.1.2.1 is amended by revis- 
ing it to read: 

84.1.2.1 First option— frontal! angular auto- 
matic protection system. 

• ••*•••** 

3. 84.1.3 is removed. 

54.1.3 [Removed] 

(Sees. 103, 119, Pub. L. 89-563, 80 Stat. 718 (15 Stat. 1392, 
1407); delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.50) 

Issued on October 23, 1981. 

Raymond A. Peck, Jr., 

Administrator. 

46 F.R. 53419 
October 29, 1981 



PART 571; 8 208-PRE-156 



Appendix 



Editorial 

Not*— This appendix will not appear in the Code of Federal 
Regulations. 

Following is a summary of the major comments 
submitted in response to the April 9, 1981 notice of 
proposed rulemaking. A more detailed summary of 
comments has been placed in NHTSA Docket No. 
74-14; Notice 22. This summary is organized in 
broad terms according to the interest groups from 
which the comments were received. 

Insurance Companies 

All commenting insurance companies strongly 
favored retention of the automatic restraint re- 
quirements. Many favored maintaining the present 
implementation schedule (i.e., September 1, 1982, 
for large and medium-sized cars and September 1, 
1983, for small cars), although several companies 
stated they would support a change to require that 
small cars are phased in first or a simultaneous 
implementation date. Several insurance companies 
stated that air bags offer the best technology for 
saving lives and reducing injuries. These com- 
panies pointed out that repeated surveys have in- 
dicated that consumers appear to favor air bags, 
even if higher costs are likely. Several insurers 
argued that a retreat from the standard represents 
a breach of the Secretary's statutory obligation to 
reduce traffic accidents and deaths and injuries 
which result from them. One company argued that 
a delay in the standard (i.e., the delay and reversal 
alternative) would produce no measurable eco- 
nomic benefit to car makers and might possibly 
result in an economic loss to them. Nearly all the 
companies argued that the standard is cost- 
beneficial and represents the optimum approach to 
resolving this country's most pressing public 
health problem. Many companies stated that 
reduced insurance premiums resulting from the 
lives saved and injuries prevented by automatic 
restraints would help offset the cost of those 
systems to consumers. 

A majority of the insurance companies argued 
that seat belt use campaigns will not be effective in 
raising the current use rate of manual belts 
significantly. The companies pointed to the failures 
of all past campaigns to have any substantial im- 
pact on use rates. On the other hand, these com- 
panies believe that the use rate of automatic belts 
will be significant. The companies point to the cur- 



rent use data for automatic belts on VW Rabbits 
and Chevettes as evidence that automatic belt use 
will be significant. The companies believe that seat 
belt use campaigns should only be complementary 
to automatic restraints, not a substitute. 

Several insurance companies pointed to the huge 
economic losses resulting from traffic accidents. 
One company stated that these losses mount to 
over $1 billion dollars per year and result in recur- 
ring costs because of continuing medical problems 
such as epilepsy and quadriplegia. One company 
cited Professor William Nordhaus's analysis of the 
consequences of rescinding the standard as being 
equivalent to society's loss if the tuberculosis vac- 
cine had not been developed, or if Congress repealed 
the Clean Air Act. In his submission on behalf of the 
insurance companies. Professor Nordhaus stated 
that fatalities will increase by 6,400 each year and 
injuries by 120,000 if the standard is rescinded. One 
company argued that the standard is cost-beneficial 
if automatic belt use rates increase usage only 5 per- 
cent. However, this company stated that use rates 
as high as 70 percent could be expected, and that 
the costs of rescinding the standard could reach as 
much as $2 billion dollars per year. This company 
also argued that the economic condition of the 
vehicle industry is no excuse for any delay in the 
standard and is not a statutorily justified reason 
for rescinding the standard. 

Consumer Groups and Health Organizations 

There were many consumer groups and health- 
related organizations which strongly urged that 
the automatic restraint requirements be main- 
tained and that there be no further delays in the 
implementation schedule. Most of these groups 
argued that the cost of both air bags and automatic 
belts are greatly exaggerated by vehicle manufac- 
turers. One group stated that the three alternative 
proposals are "naive and exhibit a callous disregard 
for human lives that flouts the agency's mandated 
safety mission." This group argued that a worse 
alternative is to rescind the standard and rely on 
education programs to increase the use of manual 
belts, since seat belt campaigns have failed 
repeatedly in this country. The group stated that 
the simultaneous implementation alternative in 
March 1983 ignores the industry's background of 
introducing safety changes only at the beginning 
of a new model year. Regarding a reversed phase- 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-157 



in schedule, the group stated that the requirement 
that small cars have automatic restraints by 
September 1, 1982, would not likely provide suffi- 
cient lead time for small car manufacturers. Addi- 
tionally, with approximately 2 to 1 difference in 
seat belt use in small cars versus larger cars, it is 
not at all clear that the proposed reversal would 
make up for the delay in implementation in the 
larger cars in terms of lives saved. The group 
argued that the best alternative is to maintain the 
existing implementation schedule. 

Several consumer groups argued that the center 
seating position should not be eliminated from the 
requirements for several reasons. First, they 
argued, this position is likely to be occupied by 
children. Second, the center seat requirement is 
one factor that will lead to the installation of air 
bags in some vehicles since current automatic belt 
designs cannot be applied to the center seat. 
Nearly all consumer groups argued that benefits of 
the automatic restraint standard far outweigh the 
costs. 

One association stated that the air bag supplier 
industry could be forced out of business if substan- 
tial modifications and further delays are made to 
the standard. This would mean, the association 
argued, that the life-saving air bag technology 
could be lost forever. The association would sup- 
port some modifications to the standard if there 
were some clear commitment by the Department 
that some car models would be required to offer 
the consumer the choice of air bags. The group 
noted that air bag suppliers have indicated that a 
sufficient production volume would result in air 
bag systems priced in the $200 to $300 dollar 
range. 

Various health groups and medical experts 
argued that the pain and suffering resulting from 
epilepsy and paraplegia, as well as mental suffer- 
ing and physical disfigurement, could be greatly 
reduced by the automatic restraint standard. 
These persons argued that the standard should be 
implemented as soon as possible. 

One consumer oriented group did not support 
the automatic restraint standard. That foundation 
argued that the standard is not justified, par- 
ticularly if it is complied with by means of air bags. 
The group stated that air bag effectiveness is 
overestimated since the agency does not include 
non-frontal crashes in its statistics. The organiza- 



tion argued that in many situations air bags are 
actually unsafe. This group also argued that the 
public acceptability of automatic seat belts is 
uncertain, and that a well-founded finding of addi- 
tional safety benefits by the Department is re- 
quired in order to justify retention of the standard. 

Vehicle Manufacturers 

The vehicle manufacturers, both foreign and 
domestic, were unanimously opposed to retention 
of the automatic restraint standard. Most 
manufacturers stated the predominate means of 
complying with the standard would be with auto- 
matic belts, and that such belts are not likely to 
increase usage substantially. This is because most 
automatic belts will be designed to be easily 
detachable because of emergency egress con- 
siderations and to avoid a potential backlash by 
consumers that would be counterproductive to the 
cause of motor vehicle safety. The domestic 
manufacturers argued that the public would not ac- 
cept coercive automatic belts (i.e., automatic belts 
with interlocks or some other use-inducing 
feature). Eliminating any coercive element pro- 
duces, in effect, a manual belt, which will be used 
no more than existing manual systems. 

The domestic manufacturers also argued that air 
bags would not be economically practicable and 
would, therefore, be unacceptable to the public. 
One manufacturer noted that current belt users 
will object strenuously to paying additional money 
for automatic belts that will not offer any more 
protection than their existing belts. 

One manufacturer argued that the injury criteria 
specified in the standard is not representative of 
real injuries and should be replaced with only static 
test requirements for belt systems. The company 
argued that there are many problems with test 
repeatability under the 208 requirements. 

All manufacturers of small cars stated that it 
would be impossible for them to comply with the 
standard by September 1, 1982, i.e., under the 
reversal proposal. These manufacturers stated 
that there is insufficient lead time to install 
automatic restraints in small cars by that date, and 
several foreign manufacturers stated they would 
not be able to sell their vehicles in that model year 
if the schedule is reversed. Most of the manufac- 
turers, both domestic and foreign, stated that it is 
also too late to install automatic restraints in their 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-158 



small cars even six months earlier than the existing 
schedule, i.e., under the March 1983 simultaneous 
implementation proposal. Many manufacturers 
supported a simultaneous implementation if the 
standard is not rescinded, but requested that the 
effective date be September 1, 1983, or later. The 
manufacturers argued that an effective date for 
small cars prior to September 1, 1983, would not 
allow enough time to develop acceptable, reliable 
and high quality automatic belts. 

Nearly all vehicle manufacturers believe that an 
intensive seat belt education campaign can be just 
as effective as automatic restraints and without 
the attendant high costs of automatic restraints. 
Additionally, most foreign manufacturers recom- 
mended that mandatory seat belt use laws be 
enacted in lieu of automatic restraints. 

One foreign manufacturer requested that any 
effective date for automatic restraints be 
"September 1 or the date of production start of the 
new model year if this date falls between 
September 1 and December 31." The company 
stated that this would allow manufacturers to con- 
tinue production for several months of models that 
would then be phased out of production. However, 
a domestic vehicle manufacturer argued that this 
would give foreign manufacturers an unfair com- 
petitive advantage, and that current practice of 
September 1 effective dates should be retained. 

Most manufacturers supported the proposal to 
exclude the center seating position from the auto- 
matic restraint requirements, in order to give 
manufacturers more design flexibility. However, 
the two domestic manufacturers which would be 
most affected by such an exception stated that it is 
too late for them to make use of such an exception 
for 1983 models. The two companies stated that 
such an exception would have benefits in the long 
run, however, and would allow them to continue 
production of six-seat passenger cars in the 
mid-1980's. 

Suppliers and Trade Groups 

Suppliers of air bag system components sup- 
ported continuation of the automatic restraint re- 
quirements. One commenter stated that having to 
buckle-up is an act which requires a series of 
psychological and physical reactions which are 
responsible for the low rate of manual seat belts. 
Also, this company stated that educational cam- 
paigns to increase belt use will not work. 



One motor vehicle trade group stated that a 
study by the Canadian government has established 
the superiority of manual seat belt systems. This 
group argued that the automatic restraint require- 
ments cannot be justified because any expected 
benefits are speculative. 

One trade group voiced its concern about sodium 
azide (an air bag propellant) as it pertains to possi- 
ble hazards posed to the scrap processing industry. 

A group representing seat belt manufacturers 
stated that the most effective way of guaranteeing 
belt use is through mandatory belt use laws. That 
group believes that belt usage can be increased 
through public education, and that simple, easy to 
use automatic belts such as are currently on the 
VW Rabbit wall also increase belt usage. This 
group did not support a simultaneous implementa- 
tion date for automatic restraints, stating that this 
could put a severe strain on the supplier industry. 
The group did support elimination of the automatic 
restraint requirements for center seating positions. 

An automobile association recommended equip- 
ping small cars with automatic restraints first. The 
association stated that a reversed phase-in 
schedule would protect a significantly large seg- 
ment of the public at an earlier date, would reduce 
a foreign competitive advantage (under the ex- 
isting schedule), and would give needed economic 
relief to large car manufacturers. This organiza- 
tion also recommended that, as an alternative, 
automatic restraints be required only at the 
driver's position. This would achieve three- 
quarters of the reductions in deaths and serious in- 
juries now projected for full-front seat systems, yet 
cost only half as much. 

Congressional Comments 

Mr. Timothy E. Wirth, Chairman of the House 
Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Consumer 
Protection and Finance, made the following com- 
ments: 

—The automatic restraint requirements would 
produce benefits to society far in excess of costs. 

—The Committee findings strongly point to the 
necessity of requiring the installation of automatic 
crash protection systems, at a minimum, on a 
substantial portion of the new car fleet at the 
earliest possible date. Mr. Wirth suggested that 
the effective date for small cars be September 1, 
1982, and for intermediate and large cars 
September 1, 1983. 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-159 



—The economic conditions of the automobile in- 
dustry should not be relevant to the NHTSA's deci- 
sion on matters of safety. NHTSA's decision must 
be guided solely by safety-related concerns. 

—The agency should not discount its own find- 
ings indicating high use of automatic belts (refer- 
ring to the existing VW and Chevette automatic 
belt use data). 

In a joint letter to the Secretary, eighteen Con- 
gressmen urged that the automatic restraint re- 
quirements be maintained. This letter noted that 
over 50,000 people are killed each year on the 
highways and stated: "While the tragedy of their 
deaths cannot be measured in economic terms, the 
tragedy of their serious injuries cost all of us 
billions of dollars each year in higher insurance 
costs, increased welfare pajonents, unemployment 
and social security payments and rehabilitation 
costs paid to support the injured and the families of 
those who have been killed." The letter stressed 
the Congressmen's belief that the automatic crash 
protection standard would produce benefits to 
society far in excess of its cost. 



In a letter addressed to Administrator Peck, 
fifty-nine Congressmen urged that the automatic 
restraint standard be rescinded. That letter stated: 
"The 208 standard persists as one of the more con- 
troversial federal regulations to be forced on the 
automobile industry. . . . The industry continues to 
spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every day 
in order to meet this standard, despite con- 
siderable evidence that any safety benefits realized 
by enforcing the standard would be minimal." 

Private Citizens 

In addition to comments from the above groups 
and organizations, the agency also received 
general comments from numerous private citizens. 
These comments were almost equally divided in 
their support or opposition to the automatic 
restraint standard. 

Raymond A. Peck, Jr. 
Administrator 

46 F.R. 53419 
October 29, 1981 



PART 571; S 208-PRE-160 



PREAMBLE TO AN AMENDMENT TO 
FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208 

Occupant Crash Protection 
(Docket No. 74-14; Notice 24) 



ACTION: Final rule; partial response to petitions 
for reconsideration. 

SUMMARY: The purpose of this notice is to delay 
for one year the effective date of the comfort and 
convenience requirements for seat belts in Safety 
Standard No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection. 
Standard No. 208 was amended January 8, 1981, 
to promote the installation of more comfortable 
and convenient belts by specifying additional 
performance requirements for both manual and 
automatic seat belts installed in motor vehicles 
with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 
10,000 pounds or less. Petitions for reconsideration 
of these new performance requirements were 
received from seven vehicle manufacturers. 

The agency has determined that the recent 
rescission of the automatic restraint requirements 
of Standard 208 has made it necessary to review 
the comfort and convenience requirements in 
their entirety. The changed circumstances have 
made it difficult to respond to the substantive 
issues raised in the petitions for reconsideration 
at this time. Since the requirements are currently 
scheduled to become effective September 1, 1982. 
the agency has concluded that it is necessary to 
extend the effective date until September 1, 1983, 
to give the agency sufficient time to re-evaluate 
these requirements. 

EFFECTIVE DATE: The new effective date for 
the existing comfort and convenience requirements 
is September 1, 1983. 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On January 
8. 1981, Safety Standard No. 208, Occupant Crash 
Protection (49 CFR 571.208), was amended to 
specify performance requirements to promote the 
comfort and convenience of both manual and 



automatic safety belts installed in vehicles with a 
GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less (46 F.R. 2064). Type 
2 manual belts (lap and shoulder combination belts) 
installed in front seating positions in passenger 
cars were excepted from these additional 
performance requirements since it was assumed 
such belts would be phased out in passenger cars 
as the automatic restraint requirements of 
Standard No. 208 became effective. 

Seven petitions for reconsideration of the 
January 8, 1981 amendment were received from 
vehicle manufacturers. These petitions requested 
that the requirements be revoked entirely, or 
that at least various modifications be made and 
that the effective date be delayed. 

Since the receipt of these petitions for 
reconsideration, the agency has revoked the 
automatic restraint requirements of the standard 
(46 F.R. 53419, October 29, 1981). This recission 
alters the circumstances which must be considered 
in determining appropriate requirements for seat 
belt comfort and convenience. Therefore, it is 
difficult for the agency to respond to the 
substantive issues raised in the petitions for 
reconsideration at the current time. Many of the 
issues that were raised are no longer pertinent 
and many of the rationales discussed by the 
agency when the requirements were first 
established must be re-evaluated. Therefore, the 
agency has determined that the comfort and 
convenience requirements should be reviewed in 
their entirety. 

In light of these conclusions, the agency has 
decided that it is necessary to delay the effective 
date of the current comfort and convenience 
requirements for at least a year (from September 
1, 1982, to September 1, 1983). This will give the 
agency sufficient time to re-evaluate the 
requirements and the petitions for reconsideration 



PART 571; S208-PRE 161 



in light of the changed circumstances. Further, 
manufacturers should not be required to comply 
with the requirements by September 1, 1982, 
since they may be altered substantially. 

The agency intends to respond to the substantive 
issues raised in the petitions for reconsideration 
at a later date. Moreover, the agency is considering 
additional changes to the comfort and convenience 
requirements which would encourage and ensure 
maximum possible technical improvements and 
enhancements are included in future seat belt 
designs. 

The NHTSA has considered the economic and 
other impacts of this one-year delay in effective 
date and determined that the rule is neither a 
major rule within the meaning of Executive 
Order 12291 nor a significant rule within the 
meaning of the Department of Transportation's 
regulatory procedures. A regulatory evaluation 
concerning the one-year delay has been placed in 
the public docket. This evaluation supplements 
the regulatory evaluation which was prepared 
when the regulation was issued in January 1981. 

The agency has also analyzed the delay for 
purposes of the National Environmental Policy 



Act and has determined that it will not have a 
significant impact on the quality of the human 
environment. 

No regulatory flexibility analysis has been 
prepared on this final rule since the proposal 
underlying this final rule and the January 8, 1981 
final rule was issued before the effective date of 
the Regulatory Flexibility Act. 

In consideration of the foregoing, the effective 
date of the comfort and convience requirements 
of 49 CFR 571.208 that were issued January 8, 
1981 (46 F.R. 2064) is hereby delayed from 
September 1, 1982 to September 1, 1983. 

Issued on February 11, 1982. 



Raymond A. Peck, Jr. 
Administrator 

47 F.R. 7254 
February 18, 1982 



PART 571; S208-PRE 162 



PREAMBLE TO AN AMENDMENT TO 
FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208 

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; 
Occupant Crash Protection 

[Docket No. 74-14; Notice 28] 



ACTION: Final rule. 

SUMMARY: The purpose of this notice is to 
amend the fuel loading test conditions of Safety 
Standard No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection. 
The amendment is in response to a petition for 
rulemaking submitted by Mercedes-Benz of 
North America. Standard No. 208 currently 
specifies that vehicles are to be crash tested with 
their maximum capacity of fuel. Several other 
NHTSA safety standards only require fuel tanks 
to be filled from 90 to 95 percent of capacity. This 
amendment makes the fuel loading conditions of 
Standard No. 208 consistent with these other 
standards. This change will enable manufacturers 
to simultaneously determine compliance with 
several standards during the same crash tests, 
thereby reducing compliance test costs. In 
connection with this change, this notice also adds 
a definition for "fuel tank capacity" to the 
agency's general definition list in 49 CFR Part 
571.3. 

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 28, 1982. 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The fuel 
tank loading condition in Safety Standard No. 
208, Occupant Crash Protection (49 CFR 571.208) 
differs from that used in several other NHTSA 
safety standards. Paragraph SS.l.Ka) of Standard 
No. 208 currently specifies that a passenger car is 
to be loaded "to its unloaded vehicle weight plus 
its rated cargo and luggage capacity weight" 
prior to conducting a barrier crash test. The term 
"unloaded vehicle weight" is defined in 49 CFR 
571.3 as "the weight of a vehicle with maximum 



capacity of all fluids necessary for operation of 
the vehicle..." Therefore, under the current 
test conditions of the standard, fuel tanks are to 
be filled to 100 percent capacity. The fuel loading 
conditions of Safety Standards Nos. 301, Fuel 
System Integrity; 212, Windshield Mounting; and 
219, Windshield Zone Intrusion, specify that fuel 
tanks are only loaded from 90 to 95 percent of 
capacity. 

On January 28, 1982, the agency proposed to 
amend the loading conditions of Standard No. 208 
to make them consistent with those of Standards 
Nos. 301, 212 and 219 (47 F.R. 4098). The proposed 
amendment was issued in response to a petition 
for rulemaking submitted by Mercedes-Benz of 
North America, which asked that the fuel loading 
conditions of Standard No. 208 be amended to be 
consistent with Safety Standard No. 301. 
Mercedes pointed out that such an amendment 
would serve to harmonize the two standards and 
would eliminate the current need for running 
separate barrier crash tests for the two 
standards. The company stated that tests being 
conducted to evaluate occupant crash protection 
systems yield data which cannot be used to 
evaluate the integrity of fuel systems because of 
the variation in fuel tank loading conditions. 

Seven parties commented on the proposed 
change. All of them were vehicle manufacturers 
which supported lowering the fuel loading 
conditions of Standard No. 208. All the 
manufacturers noted that the proposed change 
would standardize test conditions for the 
standards employing dynamic crash testing, and 
would thereby reduce costs. After reviewing 
these comments, the agency has determined that 



PART 571; S208-PRE 163 



the standard should be amended as proposed. 

As noted in the proposal, the agency believes 
that filling fuel tanks from 90 to 95 percent 
capacity for Standard 208 testing will be 
sufficiently representative of the maximum fuel 
loading that will occur on the highway. Vehicles 
are seldom driven with their fuel tanks filled to 
100 percent capacity. Moreover, the difference in 
overall vehicle weight because of the 5 to 10 
percent less fuel with this amendment should 
have no significant effect on the test results of 
Standard No. 208. Therefore, the change does not 
significantly reduce the stringency of the 
standard and realistically maintains the intended 
purpose of the loading conditions. 

The agency also believes it is important to 
facilitate simultaneous testing for various safety 
standards, where possible, in order to minimize 
testing costs. Since Standard Nos. 301, 212, and 
219 only require fuel tanks to be loaded from 90 to 
95 percent capacity, the agency has determined 
that Standard No. 208 should be amended to be 
consistent. In this case, testing costs can be 
reduced without jeopardizing safety whatsoever. 

In its comment. General Motors Corporation 
suggested that the amendment also include a 
definition of "fuel tank capacity," so that there 
will be no questions concerning the proper 
procedure for filling fuel tanks prior to testing. 
General Motors' suggestion was prompted by a 
discussion in the preamble of the proposal 
concerning what constitutes the "capacity" of a 



fuel tank. That discussion was included because 
the agency had previously received several 
questions asking whether the vapor volume of a 
fuel tank is included in determining capacity. The 
discussion clarified the agency's position that 
"capacity" does not include vapor volume. 

The agency believes that General Motors' 
suggestion has merit. Therefore, a definition for 
"fuel tank capacity" is added by this amendment 
to 49 CFR 571.3, the agency's general definition 
section. The term is defined as the volume of fuel 
that can be pumped into a previously unfilled 
tank through the filler pipe with the vehicle on a 
level surface, but excluding the vapor volume of 
the tank and the volume of the tank filler pipe. 
The definition is being added to 49 CFR 571.3, 
rather than to Standard No. 208, so that it is clear 
the same term is applicable to all safety 
standards which specify fuel loading in terms of 
tank capacity (i.e.. Standards Nos. 301, 212, and 
219 as well as Standard No. 208). 

The agency has determined that this definition 
can be added to 49 CFR 571.3 without notice and 
opportunity to comment since it is merely an 
interpretive amendment and is therefore within 
the exceptions to rulemaking procedures 
specified in the Administrative Procedure Act (5 
U.S.C. 553 (b) (3) (A)). In fact, the addition of this 
definition is merely a codification of previous 
NHTSA interpretations. 

Issued on October 5, 1982. 



Raymond A Peck, Jr. 
Administrator 
47 F.R. 47839 
October 28, 1982 



PART 571; S208-PRE 164 



PREAMBLE TO AN AMENDMENT TO 
FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208 

Occupant Crash Protection 
[Docket No. 74-14; Notice 30] 



ACTION: Final rule. 

SUMMARY: The purpose of this notice is to delay 
for two years the effective date of the comfort and 
convenience requirements for seat belts in Safety 
Standard No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection. 
These requirements were issued January 8, 1981, 
to promote the installation of more comfortable and 
convenient belts by specifying additional perfor- 
mance requirements for both manual and 
automatic belts installed in motor vehicles with a 
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,000 
pounds or less. The requirements were originally 
scheduled to become effective September 1, 1982, 
but in partial response to petitions for reconsidera- 
tion, and in light of the agency's rescission of the 
automatic restraint requirements of Standeird No. 
208, were delayed for one year to September 1, 
1983. 

The agency has now concluded that a further 
delay is necessary because of concerns that have 
arisen within the agency regarding the efficacy and 
level of stringency of certain of the requirements, 
and because of the unsettled state of future plans 
for seat belt designs. The two-year delay set forth 
in this notice will give the agency sufficient time 
to complete its review of performance 
characteristics of restraint design that would lead 
to enhanced comfort and convenience for users, and 
to resolve the many questions that have developed 
regarding particular provisions. 

ADDRESS: Any petitions for reconsideration 
should refer to the docket number and notice 
number of this notice and be submitted to: Docket 
Section, Room 5109, National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., 
Washington, D.C. 20590. Docket hours are from 8 
a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. 



DATES: Any petitions for reconsideration of this 
rule must be received within 30 days after the date 
of publication of this notice. The new effective date 
for the seat belt comfort and convenience re- 
quirements is September 1, 1985. 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On January 8, 
1981, Safety Standard No. 208, Occupant Crash 
Protection (49 CFR 571.208), was amended to 
specify additional performance requirements to 
enhance the comfort and convenience of both 
manual and automatic safety belts installed in 
vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less (46 
FR 2064). Type 2 manual belts (combination lap 
and shoulder belts) installed in front outboard 
seating positions in passenger cars were excepted 
from these additional requirements because it was 
then assumed that these belts would be phased out 
of production in passenger cars as the automatic 
restraint requirements of Standard No. 208 became 
effective. However, the agency rescinded the 
automatic restraint requirements on October 29, 
1981 (46 FR 53419). This rescission altered basic 
assumptions that had been made when the com- 
fort and convenience requirements were first 
issued. Likewise, it altered the belt designs which 
manufacturers would be installing in future cars. 
In partial response to petitions for reconsidera- 
tion that were received concerning the comfort and 
convenience requirements, the agency delayed the 
effective date of the requirements for one year 
because of the changed circumstances surrounding 
the rescission of the automatic restraint re- 
quirements (47 FR 7254). The agency noted that 
it was difficult to respond to the substantive issues 
raised in the petitions for reconsideration, at that 
time, because many of the issues are no longer per- 
tinent and because many of the rationales dis- 
cussed by the agency when the requirements were 



PART 571; S208-PRE 165 



first established must be re-evaluated. 

During the agency's review of the comfort and 
convenience requirements following the one-year 
delay, questions arose concerning the efficacy and 
appropriate level of stringency of certain of the re- 
quirements. It became evident that the agency 
needed additional time to re-evaluate the comfort 
and convenience requirements in their entirety. 
Thus, on November 15, 1982, the agency proposed 
an additional two-year delay, to September 1, 1985 
(47 FR 51432). 

As noted in the proposal, agency experts have 
identified concerns about various countervailing 
safety consequences that could develop depending 
on the final form of the requirements. For exam- 
ple, tension-relieving devices on belt systems can 
reduce belt pressure and increase comfort, but 
there is a concern that the increased belt slack due 
to misuse could reduce belt effectiveness. The pro- 
posal pointed out that the agency must have time 
to complete its evaluation and resolution of these 
and other similar conflicting considerations. 

Eleven comments were received in response to 
the proposed two-year delay, and only one of these 
objected to the proposal. The State of Idaho 
Transportation Department strongly recommended 
against a further delay on the basis that this would 
hinder current national and State level education 
efforts to encovirage the voluntary use of seat belts. 
All of the vehicle manufacturers which commented 
vigorously supported the proposed delay, as did the 
American Seat Belt Council. Three manufacturers, 
however, urged the agency to delay the re- 
quirements indefinitely, rather than to September 
1, 1985. These manufacturers agreed that the 
agency needs additional time to re-evaluate the 
comfort and convenience requirements in their en- 
tirety, but they are concerned that the two-year 
period proposed would then leave no lead time for 
manufacturers prior to the effective date. One 
manufacturer stated, "A new effective date should 
not be specified before the final requirements are 
established." 

The agency understands the manufacturers' con- 
cerns regarding lead time. There were many issues 
raised in the petitions for reconsideration to which 
the agency has not yet responded (e.g., objectivity 
of the requirements, test repeat ability, conflicts 
with the requirements of other safety standards). 
However, the agency believes that a specific effec- 
tive date, September 1, 1985, is preferable to an 
indefinite delay since it gives all parties, including 



the agency, a time frame within which to work. 
The agency will, of course, evaluate whether there 
is adequate lead time for manufacturers after all 
the issues have been resolved in this rulemaking, 
and modify the effective date accordingly if that 
is necessary. 

In spite of the concerns raised by the Idaho 
Department of Transportation, the agency has con- 
cluded that a two-year delay in the effective date 
of the comfort and convenience requirements is 
necessary. As noted in the proposal, the issues in- 
volved in this proceeding have been clouded in 
uncertainty since the regulation was first adopted. 

Safety belt designs are currently in a state of 
flux. Therefore, it is not certain exactly what type 
of restraints will be on the road in the foreseeable 
future. For this reason, the agency has determined 
that it would be wise to delay the comfort and con- 
venience requirements, to give the agency suffi- 
cient time to re-evaluate the requirements in light 
of evolving belt systems and avoid imposing 
possibly unnecessary costs. For example, one com- 
menter to the proposal stated that it had been ex- 
perimenting with a particular seat belt design for 
neEirly two years and is still uncertain whether the 
design will consistently meet the somewhat con- 
flicting requirements (in Standard No. 208) for full 
belt retraction, 0.7 pound chest force limitation and 
the retractive force requirements of Safety Stan- 
dard No. 209 (49 CFR 571.209). The agency needs 
additional time to evaluate these and other similar 
problems. 

Finally, as noted in the proposal, the agency 
believes that it is impossible at the current time 
to determine how to achieve or induce effective im- 
provements in the comfort and convenience of belt 
systems until the occupant crash protection stan- 
dard can be reviewed in its entirety. The two-year 
delay will allow the agency time to complete its 
evaluation of all the current provisions in terms 
of expected applicabilty, effectiveness, overall 
safety consequences and appropriate level of detail. 

The agency does not believe that this delay will 
retard the introduction of new improved belt 
systems, in terms of comfort and convenience. One 
vehicle manufacturer which commented on the pro- 
posal specifically stated that it "plans to proceed 
voluntarily with a variety of improvements in seat 
belt comfort and convenience for 1984 and future 
models regardless of the proposed delay in effec- 
tive date." The agency encourages other manufac- 
turers to also voluntarily introduce improved com- 



PART 571; S208-PRE 166 



fort and convenience features in their belt designs 
during this interim period in which the agency is 
resolving the issues associated with the Standard 
No. 208 requirements. 

The agency has examined the impacts of this 
amendment and determined that it is not major 
within the meaning of Executive Order 12291 or 
significant according to the Department of 
Transportation regulatory policies and procedures. 
The agency has prepared a final regulatory evalua- 
tion concerning the amendment, which has been 
placed in the Docket. (A free copy may be obtained 
by contacting the Docket Section.) That evaluation 
shows that the safety impact of the proposed delay 
will not be significant. The precise magnitude of 
the impact cannot be quantified because the agency 
has not been able to successfully address in quan- 
tified terms the larger question of the effects of the 
comfort and convenience requirements. That 
adverse impact will be minimized as a result of the 
improved seat belt designs that are currently be- 
ing introduced by manufacturers on a voluntary 
basis, partly in response to the dialogue generated 
by the proposal and adoption of the comfort and 
convenience requirements. The agency believes 
that manufacturers will experiment further dur- 
ing the two-year delay with innovative designs 



aimed at increasing the comfort and convenience 
of belt systems. This effort will at least partially 
offset any negative impacts that the delay might 
otherwise cause. The proposed delay will provide 
slight cost savings for both manufacturers and 
consumers. 

NHTSA has also considered the impacts of this 
amendment under the Regulatory Flexibilty Act. 
I hereby certify that amending Standard No. 208 
to delay the effective date of the comfort and con- 
venience requirements will not have significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities for the reasons just discussed. The only 
small entities that would be affected would be 
small manufacturers or small organizations or 
governmental units that purchase vehicles. The ef- 
fect would not be significant since the cost savings 
made possible by the delay would be slight. 

Issued on May 27, 1983 



Diane K. Steed, 
Acting Administrator. 

48 F.R. 24717 

June 2, 1983 



PART 571; S208-PRE 167-168 



PREAMBLE TO AN AMENDMENT TO 
FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208 

Occupant Crash Protection; 
Automatic Occupant Restraint Requirement 

[Docket No. 74-14; Notice 31] 



ACTION: Suspension of rule. 

SUMMARY: This notice suspends the automatic oc- 
cupant restraint requirements of Safety Standard 
No. 208. Occupant Crash Protection. This action 
permits the agency time for the further review con- 
templated by the recent Supreme Court decision 
that found NHTSA's rescission of the requirement 
to be arbitrary and capricious. This suspension is 
issued without a prior opportunity for notice and 
comment; the rule might otherwise be deemed ef- 
fective on September 1, 1983. However, public com- 
ment on the suspension is requested and the 
suspension will be revised or revoked, if ap- 
propriate, in response to the comments received. 

DATES: Suspension— The mandatory automatic 
restraint requirement of Standard No. 208 is 
suspended until September 1, 1984. This suspen- 
sion is effective on September 1, 1983. 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On October 
29, 1981 (49 FR 53419), the Department of 
Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration (NHTSA) published a notice re- 
scinding the automatic restraint requirements of 
Safety Standard No. 208, Occupant Crash Protec- 
tion. (The language of Standard 208 as it was 
codified prior to the rescission is contained in Ap- 
pendix A to this notice.) On June 1, 1982, the U.S. 
Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found the 
agency's action to be arbitrary and capricious and 
overturned the agency's action. (State Farm 
Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Department 
of Transportation, 680 F.2d 206.) On August 4, 
1982, the Court of Appeals issued an order stay- 



ing the effective date of the requirement until 
September 1, 1983. 

In June 1983, the United States Supreme Court 
rejected the scope of review used by the lower court, 
but also found the rescission to be arbitrary and 
capricious. The Supreme Court vacated the judg- 
ment of the Court of Appeals and remanded the 
case to that Court with directions to remand it to 
NHTSA for further consideration consistent with 
the Supreme Court's opinion. (Motor Vehicle 
Manufacturers Association v. State Farm Mutual 
Automobile Insurance Co. (No. 82-354; June 24, 
1983)). 

Because the Supreme Court vacated the judg- 
ment of the Court of Appeals, it could be argued 
that the rescission of the automatic restraint re- 
quirement technically continues in effect pending 
the further agency review contemplated by the 
Supreme Court. However, if that were not the case, 
compliance with the rule could be considered to be 
required by September 1, 1983. In order to clarify 
this situation, the Department has determined that 
it is appropriate to issue this notice suspending the 
effect date of the requirement. 

The Suprement Court stated that the agency has 
sufficient justification to suspend Standard 208 
pending any further consideration in accordance 
with the Court's decision. The Department believes 
that further consideration is necessary and, as part 
of our review efforts, it is our intention to issue a 
notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) by October 
15, 1983. We intended to expedite this rulemaking 
and reach a final decision as quickly as possible 
and well before the end of the one-year suspension. 
At that time, we will establish an appropriate ef- 
fective date either for the rule that was rescinded. 



PART 571; S208-PRE 169 



if we decide to retain it, or for any other action that 
we take, including re-rescission of the rule. 

We believe that it would be inappropriate to re- 
quire compliance with the rule during this short 
review period. Neither consumers nor manufac- 
turers should be required to incur additional ex- 
penses to comply with a requirement that is being 
actively reviewed. 

Moreover, there is substantial evidence showing 
that a September 1, 1983, effective date is not prac- 
ticable. After the D.C. Circuit entered its of August 
4, 1982, reinstating the automatic restraint re- 
quirement on September 1, 1983, NHTSA obtain- 
ed current information from vehicle and automatic 
restraint equipment manufacturers concerning 
their ability to comply with a September 1, 1983, 
effective date. After reviewing and analyzing the 
letters and affidavits submitted by the manufac- 
turers, NHTSA concluded, in an October 1, 1982, 
submission to the D.C. Circuit Court, that a 
September 1, 1983, effective date was not 
achievable at that time and that a significantly 
longer time period would be needed before prac- 
ticable compliance with the automatic restraint re- 
quirements could be achieved. Based on that data, 
the Department has concluded that it would not 
be practicable for vehicle manufacturers to comply 
with the September 1, 1983, requirement because 
there is not sufficient leadtime for them to make 
all the necessary design, development, testing, and 
production preparations by that date. 

Because it is not practicable for the manufac- 
turers to comply by September 1, 1983, the Depart- 
ment also has determined that notice and public 
procedure on this notice of suspension are imprac- 
ticable, unnecessary, and contrary to the public in- 
terest. The recency of the Supreme Court decision 
and the imminence of the deadline for compliance 
with the rule justify this determination. We wish 
to stress, however, that we are providing an oppor- 
tunity for public comment on this suspension im- 
mediately subsequent to its issuance. After review- 
ing the public comment that is recieved, the 
Department will determine whether this suspen- 
sion should be revised or revoked and we will issue 
a document stating our final decision. 

This suspension may be made effective im- 
mediately upon publication in the Federal 
Register because it relieves a restriction. 

This suspension is a major action within the 
meaning of Executive Order 12291 and a signifi- 
cant action under the Department's Regulatory 
Policies and Procedures. The benefits and costs of 



the automatic restraint requirements have been 
CEU-efully reviewed in the prior final regulatory im- 
pact analysis dated October 1981, which has been 
placed in the docket for the automatic restraint 
rulemaking. That analysis also provides an assess- 
ment of the impact of this suspension. The prior 
regulatory impact analysis also discusses the im- 
pact of the rescission of the automatic restraint re- 
quirements on small businesses and governmental 
entities. Based on that prior analysis, I hereby cer- 
tify that this suspension will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The Department has also evaluated this 
suspension in accordance with the National En- 
vironmental Policy Act and has determined that 
this action is not a major Federal action signifi- 
cantly affecting the quality of the human 
environment. 
Issued in Washington, D.C. on August 30, 1983. 



James H. Burnley, IV, 

Acting Secretary of Transportation 



Appendix A 

The text of S4.1.3 of Standard No. 208, Occupant Crash Pro- 
tection, (49 CFR Part 571.208) that was rescinded on October 
29, 1981 (46 FR 53419) reads as follows: 

S4.1.3 Passenger cars manufactured on or after September 1, 
1983. Each passenger car manufactured on or after September 
1, 1983 shall- 

(a) At each front designated seating position meet the frontal 
crash protection requirements of S5.1 by means that require 
no action by vehicle occupants; 

(b) At each rear designated seating position have a Type 1 
or Type 2 seat belt assembly that conforms to Standard No. 209 
and S7.1 and S7.2; and 

(c) Either- 

(1) Meet the lateral crash protection requirement of S5.2 and 
the roll-over crash protection requirements of S5.3 by means 
that require no action by vehicle occupants; or 

(2) At each front designated seating position have a Type 1 
or Type 2 seat belt assembly that conforms to Standard No. 209 
and S7 through 7.3, and meet the requirements of S5.1 with 
front test dummies as required by S5.1, restrained by the Type 

1 or Type 2 seat belt assembly (or the pelvic portion of any Type 

2 seat belt assembly which has a detachable upper torso belt) 
in addition to the means that require no action by the vehicle 
occupant. 



48 F.R. 39908 
September 1, 1983 



PART 571; S208-PRE 170 



PREAMBLE TO AN AMENDMENT TO 

FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208 

Occupant Crash Protection 

(Docket No. 74-14; Notice No. 36] 



ACTION: Final Rule 

SUMMARY: This rule requires the installation of 
automatic restraints in all new cars beginning with 
model year 1990 (September 1, 1989) unless, prior 
to that time, State mandatory belt usage laws are 
enacted that cover at least two-thirds of the U.S. 
population. The requirement would be phased in 
by an increasing percentage of production over a 
3-year period beginning with model year 1987 (Sep- 
tember 1, 1986). To further encourage the instal- 
lation of advanced technology, the rule would treat 
cars equipped with such technology other than 
automatic belts as equivalent to 1.5 vehicles dur- 
ing the phase-in. 



DATES: The amendments made by this rule to the 
text of the Code of Federal Regulations are effec- 
tive August 16, 1984. 

The principal compliance dates for the rule, 
unless two-thirds of the population are cov- 
ered by mandatory use laws, are: 

September 1, 1986 — for phase-in requirement. 

September 1, 1989 — for full implementation 



requu-ement. 



In addition: 



February 1, 1985 — for center seating position 
exemption from automatic 
restraint provisions. 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 171-172 



SUMMARY OF THE FINAL RULE 



After a thorough review of the issue of auto- 
mobile occupant protection, including the long 
regulatory history of the matter; the comments on 
the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and 
the Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 
(SNPRM); the extensive studies, analyses, and 
data on the subject; and the court decisions that 
have resulted from law suits over the different 
rulemaking actions, the Department of Transpor- 
tation has reached a final decision that it believes 
will offer the best method of fulfilling the objec- 
tives and purpose of the governing statute, the 
National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. As 
part of this decision, the E>epartment has reached 
three basic conclusions: 

• Effectively enforced State mandatory seatbelt 
use laws (MULs) will provide the greatest safety 
benefits most quickly of any of the alternatives, 
with almost no additional cost. 

• Automatic occupant restraints provide demon- 
strable safety benefits, and, unless a sufficient 
number of MULs are enacted, they must be re- 
quired for the most frequently used seats in pas- 
senger automobiles. 

• Automatic occupant protection systems that do 
not totally rely upon belts, such as airbags or 
passive interiors, offer significant additional 
potential for preventing fatalities and injuries, 
at least in part because the American public is 
likely to find them less intrusive; their devel- 
opment and availability should be encouraged 
through appropriate incentives. 

As a result of these conclusions, the Department 
has decided to require automatic occupant protec- 
tion in all-passenger automobiles based on a 
phased-in schedule beginning on September 1, 



1986, with full implementation being required by 
September 1, 1989, unless, before April 1, 1989, 
two-thirds of the population of the United States 
are covered by MULs meeting specified condi- 
tions. More specificaUy, the rule would require the 
following: 

• Passenger cars manufactured for sale in the 
United States after September 1, 1986, will have 
to have automatic occupant restraints based on 
the foUowing phase-in schedule: 

• Ten percent of all automobiles manufactured 
after September 1, 1986. 

• Twenty-five percent of all automobiles manu- 
factured after September 1, 1987. 

• Forty percent of all automobiles manufac- 
tured after September 1, 1988. 

• One hundred percent of all automobiles manu- 
factured after September 1, 1989. 

• The requirement for automatic occupant 
restraints will be rescinded if MULs meeting 
specified conditions are passed by a sufficient 
number of States before April 1, 1989 to cover 
two-thirds of the population of the United States. 

• During the phase-in period, each passenger auto- 
mobile that is manufactured with a system that 
provides automatic protection to the driver 
without automatic belts will be given an extra 
credit equal to one-half of an automobile toward 
meeting the percentage requirement. 

• The front center seat of passenger cars will be 
exempt from the requirement for automatic 
occupant protection. 

• Rear seats are not covered by the requirements 
for automatic protection. 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 173-174 



BACKGROUND 



INTRODUCTION 

The Supreme Court Decision 

On October 23. 1981, the National Highway Traf- 
fic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued an 
order pursuant to section 103 of the National Traf- 
fic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. 15 U.S.C. 1392, 
amending Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 
No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection (4fr CFR 
571.208; "FMVSS 208"), by rescinding the provi- 
sions that would have required the front seating 
positions in all new cars to be equipped with auto- 
matic restraints (46 FR 53419; October 29, 1981). 

On June 24, 1983, the Supreme Court held that 
NHTS A's rescission of the new automatic restraint 
requirements was arbitrary and capricious. Motor 
Vehicle Manufacturer's Association v. State Farm 
Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., 103 S.Ct. 2856. 
The agency had rescinded because it was unable to 
find that more than minimal safety benefits would 
result from the manufacturers' plans to comply 
with the requirement through the installation of 
automatic belts. In particular, the Court found the 
agency had failed to present an adequate basis and 
explanation for rescinding the requirement. The 
Court also stated that the agency must either con- 
sider the matter further or adhere to or amend the 
standard along the lines that its "reasoned anal- 
ysis" and explanation supports. 

By a five to four vote, the Court held that the i 
agency had been too quick in dismissing the bene- 
fits of detachable automatic belts. The Court 
stated that the agency's explanation of its rescis- 
sion was not sufficient to enable the Court to con- 
clude that the agency's action was the product of 
reasoned decision making. The Court found that 
the agency had not taken account of the critical dif- 



ference between detachable automatic belts and 
current manual belts. "A detached passive belt 
does require an affirmative act to reconnect it, 
but — unlike a manual seatbelt, the passive belt, 
once reattached, will continue to function auto- 
matically unless again disconnected." 

The Court unanimously found that, even if the 
agency was correct that detachable automatic 
belts would yield few benefits, that fact alone 
would not justify rescission. Instead, it would 
justify only a modification of the requirement to 
prohibit compliance by means of that type of auto- 
matic restraint. The Court also unanimously held 
that having concluded that detachable automatic 
belts would not result in signficantly increased 
usage, NHTSA should have considered requiring 
that automatic belts be continuous (i.e., nondetach- 
able) instead of detachable, or that FMVSS 208 be 
modified to require the installation of airbags. 

The 1983 Suspension 

On September 1, 1983, the Department sus- 
pended the automatic restraint requirement for 
1 year to ensure that sufficient time was available 
for considering the issues raised by the Supreme 
Court's decision (48 FR 39908). 

The NPRM 

On October 14, 1983, the Department issued a 
notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) (48 FR 
48622) asking for comment on a range of alterna- 
tives, including the following: 

• Retain the automatic occupant protection re- 
quirements of FMVSS 208. Under this alter- 
native, the substantive automatic occupant pro- 
tection requirement of FMVSS 208 would be 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 175 



retained, but a new compliance date would have 
to be established. Compliance could be any type of 
automatic restraint, including detachable belts. 

• Amend the automatic occupant protection re- 
quirements of FMVSS 208. Numerous alterna- 
tives were proposed. For example, an amendment 
could require compliance by airbags only or by 
airbags or nondetachable automatic belts only. 
Subalternatives included automatic protection 
for the full front seat, the outboard seating posi- 
tions, or the driver only. An additional alterna- 
tive would have required that cars be manufac- 
tured with an airbag retrofit capability. 

• Rescind the automatic occupant protection 
requirements of FMVSS 208. The Department 
could again rescind the requirements if its anal- 
ysis led it to that conclusion. The Supreme Court 
decision does not bar rescission after the Depart- 
ment "consider[s] the matter further." 

The NPRM also proposed other actions that could 
be taken in conjunction with, or as a supplement 
to, the above alternatives. They were as follows: 

• Conduct a demonstration program. Such a pro- 
gram could be along the voluntary lines sug- 
gested by Secretary Coleman in 1976 and would 
be accompanied by a temporary suspension of 
FMVSS 208's automatic occupant protection 
requirements. It would be designed to acquaint 
the public with the automatic restraint technolo- 
gies so as to reduce the possibility of adverse 
public reaction and to obtain additional data to 
refine effectiveness estimates. 

• Seek mandatory State safety belt usage laws. 
The Department could seek Federal legislation 
that would either establish a seatbelt use re- 
quirement or provide incentives for the States 
to adopt and enforce such laws. If large numbers 
of persons wore existing manual belts, there 
would be less need for automatic restraints. 

• Seek legislation mandating consumer option. 
Under this alternative, the Department would 
seek Federal legislation requiring manufac- 
turers to provide consumers the option of pur- 
chasing any kind of restraint system: airbag, 
automatic belt, or manual belt. 

Following the issuance of the NPRM, the Depart- 
ment held public meetings in Los Angeles, Kansas 
City, and Washington, D.C. One hundred fifty-two 



people testified at these hearings. The public com- 
ment period on the NPRM closed on December 9, 
1983. The Department received over 6,000 com- 
ments on that NPRM by the close of the comment 
period. Since then, the Department has received 
an additional 1,800 comments. Some of these com- 
ments raised issues or led to the identification of 
other alternatives on which the Department 
wanted to receive further public comment. 

The SNPRM 

As a result of the desire for additional public 
comment, the Department issued a supplemental 
notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) on May 10, 
1984 (49 FR 20460). 

The SNPRM asked for comment on issues involv- 
ing the following areas: the public acceptance of 
automatic restraints, the usage rates and the effec- 
tiveness of the various restraint systems, the ben- 
efits that would be derived from the various alter- 
native means of protecting automobile front seat 
occupants, including potential insurance premium 
savings, and the testing procedures that would be 
required for automatic restraints. The SNPRM 
also sought comment on four additional proposed 
alternatives for occupant crash protection: 

• Autom,atic restraints with waiver for manda- 
tory use law States. Under this proposal, auto- 
matic restraints would be required in all cars 
manufactured after a set date, but this require- 
ment would be waived for vehicles sold to resi- 
dents of a State which had passed a mandatory 
safety belt use law (MUD. 

• Automatic restraints unless three-fourths of 
States pass mandatory use laws. Under this pro- 
posal, automatic restraints would be required in 
all cars manufactured after a set date, unless 
three-fourths of the States had passed manda- 
tory use laws before that date. 

• Mandatory demonstration program. This alter- 
native involves a mandatory demonstration pro- 
gram, which was suggested by the Ford Motor 
Company. Each automobile manufacturer would 
be required to equip an average of 5 percent of 
its cars with automatic restraints over a 4-year 
period. 

• Driver's-side airbags in small cars. Under this 
alternative, airbags would be required only for 
small cars and only for the driver's position in 
those cars. 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 176 



The comment period on the SNPRM closed on 
June 13, 1984. The Department received over 130 
comments. 

The Statute 

Pursuant to the National Traffic and Motor 
Vehicle Safety Act of 1966, as amended, the De- 
partment of Transportation is directed to "reduce 
traffic accidents and deaths and injuries to persons 
resulting from traffic accidents." The Act autho- 
rizes the Secretary of Transportation to issue 
motor vehicle safety standards that "shall be prac- 
ticable, shall meet the need for motor vehicle 
safety, and shall be stated in objective terms." In 
issuing these standards, the secretary is directed 
to consider "relevant available motor vehicle 
safety data," whether the proposed standard "is 
reasonable, practicable and appropriate for the 
particular type of motor vehicle ... for which it is 
prescribed," and the "extent to which such stan- 
dards will contribute to carrying out the purposes" 
of the Act. 

The Safety Problem 
Occupants of front seats in passenger cars ac- 
count for almost half of the deaths that occur annu- 



ally in motor vehicle accidents (including pedes- 
trian fatalities). In recent years (1981-83), an 
average of approximately 22,000 persons have 
been killed annually in the front seats of passenger 
cars; another 300,000 suffered moderate to severe 
injuries and more than 2 million had minor injuries. 
Approximately 55 percent of these fatalities and 
injuries occur in frontal impacts and another 25 
percent occur in side impacts. Table 1 shows the 
number of fatalities, by seating position, for 
1975-1982, while Table 2 shows data for injuries, 
by severity and seating position, for 1982, the lat- 
est year for which such a breakdown is available. 
Table 3 provides estimates of similar data for 1990 
to illustrate the impact of any rulemaking. For the 
1990 data, it was assumed (for purposes of this 
rulemaking analysis only) that manual belt usage 
rates would remain the same as current rates. 

To fully understand the benefits of various occu- 
pant restraint systems, it is helpful to recognize 
the frequency with which various front seating 
positions are used in cars involved in injury- 
producing accidents. As Tables 1 and 2 Ulustrate, 
three-fourths of all front seat occupant fatalities 
and serious injuries are experienced by drivers 
and almost all of the remainder are passengers in 



TABLE 1 
FRONT SEAT PASSENGER CAR FATALITIES WITH KNOWN SEATING POSITION 





Driver 


Front Middle 


Front Right 


Other Front 


Total 


1975 
Percent 


16,270 
72.2 


644 
2.9 


5,601 
24.8 


21 
0.1 


22.536 
100 


1976 
Percent 


16.375 
72.1 


602 
2.7 


5.714 
25.1 


24 

0.1 


22,715 
100 


1977 
Percent 


16.967 
72.0 


677 
2.5 


5.992 
25.4 


14 
0.1 


23,550 
100 


1978 
Percent 


18.224 
72.7 


627 
2.5 


6,180 
24.7 


16 

0.1 


25,047 
100 


1979 
Percent 


18.267 
73.8 


513 

2.1 


5,968 
24.1 


6 


24.754 
100 


1980 
Percent 


17.966 
73.3 


626 
2.2 


6,012 
24.5 


9 


24.513 
100 


1981 
Percent 


17.722 
73.8 


460 
1.9 


5.844 
24.3 


6 


24.032 
100 


1982 
Percent 


15.225 
73.1 


878 

1.8 


5.202 
25.0 


16 
0.1 


20,816 
100 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 177 



TABLE 2 
DISTRIBUTION OF FRONT SEAT PASSENGER CAR OCCUPANT INJURIES BY SEVERITY LEVEL 



Injury Severity 


Driver 


Front Middle 


Front Right 


Other Front 


Total 


Minor 


1,388,519 


29,914 


515,786 


2,526 


1,936,745 


Moderate 


187,660 


6,467 


47,417 


1,604 


243,148 


Serious 


45,627 


289 


16,100 





62,016 


Severe 


5,592 





2,411 





8.003 


Critical 


3,233 





728 





3,961 


Percent of 












Minor 












Injuries 


71.7 


1.5 


26.6 


0.2 


100.0 


Percent of 












Moderate 












to Critical 












Injuries 


76.3 


2.1 


21.0 


0.6 


100.0 



the right outboard seat. Thus, automatic protec- 
tion is likely to have three times the level of bene- 
fits for drivers as for front seat passengers. Addi- 
tionally, not only are occupants of the center seat 
rarely involved in fatal or injury-producing 
crashes, but their involvement is declining as 
shown in the tables. This decline is thought to be 
occurring, at least in part, because of the decline in 
the number of automobiles manufactured with 
bench-style front seats. 





TABLE 3 






PROJECTIONS OF FATALITIES AND INJURIES 




FOR 1990 










Front 


Front 






Driver 


Middle 


Right 


Total 


Fatalities 


18,050 


370 


6,140 


24,560 


Percent 


73.5 


1.5 


25.0 


100.0 


Moderate to 










Critical Injuries 


290.000 


5.000 


75.000 


370,000 


Percent 


78.5 


1.5 


20.0 


100.0 


Minor Injuries 


2.110,000 


40,000 


800,000 


2,950.000 


Percent 


71.5 


1.5 


27.0 


100.0 



Current Occupant Restraint Technology 

Manual belts 

Manual belts are safety belts that will provide 
protection in a crash in the occupant places the 



belt around himself or herself and attaches it. 
Manual belts can come in two types: lap belts that 
fit around the pelvic region and combined lap and 
shoulder belts, which are found in the majority of 
all new cars sold today. Manual shoulder belts are 
equipped with inertial reels that allow the belt 
webbing to play out so that the occupant can reach 
forward freely in the occupant compartment under 
normal conditions, but lock the belt in place if a 
crash occurs. To remind occupants to use their 
belts, FMVSS 208 requires the installation of a 
brief (4-8 seconds) audible and visible reminder. 

Automatic belts 

The automatic belt is similar in many respects to 
a manual belt but differs in that it is attached at 
one end between the seats in a two front seat car 
and at the other end to the interior of the door or, 
in the case of a belt with a motorized anchorage, to 
the door frame. The belt moves out of the way 
when the door is opened and automatically moves 
into place around the occupant when the door is 
closed. Thus, the occupant need take no action to 
gain the protective benefits of the automatic belt. 

Automatic belts differ significantly in their 
design. Some designs consist of a single diagonal 
shoulder belt (2-point belt) with a knee bolster 
located under the dashboard to prevent the occu- 
pant from sliding forward under the belt. Other 
designs include both a lap and a shoulder belt 
(3-point belt). 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 178 



The designs differ also in the features and 
devices included to encourage belt use by motor- 
ists and at the same time allow for emergency 
egress if the car door cannot be opened following a 
crash. Several designs are described below. 

One design takes advantage of the opportunity 
for the manufacturer to include, on a strictly vol- 
untary basis, an ignition interlock. The belt in that 
design detaches from the door, but must be reat- 
tached before the car can be started the next time. 
This type of automatic belt (2-point belt with knee 
bolster) has been installed in more than 390,000 
Volkswagen (VW) Rabbits over an 8-year period 
beginning in 1975. It was also installed on a small 
number 1978-79 General Motors (GM) Chevettes. 
It is still available as an option on Rabbits. 

Another design is similar in that the belt de- 
taches, but there is no ignition interlock. The belt 
may be detached and left that way without affecting 
the starting of the car. This was the type of auto- 
matic belt that most manufacturers had planned to 
use in complying with the automatic restraint 
requirement before the agency issued its rescis- 
sion order. It was briefly offered by General 
Motors as a consumer option on a Cadillac model. 

A third type of automatic belt is a continuous 
belt that does not detach at either end. Some con- 
tinuous belts use a spool release, which plays out 
additional webbing length. Sufficient slack is 
created by an emergency release lever so that the 
motorist can lift the belt out of his or her way and 
exit in an emergency. Another type of continuous 
belt with a spool release mechanism is the motor- 
ized belt. The belt's outer anchorage is not fixed to 
the door but runs along a track in the interior side 
of the door's window frame. When the door is 
opened, the anchorage moves forward along the 
track, pulling the belt out of the occupant's way. 
When the door is closed, the process is reversed so 
that the belt is placed around the seated occupant. 
This type of continuous belt, which is a two-point 
system with a knee bolster and which contains a 
manual lap belt, has been installed in all Toyota 
Cressidas for the last several model years and 
enhances occupant ingress and egress. 

Another type of continuous belt was installed on 
a small number of 1980 Chevettes. The belt con- 
sisted of a single length of webbing that passed 
through a ring near the occupant's inboard hip and 
served both as a lap and shoulder belt. The end of 
the lap belt that was connected to the lower rear 
corner of the door could be detached from door. 



However, the end could not be pulled through the 
ring. Thus, the effect of detaching the lap belt was 
to create an elongated shoulder belt. The extra 
slack in the belt system enabled occupants to get 
out of their belt in the event of an emergency. 

Air bags 

Airbags are fabric cushions that are very rap- 
idly inflated with gas to cushion the occupant and 
prevent him or her from colliding with the vehicle 
interior when a crash occurs that is strong enough 
to trigger a sensor in the vehicle. (Generally, the 
bag will inflate at a barrier equivalent impact 
speed of about 12 miles per hour.) After the crash, 
the bag quickly deflates to permit steering control 
or emergency egress. 

In 1973-76, General Motors produced approxi- 
mately 11,000 full-sized Chevrolets, Buicks, Olds- 
mobiles, and Cadillacs equipped with airbags. Dur- 
ing the same period. Ford installed airbags in 831 
Mercurys. A small number were installed in 
Volvos also. Today, only a single manufacturer, 
Mercedes Benz, is offering airbags in the United 
States. That company began offering airbag- 
equipped cars in the country beginning with the 
1984 model year; it has been selling airbag cars 
outside the United States since late 1980. Since 
then, it has sold approximately 22,000 of those cars 
worldwide, with most sales occurring within the 
last year or so. GSA has contracted with Ford 
Motor Company to build 5,000 cars equipped with 
driver's side airbags. Delivery on these cars is 
expected to begin in Model Year 1985. 

Other Automatic Occupant Protection 
Technologies 

The automatic occupant protection provisions of 
FMVSS 208 do not specify that particular tech- 
nologies, such as automatic belts or airbags, be 
used to comply with the standard. Rather, the 
standard requires a level of safety performance 
that can be met by any technology chosen by the 
manufacturer. Although safety belts and airbags 
are the most widely discussed technologies, the 
use of "passive interiors" as a means of compliance 
is also generating interest. 

Under this approach, improvements are made to 
the vehicle structure, steering column, and inte- 
rior padding so as to minimize potential occupant 
injuries. Thus, a "restraint" system, of any kind, is 
unnecessary for occupant protection in frontal 
crashes. GM has been actively pursuing "passive 
interiors." 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 179-180 



SUMMARY OF THE PUBLIC COMMENTS 



INTRODUCTION 

In this section of the preamble we have summa- 
rized the public comments on the Department's 
October 19, 1983, NPRM and the May 14, 1984, 
SNPRM. We have presented the summaries under 
headings that generally relate to the headings us- 
ed in the subsequent portions of the preamble. 
Some of the comments are very generally stated 
and may relate to more than one issue. Because of 
the large number of public comments, we have pro- 
vided a representative sample of the comments 
made and the commenters who made them. Subse- 
quent portions of the preamble discuss the issues 
and alternatives and present the Department's 
position and response to the public comments. The 
comments are analyzed and responded to in more 
detail in the Department's Final Regulatory Im- 
pact Analysis (FRIA). 

OCCUPANT PROTECTION SYSTEMS 

Usage 

Vehicle manufacturers generally agreed that 
mandating automatic belts would increase usage 
initially. However, based on their expectation of 
installing detachable automatic belts if required to 
install some type of automatic protection, some car 
manufacturers generally predicted that use would 
fall close to the current levels for manual belts 
once the belts were disconnected for the first time. 
GM believes this to be true for detachable auto- 
matic belts, and for nondetachable automatic belts 
as well. Honda also believes that, while there 
would be an initial increase in restraint usage if 
automatic belts were mandated, long-term usage 
of automatic belts might not be higher than cur- 
rent usage of manual belts. The key determinants 



would be the comfort and convenience of auto- 
matic belts. The other manufacturers believed 
that automatic belts would probably produce some 
small usage increase. Chrysler stated that usage 
for automatic belts would be less than 10 per- 
centage points higher than current usage for 
manual belts. Ford commented that the use of non- 
detachable automatic belts would initially be 
higher than the usage level for detachable auto- 
matic belts, but that over the long term it would 
fall to the same level. Ford said further that occa- 
sional belt users would use automatic belts more 
often than they currently use their manual belts, 
but the overall level of usage would not signifi- 
cantly rise. 

The car manufacturers generally believe that 
nondetachable automatic belts would not be prac- 
ticable since consumers would object strongly to 
them and, therefore, would defeat and possible dis- 
able them. The manufacturers concluded that 
there would be little or no increase in usage over 
manual belt rates. 

The Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) said that 
mechanically compelled use by unwilling occu- 
pants would be no more likely to succeed than 
legally compelled use by such persons. 

On the other hand, the American Seat Belt 
Council (ASBC) believes that usage of automatic 
belts would be 50 percent, which is roughly half- 
way between the current driver usage of 14 per- 
cent for manual belts and 80 percent for automatic 
belts with ignition interlocks. Professor William 
Nordhaus of Yale University believes that use of 
automatic belts would increase by 33 percentage 
points. John Graham of Harvard University found 
that expert opinion varies on the extent to which 
automatic belts would increase usage. His survey 



PART 571; 8 208 -PRE 181 



of seven experts found that detachable automatic 
belts would increase usage by 10 percentage 
points with an 80 percent confidence interval of 5 
to 40 percentage points. 

The issue of use inducing features or reminder 
mechanisms was raised by several commenters. 
ASBC believes that a continuous buzzer could dou- 
ble usage, and that buzzers, chimes and lights 
would all increase usage over levels that could be 
observed in vehicles without such features. VW 
stated that a continuous buzzer might be as effec- 
tive as an interlock. On the other hand, Ford 
stated that while a continuous buzzer would induce 
some nonusers to wear their safety belts, driver 
irritation and actions to permanently defeat the 
system could also be anticipated. 

Effectiveness 

Manual Belts 

The vehicle manufacturers generally stated that 
current manual lap and shoulder belts are more 
effective (when used) than either automatic belts 
or airbags. However, the combination of an airbag 
and manual lap and shoulder belts was acknowl- 
edged to be the most effective system of all. 

The Automobile Importers of America (AIA) 
estimated manual belt effectiveness at 50 percent. 
Honda expressed the view that, based upon results 
of its 35 mile per hour crash testing, manual belts 
may be more effective than airbags in terms of 
chest acceleration and femur load injury criteria. 

Most commenters on the SNPRM believed that 
the agency's range of effectiveness estimates for 
manual belts is too low. ASBC concluded that the 
estimate is too low because the agency estimate of 
lives saved from manual belt usage is approx- 
imately half the value previously cited by the 
agency. Renault argued that manual belt effective- 
ness data should not be adjusted to account for the 
presumably more cautious driving behavior of belt 
users, since belt use may lead some individuals to 
drive faster in the belief that they are better pro- 
tected. VW provided a procedure for calculating 
manual belt effectiveness from NHTSA's Fatal 
Accident Reporting System (FARS) data, which 
led to a very high effectiveness estimate. Ford con- 
cluded that the agency's analysis would support a 
higher range of manual belt effectiveness (50-60 
percent). Ford also challenged agency conclusions 
that manual belts are more effective in preventing 
moderate to serious injuries than fatalities and 



that manual belts are not likely to be effective in 
accidents involving a velocity change of over 35 
miles per hour. 

Automatic Belts 

The manufacturers stated that automatic belts 
may be less effective than manual belts. Similarly, 
the National Automobile Dealers Association 
(NADA) argued that automatic belts may be less 
effective than current manual belts if the auto- 
matic belt is attached to the door. VW and State 
Farm disagreed, saying that automatic belts are as 
effective as manual belts. 

Volvo argued that nondetachable automatic 
belts may be less effective than detachable auto- 
matic belts due to a "film spool effect." This effect 
may occur in 1-door models, if the amount of web- 
bing must be increased to allow entrance of pas- 
sengers into the rear seat area. 

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 
(IIHS) criticized the agency's effectiveness esti- 
mates for automatic belts, saying there was no 
support for the agency's conclusion that such belts, 
compared with manual belts, may increase the 
probabUity of occupant ejection. IIHS also sug- 
gested that the agency consider data that show 
that automatic belts may reduce the probability of 
the occurrence of head injuries. VW also chal- 
lenged the conclusion that automatic belts could 
permit higher rates of occupant ejection. Ford 
argued that the agency should use a range instead 
of a point estimate for the fatality reduction of 
automatic belts. Ford also questioned the agency's 
conclusion that 3-point automatic belts should be 
as effective as manual belts, due to the lack of data 
supporting such a conclusion and the fact that 
manual belts can be more securely adjusted than 
automatic belts. 

Professor William Nordhaus criticized the agen- 
cy's adjustment of automatic belt effectiveness 
data to account for the lower accident experience 
of drivers who had elected to use belts as com- 
pared to nonusers of safety belts. The agency had 
concluded that as increasing numbers of current 
nonusers of manual belts were brought into the 
population of automatic belt wearers, the overall 
effectiveness of automatic belts would be decreased. 
Professor Nordhaus argued that the agency over- 
estimated the magnitude of this effect. Professor 
Nordhaus also argued that automatic belts need 
not be less effective than current manual belts. In 
making this argument, he relied on agency crash 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 182 



test data and somewhat different data than those 
found by the agency to be most probative. 

Airbags 

Many consumer groups and health organizations 
indicated their belief that the reliability and effec- 
tiveness of airbags has been researched and tested 
to a far greater extent than any other item of vehi- 
cle safety equipment, and that the effectiveness of 
these devices is "unquestionable." 

Allstate stated that airbags are more effective 
than belts in protecting against head and facial 
injuries. That company stated that while some of 
the dummies wearing belts "survive" 35 mph 
crashes under the injury test criteria, they sus- 
tained head and facial injuries far in excess of 
those produced with airbags at comparable 
speeds. Allstate noted, also, that belts were not 
dynamically tested as automatic restraints would 
be. Citing its field experience, Allstate said that 
airbags are effective not only in reducing deaths 
and injuries in frontal crashes but also in reducing 
injuries in side impact crashes. Allstate challenged 
the accurancy of the agency's NPRM estimate of 
airbag effectiveness, pointing out that that anal- 
ysis was based on the use of restraint technology 
that is more than 10 years old. Allstate noted that 
GM itself had admitted that that technology was 
"obsolete." IIHS stated that, based on its analysis, 
airbags should be at least 34 percent effective in 
reducing fatalities. 

Ford argued that the number of airbag cars that 
have been produced to date is too small to ade- 
quately answer questions about effectiveness. 

PLF expressed the view that the agency really 
had no evidence that airbags are effective. That 
group argued that the agency erred in saying that 
the effectiveness of airbags is probably under- 
stated in the field data. According to PLF, DOT 
cannot know about all of the fatalities that have oc- 
curred in accidents involving airbag equipped cars. 
The group stated that the Department's estimate 
of airbag effectiveness is overstated to the extent 
that there are such undetected fatalities. Further, 
the group believes that the claim of the agency in 
the Preliminary Regulatory Impact Analysis 
(PRIA) that the large size of the cars equipped 
with airbags leads to an understating and obscur- 
ing of the potential effectiveness of airbags in 
smaller size cars is no more reasonable a conclu- 
sion than one that the large size of these cars 
masks the deficiencies of airbags by offering 



greater protection to out-of-position occupants and 
allowing longer deployment times for airbags. This 
group also asked DOT to provide an updated anal- 
ysis of injury data for the fleet of airbag cars. 

The National Head Injury Foundation stated 
that the airbag offers unique protection against 
head injury which even the automatic belt does not. 

PLF and V W suggested that the presence of air- 
bags might induce drivers to take greater risks 
while driving in reliance on the perceived increased 
protection. PLF argued that these increased risks 
could easily offset any gains in protection available 
as a result of the airbags. Professor Orr of Indiana 
University raised the same point, arguing that the 
"risk compensation" theory is sound but that the 
magnitude of its effect was unknown. IIHS submit- 
ted a study showing that the implementation of a 
safety belt use law in a Canadian province did not 
result in any increased risk taking by drivers. The 
study looked at the frequency with which certain 
risky maneuvers were made before and after the law 
was implemented and found no significant differ- 
ence. John Graham stated that, based on several 
studies he has undertaken, any risk-compensation 
effect is significantly lower than the magnitude of 
benefits derived from the safety improvements. 

Several vehicle manufacturers expressed their 
view that an airbag is relatively ineffective by 
itself, and should be viewed as a supplement to a 
belt system. The Motor Vehicle Manufacturers 
Association (MVMA) emphasized its view that air- 
bags are effective in frontal crashes only. 

In their SNPRM comments, several commenters 
addressed the agency's estimated range of effec- 
tiveness for airbags. IIHS concluded that the 
range is conservative but not unreasonable at the 
middle and high ends. They cautioned, however, 
that it would be inappropriate to compare the 
effectiveness of airbags in relation to safety belts 
by using the low end of the airbag effectiveness 
range and the middle or high end of the safety belt 
range. Mercedes Benz commented that its new 
"supplemental restraint system," which employs 
an airbag, has worked according to design in all 
accident situations in which vehicles equipped 
with the system have been involved. 

PLF and VW also said that the Department's 
effectiveness studies were subjective. PLF argued 
that DOT was using precisely the same type of anal- 
ysis that GM had offered and NHTSA had rejected 
in the 1977 rulemaking on automatic restraints. 
That group stated that DOT failed to explain this 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 183 



change of view. The PLF also criticized the agency's 
studies on airbag effectiveness for failing to take 
into account data for all vehicles using airbags, i.e., 
the non-GM Air Cushion Restraint System (ACRS) 
cars. Renault expressed the view that airbag effec- 
tiveness could not exceed 20 percent, due to the 
inability of airbags to provide protection in non- 
frontal and ejection accident situations. 

Ford argued that notwithstanding the limited 
amount of actual field data on airbag cars, those 
data cannot be totally dismissed in arriving at an 
estimate of airbag effectiveness. Ford also sug- 
gests updating field data to include Fatal Accident 
Reporting System data through 1983, instead of 
only through 1981 as was done in the PRIA. Ford 
found two of NHTSA's studies based on the Na- 
tional Crash Severity Study (NCSS) data to pro- 
vide reasonable estimates of airbag effectiveness 
but found the third study to be flawed. Ford 
argued that the latter study was restricted to data 
from crashes in which airbags would be most likely 
to be effective. Ford also challenged a fourth 
agency study, on injury reducing effectiveness, 
based on field data, since it tended to show airbags 
to be most effective in accident situations in which 
the airbag is unlikely to deploy. Ford also stated 
that there appeared to be no basis for the agency's 
effectiveness range for airbags used in conjunction 
with safety belts. 

Benefits 

Several major insurance companies commis- 
sioned Professor William Nordhaus of Yale 
University to provide an updated economic anal- 
ysis of alternative approaches to automatic crash 
protection. In response to the NPRM, Professor 
Nordhaus concluded that automatic crash protec- 
tion would have net economic benefits to the nation 
of between $2.7 and $4.1 billion per year, while 
rescission would cost the nation $33 billion. Pro- 
fessor Nordhaus stated that every year of delay 
increases fatalities by approximately 5,000 and 
increases moderate to critical injuries by at least 
70,000. His analysis also concluded that the impact 
of retaining the rule on profits or jobs in the auto- 
mobile industry, as well as on the national economy, 
would be miniscule. He stated that automatic crash 
protection would be cost beneficial even if auto- 
matic belts increased restraint usage by only eight 
percentage points and even if airbags cost $825. 

Many consumer and health organizations ex- 
pressed concern that the agency had understated 



the benefits that would be associated with auto- 
matic restraints through their prevention of 
deaths and injuries. HHS noted that the agency 
was relying on police reports to calculate the num- 
ber of injuries from vehicle accidents. The group 
submitted evidence that only 70 percent of injuries 
resulting from vehicle accidents and treated in 
hospital emergency units were reported to the 
police. The evidence was taken from a study com- 
paring car accident treatments in northeastern 
Ohio emergency rooms with police reports of acci- 
dents. To compensate for this underreporting of 
vehicle accident related injuries, this group sug- 
gested that the agency multiply its projected num- 
ber of injuries by 1.4 to give a more accurate indi- 
cation of the number of vehicular nonfatal injuries 
that could be expected. Such a step would, of 
course, increase the benefits associated with auto- 
matic restraints. Another group was also con- 
cerned that the agency had underestimated the 
minimum level of effectiveness of airbags and sub- 
mitted an analysis showing that airbags would 
have a minimum effectiveness of 35 percent, in- 
stead of the 20 percent minimum used by the agency 
in the PRIA. 

Several of the health organizations commenting 
on the proposal emphasized that the agency ought 
to reconsider the human costs of the head and 
spinal injuries suffered by persons in car acci- 
dents. One group submitted data projecting 66,000 
head injuries annually as a result of vehicle acci- 
dents, with nine percent of those injured persons 
either dying in the hospital or discharged to 
chronic institutional care. Another 8 percent 
would be discharged but subject to follow-up medi- 
cal attention. Many of these victims are young peo- 
ple who have to readjust to life with these injuries, 
which prevent them from performing even simple 
tasks they once did for themselves. These impacts 
are not readily quantifiable in dollars, according to 
these groups, but are just as significant as eco- 
nomic impacts for the people with family members 
who have suffered serious head and spinal injuries. 

VW asked for an explanation of the methodol- 
ogy used in calculating Table 3 of the SNPRM, 
since the baseline of fatalities if no restrains were 
used seems to change with each listed effective- 
ness rate. This comment also noted that if manda- 
tory usage laws are in effect by 1988, and 70 per- 
cent buckle up, the airbags' benefits would not 
equal the benefits of the mandatory use laws until 
the 21st century. 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 184 



Professor Nordhaus states that using NHTSA's 
effectiveness rates for the various types of 
restraint systems shows both automatic belts and 
airbags to be highly cost beneficial, and that fur- 
ther delays cost the country at least $24 billion 
annually. He also stated that the benefits of 
mandatory belt use laws are so speculative as to 
necessarily remove those options from any serious 
consideration. 

IIHS stated that DOT's projected airbag usage 
rate of 98 percent a fortiori means that airbags are 
the most beneficial alternative, because DOT has 
consistenly recognized that the benefits of any of 
the restraint systems depend almost completely 
on the usage rates. IIHS repeated its contention 
that belt nonusers constitute such a dispropor- 
tionate number of crash-involved occupants that 
actual reductions in deaths and injuries will be 
noticeably lower than would be projected for that 
level of belt use until the usage rate approaches 
100 percent. 

The insurance companies stated that several 
companies now have in effect 30 percent premium 
reductions for first and third party bodily injury 
liability for cars with automatic restraints. They 
contended, however, that the benefits associated 
with this rulemaking are not lower insurance pre- 
miums. In their view, the benefits are the preven- 
tion or reduction in seriousness of thousands of 
fatalities and serious injuries annually. 

Public Acceptance 

State Farm stated that it considered public 
acceptability of restraint systems to be a very 
important issue. It argued that a regulatory alter- 
native could not be rejected on the grounds of 
insufficient public acceptability if the benefits of 
the alternative would exceed the costs of that 
alternative. It argued further that the legislative 
history of the Vehicle Safety Act made it clear that 
safety was the overriding consideration in imple- 
menting the Act. Thus, more weight should be 
given to the safety benefits of a contemplated safety 
requirement than to the public acceptability of the 
devices used to comply with that requirement. 

State Farm also said that public reaction has 
regulatory significance as a legal and practical 
matter only if it is translated into behavior; that is, 
if people disable automatic restraints. If not, public 
acceptability meets the statutory criteria. Public 
opinion surveys over the last decade, including the 
1983 GM and IIHS surveys, show public support 



for mandatory automatic restraints, "All studies of 
usage rates of automatic belts show levels of incre- 
mental usage far above break-even levels." 

Contradictory evidence was provided on the 
attitude of the public toward automatic restraints. 
Consumer Alert provided a public opinion poll 
showing that fewer than 15 percent of the respond- 
ents wanted mandatory automatic restraints. Pub- 
lic Citizen submitted a public opinion poll which it 
viewed as showing a clear preference for auto- 
matic restraints, especially airbags. IIHS cited a 
recent public opinion poll indicating that 56 per- 
cent of the respondents favored requiring auto- 
matic restraints on new cars as standard equip- 
ment and 37 percent favored requiring that the 
type of restraint be offered as an option. AAA 
stated that while consumers may not rush to pur- 
chase automatic restraints as options if manual 
belts were original equipment, they would accept 
automatic restraints as original equipment, par- 
ticularly if they could choose between the various 
types of automatic restraints. Other groups 
argued that the increased protection against facial, 
spinal, and head injuries afforded by airbags would 
result in consumers choosing airbags as the pre- 
ferred automatic restraint, if they are allowed to 
make that choice. Most of these groups indicated 
that airbags are less intrusive than automatic 
belts, and would therefore be more readily accepted 
by the public. 

The manufacturers said that nondetachable 
belts would raise consumer acceptance problems 
since they are more coercive than current belts. 
This expectation is based in part on the interlock 
experience of 1974. NADA said that the expe- 
rience with VW Rabbits, Toyota Cressidas, and GM 
Chevettes indicates a lack of consumer acceptance 
of automatic belt systems and that the GM experi- 
ence with airbag cars shows a similar lack of con- 
sumer acceptance. 

Mercedes, on the other hand, said that its sys- 
tem had met with "favorable market acceptance" 
in Europe and projected it would be accepted in 
the U.S. VW said, contrary to dealer statements, 
that it did not believe its automatic belts had been 
defeated in the sense of being destroyed but only 
that the interlock had been defeated, perhaps by 
dealers themselves. 

MVMA submitted a memorandum of law with 
which GM and VW agreed. Ford and AMC also 
agreed, adding comments. MVMA restated the 
State Farm argument saying that State Farm 



PART 571; 8 208 -PRE 185 



believes the Act forbids NHTSA from considering 
adverse public reaction to a mandatory automatic 
requirement except to the extent that the public 
will disable the equipment. MVMA believes the 
State Farm position is not consistent with the leg- 
islative history of the Act, judicial precent, or prior 
positions of DOT. MVMA says that public accepta- 
bility is part of the "all relevant factors" considera- 
tion under the Act. Two 1974 congressional actions 
shed light on what is acceptable: the ignition inter- 
lock ban and congressional review of a mandatory 
automatic restraint rule (MVMA cites the Senate 
debate on the 1974 Federal highway aid bill on the 
congressional review issue). MVMA claims Secre- 
tary Coleman's decision was made with these fac- 
tors in mind. Matters of future probability, as 
raised in the Coleman decision, are relevant to an 
agency decision even though they cannot be pre- 
cisely measured. 

GM agreed, adding that public acceptability is 
not a narrow issue. 

VW also agreed, stating that public acceptabil- 
ity is a two-faceted problem: State Farm's concern 
over consumers defeating or destroying the re- 
straint systems and public popularity are equally 
important. Consumer backlash could result from 
an expensive or coercive system, such as an igni- 
tion interlock. VW claims that airbags have been 
oversold; fatalities would continue and DOT's 
credibility would be questioned. 

Ford agreed, stating that public acceptance in- 
volves far broader issues than disabling unwelcome 
equipment. Ford asks what percentage of front 
seat occupants would defeat automatic restraints 
and whether there would be enough benefits to 
justify the systems. Ford's best projection is that 
manual and automatic usage will be equivalent 
over the long run; that is, positive and negative 
belt use inducement factors for automatic belts 
will balance out to produce usage rates equivalent 
to those for active belts. Ford said also that com- 
fort, entry and egress, and the defeatability of 
automatic belt systems are still unknowns; there- 
fore, a field test is needed. 

Chrysler said the State Farm position is too nar- 
row. There must be widespread public perception 
that benefits are worth the price. It predicted that 
the automatic restraint requirement would suffer 
the same fate as the ignition interlock. 

Toyota said the State Farm position is inappro- 
priate. The public may press for legislative rescis- 
sion of an automatic restraint requirement, even 



though the public does not or cannot disable the 
system, citing the ignition interlock experience. 

BL Technology Ltd. said that public accepta- 
bility and usage should be considered together. It 
said that the NHTSA definition of public accep- 
tance is correct, i.e., "tolerance and use of restraint 
system," whether manual or automatic. BL sug- 
gests that the U.S. try mandatory seat belt use 
laws coupled with effective enforcement. 

Renault accepts the State Farm interpretation 
but pointed out that a belt is needed with an air- 
bag. Renault said that public acceptance and use of 
automatic belts will remain limited. 

PLF and Consumer Alert said there is no man- 
date for an automatic restraint requirement. The 
issue of public acceptance is not limited to the sole 
question of deactivating mandatory automatic 
restraints; it encompasses all factors which may af- 
fect dot's implementation of the Vehicle Safety 
Act. They said an automatic restraint requirement 
could cause the public to forestall buying new cars, 
which would delay the introduction of automatic 
protection and reduce safety by increasing the age 
of the total vehicle population. They also said DOT 
should consider risk compensation by those forced 
to wear belts or buy bags, citing John Adams' 1982 
SAE paper, which PLF claims DOT has ignored. 
Experience in other countries is also cited to show 
that restrained occupants are less likely to be 
involved in fatalities. 

IIHS said that earlier evidence submitted by 
them and others shows that automatic restraints, 
especially airbags, are acceptable. 

Allstate supports State Farm on the acceptance 
issue. Allstate argues that if public acceptability is 
a controlling factor, then we cannot continue with 
the present manual seat belt requirements, due to 
low usage levels. They said there is no doubt that 
airbags have the most public acceptance; auto- 
matic belts have greater acceptance than manual 
belts. Therefore, DOT should reinstate the pre- 
vious automatic restraint standard. 

The American Insurance Association supports 
the State Farm interpretation. It said DOT should 
require automatic restraints because they only re- 
quire toleration by the public to be effective. The 
standard for public acceptance should be public 
acquiescence, not public preference. 

The National Association of Independent Insur- 
ors (NAII) said the DOT record shows that manda- 
tory airbags are acceptable. 

NADA said State Farm is correct in suggesting 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 186 



that public acceptance should be given a "narrow, 
legal interpretation." They argued that there are 
four indicia for determining public acceptance, 
each with substantial evidence: (l)The public has 
expressed opposition to coercive occupant restraint 
devices, e.g., the ignition interlock. The record 
shows people will disable automatic belts. (2) The 
cost indicates that airbags will not be replaced; 
therefore, they will be disabled after one use. (3) A 
significant number of consumers are unwilling or 
unable to purchase new vehicles equipped with 
automatic restraint devices. (4) Consumers will 
buy vehicles without automatic restraints, such as 
vans or pickup trucks, or used cars. 



Cost and Leadtime 

A number of manufacturers provided cost esti- 
mates for automatic restraints. The incremental 
consumer costs of adding a full airbag system were 
estimated at $838 by GM, $807 by Ford and $800 
by Chrysler. Jaguar provided an estimate of $1800. 

Breed Corporation submitted an estimate of 
$140 for its all-mechanical airbag design, assuming 
a volume of one million units. According to Breed, 
this estimate has been independently verified by 
technical experts familiar with auto industry prac- 
tices, procedures and pricing mechanisms. The 
estimate does not include necessary vehicle modifi- 
cations, such as adding knee bolsters. Romeo 
Kojyo provided an estimate of $150 for a driver 
airbag retrofit kit, exclusive of installtion and 
assuming an annual volume of one million units. 
Ralph Rockow, president of Dynamic Science, 
stated that airbags could be produced at an incre- 
mental consumer price of $185. The Automotive 
Occupant Protection Association incorporated the 
Rockow estimate in its comment and provided a 
detailed breakdown of costs for a $185 full front 
passenger system at a production volume of two 
million units annually. 

The incremental consumer costs of adding auto- 
matic belts were estimated at $45 by General 
Motors and Richard Lohr, a cost estimating consul- 
tant, $115 by Chrysler, $150 by Jaguar and Honda, 
and $200 or more by Nissan and Renault. Peugeot 
provided an estimate of $350 for a motorized auto- 
matic belt system. 

Numerous manufacturers provided comments 
on required leadtime. In commenting on an auto- 
matic belt requirement, GM stated that while 
1V« years is adequate for models already designed. 



three years are necessary for new designs or non- 
detachable automatic belts. Chrysler, Mazda and 
Peugeot also stated that 3 years are needed for 
automatic belts. Renault said that 24 months were 
needed for belts, while AMC said 30 to 36 months. 
Nissan provided an estimate of 30 to 42 months 
and Ford provided a figure of 4 years. VW said it 
could comply immediately for some models but 
would need 4 years for all models. 

GM's estimate for a airbag requirement was 

3 years for large cars and longer for small cars. 
Chrysler stated that 4 to 5 years would be needed 
to implement a requirement for full front airbags. 
AMC stated that 3 to 3V2 years would be neces- 
sary for such a requirement, while Ford said 

4 years. Renault said 3 years were needed while 
Saab claimed 58 months were necessary. 

The National Safety Council said the automatic 
restraint requirement should be made effective 
September 1985, or 1 year thereafter at the latest. 
Mr. Lohr, a cost estimator, provided an estimate 
for automatic belts of 18 months, while the 
Automatic Occupant Protection Association 
(AOPA) stated that 18-30 months leadtime would 
be sufficient. 

Two studies were submitted to the docket that 
analyzed the overall economic effects of an auto- 
matic restraint requirement. One study was by 
Dr. Barbara Richardson, of the University of Mich- 
igan, and was sponsored by MVMA. The other 
study was by Professor William Nordhaus and was 
sponsored by several major insurance companies. 

Dr. Richardson concluded that a requirement for 
airbags costing between $300 and $800 per car 
would have severe detrimental effects on the auto- 
motive industry and the economy as a whole. 
Dr. Richardson stated that a short-run reduction in 
vehicle sales of 2.7 percent to 9.7 percent would 
occur, as well as an increase in unemployment of 
between 62,000 and 197,000 persons. She also con- 
cluded that gross national product (GNP), wages, 
disposable income, and personal consumption 
would decrease. 

Professor Nordhaus concluded that an auto- 
matic restraint requirement would have a minimal 
effect on the automobile industry and the national 
economy as a whole. According to his analysis, an 
automatic restraint rule would result in an in- 
crease instead of a decrease in jobs in the auto- 
mobile and supply industries. 

NADA said the dealership operating costs and 
costs of automatic repair and service would increase. 



PART 571 ; S 208 - PRE 187 



Insurance Premium Changes 

Numerous insurance industry commenters 
stated that implementation of an automatic crash 
protection requirement would provide significant 
economic benefits in the form of insurance pre- 
mium reductions. Some commenters provided spe- 
cific estimates of savings. Others argued more gen- 
erally that an automatic restraint requirement 
would result in cost savings and that those savings 
would be reflected in insurance premium reduc- 
tions. According to insurance commenters, a num- 
ber of insurance companies have for some time 
been offering premium discounts for medical pay- 
ment coverage for cars equipped with automatic 
restraints. Those commenters indicated that some 
discounts apply to all types of automatic restraints, 
while others are restricted to airbags. 

Nationwide stated that installation of airbags in 
all automobiles would reduce private first- and 
third-party liability premiums by 24.6 percent of 
$31 annually per insured car. Using the Nation- 
wide data. Professor William Nordhaus, in his 
NPRM comments, estimated that owners of cars 
equipped with automatic belts would experience 
consumer insurance cost savings of $24 per year. 
Professor Nordhaus estimated that, for vehicles 
equipped with automatic belts, taking into account 
consumer cost of the automatic belt, fuel cost and 
insurance cost, the total direct financial impact 
over the life of the vehicle would be to lower the 
cost of operating an automobile by about $60. 
According to Professor Nordhaus, this underesti- 
mates true total consumer savings as it omits non- 
insurance costs, lost wages, medical costs borne by 
the consumer and pain and suffering. New York 
State Insurance Superintendent Corcoran stated 
that, for average New York premiums, an all air- 
bag requirement would result in insurance savings 
of $66 per year. 

State Farm stated that while it does not now 
offer a discount to policy holders with automatic 
restraint equipped vehicles, the substantial finan- 
cial benefits resulting from an automatic restraint 
requirement would be reflected in its rates, 
although it could not give an quantified estimate of 
that reduction. According to State Farm, its con- 
sistent policy in making insurance pricing deci- 
sions is to base them upon actual observed on-the- 
road insurance experience. State Farm also stated 
that, while that practice remains its policy, in 
other cases it has responded to competitive pres- 
sures where discounts have been made available. 



and it expects that the same thing would occur in 
this instance. Several other companies also empha- 
sized that premium reductions would result as 
fatalities and injuries are reduced by automatic 
restraints. Emphasizing the relationship between 
premiums and loss experience. Nationwide noted 
that since August 1981, it has lowered auto insur- 
ance rates in 19 jurisdictions, despite continuing 
inflation. Insurance Superintendent Corcoran stated 
that he would mandate reductions in New York to 
assure that savings to insurers are reflected in 
premium rate changes to the public and assumes 
that all other regulators would do the same. Since 
his comments were submitted. New York has en- 
acted legislation authorizing the superintendent 
to require such premium reductions. 

Not all commenters were certain that insurance 
costs would be reduced. Dr. Barbara Richardson, of 
the University of Michigan, stated that estimates of 
insurance premium changes resulting from airbags 
range from a large decrease over the lifetime of a 
vehicle to a net increase in insurance cost. In addi- 
tion, one insurance company, the Automobile Club 
of Michigan, expressed concern that the PRIA's 
estimates of additional insurance costs for airbags, 
based on replacement frequencies and costs, were 
substantially understated. The Automobile Club 
and the General Motors Acceptance Corporation 
(GMAC) argued that the agency forgot to include 
increases in insurance premiums to reflect the 
greater value of cars equipped with airbags. 

The commenting insurance companies, including 
State Farm, also indicated that insurance premium 
reductions would occur in States that enacted 
safety belt usage laws, to the extent that real 
world experience justified such reductions. The 
American Automobile Association (AAA) of Michi- 
gan said it would lower personal injury premiums 
by 20 percent upon enactment of a seatbelt use 
law. Commenters indicated that some companies 
now offer an incentive of increased benefits at no 
additional cost if manual belts are worn. Com- 
menters pointed out difficulties in implementing a 
discount program for seatbelt usage, since verifi- 
cation of such usage, both generally and in the case 
of specific accidents, is not easy to obtain. 

In response to the SNPRM, State Farm referred 
to the discounts offered for 5 mph bumpers as an 
example of the industry's quick reaction to reduce 
rates when new safety features are introduced. 
Citing the D.C. Circuit's decision in State Farm 
V. DOT, State Farm argued that insurance com- 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 188 



panies' practices have no significance for the deci- 
sion that DOT has to make. It argued that if this 
concern were relevant, insurers have already 
given premium discounts for automatic restraint 
cars. It further argued that the issue of premium 
reductions is irrelevant to the conclusion that an 
automatic restraint rule will be cost beneficial. It 
said this is so "because a proper cost-benefit anal- 
ysis weighs the costs and benefits of a standard to 
society as a whole. That balance cannot be deter- 
mined from an analysis of the insurance effects of a 
rule, since there are enormous societal losses that 
go uncompensated under any insurance coverage." 
Finally, State Farm argued that DOT has a statu- 
tory obligation to require implementation of new 
technology where necessary to further the Safety 
Act and that consideration is different from the ac- 
tuarial considerations that determine whether an 
insurance company will offer a premium discount. 

The American Insurance Association (AIA) said 
that the industry has previously addressed the 
issue of insurance reductions. AIA pointed out 
that many of its members currently offer a 30 per- 
cent discount for medical payment and/or no-fault 
coverage for automatic restraint equipped vehi- 
cles. It referred to Nationwide's estimate of a 
potential annual premium savings per insured car 
that would equal $31 if all cars had airbags. AIA 
also noted that Nationwide and United Services 
Automobile Association (USAA) currently provide 
incentives for wearing manual belts. 

Nationwide criticized the agency for allegedly 
ignoring Nationwide's previous testimony on 
insurance premium reductions. Nationwide said 
that, for the past 10 years, it has provided a 30 per- 
cent discount for first-party injury coverages for 
cars equipped with airbags. It further noted that, 
in its DOT testimony in 1976, it submitted its esti- 
mate of premium savings and its methodology for 
deriving that estimate. Nationwide updated that 
estimate to 1982, and said the potential insurance 
saving per policy holder is $31 annually. That esti- 
mate is for a full front-seat airbag system; Nation- 
wide said that it is currently studying what dis- 
count it would give to a driver-side only system. It 
expects to offer a 25 percent discount on first- 
party medical coverage. 

Nationwide also pointed out that, since 1963, it 
has offered extra medical insurance coverage, at 
no cost, to policyholders wearing their safety 
belts; last year it began providing a $10,000 death 
benefit and doubled medical payments coverage at 



no extra cost to policyholders wearing belts. 

Allstate said that since 1974 it has had a 30 per- 
cent discount on first-party injury coverages for 
airbag-equipped cars. It said that if airbags were 
installed in the entire fleet, there would be a 30 per- 
cent reduction in all insurance premiums, including 
medical payments, no-fault personal injury protec- 
tion, death benefits, uninsured motorist coverage 
and bodily injury liability protection. Allstate said 
it could not provide an estimate of the insurance 
cost savings for automatic belts. 

NAII pointed to prior testimony by USAA and 
Allstate providing details of insurance savings and 
observed that Nationwide specifically responded 
to the Secretary's questions at the public hearing 
concerning savings. NAII provided an attachment 
summarizing the prior industry testimony on the 
insurance savings issue. 

NAII criticized the SNPRM's suggestion that 
insurers are not providing incentives for belt use. 
It cited Nationwide's policy and Leon Robertson's 
study that found that insurance incentives have 
not increased belt use. It also cited a 1980 National 
Academy of Sciences report done for DOT which 
questioned whether insurance incentives would be 
effective. 

The Kemper Group said it currently offers a dis- 
count of up to 30 percent on first-party medical pay- 
ment and no-fault auto insurance rates for cars with 
automatic belts or airbags. Kemper said that the 
cost of replacing an airbag could raise the physical 
damage insurance cost, but the increase would be 
minimal compared to the costs of the deaths and 
injuries that could be avoided with airbags. 

Aetna estimated that the reduction in first- 
party no-fault, medical payments and uninsured 
motorist coverage premiums would be 25 to 30 
percent for airbag equipped cars. As the percent- 
age of automatic restraint equipped cars increases 
in the fleet, Aetna said there could be a similar 
reduction in third-party bodUy injury premiums. 

Conversely, Mercedes said "no company to our 
knowledge has reduced its rates on Mercedes-Benz 
Supplementary Restraint System (SRS) equipped 
vehicles" and Volkswagen stated that, to their 
knowledge, "no major insurance company offers a 
discount to owners of automatic restraint equipped 
vehicles," despite the fact that VW has been ap- 
proached by insurers ostensibly for that purpose. 
VW said it has provided information to insurance 
companies because it desires to see its customers 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 189 



who have purchased automatic belt equipped Rab- 
bits rewarded through lower insurance premiums. 

Other Issues 

Product Liability 

The Automotive Service Council of Michigan 
raised the issue of the potential liability of inde- 
pendent repair shops that would service automatic 
restraint equipped vehicles. In addition, individual 
new car dealers and NADA raised the issue of 
whether the use of automatic restraints will in- 
crease a dealer's product liability costs. William C. 
TurnbuU, President of NADA, testified that: 

The reliability of passive restraint systems, 
particularly airbags, has been a matter of 
grave concern to dealers and consumers alike. 
No mass-produced product can ever be "fail- 
safe." Components deteriorate due to passage 
of time, usage and climate. There are reports 
of inadvertent airbag deployments in the past. 
We fear that, with any widespread usage of air- 
bags, incidences of inadvertent deployments 
and system failure will occur, with perhaps 
tragic consequences to vehicle occupants. In 
such cases, dealers may be the innocent vic- 
tims of product liability lawsuits. 

However, Willi Reidelbach of Mercedes-Benz, 
which is currently marketing an airbag-equipped 
car in Europe and the U.S., testified that he was not 
aware of any product liability concerns expressed 
by Mercedes dealers about the airbag system. 

Several insurers provided comments on the po- 
tential of automatic restraints to reduce product 
liability claims and the availability and cost of 
manufacturer product liability insurance. Mr. Don- 
ald Schaffer, Senior Vice President, Secretary, and 
General Counsel of Allstate, testified that: 

Our product liability people believe that the 
airbag equipped cars, if you insure the total 
vehicle, will produce better experience than 
the non-airbag cars because the airbag relia- 
bility factors are much higher than anything 
on the car. They are much higher than the 
brake failure rates or anything else. 

Mr. Schaffer also testified that at the time of 
Secretary Coleman's proposed demonstration pro- 
gram, Allstate was Ford's product liability insurer 
and had informed Ford that there would be no in- 
crease in its product liability insurance costs if 



Ford built an airbag fleet. He also testified that 
Allstate entered into a written agreement with 
General Motors that "we would write all of their 
product liability insurance for cars in the Coleman 
demonstration fleet at the same price they were 
getting from their regular product liability insurer 
per unit for non-airbag cars of the same make and 
model year." 

NAII also addressed the product liabUity con- 
cerns raised by manufacturers and dealers. NAII 
said that: 

The potential for product liability suits is 
always present for any manufacturer or seller 
of consumer goods. That threat is present at 
the current time for anyone in the distribu- 
tion chain. We in the insurance industry ex- 
pect that savings (not increased costs) would 
accrue to manufacturers and dealers, as a 
result of automatic crash protection systems 
being installed in all cars, as lives are saved 
and injuries are reduced, thus reducing poten- 
tial litigation over safety deficiencies. 

Another potential source of manufacturer liabil- 
ity was raised by Stephen Teret, representing the 
National Association for Public Health Policy. 
Teret argued that: 

If a reasonable means of protection is being 
denied to the motoring public, that denial 
should lead to liability, even if the liability can 
be imposed on each and every car manufac- 
turer. People whose crash injury would have 
been averted had the car been equipped with 
an airbag can sue the manufacturer to recover 
the dollar value of that injury. 



Sodium Azide 

The Institute of Scrap Iron and Steel (ISIS) and 
the Automotive Dismantlers and Recyclers Asso- 
ciation (ADRA) said that they were concerned 
about potential health hazards posed to their 
employees by sodium azide contained in airbag 
systems. Both ISIS and ADRA noted that sodium 
azide is toxic and a mutagent and that there is a 
general correlation between mutagenicity and car- 
cinogenicity. In addition, they raised the issue of 
possible air canister explosions during the recycl- 
ing and scrapping process. 

To reduce potential hazards they recommended 
a number of actions: 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 190 



1) Place a warning on the vehicles with airbags 
so their employees can easily identify them. 

2) Design airbag systems so that they can be 
deployed by remote control or so that they 
can be easily removed from a vehicle. 

3) Provide financial incentives, such as a 
bounty or fee, for removing the airbag canister. 

Breed System 

The Breed Corporation estimates the cost to the 
consumer of a Breed airbag system for the driver 
and one passenger to be $140 installed, based on an 
initial production rate of 1 million units annu- 
ally. Breed states that its cost estimates have been 
independently verified by technical experts famil- 
iar with auto industry practices, procedures and 
pricing mechanisms. Breed says that the system 
still requires a "good" year of research before it 
can be put into production. 

Ford and GM expressed doubts about the readi- 
ness and performance of the Breed System. 

Breed urged DOT to require car makers to design 
airbag cavities in steering wheels and dashboards 
to facilitate the retrofitting of cars with airbags. 

Automatic Belt Detachability 

Virtually all commenters who addressed the 
issue of detachability expressed concerns that non- 
detachable belts should not be required. The vehi- 
cle manufacturers generally agreed that the pub- 
lic, especially the hard core belt nonusers, would 
react adversely to nondetachable automatic belts. 
They also doubted that the difference in the long 
run usage rates for detachable belts and for non- 
detachable belts would be significant. 

GM suggested that its experience with the 1980 
Chevette shows that the public will not accept non- 
detachable belts. According to GM, general annoy- 
ance and fear of entrapment will lead many hard 
core nonusers to defeat that type of belt. As to 
detachable automatic belts, GM says that the iner- 
tia effect cited in the State Farm decision can be 
expected to operate only until the belts are first 
detached. While there would be an initial increase 
in usage, in the long run neither detachable nor non- 
detachable automatic belts would yield any increase 
in usage. Ford agreed that fear of entrapment 
would produce some adverse reaction to nondetach- 
able automatic belts. Ford stated that detachable 
automatic belts would produce some undefinable 
amount of usage increase. While nondetachable 



belts would produce higher increases in the short 
run, in the long run the usage rate for nondetach- 
able belts would fall to the level of the usage of 
detachable belts. Honda commented that nonde- 
tachable belts would not be accepted by the public 
because of entry and exit problems, entrapment 
fears and poor appearance. Nissan anticipated no 
difference in the long-run usage rates of detachable 
and nondetachable belts. VW said that the high 
usage rate of their automatic belt is due largely to 
the interlock. Without the interlock, VW said, the 
usage rate would be between that for manual belts 
and the current VW Rabbit automatic belt system. 
VW suggested also that it was important in design- 
ing an automatic belt to locate the release mech- 
anism near the window so that persons assisting 
an injured occupant could release the belt. ASBC 
predicted that 10 to 20 percent of car occupants are 
hard-core nonusers who will cut out nondetachable 
belts. The Council said that, in the long run, usage 
of detachable belts would fall between current 
manual belt usage rates and the rates for auto- 
matic belts in cars on the road today, i.e., usage 
would be about 50 percent. IIHS submitted a sur- 
vey indicating that 68 percent would never detach 
a detachable belt, 21 percent would occasionally 
and 8 percent would do so permanently. John 
Graham stated that his survey of experts indi- 
cated that detachable automatic belts would in- 
crease usage by 10 percentage points and that 
55 percent of motorists would dismantle non- 
detachable belts. 

Alternatives 

Retain 

Most of the manufacturers indicated that they 
would comply by installing detachable automatic 
belts, since those belts would facilitate emergency 
escape from a vehicle after a crash and would face 
the least consumer resistance due to their lower 
price (compared to airbags) and the fact that they 
can be detached by occupants who do not choose to 
use safety belts for whatever reason. 

Several insurance companies argued that the 
agency is required by law, based on the record, to 
implement some form of an automatic restraint 
requirement. According to State Farm, the effect 
of the Supreme Court's decision in State Farm is 
to require the Department to go forward with an 
automatic restraint requirement unless it has a ra- 
tional basis for concluding that effective automatic 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 191 



restraint technology is not within reach of the car 
manufacturers. That company argued that the 
record amply demonstrates the existence of such 
technology. 

Allstate argued that the record demonstrates 
that cost beneficial technology exists which, when 
included in all new cars, could save up to 10,000 
lives each year and prevent more than 100,000 
serious injuries annually. Allstate also argued 
that under the decisions of the United States 
Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme 
Court in the State Farm case, the Department 
lacks authority to look beyond that fact. That com- 
pany stated that in its view, all proposed options 
that do not include the implementation of some 
form of automatic restraint requirement must, 
under the law, be rejected. 

Similarly, NAII urged that the case for automatic 
protection has been fully documented. According 
to NAII, further delays for studies, demonstra- 
tions and so on are totally unwarranted and would 
only result in many more needless deaths and in- 
juries. Such delays would also be inconsistent with 
the mandate of the Supreme Court. 

Almost all commenting insurance companies 
favored implementation of the automatic restraint 
requirement as soon as possible. These com- 
menters generally argued that the requirement is 
cost beneficial and would save many thousands of 
lives and prevent tens of thousands of injuries 
annually. Several insurance companies stated that 
airbags offer the greatest possible safety benefits. 
However, the insurance companies generally urged 
that such issues as requiring compliance by means 
of airbags only or barring compliance with detach- 
able automatic belts should be considered only 
after a general automatic restraint requirement 
has been implemented. Allstate stated that the 
airbag-only requirement is preferable, but said 
that simple retention of the automatic restraint 
requirement is acceptable. 

IIHS supported retention, noting, as did various 
commenters associated with medical and health 
organizations, that public health measures depend- 
ing for their success upon repeated cooperation of 
the intended individual beneficiaries, as would 
mandatory belt-use laws, have historically had lim- 
ited effectiveness. 

Insurance Superintendent Corcoran of New 
York State maintained that it has been clearly 
established that, for whatever reasons, people do 
not generally use their manual belts, and efforts to 



modify this behavior have been unsuccessful for 
the past 15 years. He believed that it is incum- 
bent on DOT to mandate automatic restraints as 
the only means for increasing usage. 

The manufacturers said that if automatic belts 
are less effective than manual belts, then persons 
who regularly use manual belts would end up pay- 
ing more in the future for an inferior restraint sys- 
tem, raising fairness questions. Most of the com- 
panies indicated that, if the automatic restraint 
requirement were retained, they would use de- 
tachable automatic belts to comply, since those 
systems facilitate emergency escape from a vehi- 
cle after a crash and would face the least consumer 
resistance due to their lower price (compared to 
airbags) and the fact that they can be detached by 
occupants who do not choose to use safety belts for 
whatever reason. However, if such belts were left 
detached by most occupants, little safety benefit 
would be gained through their installation. 

PLF and Consumer Alert and vehicle manufac- 
turers argued that DOT should concentrate on 
educating the public about the value of manual 
belts in providing protection in the event of a 
crash. Once the public is convinced of the need to 
buckle up, fatalities and injuries will decline with- 
out having to mandate expensive new equipment 
in cars. 

GM argued that implementation of the auto- 
matic restraint requirement would divert engi- 
neering resources away from the development of 
more publicly acceptable alternatives, such as the 
"built-in" safety of energy absorbing interiors. 
Increasing safety through the redesign of vehicle 
interiors instead of the installation of add-on 
devices like occupant restraints would benefit 
unbelted as well as belted occupants at a cost far 
below that of airbags. 

Amend 

Airbag Only 

Several health organizations argued that the 
agency should mandate airbags because that type 
of automatic restraint is the least intrusive for the 
occupant and because young drivers were the least 
likely to buckle manual belts and the most likely to 
try to defeat automatic belts. The Center for Auto 
Safety (CFAS) argued that small car occupants 
need the protection of airbags. The organization 
suggested that belts properly fit less than 50 per- 
cent of the population. 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 192 



Many consumer groups and health organizations 
supported agency action that would mandate the 
installation of airbags in at least some new cars. To 
avoid the Congressional intervention that they 
thought might follow adoption of a requirement for 
nondetachable automatic belts, some consumer 
groups and health organizations urged adoption of 
either a requirement for airbags only or a require- 
ment for airbags or nondetachable automatic belts. 

The manufacturers objected to an airbag-only 
requirement for several reasons. First, it was 
stated that an airbag is effective only in single 
impact, frontal crashes, and does not protect 
against occupant ejection from vehicles. The 
manufacturers view airbags as supplemental pro- 
tection devices, to be used in conjunction with 
safety belts. The manufacturers also expressed 
concern as to the real world reliability of airbags, 
the difficulties in applying airbag technology to 
small cars, the effects of airbag inflation on out-of- 
position occupants (particularly small children), 
the potential adverse environmental impacts of 
using sodium azide as a propellant to inflate the 
airbag, and product liability impacts. The eco- 
nomic effects of an airbag only requirement were a 
major concern of the manufacturers. The addi- 
tional cost of that restraint system was projected 
to raise vehicle prices significantly, adversely 
affecting industry sales and thereby employment 
and profitability. 

Some commenters, including MVMA, argued 
that adopting an automatic restraint requirement 
that specified the installation of a specific type of 
restraint, i.e., airbags, would violate the require- 
ment of the Safety Act that safety standards be 
stated in terms of performance instead of design. 

Congressman Dingell questioned the legal author- 
ity for an airbag-only requirement in light of 
Ckadha, which declared the legislative veto to be 
unconstitutional. The Congressman suggested that 
if the legislative veto provision were invalid, then 
because of the absence of any severability provision 
and because of the importance attached by Con- 
gress to the veto provision, the exception to the 
prohibition in the Vehicle Safety Act against non- 
belt standards must fall with the veto provision. 

One public interest group (PLF) and one econ- 
omist. Professor LLoyd Orr, argued that airbags 
would encourage motorists to drive less safely 
since they would be given more safety than they 
desire and would compensate accordingly. Their 
argument is based on the "risk compensation hypo- 



thesis," which states, for example, that given bet- 
ter brakes, a driver is likely to follow more closely, 
negating some of the benefits associated with the 
safer braking system. The IIHS and John Graham, 
another economist, presented data which contra- 
dicted the above hypothesis. Those data concern 
the behavior of drivers in Newfoundland which 
indicate that safety belt users were not any more 
likely than nonusers to make risky driving maneu- 
vers. John Graham referred to papers he had 
authored, criticizing the concept of "risk compen- 
sation hypothesis." 

Airbags and Nondetachable Automatic 
Seatbelts 

Some consumer groups and health organizations 
argued that permitting readily detachable auto- 
matic belts would only encourage those consumers 
not already in the habit of wearing belts to detach 
the belts and would result in a minimal increase in 
protection for car occupants. These groups urged 
therefore that the agency mandate that automatic 
belts not be easily detachable. 

Some consumer groups and health organizations 
argued that automatic belts should be detachable 
to allow ready escape in emergency situations and 
to permit those confirmed nonusers of seatbelts 
(estimated by these groups at 10 to 20 percent of 
the population) to deactivate the belts for them- 
selves by something other than permanent means, 
such as cutting the belts. These groups argued 
that nondetachable automatic belts would lead to 
Congressional action overturning the entire auto- 
matic restraint standard just as Congress had 
overturned the ignition interlock requirement in 
1974. The car manufacturers opposed this option 
because it would limit their flexibility by requiring 
the installation of the most expensive and/or con- 
troversial types of automatic restraints. Manufac- 
turers also argued that, given a choice, they would 
not produce nondetachable automatic belts because 
of anticipated adverse consumer reaction and diffi- 
culty in emergency egress with such systems. 

Passive Interiors 

GM stated that, since the original issuance of 
FMVSS 208, there have been significant ad- 
vances in the state of the art of occupant protec- 
tion. These advances have been made available in 
large part because of the increased use of advanced 
computer technology in the design and develop- 
ment of new vehicles. GM has implemented a Vehi- 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 193 



cle Safety Improvement Program which is aimed 
at increasing the "built-in" safety of its vehicles for 
restrained and unrestrained occupants. 

GM said that the purpose of the "built-in" safety 
strategy is to maximize the reduction in total harm 
resulting from vehicle crashes. It argued that "no 
promising technology should be excluded simply 
because it either cannot meet arbitrary laboratory 
requirement or can only meet them on selected 
types of vehicles. Nor should new and promising 
technologies be discouraged because they are not 
envisioned in a regulatory scheme." GM urged 
that implementation of FMVSS 208 would "impede, 
or at lesat greatly dilute the effects that are needed 
to increase the state-of-the-art of other promising 
occupant protection technology." 

In its comments on the SNPRM, GM suggested 
that DOT consider a more flexible approach to 
reducing deaths and injuries. They propose a 
three-step approach consisting of: 

1) Retain the current requirements of FMVSS 
208, but give manufacturers the option of 
meeting it with manual belts; 

2) If a manufacturer chooses to comply with 
Standard 208 using manual belts, test the vehi- 
cle as follows: 

(a) fastened manual belts must satisfy the 
same dynamic criteria as airbags or auto- 
matic belts, and 

(b) the vehicle would be subjected to a 25 
mph barrier crash with unfastened manual 
belts. The same injury criteria would be 
used to evaluate acceptable performance in 
this test as is used in the 30 mph test 
above; and 

3) Approve various changes in the Standard 
208 test procedures, most notably using the 
Hybrid III dummy, instead of the Hybrid II. 

GM stated that this option would offer protec- 
tion to all unbelted front seat occupants, not just 
the 5 percent of current non-users who would use 
automatic belts. GM estimated that this step 
would yield a 12 percent reduction in fatalities and 
serious injuries, which is equivalent to attaining 36 
percent manual belt usage. 

Small Cars 

Several car manufacturers expressed concern 
about the difficulty of applying airbag technology 



to small cars. The shorter "crush space" between 
the fronts of small cars and the passenger com- 
partments of those cars means that small cars 
decelerate faster in a frontal crash, leaving less 
time for an airbag system to sense the crash and 
inflate the airbag. The limited time means that the 
airbags must inflate more rapidly than in a large 
car, raising concerns as to airbag induced injuries, 
particularly to out-of-position occupants. GM 
expressed the view that the faster airbag inflation 
rate needed for small cars, in conjunction with the 
thicker airbag needed to decelerate the faster 
moving occupant of a small car, could cause fatal 
lesions in out-of-position occupants. 

Honda expressed the view that airbags provide 
inferior protection as compared to manual belts in 
small cars at crash speeds above 30 miles per hour. 
Attempts to improve airbag performance in small 
cars through the use of a knee bolster were not 
particularly successful, since the resulting limited 
available space in such cars made entry inconve- 
nient and the weight of the knee bar adversely 
affected fuel economy. 

IIHS noted that two studies compared the effec- 
tiveness of airbags and manual lap/shoulder belts 
in small cars. One study, using Ford Pintos, showed 
that airbags performed slightly better than belts. 
The other study, using Renault R-12's, showed that 
the two types of restraints performed approxi- 
mately the same, according to IIHS. 

GM agreed that small cars needed the highest 
priority, but argued that the rapid inflation rate 
required to meet a 30 mph test poses an unaccept- 
able risk to out-of-position occupants. 

State Farm said that the analysis by Professor 
William Nordhaus of Yale University showed that 
it is significantly more cost beneficial to require 
installation of automatic restraints in both out- 
board seating positions and to require automatic 
protection for all size cars. 

NADA restated its general opposition to any 
mandated automatic restraint and said that it was 
specifically opposed to a driver airbag-only option 
for small cars. NADA said that such a standard 
would be a design standard in violation of the Vehi- 
cle Safety Act and current airbag technology is not 
adequate for small cars. 

Ford estimated that the cost of a driver-side air- 
bag system would be about $600, which represents 
a large cost increase for vehicles at the lower end 
of the price range. Ford also questions the effec- 
tiveness of airbags in any size vehicle, the public 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 194 



acceptability of airbags, and the authority of the 
agency to issue an airbag-only standard. 

VW also opposed driver-side airbags for small 
cars, saying that the technology is not proven for 
those vehicles and the Department should set per- 
formance and not design standards. 

AMC supported the concept of requiring driver- 
side-only automatic restraints. AMC, however, 
said that airbags should not only be required on 
small cars since it "was not aware of any technical 
information that suggests that restraint require- 
ments are fundamentally variable as a function of 
car size." 

Nissan argued that requiring airbags for small 
cars is unfair to purchasers of those cars "because 
people buy small cars for economic reasons and the 
small car buyer should not be singled out to pay for 
expensive devices." Nissan also argued that if 
drivers assume that the airbag provides sufficient 
protection, then they might stop wearing their 
manual belts which are needed for protection in 
rollover and other accidents. 

Toyota restated its general opposition to man- 
dated automatic restraints and its specific opposi- 
tion to a design (airbag) standard rather than a per- 
formance standard. It further argued that airbag 
technology has not been developed for small cars. 

Allstate said that automatic protection should 
not be limited to small cars, but should be available 
on all cars. 

The American Safety Belt Council (ASBC) said 
that a lap belt should also be required for a driver- 
only airbag. It recommended that for the right 
front passenger position, an automatic belt should 
be required. 

Honda said that more development time is needed 
and that the added cost of airbags will substantially 
increase the cost of small cars. 

Renault said airbag technology for small cars has 
not advanced far enough. It recommended waiting 
for the results of the Breed research program. 

Jack Martens recommended that all cars with a 
wheelbase of less than 101 inches be equipped with 
airbags and with either manual or automatic belts 
for all front seat positions. Cars greater than 101 
inches would be equipped with either nondetach- 
able automatic lap and shoulder belts or airbags. 

Public Citizen argued that if drivers of small 
cars can readily be protected then it is even more 
unreasonable not to protect the passenger in small 
cars and drivers and passengers in all cars. 



IIHS supported mandating driver-side airbags 
in all cars, if it would lead to full front airbags. 

Center Seating Position 

Ford suggested that six-seat cars would prob- 
ably no longer be produced if the center front seat- 
ing position were required to be equipped with an 
automatic restraint. There is no known practical 
design for an automatic belt system that could be 
used for a three-position front seat. Hence, the 
only known automatic restraint system that could 
be used for the center position would be an airbag. 
Citing its concern about the hazards it believes 
would be posed by airbags to an out-of-position 
occupant, Ford indicated that it would probably 
choose to eliminate the front center seating posi- 
tion. The American Automobile Association (AAA), 
Chrysler, AMC and Consumers Union agreed that 
the center position should be excluded, noting that 
the agency's 1982 data show that 98.1 percent of 
front seat fatalities occur to persons sitting either 
in the driver's seat or in the passenger's seat next 
to the right door. 

One commenter strongly urged that the front 
center seating position not be excluded from the 
automatic protection requirements since young chil- 
dren are the most frequent occupants of this posi- 
tion and thus would be the ones who would suffer 
the most from the absence of automatic protection. 

Rescind 

Those commenters who favored rescission op- 
posed adoption of the other alternatives and vice- 
versa. Since this section of the preamble discusses 
each alternative separately, the views of com- 
menters who favored one alternative are not nec- 
essarily included as negative comments to the 
other alternatives. 

Generally, rescission was favored by all auto- 
mobile manufacturers and by all new car dealers. 
Insurance companies and health associations all 
favored some form of retention and thus opposed 
the rescission alternative. 

Most of the individual commenters opposed 
automatic restraints, especially airbags, on the 
basis of excessive government interference, high 
cost, and fear about the failure of airbags to oper- 
ate properly. A very substantial number of these 
commenters were GM stockholders or employees. 

Automobile manufacturers favored the stan- 
dard's rescission on several grounds; that it was not 
as effective or cost-effective as mandatory belt use 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 195 



laws, that it unnecessarily would add to vehicle 
costs without commensurate benefits and that the 
technologies available for compliance would be re- 
jected by the public as being too costly or intrusive. 

For instance, Ford said that it could not support 
mandatory passive restraints by either amending 
or reinstating FMVSS 208 because of serious ques- 
tions on restraint effectiveness and consumer 
acceptance. 

GM said that detachable automatic belts are un- 
likely to increase belt usage and nondetachable 
belts would be rejected by the public. Because of 
technical concerns regarding airbags, particularly 
for out-of-position occupants in small cars, and 
because reinstatement would divert engineering 
resources from the development of passive inte- 
riors, GM believes the automatic occupant protec- 
tion requirements should be rescinded. 

The AutomobUe Importers of America (AIA) 
favored the adoption of mandatory use laws and 
said that questions of consumer acceptance, par- 
ticularly regarding airbag technology and con- 
sumers' fear of entrapment, still need to addressed. 

BMW said that the passive restraint issue 
should be "decided in the free market" and not by 
regulation. 

One airbag supplier. Breed, recommended that 
the agency retain the current manufacturer option 
of installing either manual or automatic restraints. 
The commenter believed that this approach would 
impose minimal costs on the car manufacturers. 
After this supplier's airbag has been proven in 
more field tests, it believed that many car manu- 
facturers would elect to provide airbags as readily 
available options. 

The automobile dealers urged rescission because 
they thought that car purchasers are unlikely to 
accept automatic restraints. NADA cited the VW 
and Toyota experience with automatic belts and 
GM's experience with automatic belts and airbags 
as support for this contention. NADA also said 
automatic restraints would have an adverse im- 
pact on sales. 

Most insurance companies and most consumer, 
medical and safety organizations opposed rescis- 
sion or suspension, whether taken as a single action 
or in conjunction with a demonstration program or 
seeking legislation to mandate a consumer option, 
but organizations such as the Pacific Legal Foun- 
dation favored rescission. The PLF argued that 
the data did not support the Department's analysis 
of the effectiveness of automatic restraints. 



State Farm said that a decision to rescind would 
be arbitrary and capricious. They referenced Pro- 
fessor Nordhaus' study as showing that rescission 
would impose enormous net costs on society. Nord- 
haus said that, for every year during which no 
automatic protection is required, it will cost soci- 
ety $2 to 2.5 billion. The American Association for 
Automotive Medicine said that "from a public 
health perspective, maximum protection requiring 
no action by the occupant is obviously preferable 
and desirable." 

Congressman John Dingell argued that as long as 
the Department applied a reasoned analysis, rescis- 
sion is possible and the best course to follow. Con- 
gressman Timothy Wirth contended that the stat- 
ute requires that DOT move forward as promptly 
and expeditiously as possible to the implementa- 
tion of meaningful automatic crash protection. 

Joan Claybrook, of Public Citizen, said that 
there is more information on the benefits of auto- 
matic restraints than on any standard ever issued 
by NHTSA. Consumers Union "strongly" urged 
DOT "to promulgate promptly" FMVSS 208. 

Demonstration Program 

Ford argued that the effectiveness of automatic 
restraints could be determined only after a large- 
scale demonstration program is conducted. It pro- 
posed a program for the installtion of automatic 
restraints in 5 percent of the new car fleet over a 
4-year period. The comments of several other 
manufacturers suggested that they would not op- 
pose a demonstration program. 

Ford said that the SNPRM misstated its pro- 
posed demonstration program requirement as at 
least 5 percent of each manufacturer's annual pro- 
duction for four years. Ford corrects this to mean 
an average of 5 percent of annual production 
manufactured for sale in the U.S. over a period of 
4 years. Ford continues to believe that its proposal 
is the most effective means to resolve the stale- 
mate on how best to improve occupant protection. 

In response to the SNPRM, AMC said that a 
demonstration/test program similar to Ford's pro- 
posal is absolutely necessary prior to any effective 
date for requirement of automatic restraints. In 
the interim, the automatic restraint requirements 
should be suspended and a rule drafted so that 
rescission would occur if the findings of the test 
program were negative. AMC supports a demon- 
stration program, but it does not feel that a manda- 
tory program should necessarily be imposed on all 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 196 



low-volume car manufacturers. In some cases, the 
minimum added information to be gained would be 
more than overshadowed by excessive resultant 
cost. A five percent program for a 2- to 4-year 
test period would be acceptable, utilizing various 
automatic restraint systems for the driver only. 
AMC could launch such a program between early 
1987 and fall 1987. 

VW endorses a demonstration program and pro- 
poses an alternative plan, which would give credit 
to manufacturers that have already produced 
large numbers of automatic restraint cars. VW 
also said that any demonstration program should 
permit automatic belts to continue to be per- 
mitted. VW said that DOT should take into account 
the fact that costs will be higher for smaller manu- 
facturers and that DOT has proposed no mechan- 
ism to "guarantee" that the public will buy auto- 
matic restraints. 

Chrysler prefers mandatory seat belt use laws. 
If there is a demonstration program, companies 
would need adequate time to evaluate test results 
regarding airbag performance and public accepta- 
bility. Chrysler will cooperate in such a program, 
with up to 5 percent of its production for FY 1987 
and 1988, provided that it applies to all domestic 
and foreign manufacturers. Chrysler believes there 
should be an automatic restraint for the driver 
only and that the program should only require a 
manufacturer's "best effort" to sell 5 percent of 
its total production, all on one car line, with appro- 
priate pricing to validate public acceptance. 

Volvo said the idea has some merit, but any air- 
bag system should be for the driver only. The five 
percent figure should apply to total vehicle sales, 
not to a percentage of each car line. 

Renault said that the program would produce 
concrete evidence in an uncertain area and that it 
should apply to foreign manufacturers selling 
more than one million vehicles per year in the U.S. 

Honda said the program should be voluntary 
and include ways to encourage use of manual belts. 
Honda believes there are R&D problems that must 
be solved prior to an automatic restraint mandate. 
Honda opposes the requirement of two kinds of tool- 
ing on production lines and views the 5 percent 
requirement as unreasonable, regardless of demand. 

Lotus said that since it imports only 300 cars into 
the U.S., at 5 percent, there would be 15 Lotus 
autos involved. It suggests an exemption for manu- 
facturers selling less than 10,000 cars per year in 
the U.S. It points out this this is the small manufac- 



turer definition used by EPA, and that DOT has 
overlooked the impact of this proposal on small 
entities, including manufacturers and dealers. 

BMW would not be adverse to the program, if 
the manufacturer has a choice of driver-only sys- 
tems, a choice of restraint type and vehicle models, 
and the initiation of the program was not earlier 
than September 1986. 

Mazda suggested that DOT limit the program to 
high-volume production vehicles and to models 
produced in volumes exceeding 200,000 units per 
year. This will permit recovery of investment and 
development costs. 

Peugot said that the demonstration program is 
the best approach. Peugeot believes that conclu- 
sions can be drawn 4 years after implementa- 
tion and that the program must take into account 
both manual and automatic restraints. The only 
disadvantages of the demonstration program are 
economic, but this can be alleviated by letting the 
manufacturer choose 5 percent of each model, or 5 
percent of one model. 

The American Seat Belt Council said that the 
program should be used only for airbags to deter- 
mine market suitability. Any automatic belt sys- 
tem should be permitted to be detachable. 

The Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) said that if 
DOT is to proceed with the automatic occupant 
protection issue, it should use the demonstration 
program to acquire a data base. 

General Motors (GM) said that a mandatory 
automatic restraint demonstration program does 
not answer the basic question of whether the pub- 
lic will accept or use automatic belts or accept the 
higher cost of airbags. 

AMC said in response to the NPRM that it was 
inappropriate to require a small company like 
AMC to participate in a demonstration program. 

Toyota was generally opposed to a demonstra- 
tion program. However, if one were undertaken, 
the DOT program should: (1) contain performance, 
not design, requirements; (2) permit the manufac- 
turer to select the car lines to be affected; and 
(3) have the same requirements for all manufac- 
turers, small and large. 

Nissan said that the problem with the program 
is that sales projections of any percentage are 
impossible to forecast. Only customer preference 
can dictate the numbers sold. But if the program is 
mandated, then: (1) Nissan would need 30 months 
leadtime; (2) it should permit either automatic or 
3-point belts; (3) let the manufacturers decide the 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 197 



type of restraint on any mode; and (4) it agrees 
with Ford on amending the test injury criteria. 

NADA said that automatic restraints have not 
been proven to be more effective than manual belts 
and that a demonstration program was a counter- 
productive idea due to delays in implementation 
(21 to 42 months) and assessments (6 to 8 years), 
which would divert manufacturer resources. It 
would also have an adverse effect on franchised 
dealers, who would have to attempt to sell the 
automatic restraint equipped cars. 

IIHS opposed the program because it does not 
meet the statutory responsibility of DOT. There 
would be no economies of scale; therefore, higher 
costs could result. However, if it were done very 
quickly, the program could be a useful supplement 
to this rulemaking. IIHS reiterated its belief that a 
mandatory automatic restraint standard was 
needed as soon as possible. 

Allstate said that a demonstration program 
could delay the safety needs of the public for 
7 years, 4 for the demonstration, and 3 for lead- 
time to equip the rest of the fleet. 

State Farm said such an alternative was unlaw- 
ful, irrational, arbitrary, and capricious. Adoption 
of the Ford proposal would impose a costly, harm- 
ful and unjustified delay. 

The National Association of Independent Insur- 
ers (NAII) opposed the program as a form of delay. 

The Center for Auto Safety (CFAS) said the dem- 
onstration is outside the limit of DOT's statutory 
authority, as illustrated by former Secretaries 
Volpe's and Brinegar's requests to the Congress 
for explicit authority for a standard's phase-in based 
on percentage of production. The CFAS said that 
NHTSA has recognized that percentage phase-in 
is of questionable legality, citing the DOT brief in 
PLF V. Adams, 593 F.2d 1338 (D.C. Cir. 1979). 

Public Citizen said that a demonstration was not 
authorized by the Act. 

The Breed Corporation said that a mandatory 
demonstration program, since it would result in a 
safety standard which did not apply to all motor 
vehicles of a particular type, would be unlawful. 

Mandatory Belt Use Laws 

General 

Almost all car manufacturers supported belt use 
laws in lieu of some form of automatic restraint re- 
quirement. They stated that these laws would be 
the most effective and least costly approach. The 



automobile dealers also supported these laws. 
Most individuals who opposed automatic restraints 
and supported an alternative named belt used laws 
as that alternative. 

The American Seat Belt Council said that belt 
use laws would be the most effective approach, but 
expressed the belief that some sort of financial 
incentive would be necessary to get individual 
States to consider passage of such laws. Congress- 
man Dingell supported belt use laws and noted his 
bill to encourage state enactment of them. 

Many vehicle manufacturers and other com- 
menters noted that belt usage laws would begin 
producing benefits over the entire fleet of cars on 
the road as soon as the laws became effective. By 
contrast, they noted, the benefits associated with 
automatic protection would accrue only as new 
vehicles equipped with automatic protection were 
added to the fleet of vehicles in use. It would take 
at least 10 years for car equipped with that type 
of protection to fully replace nonautomatic cars. 
Because of this factor, many commenters suggested 
that the agency mandate automatic restraints, to 
provide that protection to occupants of new cars, 
and seek belt usage laws, to provide increased pro- 
tection to occupants of older cars. 

The Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association 
(MVMA) and several individual manufacturers 
stated that the minimum criteria specified in the 
SNPRM for belt usage laws deny State legislatures 
the flexibility to design belt use laws consistent 
with the demographics, motor vehicle statutes, 
and law enforcement practices of the individual 
States. These commenters suggested that rather 
than DOT specifying the means which must be 
used to achieve the goal of increased belt usage, it 
should simply specify the desired end (in terms of 
the percentage of front seat occupants wearing 
their belts) and allow the State legislatures to 
select the most effective means to that end for 
their particular State. 

Several insurance companies opposed safety 
belt use laws as a substitute for the automatic 
restraint requirement because all front seat occu- 
pants of a car equipped with automatic restraints 
would be protected while a belt use law would pro- 
tect only those front seat occupants who complied 
with it. The insurance companies. Congressman 
Wirth, and Public Citizen argued also that safety 
belt use laws were not an alternative that would 
satisfy the Safety Act or the State Farm decision. 
However, the insurance industry generally fav- 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 198 



ored these laws as a supplement to an automatic 
restraint requirement. 

Although virtually all medical and health organi- 
zations opposed substituting safety belt use laws 
for the automatic restraint requirement, they 
noted that recent experience in Canada and Great 
Britain has shown that introduction of these laws 
produced sizable reductions in injuries and deaths. 

Both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 
(IIHS) and the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) sub- 
mitted studies indicating that while belt use laws 
do increase usage, the resulting reductions in 
deaths and injuries are proportionately smaller 
than increases in usage. These studies led both 
groups to conclude tentatively that the population 
with the greatest likelihood of being in vehicle 
accidents is also the least likely to comply with 
belt use laws. A similar point was made by New 
York Insurance Superintendent Corcoran. Hence, 
both groups urged DOT not to overstate the bene- 
fits that would result from belt use laws. Ralph 
Nader opposed safety belt use laws as an alterna- 
tive because of his belief that such laws would not 
be adopted by the States and would not be com- 
plied with by those who most need to buckle up. 

As to the question of the likelihood of enact- 
ment of state safety belt use laws, IIHS said the 
closest analogy was not the child restraint use 
laws or the recent wave of more stringent drunk 
driving laws, but the motorcycle helmet use laws 
that have been repealed or weakened in a signfi- 
cant number of States. 

Several commenters including the National 
Association of Governors' Highway Safety Repre- 
sentatives (NAGHSR) stated that the DOT ap- 
proach was fundamentally wrong in that it sets 
automatic restraints and belt usage laws as an 
either/or proposition. These commenters argued 
that both of these requirements are needed to en- 
sure maximum use of restraints by front seat pas- 
sengers. Further, these commenters asked why 
the Federal government was intruding on the 
States' prerogative to shape the usage laws by 
specifying minimum criteria. 

The Governor of Wyoming stated that there 
was little or no chance of ever passing a belt usage 
law in that State, and recited a list of enforcement 
problems which would be posed for that State if it 
were to pass a belt usage law. 

The insurance companies generally argued that 
dot's options of pursuing belt usage laws were 
illegal as an abdication of DOT's statutory respon- 



sibilities. The proposals in the SNPRM, it was 
argued, would result in a lack of uniformity nation- 
wide. As a practical matter, these commenters 
believed that either of the options which would 
eliminate the requirement for automatic restraints 
if States passed belt usage laws would encourage 
manufacturers to develop the cheapest automatic 
restraints which would satisfy the standard, since 
it was possible that the manufacturers would 
never be required to put these restraints in their 
vehicles and they would thus wish to minimize any 
investment losses. It was also stated that these 
systems would be the least effective automatic 
restraints. The insurance companies noted the 
serious enforcement problems which belt usage 
laws would impose on the States. IIHS stated that 
there is no evidence anywhere in this record to 
support the claims that belt usage laws would be 
obeyed without vigorous enforcement, and such 
enforcement would be a headache for the States. 
Their researchers found that in New York, where 
an administrative regulation requires holders of 
learner's permits to wear their belts while driving, 
39 percent, 32 percent, and C percent of drivers 
with learner's permits actually wore their belts at 
three different locations. Further, IIHS noted that, 
as of the time of their docket submission, no State 
had yet passed a belt usage law and such laws 
were being considered in only 11 States. 

Volvo responded to the claim that belt usage laws 
would not protect those who are most likely to be 
in accidents, and that therefore belt use laws will 
not achieve the reductions in deaths and injuries 
which would accompany a particular level of belt 
use. Volvo argued that these drivers would also be 
the most likely to defeat any automatic belts, and 
so would not be protected by those restraints, and 
the most likely to be in rollover crashes, in which 
they would not be protected by airbags. 

SNPRM Alternative: No Automatic Restraints 
Required in a State That Passes a MUL 

The manufacturers generally opposed this alter- 
native on the grounds that it would create major 
distribution problems, it would create serious 
enforcement problems for the States (for instance, 
will residents of a State be permitted to cross the 
border to purchase a car equipped with the re- 
straint system they want?), and it would force the 
manufacturers to produce two different types of 
otherwise identical vehicles. 

The State of Washington asked why DOT would 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 199 



waive an automatic restraint requirement, and 
stated that it believed the existence of automatic 
restraints would be as much of an incentive to pass 
a mandatory belt use law as would a waiver. Simi- 
larly, NAGHSR stated that the waiver would be 
an administrative nightmare for the States, and 
that this waiver would make it difficult for a con- 
sumer to purchase a car with automatic restraints 
if the State has a mandatory use law. 

NADA stated that this alternative would create 
uncertainty and a patchwork pattern of automatic 
restraint requirements, which would cripple prod- 
uct planning, pricing, advertising, and distribution. 

A Michigan legislator and the Michigan secre- 
tary of state supported this proposal, saying the 
most effective protection available to front seat 
occupants is the manual belt already in the vehicle. 

SNPRM Alternative: Automatic Restraints 
Required Unless 75 Percent of States Pass 
Mandatory Belt Use Laws by a Certain Date 

The manufacturers strongly objected to this 
alternative, since they would be forced to imme- 
diately begin investing time and money on a device 
which might never be needed. They said that this 
alternative would raise car prices even if the auto- 
matic restraints were never required. The manu- 
facturers also stated that the progress reports 
were an unnecessary burden since a manufacturer 
that was not prepared to install automatic 
restraints when those were required would be com- 
pletely forced out of the market until such time as 
it could install automatic restraints. That is incen- 
tive enough to ensure that the manufacturers will 
be ready to install those restraints. 

Ford would change this alternative to suspend 
FMVSS 208 while a good faith effort is made to 
pass mandatory use laws, and, if this is unsuccess- 
ful, specify an effective date for FMVSS 208. 
Volkswagen (VW) suggests setting an effective 
date on a sliding scale after seeing if enough States 
pass mandatory use laws. For instance, if 10 per- 
cent of the States have not passed mandatory use 
laws in two years. Standard 208 would become 
effective three years after that date, if 25 percent 
had not passed mandatory use laws in 4 years, 
Standard 208 would become effective 3 years after 
that date, and so forth. American Motors Corpora- 
tion (AMC) would amend the alternative to specify 
no automatic restraints when 75 percent of the 
driving public is subject to mandatory use laws or 
when 75 percent are using the manual belts in 



their vehicles. 

The National AutomobUe Dealers Association 
(NADA) stated that there is no basis for imposing 
automatic restraints, whether or not 75 percent of 
the States pass a mandatory belt use law. 

The insurance companies wondered how DOT 
had decided that residents of 25 percent of the 
States could be left without enhanced occupant 
protection in their cars when the record was so 
clear on the need for enhanced protection. The Na- 
tional Association of Governor's Highway Safety 
Representatives (NAGHSR) stated that Federal 
intrusion was not needed to get States to pass 
mandatory use laws. 

Two Michigan officials stated that the 75 per- 
cent figure should be lowered, since it was doubt- 
ful that it could be achieved, and argued that 
greater flexibility should be allowed to the States. 

Test Procedures 

Repeatability 

Most automobile manufacturers raised several 
issues concerning the automatic occupant protec- 
tion provisions of FMVSS 208. Statements were 
made that the test procedures, in general, faU to 
meet the "objective" criterion of the statute. Sug- 
gestions were also offered to change the proce- 
dures, the anthropomorphic test dummy, and the 
standard's injury prevention criteria. 

Manufacturers stated that the test procedures 
do not produce repeatable results. Relying on data 
from the agency's New Car Assessment Program 
(NCAP) repeatability tests, the manufacturers 
argued that there is substantial, uncontrollable 
variability in the test results. As a result, they 
argue that the standard is not practicable. 

NHTSA's New Car Assessment Program, which 
is an experimental program designed to develop 
consumer ratings of vehicle crashworthiness, is 
similar in test procedure to FMVSS 208 in that is 
uses instrumented Part 572 test dummies to ascer- 
tain potential injuries to human occupants in a 
frontal barrier crash. The program differs from 
FMVSS 208 in that its purpose is to rate cars. 
Therefore, there is no minimum level of perfor- 
mance specified as in FMVSS 208, and the tests 
are conducted at 35 mph instead of the safety stan- 
dard's specification of 30 mph. 

In 1983, NHTSA conducted tests to determine 
the repeatability of test results from the NCAP. 
Twelve Chevrolet Citations were tested in three 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 200 



different laboratories (four in each laboratory) to 
help determine the magnitude of variability sur- 
rounding a single test result. GM supplemented 
the agency's program by crashing an additional 
four Citations at their own facilities. 

In commenting on the October 1983 NPRM, 
AMC referenced the NCAP repeatability tests and 
stated that based on the high degree of variability 
in injury criteria test results, the FMVSS 208 test 
procedures were "unacceptable" and lacked the 
necessary objectivity required by a safety stan- 
dard. To compensate for this large variability, 
AMC suggested the agency use a "design-to- 
conform" approach as a means of compliance. 

Chrysler also stated its concern over test re- 
peatability and variability, as evidenced in the 
NCAP program, and argued that testing airbags 
under the current test procedure could lead to 
even greater variability. Chrysler suggested test- 
ing airbags with a belt, exempting the front center 
seat from any passive requirements, eliminating 
the 30-degree oblique test and waiving all injury 
criteria. 

Volkswagen referenced the NCAP repeatability 
program and concluded from its results that the 
current test procedures were "not appropriate," 
particularly for safety belts. VW argued that the 
test procedures, and the dummy, were developed 
for testing compliance with airbags. It suggests 
that the procedures be revised to only use dynamic 
testing if a vehicle is equipped with airbags. 

GM also spoke of excessive variability and 
stated that the test procedures must be improved. 
GM urged NHTSA to approve its petition to use 
the Hybrid III dummy as an alternative test 
device and to develop different compliance tests 
for different technological safety improvements. 

Ford claimed that the test procedures are neither 
objective nor practicable and, based on the NCAP 
tests, manufacturers would have to "overdesign" 
their vehicles to ensure that all vehicles were in 
compliance. Ford stated that the procedures do 
not comply with the Court's ruling in the Chrysler 
case that test procedures must be capable of pro- 
ducing identical results when test conditions are 
exactly duplicated. Ford argued that repeatable 
results are impossible to achieve with the current 
FMVSS 208 test procedures. The company sup- 
plied results of early 1970's sled tests to show that 
variability was inherent in the test procedures and 
test dummy and was not solely related to vehicle- 
to-vehicle differences. Ford suggested that test 



variability could be compensated for by using a 
design to conform approach, eliminating the 
30-degree oblique test, not dynamically testing 
automatic belts, changing the FMVSS 210 anchor- 
age location requirements, and testing airbags 
with a belt. 

MVMA emphasized their concern that the 
NPRM failed to address the issue of test repeat- 
ability. Its concern was based on the NCAP test 
results. MVMA urged the agency to publish a sup- 
plemental notice to address the issue. 

Several commenters to the NPRM suggested 
that there was no reason to be concerned over test 
procedures or repeatability. Byron Bloch, an auto- 
motive safety consultant, pointed out that cars are 
designed using crash tests and sophisticated dum- 
mies and he supplied the text of a GM advertise- 
ment to that effect. 

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 
reviewed the results of the NCAP repeatability 
test program and concluded that these tests "pro- 
duced repeatable results when the correct pro- 
cedures were adhered to ... " 

Allstate Insurance Company claimed that the 
current test procedures assure individual pur- 
chasers of automatic restraints of protection and 
that the agency should also test manual belts 
dynamically. 

Because of the above, the issue of repeatability, 
as well as other test procedure concerns, was rais- 
ed in the SNPRM. In the SNPRM, the Department 
stated that it believed that the Part 572 test 
dummy was not a major source of the variability 
found in the NCAP repeatability tests, that the 
proposed adoption of two of the NCAP procedures 
into FMVSS 208 would further reduce variability, 
and that additional changes in the test procedures 
to reduce variability were not necessary. Any 
remaining variability was assumed to be due 
llargely to vehicle-to-vehicle differences, which are 
outside the control of the Department. 

In commenting on the SNPRM, auto manufactur- 
ers took exception to the Department's conclusions. 

Ford reiterated its prior arguments about re- 
peatability and criticized the agency for not clearly 
setting out what are the proposed NCAP changes 
to the 208 standard. It characterized what it under- 
stood to be the revisions to the NCAP test proce- 
dures as minor, subjective, and unverified. Ford 
said that the agency was still conducting its repeat- 
ability research study and questioned how the 
agency could conclude that the test dummy is not a 



PART 571; S 208 - PRE 201 



major source of variability. 

Ford further argued that the agency had not 
shown that the "test device and test procedure are 
separable in their influence on test results from 
the performance of the vehicle, so that any vari- 
ability in test results 'must be' attributable to 
vehicle-to-vehicle differences in manufacture or 
performance." 

Ford also argued that overdesign should be used 
only to compensate for manufacturing variances, 
which can be estimated and controlled for by the 
manufacturer and that overdesign should not be 
required of manufacturers because of deficiencies 
in test procedures. 

Ford concluded that the test procedures were 
"flawed," that variability was inherent in barrier 
crashes and was likely "irreducible," and that the 
current procedures, with their large associated 
test result variability, placed a manufacturer in 
"unacceptable jeopardy" in terms of assuring com- 
pliance with the standard. 

The company also claimed that "comparable 
variability," to that observed in the NCAP Cita- 
tion tests would be expected for other models. It 
based its conclusion on the coefficient of variation 
(GOV) of 33 Mercury airbag sled tests, scaled to 
35 mph, and seven Volvo barrier crash tests. 

GM said that the driver HIC results of the 
NCAP repeatability tests, which incorporated the 
test procedure changes proposed in the SNPRM, 
already demonstrate that the range of variability 
is too large. GM argued that the amount of vari- 
ability is not due to vehicle differences. It referred 
to a series of controlled sled tests it conducted, in 
which the coefficient of variation of the HIC data 
was as high as 11 percent for the driver and 8 per- 
cent for the passenger. For the NCAP series, the 
COV was 21 percent for the driver and 11 percent 
for the passenger. GM said that a comparison of 
the two data sets shows that the major portion of 
the variability is test-related, not vehicle-related. 

GM argued that because of the variability, the 
amount of overdesign needed to provide a reason- 
able certainty of compliance would be imprac- 
ticable. It said that the design level of HIC protec- 
tion could not be justified in terms of a "minimum" 
safety requirement. GM said that it does "not 
believe that a practicable dynamic test require- 
ment can be devised to provide manufacturers 
with the assurance of 'certainty' specified by the 
Paccar court. The only solution may be the one 
suggested by that court: "... it must propose some 



alternative method for those manufacturers 
which, if followed, it will recognize as fulfilling the 
due care requirement.'" 

Mazda commented that the NCAP repeatability 
study dealt with a compact size vehicle, which has 
more available crush space than a subcompact. It 
recommended that a similar repeatability study is 
necessary for subcompact vehicles. Mazda agreed 
with NHTSA that adoption of the NCAP test pro- 
cedures would eliminate some of the existing vari- 
ability, although further refinements are possible. 

American Motors said that adopting the NCAP 
modified test procedures cannot be expected to 
reduce test variability since the modifications are 
minor. AMC said that there are other test vari- 
ables, such as safety belt tension and actual dummy 
position just prior to impact, that have a similar 
effect on dummy positioning, but those variables 
are not controlled for in the test procedure. 

AMC also claimed that because of the lack of 
repeatability in the FMVSS 208 test procedures, 
the standard does not meet the requested statu- 
tory criteria. AMC believes the above because the 
unreliability of test results demonstrated in the 
NCAP program are "indicative" that a similar 
level of variability will exist in FMVSS 208. 

Peugot stated that it "can but reluctantly accept 
as valid a test procedure" with a COV of 21 per- 
cent. It suggested that the level of performance 
(e.g., HIC criterion of 1000) be raised by the 
amount of variation. 

Chrysler, based on the NCAP data, concluded 
that the test procedures are not capable of produc- 
ing identical results when a given vehicle is repeat- 
edly tested. They believe the current procedures 
only measure a manufacturer's ability to conduct 
the test and do not measure the adequacy of the 
restraint system. Chrysler said that because dif- 
ferences in dummy foot placement and ambient 
temperature make a difference in test results, the 
test is not practicable. Chrysler also argued that 
the agency must develop a test which takes into 
account the inherent crash variability of the vehi- 
cle itself. 

Volvo said that the modified NCAP procedures 
only address a portion of the variability and that it 
has not been demonstrated that the new position- 
ing requirements will in fact result in a repeatable 
positioning of the test dummy. It noted that the 
procedures do not ensure that the same webbing 
location is used in each test. Volvo also said that 
because of the effect of temperature on dummy 



PART 571: S 208 -PRE 202 



performance, either the permitted range for crash 
testing must be narrowed or new materials be 
used in dummy construction. Volvo also said the 
NCAP repeatability program shows that there is a 
certain amount of unreliability in the signals 
obtained from the accelerometers and that differ- 
ent laboratories have used different methods to 
process crash data. 

Volvo also supplied the results of 10 sled tests in 
which there was a stable crash pulse and no con- 
tact between the dummy's head and vehicle inte- 
rior, thus eliminating most vehicle-to-vehicle 
parameters. The mean HIC was 466.5 with a GOV 
of 12.5 percent. 

Nissan said that under the current test proce- 
dures, it is difficult to maintain the same relative 
positioning of the test dummy for several tests. It 
recommended that the agency maintain the same 
initial relative measurements between the dummy 
and steering wheel and instrument panel for each 
test of a particular model. It also said that the posi- 
tioning of the seatbelt should correlate to design 
measurements submitted to the agency by manu- 
facturers. It urged changing the seat position 
requirement (it is currently set at the mid-position) 
since passengers in small cars tend to move the 
seat rearward. Nissan recommended that the 
meassurement between the hip point and ankle 
should be constant for the positioning of the seat. 

Toyota said there are still unresolved problems 
concerning the variability in electronic crash data 
collection systems. It also recommended that the 
test procedure specify the "timing of dummy instal- 
lation prior to crash. . . . Such timing will affect 
test results depending upon the extent of the 
breaking-in (sic) between the dummy's hip and the 
seat materials." 

Mercedes said that the Part 572 dummy is not suf- 
ficiently repeatable for compliance test purposes, 
that the Hybrid III dummy provides no improve- 
ment in this regard and that adoption of the NCAP 
test procedures is a step in the right direction. 

Volkswagen also contended that the variances 
resulting from the NCAP repeatability tests were 
too large for compliance test purposes of a safety 
standard. VW argued that overdesign to comply 
with FMVSS 208 has nothing to do with improved 
safety but only costs the company time, effort, and 
money in overcoming the inherent variability in 
the test itself. 

Renault said that the current COV of 21 percent 
(which permits a variation of 63 percent) is too 



large; it said the COV should not exceed 10 per- 
cent. It said that as long as the COV remains at 
21 percent, the HIC limit should be raised by 
63 percent. 

MVMA again reiterated its concern over test 
variance and said that FMVSS 208 is not objective. 

IIHS said that overdesign is standard industry 
practice and current test data show that compli- 
ance is "easily achieveable." 

Allstate again contrasted the lack of any dynamic 
testing of seatbelts with the detailed test proce- 
dures for testing of automatic restraints. It cited 
the Public Citizen v. Steed decision on tire tread- 
wear grading (UTQGS) for the proposition that "no 
test procedures . . . are going to approach perfec- 
tion." Allstate said that it seemed "strange" for 
the Department to be concerned over "minute de- 
tails" of test procedures and to refuse to imple- 
ment FMVSS 208 because of minor test details 
would be absurd. Allstate said that the test proce- 
dures were developed over many years and have 
proven highly acceptable. 

State Farm concurred with the SNPRM analysis 
of crash test variability and cited the UTQGS deci- 
sion as undercutting the manufacturers' arguments. 

State Farm concluded that FMVSS 208 is both 
practicable and objective, that the test procedures 
have been subject to court challenge and have 
been improved, and that the results of the NCAP 
repeatability program were conducted at 35 mph, 
not 30 mph as in FMVSS 208, where the vehicle 
must absorb 36 percent more energy. They said 
testing at 30 mph should result in less variance as 
well as lower readings. 

British Leyland suggested "that at tWs point in the 
rulemaking process, the subject of test procedures 
is not supremely important for discussion ..." 

Design to Conform 

Because manufacturers believe that the variabil- 
ity in test results, particularly HIC, is so large that 
extensive overdesign would be required to ensure 
that all vehicles would comply with the standard, 
the concept of "design to conform" was suggested 
as a more appropriate measure of compliance. 

Both Ford and American Motors suggested this 
concept in response to the NPRM. Ford said that 
to overcome the unacceptable jeopardy of being in 
noncompliance, as a result of the test procedure's 
lack of objectivity, compliance should be based on 
the design-to-conform concept, similar to that used 
in FMVSS 108. AMC favored the design-to-conform 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 203 



approach for the same reason as Ford, and also 
said that excessive variability was the same rea- 
son design-to-conform was adopted in standard 108. 

In the SNPRM, the Department sought public 
comment on whether an approach which required 
a manufacturer to show that a vehicle was "de- 
signed to conform" to FMVSS 208, instead of 
requiring actual conformity with the standard's re- 
quirements, could be reconciled with the Sixth Cir- 
cuit Court of Appeals decision in Chrysler Corp. 
v. DOT, 472 F.2d 659 (6th Cir. 1972), wherein the 
Court stated that compliance should be "obtained 
from measuring instruments as opposed to the 
subjective opinions of human beings," 472 F.2d at 
676, and that "compliance be made by specified 
measuring instruments; there is no room for an 
agency investigation in this procedure." 472 F.2d 
at 678. Since the design-to-conform approach 
would require the manufacturer to justify to 
NHTSA that it had taken reasonable steps in the 
vehicle's design and testing to certify that it had 
been designed to conform to the standard's require- 
ments, it appeared that adoption of this proposal 
would introduce unacceptable levels of subjectiv- 
ity, contrary to the Chrysler court's direction, into 
what was heretofore an objective compliance pro- 
cedure. Comments were also sought on the poten- 
tial effects on vehicle design and construction 
under a design to conform approach. 

Responses to the SNPRM by manufacturers 
showed agreement with the concept of design to 
conform as applied to FMVSS 208. Ford argued 
that if Standard 121, regarding air-braked heavy 
trucks (subsequently overturned by the courts) 
had had a design to conform provision, "it might 
well have been judged to be practicable, for manu- 
facturers would have had the assurance that bona 
fide results of their own compliance tests would 
have to be taken into account in determining 
whether their products were in fact noncompliant." 
It said that dictum in Wagner Electric supports 
the lawfulness of a design to conform alternative 
to a strict compliance scheme. 

Ford said that adopting a design to conform ap- 
proach would not "materially" affect a vehicle's 
design and that its main effect would be to permit 
a manufacturer to not be judged in noncompliance 
based on failure to meet the specified injury cri- 
teria in a single test, if the manufacturer had bona 
fide test results to verify that the designed level of 
performance had been achieved. 

GM also supported the design to conform con- 



cept. GM argued that such a concept does not con- 
travene the Paccar decision. It said design to con- 
form is "compatible with the court's finding that 
all relevant factors must be considered in estab- 
lishing a standard and would not require manufac- 
turers to overcompensate for test variability to 
assure compliance." 

GM added that a design to conform requirement 
would not materially change a manufacturer's ap- 
proach to assuring conformity with FMVSS 208. 
GM believes that a manufacturer would still be 
required to demonstrate that the performance of 
its design would meet the requirement. GM also 
said that the philosophy of adopting design to con- 
form in FMVSS 108 was based on the recognition 
of test variabilities and thus applies equally well to 
this standard. 

VW said that it was uncertain about the effect of 
adopting design to conform language in the stan- 
dard. VW contrasted what it called the accurate 
and precise test of Standard 108 with the variable 
test procedure of Standard 208. VW also believes 
that the Department essentially operates under 
such a concept. 

Mercedes, Renault, and MVMA supported adop- 
tion of a design-to-conform standard. 

Peugeot termed the concept "interesting" and 
said that NHTSA's concern was understandable. 
Peugeot suggested that an in-depth study of the 
"reasonable steps" a manufacturer should take 
might be necessary. 

Jack Martens, an automotive safety consultant, 
opposed a switch to the design-to-conform stan- 
dard arguing that there will no longer be any 
means to ensure that the vehicle as purchased 
meets the performance requirement. 

Thirty Degree (30°) Oblique Test 

In commenting on the NPRM, both Chrysler and 
Ford suggested deleting the oblique test require- 
ment in the standard. Ford argued that the test is 
redundant, since dummy readings are lower than 
in perpendicular barrier crashes, that it not only 
adds to development costs and time but also in- 
creases test result variability, and that it is a hin- 
drance to airbag development. Chrysler's recom- 
mendation for deletion also was in the context of 
airbag development. 

Although not directly addressing the test require- 
ment, Renault said that air bags are not as effective 
as manual belts in oblique crashes and that their 
effectiveness limit corresponds to the 30° barrier 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 204 



impact conditions. Beyond 30°, Renault believes, 
airbag effectiveness is slight or nonexistent. 

Puegeot claimed that airbags are less effective 
than manual belts at oblique crashes of 25 to 
30 degrees, while Allstate said that the field expe- 
rience with airbags indicates that they will be ef- 
fective in crashes at frontal angles of 30° or greater. 

The Department, in the May 10, 1984, SNPRM, 
voiced its own concerns over the necessity of the 
30° oblique test to assure proper passive restraint 
performance. NHTSA test data indicate that the 
instrumented dummy readings in such tests are 
consistently lower than in direct frontal barrier 
crashes due to a less severe crash pulse. Although 
the original rationale for the requirement appeared 
to be ensure that car occupants were protected in 
oblique crashes, the data available to NHTSA indi- 
cated that the 30° test was unnecessary to achieve 
that goal. That is, the protection was provided re- 
gardless of whether or not the test was conducted. 
The elimination of the oblique test was proposed in 
the SNPRM and specific data were sought to sup- 
port commenters' positions on the issue. 

Most of the auto manufacturers and several 
other commenters offered remarks on the pro- 
posal. However, the manufacturers' opinions were 
split into three categories — in favor, against, or re- 
tain the oblique test but eliminate the direct frontal 
barrier crash requirement. 

Ford restated its belief that the oblique test is 
redundant and merely adds to the cost of testing, 
adversely affects leadtime and adds more unpre- 
dictability to the testing. 

Ford referenced material it had submitted to 
NHTSA previously which contained data on 30° 
angular vs. frontal tests. These data related to Ford's 
33-car barrier crash tests of 1972 Mercury airbag 
vehicles. Ford's February 1976 report on the sub- 
ject, "Airbag Crash Test Repeatability" (ESRO 
Report No: S-76-3), stated that the results of the 
angular crashes were lower in magnitude and had 
less variability than the frontal crashes. In 12 
frontal tests, average driver and passenger HIC 
values were 479 and 462, respectively. In angular 
tests, the respective means for HIC were 185 and 
330, well below the values in the frontal crashes. 

Favoring the deletion of the oblique test, due to 
its stated redundancy and its adding to costs, lead- 
time, and variability, were BMW, Volvo, Nissan, 
Mercedes, Honda, and Mazda. Mazda supplied data 
which showed a driver HIC of 779 and a passenger 
value of 758 in a frontal crash test using an experi- 



mental two-point passive belt while the corre- 
sponding values in the angular test were 488 and 
302. Mercedes also stated that the oblique test is 
an obstacle to producing airbags. 

Peugeot and Renault supported retention of 
the oblique test, arguing that it is more represen- 
tative of the majority of actual crashes, and dele- 
tion of the perpendicular test. They stated this 
would be harmonized with a European regulation 
(WP 29/R237/REV 1). 

Two manufacturers opposed the elimination of the 
test outright, while a third expressed concern over 
deleting the oblique test for airbag-equipped cars. 

GM opposed deletion of the oblique test. It said 
that while "most angular tests would result in 
lower injury numbers than obtained from a per- 
pendicular barrier test, angular tests are more 
representative of the variety of frontal crashes 
that actually occur in the field." 

GM further stated that it was their experience 
that the oblique test is "important in the evalua- 
tion of airbag performance." 

Saab also opposed its deletion, terming the pro- 
posal "a way to cover up for a weakness in the air- 
bag system." Saab stated that a test requirement 
must cover a large part of real world accidents. 

VW supported, with reservation, the proposal to 
delete the 30 degree oblique test. VW recom- 
mended dropping the perpendicular test since the 
forthcoming Economic Commission for Europe 
(ECE) regulation on crash protection will only have 
an oblique test. VW said that an oblique test 
should be retained for vehicles which do not include 
upper torso belts, that is, airbag equipped cars. 

The CFAS opposed deletion of the oblique test 
since it could compromise occupant protection. 

IIHS supported the deletion of the oblique test if 
its elimination will promote the use of airbags. 

The Breed Corporation favored the deletion of 
the oblique test, citing confidential data it had seen 
from manufacturers. 

Adequacy of the Part 572 Dummy 

In its December 1983 response to the NPRM, 
GM said that better diagnostic tools are needed to 
assure improved occupant safety, including better 
dummies. GM argued these tools should lead to im- 
proved test result repeatability. According to GM, 
the Part 572 dummy "is deficient as a tool on which 
to base assessments of the potential of all occupant 
protection technologies." GM believes their devel- 
opment of the Hybrid III dummy provides for such 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 205 



assessments and, as part of their response, peti- 
tioned NHTSA to permit the use of the Hybrid III 
dummy as an alternative test device (i.e., as a sub- 
stitute for the Part 572 dummy) in measuring com- 
pliance with FMVSS 208. 

Although not responding directly to the relative 
adequacy of the GM Hybrid HI dummy, the Depart- 
ment concluded, in the SNPRM, "that the test 
dummy [i.e., the Part 572 dummy] is a repeatable 
test device and is not a major source of the variabil- 
ity found in NHTSA's 35 mph repeatabUity test 
series." It was further stated that NHTSA would 
address the merits of GM's petition to permit the 
use of the Hybrid III as an alternative test device 
in a separate rulemaking action at a later date. 

Several manufacturers took exception to the De- 
partment's conclusion that the Part 572 dummy 
was a repeatable test instrument and met the 
appropriate statutory criteria. Peugeot said that 
the current dummy is one cause of test result vari- 
ability and thus it does not meet the statutory cri- 
teria. But, since manufacturers need some refer- 
ence test instrument, Peugeot said that even though 
its use is questionable, "it must be maintained." 

American Motors described the dummy as "a 
state-of-the-art compromise — it lacks in reasonable 
measurement fidelity." 

Volvo said that "the present Part 572 test 
dummy has serious limitations with respect to its 
use for determining compliance with FMVSS 208." 
Volvo believes design and material improvements 
are necessary to make the dummy more durable, 
repeatable, and trouble-free. 

Toyota said that there was "uncertainty of the 
Influence of [the] Part 572 dummy tolerances on 
crash test results" while Ford said that although 
the calibration of the dummy is repeatable, its per- 
formance in barrier crashes may not be. Ford ques- 
tioned the Department's conclusion that the dummy 
is not a major source of variability. 

GM again reiterated the potential benefits of 
the Hybrid III dummy and called for quick action 
on its petition, saying that a delay could hamper 
installation of new technology in its vehicles. 

This view was supported by Nissan which said it 
believes the Hybrid III demonstrates greater 
repeatability than does the Part 572 dummy. Nis- 
san believes the Hybrid III has a more controlled 
twisting motion and offers a greater degree of con- 
trol and stability. 

Mercedes disagreed with the conclusion that the 
Part 572 dummy satisfies all legal criteria because 



it is "not sufficiently repeatable for compliance test 
purposes." Mercedes also stated that "the Hybrid 
III provides no improvement in this regard." 

Conversely, Renault said that it agreed with 
NHTSA that "the present Part 572 dummy is not 
the major cause of the dispersion of results." 



Adoption of N CAP Test Procedures 

As a result of its repeatability test program, 
NHTSA amended the test procedures (IP 212-02) 
for the New Car Assessment Program to reduce 
any variability associated with the test procedures 
themselves. Since the NCAP procedures are more 
specific than the current FMVSS 208 require- 
ments (in terms of dummy foot placement, place- 
ment in the seat, etc.) and since the test procedure 
is an integral part of complying with the standard, 
it was proposed in the SNPRM that the NCAP test 
procedures, aside from those aspects solely related 
to the consumer rating program such as the need 
for high-speed cameras, testing at 35 mph, etc., be 
adopted in FMVSS 208. It was argued that the 
increased specificity of these procedures would 
further reduce any variability associated with the 
test procedures themselves. 

Most manufacturers favored, or at least took no 
exception to, the adoption of the NCAP proce- 
dures, although many felt it would do little to 
reduce variability. AMC said that the changes 
associated with adopting the NCAP procedures 
were "very minor" and could not be expected to 
significantly reduce variability. AMC contended 
that other sources of test procedure variability, 
such as safety belt tension and actual dummy posi- 
tion just prior to impact, are still not accounted for 
in the NCAP procedures. 

Volvo said that the procedures were "a step in 
the right direction" but doubted whether variabil- 
ity would be reduced significantly by their adop- 
tion. Volvo said that other sources of variability, 
such as belt geometry and identical dummy posi- 
tioning, still exist. 

Nissan did not comment on the adoption of the 
procedures themselves, but also stated that 
dummy positioning may not be properly specified. 
To aid in this regard, Nissan recommended that 
dummy placement be further specified by dimen- 
sions of dummy-to-car part distances. 

Toyota deemed the adoption incomplete and 
said that the timing of dummy installation prior to 
impact and the extent of the breaking-in between 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 206 



the dummy's hip and the seat materials was also 
important. 

Mercedes, as did Volvo, said that the NCAP pro- 
cedures were "moving in the right direction." 

Conversely, VW said it "has no confidence that 
the changes proposed will cause a significant 
reduction in variability" and that the Depart- 
ment has not provided any data to show that vari- 
ability will be reduced. The lack of data to support 
the contention of reduced variability was also cited 
by MVMA and Ford. 

While Honda said that the NCAP test proce- 
dures were "inadequate" to reduce variability, 
Renault stated it had "no objection" to their incor- 
poration in FMVSS 208. Mazda agreed that there 
would be some reduction in variability with their 
adoption. Renault also asked whether all these 
types of problems are solved by their adoption. 

MVMA, Ford, and GM also claim that the latest 
revisions to the NCAP test procedures, dummy 
foot placement and seat placement, were already 
incorporated when the repeatability tests were 
conducted by NHTSA; thus, no reduction in vari- 
ability from the values shown in those tests could 
be expected from their adoption. Ford also con- 
tended that adequate public notice was not pro- 
vided on this issue since the precise NCAP proce- 
dures to be incorporated in FMVSS 208 were 
never specified. 

Head Injury Criteria IHIQ Measurements 

The SNPRM sought public comment on whether 
HIC should be measured in the absence of the 
dummy's head contacting the vehicle interior. It 
was pointed out in the notice that the historic deri- 
vation of HIC was based on the head striking 
something. It was also noted in the SNPRM that 
NHTSA had permitted, for belt systems, the com- 
pliance with the HIC criterion only when head con- 
tact was made and only for the duration of head 
contact. The Department pointed out that because 
of some conflicting data and because it believed 
that a noncontact HIC criterion could act as a 
surrogate for neck injury, it was not proposing to 
change the standard. 

Peugeot, AMC, Volvo, Mercedes, VW, Renault, 
MVMA, Ford, GM, and Mazda favored eliminating 
measurement of HIC in the absence of head con- 
tact. Only Allstate opposed this, claiming that it 
prevents cervical and spinal injuries. BMW, VW, 
and Mercedes also favored raising the HIC cri- 
terion, even if there is dummy head contact, to a 



level of 1500, as proposed in a petition to NHTSA 
by the Committee on Common Market Automobile 
Constructors (CCMC). 

Peugeot said that they believe HIC is not a good 
criterion to protect against neck injury and that 
further research needs to be done on the subject. 
This view was supported by Volvo, Renault, and 
Ford. Peugeot, Honda, and GM also said that there 
is no basis to use a different — for example, 1500 — 
value for HIC in the absence of head contact. They 
believe HIC should not be measured at all in such 
circumstances. 

Volvo said that the origin of HIC was based on 
forehead impacts and only for accelerations in the 
anterior-posterior components. Volvo said it was 
little wonder, as HIC is now used in FMVSS 208 
for noncontact accelerations, including those in 
lateral directions, that HIC readings have little 
real-world relevance. AMC and Chrysler also 
claimed little relevance between HIC and the 
potential for real-world injury. Conversely, IIHS 
submitted data, based on calculation of HIC and 
associated real-world injuries to baseball players 
who were struck in the head, that there is a real- 
world relevance of HIC and that serious injuries, 
even death, occur at HIC values of 1,000. The 
CFAS also said that higher HICs would compro- 
mise occupant protection. 

Ford, although agreeing that noncontact head 
accelerations can produce injury, claimed that 
there was no correlation between the likelihood of 
such brain injuries and HIC values, nor was there 
any relation between neck injuries and HIC. 

In commenting on HIC in general, Peugeot and 
Renault asked that HIC values based on dummy 
head-to-knee contacts also be eliminated from mea- 
surement because the dummy's knee is much harder 
than the human knee, leading to higher values of 
HIC than would be expected in actual crashes. 

Testing of Safety Belts 

Commenting on the NPRM, Chrysler, VW, and 
Ford said that there was no need to dynamically 
test automatic safety belts, and that the static test 
requirements of FMVSS 209 and FMVSS 210, as 
currently related to manual belts, be applied 
instead. It was argued that current manual belts, 
which are not tested dynamically, have been proven 
effective as evidenced by worldwide data. Thus, 
the companies argue, there is no reason to test 
automatic belts any differently than manual belts. 
Dynamic testing of belts only adds to development 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 207 



time and costs without resulting in a higher level 
of safety. Recognizing the problem of assuring pre- 
vention of submarining for two-point automatic 
belts, VW suggested that a compliance test be 
added for knee bolsters. Ford also suggested that 
the anchorage location requirements of FMVSS 210 
be waived for automatic belts. 

Allstate said that the fact that manual belts are 
not dynamically tested results in the consumer 
having no assurance that the restraint system in a 
particular vehicle will perform as it is supposed to 
and, thus, is the "safety scandal of the century." 

No new comments were offered on this subject 
in responding to the SNPRM except from Jack 
Martens, who said that replacing the dynamic test 
requirement of FMVSS 208 for automatic belts 
with the static tests of standards 209 and 210 could 
result in lower quality levels for restraints. In- 
stead, he agreed with Allstate that manual belts 
be dynamically tested for compliance. 

Impact Test Speed 

In responding to the SNPRM, GM proposed an 
additional set of test criteria for NHTSA to con- 
sider. GM said that if some form of passive require- 
ments should be retained, then in addition to the 
current test procedures in FMVSS 208 for auto- 
matic restraints, an additional alternative of com- 
plying with manual belts, at two test speeds, 
should be provided. GM's proposal would permit 
compliance with manual belts if all FMVSS 208 cri- 
teria were met at 30 mph, with the manual belts 
buckled around the test dummies, and all criteria 
were also met at 25 mph, with the dummies unre- 
strained (i.e., belts unbuckled). GM believes this 
proposal would allow both consumers and manu- 



facturers to choose between active and passive 
restraints while improving overall motor vehicle 
safety. GM also asked that the Hybrid III, or equiv- 
alent dummy in terms of biofidelity, be permitted 
as the test instrument. 

GM claims safety benefits for their proposal 
equivalent to 36 percent belt usage. Their estimate 
is based on the reduction of total harm (which is a 
surrogate for the weighting of various severities 
of injuries by their dollar consequences) of 12 per- 
cent, which is derived by calculating the percent 
reduction of harm which occurs at 25 mph assum- 
ing that all current injuries were reduced in sever- 
ity by one AIS level. Since GM believes that no 
more than a 5 percent increase in belt usage would 
occur with passive belts, and since the 85 percent 
of individuals who currently do not use their 
safety belts would benefit by their proposal, total 
safety benefits oculd be nearly 17 times higher. 
GM further states that although they only calcu- 
lated benefits for reductions in harm due to frontal 
crashes, benefits could also be extended to other 
crash modes. 

GM envisions that its proposal would result in 
greater manufacturer flexibility in offering 
improved occupant safety than does the current 
FMVSS 208 criteria and would subsequently 
result in the development of a variety of occupant 
safety technologies, such as "safer" steering col- 
umns, interior padding, door latches to prevent 
ejection, windshield glazing, etc. GM stated in its 
NPRM response that reimposition of FMVSS 208 
without changes so as to permit such "buUt-in" 
safety to be developed could result in the reduc- 
tion of the firm's efforts in this area due to diver- 
sion of engineering resources. 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 208 



ANALYSIS OF THE DATA 



USAGE OF OCCUPANT PROTECTION SYSTEMS 

General 

Restraint systems will only have safety value if 
they are used by occupants or are in a state of 
readiness such that they provide protection from 
harm when required to do so. The following para- 
graphs describe these characteristics of the vari- 
ous restraint systems. 

Manual Belts 

Various changes have been required over the 
last 15 years to seatbelt designs to improve man- 
ual belt usage (replacing separate lap and shoulder 
belts and buckles with an integrated lap and shoul- 
der belt having a single buckle and adding an iner- 
tial reel to give occupants freedom of movement) 
and to remind occupants to use their belts (adding 
brief audible and visible reminders). Nevertheless, 
the rate of manual belt usage has not changed sub- 
sUntially over the 15-year history of FMVSS 208 
(except during the brief period around 1973 when 
interlocks and continuous buzzers were used). 

Based on recent NHTSA data, the overall safety 
belt usage rate for front seat occupants is 12.5 per- 
cent. This information also showed that usage 
varies significantly by seating position — 14 per- 
cent for drivers, 8.4 percent for passengers in the 
right front seat, and 5 percent for passengers in 
the center seat. 

Departmental studies have noted other inter- 
esting statistics about usage of manual belts: 

• People involved in more severe accidents use 
their restraint systems less often than the gen- 
eral driving public. (One theory is that belt 
wearers are more cautious and less prone to 
severe accidents.) 



• Import car occupants have substantially higher 
seatbelt usage than domestic car occupants. (For 
example: usage in domestic subcompacts was 
12.3 percent, while in import subcompacts usage 
was 22.1 percent in 1981-82.) 

• Seatbelt usage increases as car size decreases. 
(In 1981-82, usage was 16.8 percent in subcom- 
pacts, 10.5 percent in compacts, 7.4 percent in 
intermediates and 5.4 percent in full-size cars.) 

• Usage is higher in newer cars than in older cars. 
(In 1981-82. the usage in MY 81-82 cars was 
16.0 percent; the usage in MY 79-80 cars was 
13.6 percent.) 

Automatic Belts 

Usage rates for automatic belts vary substan- 
tially depending on the particular type of belt 
design and on the method of measuring usage. 
(Around 500,000 American fleet automobiles have 
been equipped with automatic belts; they include 
some 1975-1984 VW Rabbits and 1978-1980 GM 
Chevettes, and the 1981-1984 Toyota Cressidas.) 
Studies of usage rates of existing automatic re- 
straints are not necessarily applicable to systems 
that would be used to comply with an automatic re- 
straint requirement. For example, nearly 80 per- 
cent of the existing systems (in VW Rabbits) are 
voluntarily equipped with starter interlocks 
(which DOT is prohibited by law from requiring), 
some owners purchased the systems voluntarily, 
disconnection and storage of the belts on some sys- 
tems was very easy, some were installed only on 
rental vehicles (drivers may be atypical and, also, 
may not try to take long-term action to defeat the 
system), and some involved the more expensive 
motorized (with easier ingress and egress) sys- 
tems. Based on the record of this and previous 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 209 



rulemakings, manufacturers are unlikely to equip 
automatic restraint vehicles with either interlocks 
or motorized systems. The most likely system, 
given that manufacturers have freedom of choice, 
may be the detachable automatic belt. Since this is 
the system for which little field experience exists, 
application of the current usage data to a future 
fleet of all automatic belt equipped vehicles may 
not be appropriate. 

Current usage estimates for the VW Rabbit 
range from about 50 percent based on accident 
data to 80 percent based on traffic observations to 
90 percent from telephone surveys. Chevette 
usage, based on an extremely small number of 
observations, is about 70 percent (a similar value is 
derived from telephone surveys), while Cressida 
belt usage appears to exceed 90 percent (observa- 
tions and telephone surveys.) 

The Department's estimate of future usage is 
based on an analysis of existing systems and sur- 
veys of usage and attitudes. Essentially, the 
Department tried to determine whether certain 
features of automatic belts might overcome some 
of the reasons people do not use manual belts, 
while recognizing the wide range of belt systems 
likely to be produced under a mandate. Our cur- 
rent estimate for automatic belt use covers a 
broad range: 20 to 70 percent. We expect usage 
rates for automatic belts to be higher than current 
manual belt usage because of the automatic nature 
of the belt, which would overcome some of the 
stated reasons for not buckling up: laziness, forget- 
fulness, and not wanting to be bothered. Although 
precise estimates are impossible, it seems reason- 
able that some increment of increased usage 
should be imputed to nondetachable belts, since 
some effort would be required to deactivate them. 

There is no way to know precisely where within 
the range the automatic seatbelt usage rate would 
actually fall. The actual rate will depend on many 
considerations, such as comfort and convenience 
(including ease of entry and exit) and appearance. 
Education programs and proven on-the-road effec- 
tiveness could also affect usage. 

Airbags 

Impact protection benefits for airbags do not 
depend on usage since the occupant does not have 
to do anything. (However, as discussed elsewhere 
in this preamble, for greater protection, a lap belt 
should also be used.) As to whether airbags will 
deploy when they should, the Department believes 



that airbag technology is reliable and that airbags 
would function properly (they will not activate 
inadvertently and they will activate when they 
should) in virtually all instances. The automobile 
manufacturers agree. Two manufacturers stated 
their goal for reliability of airbags to be at least 
99.99 percent. 

Although usage is not a factor with airbags, 
"readiness" is. In the Department's Final Regula- 
tory Impact Analysis (FRIA), based on an analysis 
of the number of automobiles involved in acci- 
dents, the Department determined that, if all auto- 
mobiles were equipped with airbags and none of 
the airbags were repaired after an accident, 1.2 
percent of the fleet would be without airbags at all 
times. This figure would be slightly higher if there 
were inadvertent deployments and they were not 
repaired. The Department has no reliable metho- 
dology for determining what percent of these air- 
bags would, if fact, not be repaired. Because it 
would be very difficult to dismantle or remove an 
airbag— much more difficult than a belt system — 
and because it is not obtrusive, the Department 
estimates that only a small percent of car owners— 
perhaps 1 percent — would defeat the airbag. If, as 
a result of these two problems, 2 percent of all 
automobiles were without airbags at any one time, 
airbags would still be ready to deploy in 98 percent 
of the fleet. Thus, for analysis purposes, the 
Department estimates that airbag readiness 
would be 98 percent. 

As explained in the next section, a lap belt or a 
lap/shoulder belt should be worn with an airbag to 
obtain maximum protection in side and roll-over 
accidents, as well as in frontal crashes. Becuase of 
this, questions arise over the usage rate of the belt 
system supplied with an airbag. (The Department 
does not know whether manufacturers would sup- 
ply lap/shoulder belts or just lap belts.) One argu- 
ment is that belt use would decline because people 
would believe that airbags give ample protection. 
On the other side, it is contended that usage will 
increase if just lap belts are provided because the 
shoulder belt portion makes the belt uncomfort- 
able to some people and lap belt usage in the past 
was near 20 percent. Education may help over- 
come the "decrease" argument, but habit (people 
are unlikely to change their habits) may also over- 
come the "increase" argument. As a result, in its 
benefit calculations, the Deparment has assumed 
that current belt usage will continue with respect 
to the belts accompanying airbags (12.5 percent). 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 210 



Other Automatic Occupant Protection 
Technologies 

As with airbags, passive interiors do not have a 
"usage" rate applicable to them. However, unlike 
airbags, there are no deployment, replacement, or 
inactivation problems associated with them. Thus, 
the readiness factor of other known technologies is 
assumed to be 100 percent. As with airbags, lap 
belts or lap/shoulder belts might be required for 
protection in other crash modes (i.e., side, rear, 
rollover). 



General 

The safety benefits to be derived from any occu- 
pant restraint system are a function of both the 
usage (or readiness) of the system and its effective- 
ness, when used, to reduce injuries or deaths. 
Effectiveness of an occupant restraint system is 
expressed as a percentage reduction in injuries or 
deaths when compared to the situation when an 
occupant is unrestrained. If, in 100 crashes, a sys- 
tem would prevent the death of 60 percent of the 
occupants who would have been killed if they were 
unrestrained, then it would be rated as 60 percent 
of the occupants who would have been killed if 
they were unrestrained, then it would be rated as 
60 percent effective in reducing fatalities. It is 
important to note two points in this regard: 

(1) some crashes are so severe that no occupant 
protection system could prevent death or injury; 

(2) when a device prevents a fatality or serious 
injury that otherwise would have occurred, the 
individual may suffer a less serious injury instead. 
(As a result, a device that is more effective at 
reducing serious injuries, may appear less effec- 
tive, statistically, at reducing minor injuries.) 

The Department's estimates for the effective- 
ness of the various occupant restraint systems are 
presented in Table 4. 

Finally, it should be noted that, in general, the 
Department has less confidence in the effective- 
ness estimates for minor injuries than for more 
severe injuries due to reporting problems; many 
people do not report minor injuries or do not know 
they are injured until the next day and thus the 
injuries may not appear on police reports (the main 
source of injury data). While the relative effective- 
ness of the various systems should be unaffected, 
there is some doubt about whether the overall 
level of effectiveness for minor injuries is accurate. 



TABLE 4 

SUMMARY OF EFFECTIVENESS ESTIMATES 

(All Accident Directions) 

Air- 
Manual bags Airbags 
Manual Lap and Auto- Air- and and Lap/ 
Lap Shoulder matic bags Lap Shoulder 
Injury BelU Belts Belts Alone Belts Belts 



Fatal 



30-40 40-50 35-50 20-40 40-50 45-55 



Moderate 

to critical 25-35 45-55 40-55 25-45 45-55 50-60 



Effectiveness of Occupant Protection Systems Minor 



10 



10 



10 



10 



10 



10 



Manual Belts 

The effectiveness of manual belts is based on a 
comprehensive analysis of accident data, involving 
thousands of accidents. The estimates take into 
account various factors, such as the fact that occu- 
pants who wear their belts are generally involved 
in less severe accidents then unrestrained occu- 
pants. If factors such as this were not "controlled," 
the raw data would over estimate effectiveness. 
Although "controlling" the data helps, it cannot 
pinpoint an exact effectiveness estimate. For that 
reason, ranges were used. Nevertheless, the 
Department has the greatest confidence in the 
estimates of manual belt effectiveness. 

Automatic Belts 

To determine the effectiveness of automatic 
belts, the Department reviewed a number of dif- 
ferent data sources: analyses of accidents involv- 
ing existing automatic belt systems, crash tests, 
and a study by the Canadian Government, referred 
to below. Since most of the available accident data 
involve a 2-point automatic belt with a knee bol- 
ster, the Department's conclusions on the effec- 
tiveness of all types of automatic belts lack a 
statistically reliable base. In addition, in our anal- 
ysis of accident data involving VW Rabbits with 
automatic belts, the Department was unable to 
determine with certainty the usage rates of the 
automatic belts. Because of the lack of firm usage 
data, effectiveness could not be estimated with as 
much confidence as was done for manual belts. 

Furthermore, recent research by the Canadian 
Government has indicated that the absence of a 
lap belt may result in the 2-point automatic belt 
being less effective in preventing ejection. In addi- 
tion, the door mounted, 2-point belt may have little 



PART 571; S 208 - PRE 21 1 



capability of preventing ejection of an occupant in 
the event of an accidental door opening during a 
collision. However, even a 3-point automatic belt 
will not prevent all fatalities involving ejection, 
since some fatalities occur as a result of impacting 
interior components before ejection, while others 
occur as a result of occupant contact with objects 
outside the vehicle after partial ejection. More- 
over, the door mounted belt in the 2-point system 
may actually prevent door openings in many 
instances, since the "loading" of the belt (which is 
attached to the door) can tend to keep the door 
closed during a crash. 

Three-point automatic belts should be as effec- 
tive as manual belts, and the Department's esti- 
mates for effectiveness of automatic belts reflect 
this. Automatic belt effectiveness estimates 
have been adjusted downward by 5 percent at the 
lower end of the range because there is some evi- 
dence that 2-point belts may be less effecitve than 
3-point belts. 

Airbags 

Because of limited field experience with airbags, 
estimating the effectiveness of these devices is 
very difficult. There are so few cars equipped with 
airbags and so few cases or serious or fatal injuries 
that the field experience has no statistical mean- 
ing. Based on field experience through Decem- 
ber 31, 1983, (excluding prototype and test fleet 
vehicles) and a front seat fatality count of 10, the 
computed airbag and manual belt effectiveness (as 
used in the equivalent cars) for fatalities is now the 
same. This means that airbags would not save any 
more lives than the belt systems as used in those 
cars. But because the data base is so small, we can- 
not place any confidence in this effectiveness fig- 
ure. Based on a normal "confidence interval" 
(statistical certainty) of 90 percent, all that can be 
stated based on the field data is that airbags could 
range from being 46 percent more effective than 
the manual belts as used in the same cars to 70 per- 
cent less effective. Small changes in the number of 
fatalities would have drastic changes in these 
effectiveness estimates. Also, the comparisons are 
to manual belt usage in equivalent 1972-1976 cars. 
Belt usage is these cars was high compared to 
usage in later models, because they had, first, con- 
tinuous light and buzzer reminders and, then, 
interlock systems. The airbag and equivalent man- 
ual belt cars also were very large and had low 
fatality rates. Finally, the accidents — small in 



number— were frequently atypical and involved a 
greater than normal number of circumstances 
where a restraint system could not provide protec- 
tion (such as a drowning). All of these factors indi- 
cate that the "true" effectiveness could be signifi- 
cantly higher than in this small fleet. 

Current estimates of airbag effectiveness are 
based principally upon four new analyses which 
have recently been conducted by NHTSA. The 
three studies concerned with fatality effectiveness 
all use the National Crash Severity Study (NCSS), 
a major accident data collection program designed 
to result in a nationally representative sample. 
Effectiveness was estimated by partitioning the 
NCSS accidents into various subgroups by distin- 
guishing characteristics and then making judg- 
ments about whether an airbag could prevent the 
fatalities that occurred in that subgroup. A fourth 
study estimated moderate to critical injury effec- 
tiveness by comparing injury rates sustained in 
the airbag fleet cars to a comparable non airbag 
group in the NCSS file. 

We have relied on these new studies primarily 
because they are based on a relatively large, repre- 
sentative set of unrestrained fatal accident cases. 
These data, as well as the now available 8-year 
census of fatal accidents, were unavailable to 
NHTSA when the automatic occupant protection 
requirements were first promulgated in 1977. Thus, 
effectiveness estimates which are not derived 
from field experience now have a large file of acci- 
dent data upon which to be based. Further, NHTSA 
assembled a task force comprised of experts in the 
field of restraint design, crash testing and accident 
data analyses to ensure that the resulting esti- 
mates represented a consensus of varying judg- 
ments and expertise. 

However, it must be noted that even these new 
analyses have a significant degree of uncertainty 
associated with them. For the most part, they rely 
on judgments about airbag performance based on 
limited field experience and controlled crash test- 
ing. This technique has obvious limitations, because 
death and injury in highway accidents are very 
unpredictable. 

There is little disagreement that airbags will 
function very well in noncatastrophic, frontal or 
near frontal collisions up to speeds approaching 
45 mph and will offer little or no protection in rear 
end collisions. The real issue concerns airbag effec- 
tiveness in side or angle impacts, rollover, and 
catastrophic frontal crashes. Because the Depart- 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 212 



ment is undecided on airbag effectiveness in the 
latter three situations, a wide range of estimated 
effectiveness for airbags has been provided. The 
lower portion of the range (20 to 25 percent) is gen- 
erally consistent with the assumption that airbags 
will have fairly low effectiveness in side and roll- 
over crashes. With progressively more optimistic 
assumptions regarding their performance in these 
types of crashes, the overall effectiveness estimate 
approaches the higher end of the range (40 per- 
cent). The 20 to 40 percent range fully encompasses 
the above dichotomy of assumptions. The zero per- 
cent field experience figure is discounted because 
of its statistical unreliability, crash test data show- 
ing superior performance of airbags at higher 
speeds than for manual belts, and statements to 
the docket. 

Other Occupant Protection Technologies 

Effectiveness estimates for other technologies 
are currently unavailable. 

Conclusions 

Some conclusions can be drawn from the general 
effectiveness data that have been developed. First, 



the most effective system is an airbag plus a lap 
and shoulder belt. To obtain maximum protection 
in not only frontal, but also side and roll over acci- 
dents, occupants of cars with airbags and lap belts 
must use a lap belt to supplement the airbag. An 
airbag plus a lap belt provides an equivalent level 
of effectiveness to a manual lap and shoulder belt 
system. Finally, an airbag alone is less effective 
than a manual lap and shoulder belt or automatic 
belt, when those systems are used. 

Benefits of Occupant Restraint Systems 

Safety Benefits 

With its estimates for usage and effectiveness, 
the Department can determine benefits by multi- 
plying the product of those two estimates by the 
fatality or injury figure. The final result is the 
number of fatalities or injuries prevented. Table 5 
shows the incremental benefits; i.e., the benefits 
over and above those accruing from current levels 
of restraint usage. The numbers provided in 
Table 5 are annual benefits assuming full imple- 
mentation. They are based on all cars on the road 
having the restraint system noted (which would 



TABLE 5 
ANNUAL INCREMENTAL REDUCTION IN FATALITIES AND INJURIES 







Fatalities 




Moderate -Critical Injuries 




Low 


Mid- 
Point 


High 


Low 


Mid- 
Point 


High 


Airbags only 


3,780 


6,190 


8.630 


73.660 


110.360 


147,560 


Airbags with 
Lap Belts 
(12.5% usage) 


4.410 


6,670 


8.960 


83,480 


117,780 


152,550 


Airbag with 

Lap/Shoulder Belts 
(12.5% usage) 


4,570 


6,830 


9.110 


85.930 


120.250 


115,030 


Automatic Belts 














Usage 
20% 
70% 


520 

5,030 


750 

6.270 


980 
7.510 


8.740 
86,860 


12.180 
105,590 


15,650 
124,570 


Mandatory Belt Use Laws (Manual Belts) 










Usage 
40% 
70% 


2,830 
5,920 


3,220 
6,720 


3.590 
7.510 


47,740 
110.430 


53,440 
112.410 


59,220 
124,570 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 213 



not be the case until at least 10 years after full 
implementation). Mixes of restraint systems, for 
example, half of the cars with airbags and half with 
automatic belts, would lead to results between the 
values shown for those systems. The numbers also 
reflect the mid points, as well as the extremes, of 
the effectiveness ranges provided in Table 4. For 
these calculations, belt usage with airbags was 
assumed to be at current levels of restraint usage. 
The Department has also provided data on the 
benefits of airbags even if belts were not used. A 
range of benefits is provided for automatic belts 
and mandatory belt use laws, because of uncer- 
tainty over usage rates. 

Another aspect of the analysis of benefits is the 
difference in short-term benefits of the different 
alternatives. Roughly one-tenth of the American 
fleet of automobiles is replaced every year. Al- 
though some automobiles are kept beyond 10 
years, the Department generally assumes that, ten 
years after a rule requiring a safety device on new 
automobiles has been implemented, the device 
would be in place in virtually the entire American 
fleet. In this regard, mandatory seatbelt use laws 
that are enforced can have a distinct advantage in 
that they can be applied to all automobiles in the 
existing fleet immediately rather than only new 
cars. Since the precise date at which different 
States would pass and implement a mandatory belt 
use law can not be judged, it is difficult to predict 
with certainty when benefits would accrue and 
what the level of those benefits would be. 

However, comparisons can be made based upon 
reasonable assumptions. For example, if all states 
pass a mandatory belt use law and usage through- 
out the nation increased to 70 percent or more 
within three years, the short-term benefits (over 
the next 10 years) would be 2.5 times higher for 
such laws than those associated with airbags or 
with automatic belts at the 70 percent usage level. 
As the amount of time necessary to pass the laws 
increases, or the number of States passing such 
legislation decreases, or if usage does not increase 
to 70 percent, the shortrun (and longrun) benefits 
of mandatory belt usage would decrease compared 
to the benefits of airbags (and possible automatic 
belts if they are used at high levels). Nevertheless, 
the benefits of mandatory belt use compared to the 
introduction of automatic restraints are substantial. 

Table 6 compares benefits for the first 10 and 15 
years after the introduction of automatic 
restraints into the fleet with those associated with 



mandatory belt use laws. Three use-law scenarios 
are examined. If all States quickly pass a manda- 
tory belt use law and usage increased to 70 per- 
cent or more, short term benefits (over the next 10 
years) would be about 2.5 times higher than bene- 
fits with airbags or automatic belts with 70 per- 
cent usage. Thus, unless all cars had airbags, or 
automatic belt usage approached 70 percent, the 
longrun (15 years) benefits of automatic restraints 
would be unlikely to approach those associated 
with rapid passage of State belt use laws. The 
short-run safety benefits of such laws are always 
likely to be higher. 

Conversely, if a large number of States do not 
pass a law, or it takes a long time to get the State 
laws passed, or usage does not increase to 70 per- 
cent, then the shortrun and longrun benefits of 
mandatory belt usage and automatic restraints 
may be equal. 

Insurance Savings 

The potential reduction in fatalities and injuries 
that would result from mandating automatic re- 
straints could produce a corresponding decrease in 
funeral, medical, and rehabilitation expenses. A 
reduction in these expenses could, in turn, result in 
reductions in premiums for any insurance that 
covers them. (Automobile insurance premiums could 
also increase to cover added expenses due to acci- 
dents or thefts involving airbag equipped auto- 
mobUes. This is discussed later in the preamble.) 
The Department cannot be certain that consumers 
would receive any premium reductions or, if they 
would, what their magnitude might be. Most insur- 
ance industry representatives are reluctant to pro- 
vide quantitative estimates of potential savings to 
consumers. However, at least one company pro- 
vided an independent estimate and one State offi- 
cial assured the Department that he will mandate 
such reductions in his State. 

The Department, based on the potential safety 
benefits discussed previously and an estimate of 
the portion of premiums associated with front seat 
occupant fatalities, estimates that the discounted 
value of automobUe insurance savings (assuming a 
10 percent discount rate and a 10-year vehicle life) 
could be, based on the midpoints of the effective- 
ness ranges, $95 for cars equipped with airbags. 
Spread over the entire vehicle fleet (including un- 
insured vehicles), the discounted value is $89. For 
belt systems the savings would depend upon usage 
rates but could be as high as $85 per insured car 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 214 



TABLE 6 
TIME PHASE ANALYSIS OF FATALITY BENEFITS 





Air Bag With Automatic Belt: 


Mandatory Belt Use Law: 40-70% Usage 




12.5% Usage 


20-70% 








Year 


of Lap Belt 


Usage 


Scenario 1' 


Scenario 2^ 


Scenario 3' 


1 


400 


50-380 


3,220-6.720 


2.160-4,500 


680-1,650 


2 


1,000 


110-940 


3,220-6.720 


2.160-4,500 


730-2,100 


8 


1.590 


180-1,500 


3,220-6.720 


2.160-4.500 


790-2,540 


4 


2.180 


250-2,050 


3,220-6.720 


2.160-4.500 


840-2,980 


6 


2.730 


310-2.570 


3,220-6.720 


2,160-4,500 


890-3,400 


6 


3.230 


360-3,030 


3.220-6.720 


2.160-4,500 


930-3,770 


7 


3.690 


410-3,470 


3.220-6.720 


2,160-4,500 


970-4.120 


8 


4.130 


460-3.880 


3,220-6,720 


2.160-4.500 


1,010-4,450 


9 


4.560 


510-4.280 


3,220-6.720 


2.160-4.500 


1,250-4,770 


10 


4.960 


560-4.660 


3,220-6,720 


2,160-4,500 


1,090-5.070 


TOTAL 












(1-10) 


28.470 


3,200-26.760 


32,330-67,200 


21,600-45,000 


8.980-34,850 


11 


5.340 


600-5.010 


3,220-6,720 


2,160-4,500 


1,120-5,350 


12 


5.660 


640-5.320 


3,220-6,720 


2,160-4,500 


1,160-5,600 


13 


5.900 


660-5.550 


3,220-6,720 


2,160-4,500 


1,170-5,780 


14 


6.090 


680-5.720 


3,220-6,720 


2,160-4,500 


1,190-5.920 


15 


6.240 


700-5.860 


3,220-6,720 


2,160-4,500 


1.200-6,030 


TOTAL 












(1-15) 


57.700 


6.480-54.220 


48,300-100.800 


32,400-67.500 


14,820-63,530 



'Scenario 1 — It is assumed that all States have mandatory belt use laws which are in effect at the time that an automatic occupant pro- 
tection standard becomes effective for new cars. 

^Scenario 2 — It is assumed that 57 percent of the population is subject to mandatory belt use laws which are in effect at the time that 
an automatic occupant protection standard becomes effective for new cars. 

'Scenario 3 — It is assumed that 20 percent of the population is subject to mandatory belt use laws which are in effect at the time that 
an automatic occupant protection standard becomes effective for new cars. The remaining 80 percent of the population would have 
cars equipped with automatic belts, with usage in the 20-70 percent range. 



and $79 when spread over all cars, if usage rose to 
70 percent; at 2 percent usage, the figures would 
be $10 and $9. respectively. 

The Department's analysis also showed that 
between $49 million and $1,100 million could be 
saved annually in health, life, and worker's com- 
pensation insurance and governmental payments 
for social services such as Medicare, Medicaid, dis- 
ability insurance, etc. The discounted value of 
these insurance and governmental payment sav- 
ings expressed on a per vehicle basis would be in 
the range of $2 to $61. 

Table 7 summarizes the insurance savings that 
couls result from a requirement for automatic 
occupant restraints. These potential insurance 



savings do not account for some offsetting insur- 
ance premium increases for airbag equipped cars, 
which are discussed later. 

Public Acceptance 
of Occupant Protection Systems 

The public acceptance of safety devices likely to 
be installed in compliance with Federal motor 
vehicle safety standards is one of the factors which 
must be considered by the Department in estab- 
lishing those standards. In Pacific Legal Founda- 
tion V. DOT, the court found that in order for a 
safety standard to be practicable and meet the 
need for safety, the safety devices to be installed 
pursuant to the standard must be acceptable to the 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 215 



TABLE 7 

SUMMARY OF POTENTIAL SAVINGS 

ON INSURANCE PREMIUMS FROM AUTOMATIC RESTRAINT REQUIREMENTS 



Savings ($) 


Per Vehicle 

Annual 
Savings ($) 


Per Vehicle 

Lifetime 

Savings ($) 


Total Annual 
Savings (M) 
1990 Fleet 


Air Bags 

Automobile Insurance 
Health Insurance 
Life Insurance 


9-17 

4-8 
0-1 


62-115 

29-54 

3-7 


1108-2046 

521-962 

62-136 


Total 


13-26 


94-176 


1691-3144 



Automatic Belts 

(For 20 Percent Assumed Usage) 

Automobile Insurance 
Health Insurance 
Life Insurance 

Total 



1-2 

0-1 




1-3 



5-14 

2-7 

0-1 



7-22 



89-243 

42-114 

7-14 



138-371 



Automatic Belts 

(For 70 Percent Assumed Usage) 

Automobile Insurance 
Health Insurance 
Life Insurance 

Total 



10-14 
5-7 
1 



16-22 



65-94 

31-44 

4-6 



100-144 



1146-1676 

539-788 

71-105 



1756-2570 



public. The Department has attempted to deter- 
mine the likely public attitudes toward manual and 
automatic restraints and mandatory safety belt 
usage laws based on public opinion surveys. In 
analyzing these surveys, the Department recog- 
nizes that the usefulness of the surveys as pre- 
dictors of future public attitudes is limited by sev- 
eral factors. One is the public's lack of experience 
with automatic restraints on which to base its 
opinions. In view of the increase in favorable atti- 
tudes toward automatic belts by owners of auto- 
matic belt cars between the time of initial owner- 
ship and a later time, the Department believes 
that gradual exposure of the public to automatic 
restraints will increase the acceptability of those 
restraint systems above the levels indicated in the 
surveys. Equally important, most of the surveys 
are more than several years old. Since public opin- 
ion appears subject to change in relatively short 
periods of time in this area, as is evidenced by the 



fairly rapid enactment of child restraint usage 
laws in most States, there is additional reason to 
believe that these surveys may not accurately 
reflect future public attitudes and perhaps not 
even current public opinion. 



Awareness/Knowledge of Automatic Restraints 

The extent of the survey respondent's knowl- 
edge about automatic restraints is important in 
assessing the validity of the surveys as predictors 
of public reaction to automatic restraints. The less 
knowledgeable the respondents are, the less 
weight can be given to the survey results. Several 
surveys made in the late 1970's and early 1980's 
show that considerably higher percentages of the 
people surveyed were aware of airbags than auto- 
matic belts. The figures for airbags were 62 to 
93 percent of the respondents, while those for 
automatic belts were much smaller. 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 216 



Government's Role in Making Automatic 
Restraints Available 

There were a variety of deficiencies in the sur- 
veys which included questions about public atti- 
tudes toward a government requirement for air- 
bags or automatic restraints. For example, most 
surveys did not attempt to ascertain the degree of 
the respondents' knowledge of airbags and did not 
inform respondents about the cost of automatic 
restraints. Eight of the 12 surveys which attempted 
to ascertain public attitudes found that respon- 
dents favored a Federal requirement. Based on its 
analysis of those surveys, the Department con- 
cluded that while many people do not favor such a 
requirement on all new cars, there is also a sub- 
stantial number who state their willingness to pur- 
chase cars with automatic restraints. Thus, initial 
public reaction will be divided. Public education 
and the performance of automatic restraints will 
be the key factors in determining the long run pub- 
lic acceptance of automatic restraints. 

How Muck Would the Public Pay for Airbags? 

The surveys on the willingness of the public to 
purchase airbags indicate that only a small per- 
centage appears willing to pay more than $400 or 
would expect to pay less than $100 for any airbag 
system. The majority of respondents cluster 
around the $200 to $300 levels, covering a range of 
approximately $150 to $350. Toward the upper end 
of this cost range, the driving public is roughly 
evenly divided in its willingness to buy airbags. 
This suggests that a substantial potential market 
for airbags exists and that a significant portion of 
the public would opt for them if they were priced 
within the $150 to $350 range and available in suffi- 
cient quantities. 

Attitudes Toward Manual Belts, Automatic 
Belts, and Airbags 

The surveys generally indicate that the public 
views automatic belts as superior to manual belts in 
comfort and convenience and that these character- 
istics would apparently override some of the rea- 
sons respondents give for not using manual belts. 
Those reasons include not wanting to be bothered 
with belt usage and being lazy and forgetful. At 
the same time, some of the reasons for not using 
manual belts appear equally applicable to automatic 
belts, e.g., fear of entrapment, doubting the value 
of safety belts, and not wanting to be restrained. 

Airbags were rated highest on comfort, conve- 



nience and appearance and were perceived to be 
safer than other restraint systems by infrequent 
belt users. Primary concerns expressed about air- 
bags relate to reliability, whether they will work 
when needed or deploy accidentally, and cost. 

Public AttitiLdes Toward a Mandatory Safety 
Belt Usage Law 

Surveys made in the 1970's indicate that the 
public is divided on the issue of mandatory belt 
usage laws when the concept of sanctions is not 
mentioned; two 1983 surveys found the public to 
favor mandatory use laws. When the possibility of 
sanctions was mentioned as part of several sur- 
veys taken in the 1970's, there was increased oppo- 
sition to mandatory use laws. Since the newest of 
these surveys involving sanctions is 6 years old, 
the Department does not have a current reading of 
nationwide public opinion. 

Public Opinion Surveys— Docket Submissions 

Two public opinion surveys on occupant restraint 
issues were submitted to the docket, one by GM 
and the other by IIHS. Since both surveys included 
questions whose wording appears to have affected 
the answers, the Department does not believe that 
the answers to those questions can be regarded as 
accurately reflecting current public attitudes. For 
example, some questions failed to mention either 
the benefits or the costs of automatic restraints. In 
addition, there are reasons for questioning the rep- 
resentatives of the sample of respondents. 

As to whether there should be airbags in new 
cars, the GM survey found that 51 percent of the 
respondents favored installtion if the price were 
$100. That number dropped to 35 percent if the 
price were $320 and to 19 percent if the price were 
$500. The GM survey also asked whether the re- 
spondents would favor installation of automatic 
belts at an additional cost of $100. Thirty-eight per- 
cent answered affirmatively. 

IIHS' survey asked whether airbags and auto- 
matic belts should be standard or optional equip- 
ment. Fifty-six percent favored installation as 
standard equipment and 40 percent as optional 
equipment. When the 44 percent who did not be- 
lieve that automatic restraints should be standard 
equipment were asked if manufacturers should be 
required to offer those restraints as options, 
84 percent answered affirmatively. 

Of the two surveys, only the IIHS survey directly 
queried the respondents about their preference for 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 217 



automatic restraints at various price levels. At a 
cost of $100 over the cost of manual belts, 30 per- 
cent favored automatic belts over manual belts 
and at a cost of $150, 25 percent did so. Similarly, 
at a cost of $100 for airbags 55 percent favored air- 
bags over manual belts. The percentage fell to 
47 percent at $200 and 42 percent at $350. 

Both surveys asked about preferences for air- 
bag requirements versus a safety belt usage law. 
The GM survey found that 28 percent would most 
like to see a combination of a belt usage law and a 
65 mph speed limit on the Interstate System, 
24 percent preferred airbags in all cars, and 
16 percent favored a belt usage law by itself. To 
measure dislikes, the GM survey asked which 
requirement the respondents would least like to 
see enforced. Airbags were picked by 44 percent, a 
belt usage law by 14 percent, and the combination 
of a belt usage law and a 65 mph speed limit by 
11 percent. The IIHS survey showed a preference 
of 2 to 1 in favor of an airbag requirement over a 
belt usage law. The results of both surveys in 
these areas were at least in part due to the particu- 
lar information provided the respondents and to 
the wording of the questions. 

The Department does not believe that it is nec- 
essary to resolve the dispute between the com- 
menters over the precise role of public accept- 
ability in establishing safety requirements. The 
nature and significance of public acceptability 
issues varies greatly depending on the particular 
factual circumstances of individual rulemakings. 
Since Pacific Legal Foundation v. DOT, it has been 
beyond dispute that public acceptability must be 
considered in rulemaking under the Act. The De- 
partment agrees that public acceptability involves 
more than considering consumer preferences. As 
Allstate noted, if preferences alone were a con- 
trolling factor, then that would call into question 
the current provisions under which manual belts 
are installed in new cars. However, the Depart- 
ment also agrees that behavior other than dis- 
abling occupant restraint systems may be relevant 
in considering public acceptability. The Depart- 
ment believes that its consideration of public 
acceptability would satisfy whatever definition 
might be applied in assessing its actions. 

Based on the likelihood that the car manufac- 
turers will install detachable automatic belts or 
airbags instead of nondetachable automatic belts, 
the Department does not believe that there will be 
a significant reduction in benefits due to persons 



disabling automatic restraints. Neither the detach- 
able automatic belt nor the airbag have the intru- 
sive or coercive qualities that the combination of 
manual belts and ignition interlocks had in 1974. 
However, the Department recognizes the need for 
the public to become accustomed to the technology 
and the need for protection, and believes that an 
across-the-board mandate too quickly could engen- 
der adverse public reaction. The Department's 
decision to gradually phase in the requirements of 
this rule will help build public acceptance of this 
rule. Additionally, although the added costs of 
automatic restraints will theoretically have some 
effect on new car sales, those effects, as discussed 
in the FRIA, would not be substantial. 

Costs and Lead Time 
for Occupant Protection Systems 

Equipment 

General 

Table 8 provides the Department's estimates for 
the incremental increase in equipment and fuel 
costs and required lead time for automatic belts 
and airbags. The increment is the cost over that of 
the current manual lap/shoulder belts. The Depart- 
ment estimates that installation of airbags in com- 
pact and larger cars would require 3 to 4 years 
lead time and automatic belts in all cars would 
require 2 to 3 years; installtion could begin sooner 
for a small fraction of annual production, and is 
likely to take even longer for airbags in small cars. 
Greater detail on the estimates is provided in the 
Department's Final Regulatory Impact Analysis. 

The costs of manual and automatic belts and air- 
bags are based on tear-down studies and com- 
ments to the docket. The cost for belts are believed 
to be typical of high volume production costs; the 
estimates for airbags are based on production of 
1 million units, which is believed to be representa- 
tive fo full production system costs if airbags were 
widely used. 

Table 9 presents industry estimates on costs 
and lead time. It shows investment costs separately 
because of its effect on cash flow. Investment costs 
are not, however, additive to equipment; they are 
already included in equipment costs. 

Manual Lap and Shoulder Belts 
Based on Departmental analyses, the increase in 
a new car's price attributable to the addition of a 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 218 



Manual Belt System 

Automatic Belt System 
(2 pt or 3 pt non- 



TABLE 8 
PER VEHICLE COST IMPACTS 



Incremental 
Cost 



Lifetime 

Energy 
Costs 



Base 



•For compact-sized and larger cars 



Total 

Cost 
Increase 



Required 
Leadtime 



power high volume) 


$40 


$11 


$51 


24-36 Mo. 


Air Bag — Driver Only 
(High volume) 


$220 


$12 


$232 


36 Mo.* 


Air Bag-FuU Front 
(High volume) 


$320 


$44 


$364 


36-48 Mo.* 



manual lap and shoulder belt to the front outboard 
seating positions and a manual lap belt to the front 
center position is approximately $64, based on a 
production volume of one million units per year. 
The added weight for the manual belt would increase 
fuel usage at a cost of $22 over the life of the car. 
Industry estimates for the cost of existing man- 
ual seatbelts ranged from $50 (Honda and Peugeot 
for two seating positions) to $90 (Nissan for two 
positions). GM and Chrysler said seatbelts for 
three positions cost $65 (GM said $59 for two posi- 
tions). 

Automatic Belts 

For the various designs of automatic belts hav- 
ing a fixed anchorage on the door, the increase in a 
new car purchase price over that for a car with 
manual seatbelts has been estimated at $40. Added 
fuel costs over the life of the car would be $11. 
Some manufacturers may offer motorized belt sys- 
tems, such as Toyota currently offers in its Cres- 
sida. Incremental cost increases for such systems 
are estimated by manufacturers to be as high as 
$300 to $400, but the NHTSA teardown study of 
the Cressida system shows incremental consumer 
cost increases of only $115 for such systems. Al- 
though motorized systems may lead to higher 
usage levels because of their convenience, they 
were not required under FMVSS 208 prior to its 
rescission in 1981, and are not required by this 
amendment to the rule. 



Of the major automakers, only GM provided a 
detailed cost estimate in its comments to the rule- 
making docket. GM's estimate was for a high vol- 
ume, four-door sedan with two front seats and 
3-point detachable automatic belts with single 
door-mounted retractors. No provision was neces- 
sary for knee bolsters. Their estimate, as well as 
that of an experienced cost estimator (Lohr) was 
$45, similar to our estimate of $40. The NHTSA 
tear-down studies of the Rabbit and Chevette sys- 
tems, including modifications to fit other cars, 
yielded costs of $11 to $34. Other manufacturers' 
estimates are higher than NHTSA's because of 
"extras" (i.e., equipment not required under 
FMVSS 208; providing manual lap belts with 
2-point automatic belts, knee bolsters with 3-point 
belts or extra retractors to "hide" detached auto- 
matic belts) and different assumptions about mark- 
ups (profit and overhead) over actual variable costs. 

The NHTSA teardown studies were adjusted to 
account for a mix of 2- and 3-point belts as well as 
for provision of items not required by the stan- 
dard, but which could increase usage or safety. 
Two items that fit in the latter categories are 
motorized systems and the provision of manual lap 
belts with 2-point automatic belts. These additions 
increase the tear-down study estimates to $40. 

The NHTSA estimate of incremental weight 
associated with automatic belts is 5 pounds. This 
compares with GM's estimate of no increase in 
weight with such systems, VW's estimate of 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 219 



TABLE 9 
INDUSTRY STATEMENTS* INCREMENTAL ON COSTS OF OCCUPANT RESTRAINT SYSTEMS 

AND LEAD TIME 
($ 1983) 











Investment 












Equipment Cost of 


Cost' 


** 


Fuel 


Lead 




Consumer per Vehicle ($) 


($ MUlions) 


Cost (lbs) 


Time (mos.) 




Auto- _ 


Airbags 


Auto 




Auto- 




Auto- 






matic 




Full 


matic 


Air- 


matic 


Air- 


matic 


Air- 




Belts 


Driver 


Front 


Belts 


bags 


Belts 


bags 


Belts 


bags 


GM 


$45 


5102 


8382 


125 


5738 





56 


36 


36 


Ford 


— 


— 


8073 


— 


— 


25 


40 


36-48 


48 


Chrysler 


115 


5001 


8001 


37 


89« 


— 


— 


36 


36-60 


AMC 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


30-36 


36-42 


Mercedes 


— 


8806 


- 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


Renault 


200 


— 


1,000' 


1.5 


— 


— 


— 


24 


36 


Jaguar 


150 


900 


1.800' 


— 


31 


— 


35 


— 


— 


VW 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


7 


— 


48 


— 


Saab 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


30 


58 


Nissan 


130-150 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


30-42 


— 


Honda 


150-170 


— 


— 


5 


— 


— 


— 


36-48 


— 


Mazda 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


36 


36 


Peugeot 


380 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


36 


36 


American Seat 




















Belt Council 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


24 


— 


AOPA 


— 


— 


185^ 


— 


— 


— 


— 


18-30 


18-30 


Breed 


— 


45^ 


141^ 


— 


— 


— 


— 


18 


— 


Lohr 


45 


— 


— 


little 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


Romeo Kojyo 


— 


150« 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 


— 



• A " — " indicates no data was submitted or the commenter claimed it was confidential. 
•• Already included in equipment costs. Also shown separately because of effect on cash flow. 

1 At 1 million units 

2 At 3 million units 
^At 200,000 units 
^At 2 million units 

^Includes pretensioned passenger belt plus driver lap/shoulder belt 

^Retrofit; does not include installation 

'Estimate 

^FoT driver only airbags, GM said that investment costs would be $428 million and Chrysler said $12 million. 



7 pounds and Ford's 25 pound estimate. Assuming 
an equal increment of secondary weight, NHTSA 
estimates that the total 10 pound weight increase 
would result in $11 extra in fuel consumption over 
the vehicle's lifetime. 

Airbags 

The Department estimates that the vehicle 
price increase resulting from the installtion of air- 
bags in all three front seating positions of cars 



would be $320 over the cost of a car with manual 
lap and shoulder seatbelts, based on a production 
volume of one million units. The replacement cost 
for a deployed airbag is estimated to be $800. 
There would also be a fuel penalty of $44 over the 
life of the car, above that for a car with manual lap 
and shoulder belts. The cost for a driver-only air- 
bag and lap belt is estimated to be $220, plus a $12 
fuel penalty. 

The price of airbags is sensitive to volume 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 220 



changes. At annual volumes of less than 300,000 
units, full front airbags may cost anywhere from 
$400 to $1,500 per car. For volumes of 10,000 units 
per year or less, the latter figure is most represen- 
tative. A successful, all mechanical airbag system 
(such as the Breed system) may reduce the unit 
price of a full front airbag system to about $250 at 
an annual volume of one million units. 

NHTSA's airbag tear-down study involved a 
1979 Ford and a 1981 Mercedes Benz driver and 
passenger airbag system. The systems were disas- 
sembled into their component parts and, using 
automotive engineering cost estimating tech- 
niques, a NHTSA contractor estimated a variable 
or "piece" cost of each component exclusive of any 
fixed overhead expenses incurred in the produc- 
tion of airbag systems. These estimates are similar 
to those supplied by the actual airbag manufac- 
turers through their association. The estimates 
that were developed include our best estimate of 
the cost of required vehicle modifications. The esti- 
mates also include certain component modifications 
suggested by the contractors for high volume pro- 
duction. Estimates were developed for annual pro- 
duction volumes of 300,000, 1,000,000 and 2V2 mil- 
lion for both systems. In arriving at a unit retail 
price, unit variable costs were marked up by a fac- 
tor of 1.33 to arrive at "wholesale" or "dealer" cost 
and a dealer discount of 12 percent was assumed. 

The difference between the Department's esti- 
mates and industry's estimates is basically due to 
differences in design and pricing assumptions. For 
example, one major cost difference involves the 
price of the diagnostic module and associated elec- 
tronics. In its comments to the docket. Ford indi- 
cated that it believes that military specification 
grade electronics are necessary in view of product 
liability considerations; we have assumed that 
automotive grade electronics will suffice, although 
we recognize that, initially, manufacturers may 
resort to military specification grade electronics 
until the reliability of automotive g^ade elec- 
tronics is proven sufficiently. Significant differ- 
ences also exist in the number of required crash 
sensors, module costs (NHTSA used supplier 
quoted costs) and vehicle markups. The Depart- 
ment also found the estimates provided by the 
major U.S. manufacturers for driver-only airbag 
costs difficult to justify at their stated volumes. 
For example, even recognizing that there are vast 
differences in basic design between Mercedes and 
GM vehicles, Mercedes appears to be charging its 



customers a price 25 percent higher than GM's 
estimate for a driver-only system even though the 
Mercedes system is optional and sold at an annual 
volume which is 42 times lower than that esti- 
mated by GM. 

Other Occupant Protection Technologies 

Costs for other technologies are currently un- 
available. 

Investment 

Investment costs, which are defined as outlays 
for property, plant, machinery, equipment, and 
special tools to be used in the production of auto- 
matic occupant restraint systems, are estimated to 
be $1.3 billion if airbags were required in all new 
cars and $500 million if automatic belts were re- 
quired. These estimates are for the multiyear 
period prior to full implementation of an automatic 
restraint requirement. Industry's estimate for 
these expenses are contained in Table 9. 

The implementation of automatic occupant re- 
straint requirements should not substantially alter 
the magnitude of planned capital spending over the 
next several years, since domestic manufacturers 
alone are investing nearly $10 billion annually. 

Insurance 

If airbags were required in all automobiles, colli- 
sion and property damage liability insurance poli- 
cies would have to absorb additional costs for re- 
placing deployed airbags, for the value airbags add 
to vehicles that are "totaled", and for the added 
cost that would result when some damaged vehi- 
cles are considered "totaled" instead of repairable 
because of the added cost of replacing the airbag. 
The Department estimates that the maximum ex- 
pected loss, because of a requirement for airbags 
in the entire automobile fleet, that would be borne 
by collision insurance policies would be approxi- 
mately $177 million per year. For property damage 
liability policies, the cost would be $118.2 million. 

Comprehensive insurance policies will also have 
to absorb additional costs for the value that air- 
bags add to vehicles that are stolen or damaged by 
such things as fire and flood. The cost to insurance 
companies for these vehicles would be increased 
by the average depreciated value of airbags in the 
vehicles. The Department estimates that the maxi- 
mum loss that would be covered by this insurance 
would be approximately $55 million per year. 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 221 



These additional losses from airbags may cause 
annual premium increases, per insured vehicle, of 
about $2.60 per vehicle per year or $16.60 over a 
vehicle's lifetime. Table 10 shows these costs. 



TABLE 10 

SUMMARY OF POTENTIAL AUTOMOBILE 

PHYSICAL DAMAGE PREMIUM COSTS 

RESULTING FROM AIRBAGS 

($ 1982) 

Per Per 

Insured Insured Per Per Total 

Vehicle Vehicle Vehicle Vehicle Annual 

Annual Lifetime Annual Lifetime Costs, 

Cost Cost Cost Cost MUlions 



Collision 


1.90 


13.45 


1.31 


8.85 


177.2 


Property 
Damage 
Liability 


.94 


6.35 


.88 


5.95 


118.1 


Comprehensive 


.54 


3.65 


.41 


2.77 


55.4 


TOTAL' 






2.60 


17.57 


350.7 



' No total is provided for per insurance vehicle figures because 
each type of insurance covers a different number of vehicles. 
The addition of these numbers would therefore be meaningless. 



Economic Impact 

In response to the comments about the potential 
economic impact of any rulemaking, the Depart- 
ment's analysis indicates that, with a labor force of 
over 115 million projected for the mid-1980's, it 
would be difficult to conclude that a restraint sys- 



tem costing the consumer no more than $500 would 
result in any measurable impact on national employ- 
ment. Any perceptible effect on GNP is unlikely. 
Finally, as to the consumer price index, the Bureau 
of Labor Statistics generally considers higher con- 
sumer costs due to safety equipment as quality 
improvements, not inflationary increases, having 
no effect on the consumer price index. The projec- 
tion of effects on the GNP and the price index have 
one thing in common: the relative changes are 
small. Long-term effects on auto sales are expected 
to be minor and auto industry revenue and employ- 
ment would be expected to increase. In any event, 
any significant changes would result only from an 
all airbag requirement, not from the installation of 
automatic belts. 

There are also positive economic benefits asso- 
ciated with automatic occupant protection. Based 
on the previously mentioned estimates of lives 
saved and injuries avoided (see Table 5), and the 
economic losses associated with those casualties as 
contained in a recent NHTSA study, "The Economic 
Cost to Society of Motor Vehicle Accidents" (Jan- 
uary 1983), as much as $2.4 billion in protection. 
Although we do not wish to— and cannot— place a 
value on human life or injury, there are some costs 
associated with those deaths and injuries that can 
be measured, and only these are included in the 
study. Because they do not include such things as 
pain and suffering or loss of consortium, they will 
obviously understate total benefits of the life sav- 
ings and injury reducing potential of occupancy 
restraint systems. 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 222 



ANALYSIS OF THE ALTERNATIVES 



General 

Introduction 

Numerous alternatives have been considered as 
part of the response to the Supreme Court deci- 
sion on automatic occupant restraints. Before anal- 
yzing each of the specific alternatives, this portion 
of the paper first looks at some of the general pros 
and cons of each automatic protection system. It 
also discusses the pros and cons of other general 
features of many of the alternatives: a demonstra- 
tion program, mandatory State seatbelt use laws, 
legislation to require that the consumer be given 
the option of buying an automatic restraint sys- 
tem, airbag retrofit capability, passive interiors, 
and the center seat issue. 

Airbags 

Airbags offer a distinct advantage over other 
occupant restraints in that they ensure a usage 
rate of nearly 100 percent for both drivers and pas- 
sengers. Used alone, they do offer protection, but, 
to equal the effectiveness of a manual lap and 
shoulder belt, airbags must be used with lap belts. 
Lap belts in airbag equipped cars would probably 
be used only at a level near the current level of 
seatbelt use, 12.5 percent. Because manual belt use 
is so low, however, airbags would provide much 
greater safety benefits. 

Airbags with lap belts also provide protection at 
higher speeds than safety belts do, and they will 
provide better protection against several kinds of 
extremely debilitating injuries (e.g., brain and 
facial injuries) than safety belts. They also gener- 
ally spread the inpact of a crash better than seat- 
belts, which are more likely to cause internal in- 
juries or broken bones in the areas of the body 



where they restrain occupants in severe crashes. 
However, the airbag does not provide protection 
at less than 10 to 12 miles per hour, nor does it 
provide protection in rollover or read-end crashes. 
Its level of effectiveness in side crashes is uncer- 
tain, hence the large range of effectiveness esti- 
mates for airbags. To attain protection in these 
nonfrontal crashes, a lap belt, or lap/should belt 
must be worn. 

Full front airbags also can provide protection 
for the center seating position. No other automatic 
restraint system can do this, because, as with man- 
ual seatbelt systems, a shoulder belt cannot prac- 
ticably be offered for the center seat. 

The use of airbags would overcome possible 
public objections to the obtrusiveness of continu- 
ous automatic belts, lessen concerns about entrap- 
ment and avoid problems of shoulder belt comfort 
and convenience. Although there are significant 
public concerns about the alleged hazards associ- 
ated with airbags, the Department believes that 
many of these (e.g., inadvertent activation, sodium 
azide, and lack of assurance that they work when 
needed) are unfounded. 

The public might also be very concerned about 
the cost associated with airbags — especially cur- 
rent belt users who may argue that they would be 
getting very little additional protection at much 
greater cost. The cost of airbags is one of their big- 
gest disadvantages. 

One problem with respect to costs is the wide 
disparity between the Department's cost esti- 
mates and industry's. Although the Department 
can explain its estimate and the reasons for the dif- 
ferences, it cannot control the price at which the 
system is offered to the consumer. Thus, although 
the Department believes full front airbags need 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 223 



cost ho more than $320, they could, especially in 
the near term, cost much more, since airbag costs 
are very sensitive to production volume. Any 
alternative that does not result in the use of a 
large number (for example, 300,000) of airbags may 
result in their per unit costs being very high. 

Repair shop owners have raised concerns about 
their potential liability if an automobile's airbag 
fails to work after repair work was done on the 
car. The Department believes this concern is over 
stated; the introduction of an airbag into an auto- 
mobile is no different from the introduction of 
other safety features that may not work after 
repair work is done on an automobile. Moreover, 
the insurance companies have indicated in their 
testimony and docket comments that there would 
be very little if any increase in premiums to pro- 
vide insurance protection against such risks. 
Indeed, some insurance companies testified that 
product liability claims should decrease with auto- 
matic restraints. The expected reduction in deaths 
and injuries should result in fewer claims, for 
example, alleging that the brakes or steering were 
defective. Although some consumers might view 
airbags as a panacea and bring suit if subsequently 
injured, such "nuisance" suits are unlikely to be 
successful and, thus, should be short-lived. 

Concerns were also raised about the dangers of 
sodium azide, the gas generant in most airbag sys- 
tems. The sodium azide pellets are hermetically 
sealed and the potential of exposing motorists to a 
harmful dose is remote. Additional concerns in- 
volved the dangers posed by persons tampering 
with unfired sodium azide canisters and by the 
scrapping of cars with unfired canisters. While the 
Department believes that disposal problems can 
be resolved, further action on this issue is required, 
and the Department will work with automobile 
manufacturers and scrappers to ensure the safe 
retirement of airbag equipped vehicles. Although 
it is possible that individuals may tamper with or 
try to steal an unfired sodium azide canister, the 
Department believes that this is highly unlikely. 
The amount of sodium azide contained in the canis- 
ter is small and it is more readily available through 
other sources. Other items in the automobile — anti- 
freeze, gasoline, battery acid, or flares — are either 
more poisonous or explosive. 

Dealers are also concerned that car sales will 
decline with an all airbag fleet. They fear that 
potential buyers may stay out of the market, hop- 
ing to buy in later model years when an all airbag 



decision would have been overturned by subsequent 
agency or congressional action. However, as dis- 
cussed in the FRIA, the price increases associated 
with an all airbag new car fleet, would, at most, 
result in one to three postponed sales per dealer- 
ship. In the long term, lost sales would not, on 
average, be expected to exceed one per dealer. 
Since airbags are not being required by this amend- 
ment to FMVSS 208, a consumer need not purchase 
an airbag-equipped vehicle unless he or she so 
desires. Thus, there should not be any reduction in 
sales resulting from the fact that airbags are one 
of several systems made available to consumers. 

Another concern involves the technical problem 
of out-of-position occupants in small cars. The out- 
of-position occupant problem primarily affects 
children less than 3 years old. (The size of the 
child and the speed with which the bag must open 
in small cars are the primary reasons for the prob- 
lem.) Overall, the safety benefits are greater for an 
out-of-position occupant with an airbag than with- 
out one. Moreover, technical modifications (e.g., 
sensors that could detect an out-of-position occu- 
pant and adjust the opening of the airbag to account 
for the occupant's position) and child restraint laws 
should lessen the problem. Nevertheless, the 
Department can not state for certain that airbags 
will never cause injury or death to a child. This 
situation is similar to current safety belts where 
the benefits are well-known, but they do on occa- 
sion cause injuries that otherwise would not have 
occurred. Again, the Department is not mandating 
the use of airbags. 

In addition, manufacturers have commented 
that space limitations in small cars would inhibit 
the installation of current airbag systems and 
adversely affect their effectiveness. While this 
problem can be resolved, more time would be 
needed. At least 4 years lead time would be 
needed if airbags were required in small cars. 

Still another issue is raised by some manufac- 
turers who contend that tests required under the 
rule are not sufficiently repeatable to enable 
manufacturers to assure themselves of compli- 
ance. They argue that they get too wide a varia- 
tion in results when they test the same automobile 
under the test procedure. To protect against some 
cars not passing the test, they say they will have 
to design the restraint systems to a more stringent 
standard then should be necessary. Although diffi- 
culties in the testing procedures are still of con- 
cern to the manufacturers, we believe that the 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 224 



testing device and testing procedure have matured 
greatly in the last decade. Furthermore, based on 
the result of NHTSA's NCAP tests, most cars 
(albeit with manual belts) already meet the injury 
prevention criteria of FMVSS 208, at 35mph — a 
36 percent more severe crash than required by the 
standard (with is a 30 mph test). Compliance by air- 
bags is even less of a problem since the injury 
levels of the test dummy tend to be well below the 
maxima of the standard (much lower than for belt 
systems), providing a large margin of safety. In 
summary, we do not think that test repeatability is 
such a severe problem as to preclude an airbag or 
other occupant restraint standard, although the 
Department will subsequently address possible 
improvements in this area. 

Some people are concerned that the failure to 
issue a rule that will result in at least some airbags 
being placed in automobiles might mean the end of 
the development of airbag technology. In this 
regard, it must be remembered that some improve- 
ments—such as those made by the Breed Corpora- 
tion—have come about without regulation. More- 
over, four manufacturers are currently planning to 
offer driver-only airbags in their automobiles, even 
though not required. It is, therefore, possible that 
others may follow suit to meet the competition. 
Most important, the Department believes that this 
rule will result in the use of airbags in a far larger 
number of automobiles than is the case today. 

It should be noted that improvements are pos- 
sible in the airbag system that might overcome 
some of the remaining problems. For example, the 
airbag system being developed by Breed might 
make airbags available at less cost than current 
airbag systems. 

Some may argue that consumer fears and dislike 
of airbags may come close to generating a level of 
public disapproval equivalent to the seatbelt inter- 
lock system. On the other hand, the unobtrusive- 
ness of the system may result in the airbag gener- 
ating the least disapproval. 

Nondetachable Automatic Seatbelts 

The usage rate for nondetachable automatic 
belts should be higher than that for manual belts, 
but some people will certainly find them uncom- 
fortable, combersome, and obtrusive. Others will 
fear entrapment. Although they are much less 
costly than airbags and not much more expensive 
than manual seatbelts, these concerns with non- 
detachable belts might hamper automobile sales. 



Finally, it is possible that, in an emergency, peo- 
ple may find nondetachable belts harder to get out 
of than detachable belts. Although data do not 
exist on this issue, the Department has long 
expressed concern about the possibility that an 
unfamiliar egress mechanism could impede emer- 
gency exit. In the early 1970's, DOT issued a rule 
requiring all automatic belts to be detachable to 
permit emergency exit. Even in a later amend- 
ment in 1978 allowing the "spool-release" feature 
on continuous belts, NHTSA continued to express 
some concerns about ease of exit in case of emer- 
gency. The Department believes, however, that 
current designs of continuous belts will not create 
a safety problem. 

Perhaps the most serious concern with respect 
to nondetachable belts is that the public's dislike of 
them may lead to defeat of the system (e.g., by cut- 
ting the belt). A number of surveys have found 
that 10 to 20 percent of the public might do so. This 
would result in not only the original owner but 
subsequent owners and passengers being deprived 
of any occupant restraint system. Since the aver- 
age car has two to three owners during the useful 
life, belt availability could decrease to nearly 
50 percent for a 10-year-old car. 

Nondetachable belts are probably the most coer- 
cive type of automatic restraint. Combining this 
with the fears of entrapment and the concerns 
over obtrusiveness could cause enough public 
clamor to result in the same type of problem that 
arose out of the interlock requirement in the mid 
1970's when Congress forbade the Department from 
requiring that device. (In the NHTSA authorization 
bill of 1980, which barely failed enactment, there 
was a provision to ban nondetachable seatbelts.) 

Nondetachable belts would also force manufac- 
turers to eliminate the center front seat (by the 
use of bucket seats and consoles). There is no com- 
mercially developed technology to provide an auto- 
matic belt for the center seat; even if it were 
exempted from the requirement for an automatic 
restraint, occupants would have a difficult time 
getting by the nondetachable belts to reach the 
center seat. 

Another problem with nondetachable belts is 
that they make it difficult to install a child re- 
straint seat properly. 

Detachable Automatic Seatbelts 

Detachable belts should alleviate some con- 
sumer concern about automatic belts and govern- 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 225 



ment involvement in the consumer's decision 
about belt usage. Although it is easy not to use the 
automatic feature (by detaching the belt and leav- 
ing it stowed), the availability of the automatic fea- 
ture would make it easier to overcome some of the 
problems of manual seatbelt usage. 

Detachable belts would also be only slightly 
more expensive than manual belts, but the addi- 
tional expenditure would be made for what are 
likely to be relatively small safety benefits, if 
usage does not increase substantially over than for 
manual belts. In this regard, however, it must be 
remembered that NHTSA rescinded the automatic 
restraint requirement in 1981 because it found 
that detachable automatic belts would be installed 
in most cars and thought that those belts might 
not increase belt usage enough to justify them. 
The Supreme Court, in reviewing this action, then 
found that the evidence in the record indicated a 
possible doubling of usage with automatic belts. 
The Court also said that the inertia factor pro- 
vided grounds for believing that seatbelt use by 
the 20 to 50 percent who wear their belts occasion- 
ally would increase substantially. The manufac- 
turers also now agree that detachable belts will 
increase usage, at least initially. 

Demonstration Program 

Although we may gain more data on usage and 
effectiveness, the main purpose of a demonstration 
program would be to obtain detailed data on the 
issue of public acceptabUity of automatic occupant 
restraints. To the extent consumer purchases 
under a demonstration program would be volun- 
tary, data that were gathered on usage or effec- 
tiveness would be too small to determine the reac- 
tion of the general population under an automatic 
occupant restraint mandate. To obtain statistically 
reliable data within a reasonably short period of 
time, a large number of automobUes would have to 
be included in the program. If such a program 
were to be conducted, the Department believes 
that it should include provision for producing at 
least 500,000 cars per year over a 4 year period 
with airbags, detachable and nondetachable auto- 
matic belts. The three types of automatic restraints 
would be divided evenly among the cars produced. 
This should provide statistically reliable results in 
4 to 5 years from the date the first car is sold. 
(If the program is limited to airbags, 250,000 cars 
should be manufactured per year over a four year 
period. This would provide results in about 4 to 5 



years.) The program could be conducted in essen- 
tially the same fashion as envisioned by Secretary 
Coleman when he announced his plans in 1976 to 
conduct a demonstration program. At that time, 
the Department negotiated contracts with four car 
manufacturers for the production of up to 250,000 
automatic restraint equipped cars per year for 
model years 1980 and 1981. 

During our recent public hearings. Ford indi- 
cated support for a mandatory demonstration pro- 
gram. Other manufacturers are receptive to a 
voluntary program, but only as an alternative to 
an automatic restraint requirement, and only 
under several conditions regarding the manufac- 
turer's freedom to choose the type of restraint and 
model, test procedure changes, etc. Several manu- 
facturers would not voluntarily participate in any 
demonstration program. 

Three methods could be considered for conduct- 
ing a demonstration program: (1) a voluntary con- 
tract program such as that suggested by Secretary 
Coleman; (2) use existing National Traffic and 
Motor Vehicle Safety Act authority to mandate 
such a program; and (3) seek Federal legislation. A 
mandated demonstration program would be diffi- 
cult to justify under the Safety Act. Ford now 
believes that such authority exists, but the 
Department thinks that new legislation would be 
necessary. It is unclear whether Congress would 
provide the necessary legislation or any funding 
that might be required. Moreover, the time neces- 
sary to obtain any legislation would have to be ad- 
ded to the time necessary to conduct an effective 
program. There also may be serious objection to a 
demonstration program after so many years of at- 
tempted rulemaking, and especially so many years 
after Secretary Coleman's efforts. 

Mandatory State Safety Belt Usage Laws 

A number of analyses of seatbelt use in coun- 
tries that have mandatory use laws show that such 
laws do increase usage. Survey results, based on 
responses from officials in foreign countries, show 
that when seatbelt usage was required and the re- 
quirement was properly enforced, usage increased 
dramatically and remained high. Tables 11 and 12 
clearly illustrate these dramatic increases. Table 11 
provides data available to the Department on 17 
nations that have passed MULs; the table shows 
the difference in usage rates before and after the 
enactment of MULs. In addition, a number of 
Canadian provinces have enacted MULs. Those 



PART 571; S 208 - PRE 226 



TABLE 11 
CHANGES IN SEAT BELT USAGE RATES UNDER MANDATORY USE LAWS 





Effective 
Date of Law 


Belt Usage 


Country 


Before 


After 


Australia 


1-72 


30% 


73-87% 


New Zealand 


6-72 


40% 


89% 


France 


7-73 


20-25% 


95% highways 
75% country roads 
50% night in cities 
35% day and night in built 
up areas 


Puerto Rico 


1-74 


5% 


14% 


Sweden 


1-75 


22% 


75% 


Belgium 


6-75 


17% 


87% 


Netherlands 


6-75 


11% urban 


58% urban 






24% rural 


75% rural 


Finland 


7-75 


30% highways on weekdays 


68% highways on weekdays 






9% urban traffic 


53% urban traffic 


Israel 


7-75 


6% 


70% 


Norway 


9-75 


13% urban 


77% urban 






35% rural 


88% highway 


Denmark 


1-76 


25% 


70% 


Switzerland 


1-76 








(repealed 10-77) 


19% city streets 


75% city streets 




Reenacted ll-«0 


35% highways 


81% highways 






42% expressways 


88% expressways 


West Germany 


1-76 


55% autobahns 


77% autobahns 






32% country roads 


64% country roads 






20% city streets 


47% city streets 






33% weighted average 


58% weighted average 


Austria 


7-76 


10% urban 


20% urban 






25% rural 


30% rural 


South Africa 


12-77 


10% 


62% 


Ireland 


2-79 


20% 


45% 


Great Britain 


1-83 


40% 


95% 



provinces and the data on their experience are con- 
tained in Table 12. (More detail on the information 
in these tables can be found in the FRIA.) 

The data in these two tables clearly illustrate 
the significant effect MULs have on seatbelt 
usage. As Table 11 shows, usage rates ranged 
from 5 to 40 percent before MULs went into effect, 
and from 14 to 95 percent after enactment. Usage 
typically at least doubled and in some cases in- 
creased three times or more. The average usage 
for the 17 countries in the table was 23 percent 
before mandatory belt usage and 66 percent after, 
an increase of 43 percentage points. 



The Peat, Marwick, Mitchell and Company (PMM) 
study from which most of the data included in 
Table 11 were obtained concluded that the main 
factors that influence the frequency with which 
individuals wear their seatbelts under MULs are: 

(1) the level of enforcement applied by the police; 

(2) the natural propensity of indivuduals to be law 
abiding; and/or (3) the individual's personal per- 
spective regarding their own safety. 

Given the geographical proximity of Canada to 
the U.S. and the many similarities between our soci- 
eties, the Canadian experience with MULs is espe- 
cially valuable. MULs are in effect in seven prov- 



PART 571; S 208 - PRE 227 



TABLE 12 
CHANGES IN DRIVER SEAT BELT USAGE IN CANADA UNDER MANDATORY USE LAWS 



Province 



Effective 
Date of Law 



Use Before 



Use in 1983 



23% 
18% 
32% 
37% 
9% 
4% 
12% 



Averages weighted by Traffic Counts at Data Collection Sites: 

Provinces with Mandatory Use Laws 
Provinces with No Mandatory Use Laws 
Unweighted Average Usage Before 
Laws Passed (Excl. Manitoba) 21% 



Ontario 


1-76 


Quebec 


8-76 


Saskatchewan 


1-77 


British Columbia 


10-77 


Newfoundland 


7-82 


New Brunswick 


6-83 


Manitoba 


1-84 



60% 
61% 
54% 
67% 
76% 
68% 
12% 



61% 
15% 



inces in Canada, but, since Manitoba's did not go 
into effect until January 1984, data are not yet avail- 
able from the province. Usage rates before MULs 
went into effect for the six other provinces averaged 
21 percent. Usage rates for those six averaged 
61 percent in 1983. This is an increase of 40 per- 
cent under MULs. The PMM and other studies of 
MULs, which are more fully discussed in the 
FRIA, have concluded that success is dependent 
on how well the public is prepared for these laws, 
the severity of sanctions, and on the diligence of 
enforcement. For this reason, the Department has 
established critieria in the amended rule to ensure 
an appropriate level of educational, sanction, and 
enforcement efforts. 

The 1982 background paper on "Mandatory Pas- 
sive Restraint Systems in Automobiles," prepared 
by the Congressional Office of Technology Assess- 
ment, stated that "Mandatory belt use laws are 
potentially the most effective approach to ensur- 
ing passenger restraint. Experience in other 
industrialized countries suggests that a manda- 
tory law might result in usage rates exceeding 
those achievable with passive belts because so 
many passive belts would be detached. Neverthe- 
less, in today's political climate in the United 
States, mandatory seatbelt-use laws seem unreal- 
istic." The Department agrees with the potential 
for belt use laws, but feels that the political climate 
and public attitudes have changed significantly 



since then, making the possibility of enactment of 
such laws considerably higher. 

Currently, one State legislature, New York's, 
has passed a mandatory use law which provides 
for a $50 fine, allows waivers for medical reasons 
only, and requires the Governor to conduct a pub- 
lic education program in conjunction with the law. 
Eleven other States are reported as actively con- 
sidering seatbelt usage laws. 

A number of statewide and nationwide surveys 
have been taken in the United States to determine 
the public acceptability of mandatory State belt 
use laws. Surveys taken in 1979 or earlier gener- 
ally indicate that the public is strongly divided on 
mandatory seatbelt use laws. However, public atti- 
tudes about automobile safety have changed mark- 
edly over the past few years, in part because of the 
grass roots uprising in opposition to drunk driving. 
The public now strongly supports laws and innova- 
tive enforcement action to reduce the needless 
deaths and injuries caused by drinking and driv- 
ing. This movement has spilled over into other 
highway safety areas such as safety belt and child 
safety seat usage. Evidence of this attitudinal 
change can be seen in the fact that 46 States and 
the District of Columbia have enacted child safety 
seat laws since the beginning of 1981 (bringing the 
total to 48), the New York State Legislature's re- 
cent enactment of the adult MUL law, and the sig- 
nificant progress made toward the enactment of 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 228 



MULs in other States — notably Illinois, Minnesota, 
and Michigan. Recent surveys taken by several 
States found 66 percent in favor of mandatory belt 
usage laws in Michigan, 69 percent in Delaware, 
52 percent in New York, and 56 percent in Ohio. 
Many of the commenters who support such leg- 
islation stress the need to have public education 
programs before the actual enactment of the laws 
and Federal incentive grants as an effective impe- 
tus to stimulate the States. Indeed, the success of 
the mandatory law in Great Britain can be attrib- 
uted to an intensive public information and educa- 
tion program conducted during the 2 preceding 
years before enactment of the law. 

Legislation to Require Consumer Option 

The option would ensure that consumers were 
given the widest possible choice of both whether 
to purchase an automatic occupant restraint and, 
depending on the requirement, what type of auto- 
matic restraint. Unlike the current market situa- 
tion, those who wish to purchase an automatic 
occupant restraint system could do so. This would 
probably not be as effective in generating safety 
benefits as a requirement for automatic restraints 
in all cars. Those drivers who are involved in more 
serious accidents are probably the ones least likely 
to purchase such systems. Depending on how "con- 
trolling" the legislation that was adopted was, 
numerous other problems could develop. For exam- 
ple, dealers might not stock vehicles with auto- 
matic restraints, requiring consumers to wait a 
long time so as to "force" many people to purchase 
manual safety belts. In addition, the small number 
of automatic restraints produced under this alter- 
native would likely mean high prices per unit due 
to a lack of economy of scale. There also would be 
significant costs imposed on manufacturers because 
of extra design and tooling costs, if it were neces- 
sary to provide more than one type of automatic 
restraint for each model. As a result, the overall 
costs for manufacturers and consumers might far 
outweigh the benefits, and if an insufficient vol- 
ume of different types of restraints were produced, 
there might not even be enough data to permit fur- 
ther evaluation of the different types of systems. 

Airbag Retrofit Capability 

Requiring an airbag retrofit capability would 
make it easier for owners of automobiles to have 
airbags installed in their cars in the "aftermarket." 
It would also allow purchase of an airbag by a sec- 



ond or third owner, if the original owner failed to 
purchase one. This would be especially valuable if 
systems like Breed's airbag eventually proved suc- 
cessful. However, it could be argued that only the 
more safety conscious consumers are likely to pur- 
chase such airbags; the high risk drivers might not 
take advantage of the option. In addition, all auto- 
mobiles would become more expensive, even if the 
airbags were installed in relatively few cars, and 
the cost of airbags could be very high if they are 
purchased in low volumes that do not permit econ- 
omies of scale. Moreover, this alternative would 
not ensure that airbags would be available to con- 
sumers who wish to have them installed. 

Passive Interiors 

GM has been doing research to develop "passive 
interiors" — to build in safety by improving such 
things as the steering columns and padding. It 
believes this would be better than automatic occu- 
pant restraints and contends that it cannot afford 
to do both. Although an attractive alternative, this 
approach is still being developed, and even GM is 
not willing to say that it will meet FMVSS 208 in 
the immediate future. Moreover, FMVSS 208 does 
not require airbags or automatic belts; GM's pas- 
sive interior concept is an acceptable compliance 
method, which should be encouraged. It holds the 
promise of being a low cost, nonobtrusive method 
of complying with the standard. 

GM also asked that the Department consider 
dropping the barrier standard from 30 mph to 
25 mph for passive interiors. The Department has 
virtually no data on what dimunution in safety 
would occur if the lower standard were to be used. 
Thus, it has no basis for making such a change. 

Nevertheless, the Department encourages fur- 
ther research in this area. From the limited test 
data available, it is generally evident that it is 
within the state-of-the-art to pass FMVSS 208 cri- 
teria at 25 mph (using unrestrained Hybrid III 
dummies). General Motors, in their docket submis- 
sion, indicated that the Oldsmobile Omega and the 
Pontiac Fiero have passed the injury prevention 
criteria of FMVSS 208 at 30 mph. Nissan engi- 
neers indicated in 1974 that the 260Z would come 
close to meeting the FMVSS 208 criteria at 
25 mph. In a NHTSA test of a Ford Crown Vic- 
toria, the driver dummy's performance met the 
FMVSS 208 injury criteria in a 30 mph barrier 
test. However, even though these vehicles met the 
FMVSS 208 criteria, none of the manufacturers 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 229 



have expressed confidence in their ability to so 
certify to the government. Nonetheless, the 
Department remains optimistic about further 
development of this technology. 

Center Seating Position 

Intertwined with most of the alternatives is the 
issue of what to do about the center seating position. 
Automatic seatbelts (and even 3-point manual belts) 
cannot be used for the center seat. As a result, the 
only automatic protection available for front center 
seat occupants is an airbag or passive interiors. If 
automatic seatbelts were used to comply with a 
requirement for automatic occupant restraints, 
the center seat would have to be eliminated as an 
occupant position, unless it were exempted from 
coverage. Moreover, even if it were exempted 
from coverage, if nondetachable belts were re- 
quired, occupants would have a difficult time get- 
ting to the center seat. Finally, even if airbags 
were used to meet a requirement for automatic 
restraints, at least one commenter (Ford) indicated 
that the center seat position might be eliminated 
due to the problem of out-of-position occupants. 

If the center seat were exempted from coverage 
and detachable belts (or airbags) were used to pro- 
vide automatic protection for the outboard seats, 
the center seat could still be used because the auto- 
matic belts are detachable. If they are detached to 
let a passenger sit on the center seat, the question 
then arises as to how often they would be reat- 
tached. In this regard, a recent study by Market 
Opinion Research is noteworthy. It indicated that 
the interaction between the driver and the passen- 
gers was a significant factor affecting belt usage; 
i.e., if the driver wore a belt, this made it more 
likely that a passenger would. Since passengers 
normally enter the front seat from the passenger 
side of the automobile, the driver's automatic belt 
would not have to be disconnected for them to 
enter. Therefore, if the driver does not disconnect 
his belt, the fact that the passenger side automatic 
belt is disconnected to permit entrance to the cen- 
ter seat may not have a serious adverse effect; 
since the driver is wearing his belt, it may encour- 
age reconnection of the right front belt and/or the 
use of the center seat lap belt. Conceivably, center 
seat lap belt usage could increase compared to the 
expected usage in cars with only manual belts. 

If the center seat were not exempted, the loss of 
the center seat would affect both manufacturers 
and consumers. In arguing for exempting the cen- 



ter seat. Consumer's Union and the AAA pointed 
out that consumers would lose vehicle utility due 
to a reduction in the maximum seating capacity. 
Manufacturers could be affected if customers opt 
to purchase smaller cars if they lose the center 
seat in larger cars. This could cause a loss of prof- 
its, since larger cars yield more profit per unit 
than smaller ones. 

The indirect safety effects are quite complex. 
Moving a child, for example, from the center seat 
to a back seat has the advantage of significantly 
improving the child's safety, but the disadvantage 
of possibly leading to a driver who may frequently 
turn around to check a child in the back seat. 
There are also fuel economy and safety implica- 
tions, if two cars are necessary when one would 
have otherwise been sufficient for a particular 
trip. The issue is made even more complex by the 
fact that some center seat passengers may move to 
the right seat and others may move to the back 
seat, if the right seat is already occupied. The front 
right seat is statistically the least safe position in 
the automobile, but sitting in the back is slightly 
safer for adults than sitting in the front. 

On the other side, only one-third of the cars sold 
in 1982 were six seat cars, and that number has 
been declining as cars are being downsized. (Re- 
cent trends, however, indicate some increasing con- 
sumer preference for larger cars). An estimated 
1.5 percent of front seat fatalities and injuries in- 
volve the front center seat occupant. Automatic re- 
straints for the front center seating position would 
not yield as many benefits as when FMVSS 208 
was originally imposed in 1977 and would not pro- 
vide the same benefits per dollar spent as provid- 
ing protection for the two outboard seats. 

Although the center seat is rarely used, about 
one-third of its present occupants are children. For 
that reason, many are concerned about the equity 
of not providing automatic protection to this posi- 
tion. However, with child restraint laws becoming 
effective in 48 States and the District of Columbia, 
this argument loses a great deal of its merit. 

Rationale for Adoption of the Rule 

The Requirement for Automatic Occupant 
Restraints 

The final rule requires, in accordance with the 
phase-in schedule, that automatic occupant protec- 
tion be provided in passenger cars. The require- 
ment can be complied with through any of the 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 230 



occupant protection technologies discussed earlier 
in the preamble, if those systems meet the testing 
requirements of the rule; i.e., manufacturers may 
comply with the rule by using automatic detach- 
able or nondetachable belts, airbags, passive inte- 
riors, or other systems that will provide the neces- 
sary level of protection. 

The requirement also only applies to the out- 
board seating positions of passenger cars. The cen- 
ter seat in those cars that have one is exempt from 
the requirement for automatic occupant protec- 
tion. In addition, the requirement does not apply to 
other than passenger cars; for example, trucks, 
tractors, or multipurpose vehicles such as jeeps 
are not covered by the rule. 

The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety 
Act of 1966, as amended, directs the Department of 
Transportation to reduce fatalities and injuries re- 
sulting from traffic accidents. In its decision in the 
State Farm case, the Supreme Court held that, in 
carrying out its responsibilities under the Safety 
Act, the Department "must either consider the 
matter further or adhere to or amend Standard 208 
along the lines which its analysis supports" 103 S. Ct. 
at 2862. In a number of instances throughout its opin- 
ion, the Court indicated where it found NHTSA's 
1981 rescission to be inadequately supported or ex- 
plained. The Department has now completed its 
further review of this matter, giving special con- 
sideration to the Supreme Court's decision. 

Based on this review, the Department has deter- 
mined that the data presented in this preamble 
and more fully analyzed in the Department's Final 
Regulatory Impact Analysis support the following 
conclusions: 

• After assessing the data now available to it, the 
Department has revised its 1981 analysis con- 
cerning the likelihood of increased usage if auto- 
matic detachable belts are installed to meet 
FMVSS 208; it cannot project either widespread 
usage, or a widespread refusal to use such sys- 
tems by automobile occupants. 

• While it is clear that airbags will perform as 
expected in virtually all cases, it is also clear 
that the effectiveness of the airbag system is 
substantially diminished if the occupant does 
not use a belt. Consumer acceptability is diffi- 
cult to predict, with the major variables being 
cost, fear, and the unobtrusiveness of airbags. 

• Nondetachable automatic belts may result in 



sharply increased usage, but there may also be 
substantial consumer resistance to them. 

• The installation of automatic occupant protec- 
tion in passenger cars may significantly reduce 
both fatalities and injuries. 

• The costs of the existing automatic restraint 
systems are reasonable, and the potential bene- 
fits in lives saved, injuries reduced in severity 
and costs avoided are substantial. 

• Technologically, the systems are feasible and 
practicable. 

Even if we assume the lower level of the range 
for the effectiveness of automatic belts (35 per- 
cent) and very little increase in usage (an increase 
on only TVz percent over the current 12V2 percent 
usage rate for manual belts places us at the 20 per- 
cent level used in Table 5), there still would be sig- 
nificant incremental annual reductions in deaths 
and injuries as a result of an automatic occupant 
restraint rule complied with entirely by the instal- 
lation of belts; 520 fatalities and 8,740 moderate to 
critical injuries would be prevented. Using the 
higher effectiveness figure (50 percent) and still 
only 20 percent usage, we would come close to dou- 
bling the benefits; 980 fatalities and 15,650 moder- 
ate to critical injuries would be prevented annu- 
ally. If usage increases to 70 percent, 5,030 to 7,510 
deaths and 86,860 to 124,570 injuries would be pre- 
vented annually. 

With respect to airbags, even assuming low effec- 
tiveness and no use of lap belts, the record sup- 
ports the conclusion they would provide signifi- 
cant incremental reductions in deaths and injuries. 
Airbags without a lap belt could save 3,780 to 8,630 
lives and prevent 73,660 to 147,560 injuries each 
year. With lap belts used at the current manual 
belt usage rate (12.5 percent), the evidence in the 
record indicates that airbags could save 4,410 to 
8,960 lives and prevent 83,480 to 152,550 injuries. 

The potential reduction in fatalities and injuries 
that would result from automatic restraints could 
produce a corresponding decrease in funeral, medi- 
cal, and rehabilitation expenses. A reduction in 
these expenses could, in turn, result in reductions 
in premiums for any insurance that covers them 
and a reduction in the burden on taxpayers of vari- 
ous medical, rehabilitation, and welfare costs. 

As discussed earlier, collision and property dam- 
age liability and comprehensive insurance policies 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 231 



will have to absorb some additional costs to the 
extent that airbags are used. 

In attempting to provide any relationship be- 
tween costs and benefits of occupant protection 
systems, three important points must be kept in 
mind: (l)The statute directs us to "reduce... 
deaths and injuries," and, in doing so, to consider 
whether the standard we issue "is reasonable, 
practicable and appropriate." The Supreme Court 
noted in the State Farm case that it is "correct to 
look at the costs as well as the benefits of Stan- 
dard 208," 103 S. Ct. at 2873, but we should also 
"bear in mind that Congress intended safety to be 
the preeminent factor under the Motor Vehicle 
Safety Act." Id. (The Senate Report said safety 
was "the paramount purpose." The House Report 
called it "the overriding consideration.") (2) The 
net result of any calculations will only provide 
information on measurable benefits. They would 
not represent the full benefits of reducing fatal- 
ities and injuries because the Department cannot 
measure the intangible value of a human life or a 
reduced injury. It cannot adequately measure, for 
example, the value of pain and suffering or loss of 
consortium. (3) The data developed on usage and 
effectiveness are not always precise and in many 
instances involve broad ranges. As a result, they 
can have an effect on figures derived from them 
and the various relationships that ensue. 

With this in mind and recognizing that insur- 
ance premium reductions alone only identify a por- 
tion of the economic benefits resulting from an 
automatic occupant protection rule, it is inter- 
esting to note some breakeven points for the cost 
related to automatic belts using low and high effec- 
tiveness estimates. The breakeven point occurs 
when lifetime cost (retail price increases and addi- 
tional fuel cost) equals lifetime insurance premium 
reductions. At the high effectiveness level, the 
breakeven point occurs at the 32 percent usage 
level. At the low effectiveness level, the break- 
even point occurs at the 44 percent usage level. 
Thus, by increasing current usage by approxi- 
mately 20 to 30 percent, automatic belts will pay 
for themselves simply based on estimated insur- 
ance premium reductions. Inclusion of noninsurance 
benefits would lower these breakeven points, per- 
haps significantly. 

Although airbag systems do not attain similar 
breakeven points based just on insurance premium 
reductions, it is interesting to note that a signifi- 
cant portion of airbag costs would be paid for just 



by insurance premium reductions. The estimated 
lifetime cost of a full front airbag system is $364, 
including increased fuel cost; the lifetime insur- 
ance premium reductions are estimated to range 
from $76 to $158 assuming 12.5 percent usage of 
the lap belt. 

By issuing a performance standard rather than 
mandating the specific use of one device such as 
airbags or prohibiting the use of specific devices 
such as nondetachable belts, the Department be- 
lieves that it will provide sufficient latitude for 
industry to develop the most effective systems. 
The ability to offer alternative devices should 
enable the manufacturers to overcome any con- 
cerns about public acceptability by permitting 
some public choice. If there is concern, for exam- 
ple, about the comfort or convenience of automatic 
belts, the manufacturers have the option of provid- 
ing airbags or passive interiors. For those who re- 
main concerned about the cost of airbags, auto- 
matic belts provide an alternative. This approach 
also has the advantage of not discouraging the 
development of other technologies. For example, 
the development of passive interiors can be con- 
tinued and offered as an alternative to those who 
have objections to automatic belts or airbags. 

Because one manufacturer has already begun to 
offer airbags and three others have indicated plans 
to do so, the Department expects that airbags will 
be offered on some cars in response to this require- 
ment. Moreover, the continued development of 
lower cost airbag systems, such as the system 
being developed by Breed, may result in their use 
in even larger numbers of automobiles. By encour- 
aging the use of such alternatives to automatic 
belts through this rulemaking, the Department 
expects that more effective and less expensive 
technologies will be developed. In fact, the Depart- 
ment believes it is in the public interest to encour- 
age the development of technologies other than 
automatic belts to reduce the chance that the pur- 
chaser of an automobile will have no other option. 
See 103 S. Ct. at 2864. Thus, the rule is designed to 
encourage nonbelt technologies during the phase- 
in period. The Department's expectation is that 
manufacturers who take advantage of this 
"weighting" will continue to offer such nonbelt 
systems should the standard be fully reinstated. It 
also expects that improvements in automatic belt 
systems will be developed as more manufacturers 
gain actual experience with them. 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 232 



Center Seat 

The Department has also decided to exempt the 
center seat of cars from the requirement for auto- 
matic occupant protection. This has been done for a 
number of reasons described in more detail earlier 
in this preamble. First, limitations in current auto- 
matic belt technology would probably result in the 
elimination of the center seat for most cars if it 
were required to be protected. Balancing the loss 
of vehicle utility, and the numerous effects that 
this could have, with the limited number of occu- 
pants of the center seat and, thus, the limited ben- 
efits to be gained from protecting it, warrant 
exempting its coverage. It should be noted that dif- 
ferent protection by seating position already 
exists as rear seat requirements differ from front 
seat requirements; the center front seat itself is 
already exempt from the requirement to provide 
shoulder belts. Thus, there is ample precedent for 
this action. 

Mandatory Use Law Alternative 

The rule requires the rescission of the automatic 
occupant protection requirement if two-thirds of 
the population of the United States are residents 
of States that have passed MULs meeting the 
requirements set forth in the regulation. The re- 
quirement would be rescinded as soon as a deter- 
mination could be made that two-thirds of the pop- 
ulation are covered by such statutes. However, if 
two-thirds of the population are not covered by 
MULs that take effect by September 1, 1989, the 
manufacturers will be required to install auto- 
matic protection systems in all automobiles manu- 
factured after September 1, 1989. As discussed in 
an earlier section, use of the three-point seatbelt 
(which our analysis indicates is exceeded in its 
effectiveness range only by an airbag with a three- 
point belt) is the quickest, least expensive way by 
far to significantly reduce fatalities and injuries. 
"We start with the accepted ground that if used, 
seatbelts unquestionably would save many thou- 
sands of lives and would prevent tens of thousands 
of crippling injuries." 103 S. Ct. at 2871. As set out 
in detail earlier in the preamble, coverage of a 
large percentage of the American people by seat- 
belt laws that are enforced would largely negate 
the incremental increase in safety to be expected 
from an automatic protection requirement. 

The rule also contains minimum criteria for each 
State's MUL to be included in the determination 
by the secretary that imposition of an automatic 



protection standard is no longer required. Those 
minimum criteria are as follows: 

• A requirement that each outboard front seat 
occupant of a passenger car, which was required 
by Federal regulation, when manufactured, to 
be equipped with front seat occupant restraints, 
have those devices properly fastened about 
their bodies at all times while the vehicle is in 
forward motion. 

• A prohibition of waivers from the mandatory 
use of seatbelts, except for medical reasons; 

• An enforcement program that complies with the 
following minimum requirements: 

• An enforcement program that complies with the 
following minimum requirements: 

• Penalties. A penalty of $25 (which may include 
court costs) or more for each violation of the 
MUL, with a separate penalty being imposed 
for each person violating the law. 

• Civil litigation penalties. The violation of the 
MUL by any person when involved in an acci- 
dent may be used in mitigating any damages 
sought by that person in any subsequent liti- 
gation to recover damages for injuries result- 
ing from the accident. This requirement is 
satisfied if there is a rule of law in the State 
permitting such mitigation. 

• The establishment of prevention and educa- 
tion programs to encourage compliance with 
the MUL. 

• The establishment of a MUL evaluation pro- 
gram by the State. Each State that enacts a 
MUL will be required to include information 
on its experiences with those laws in the an- 
nual evaluation report on its Highway Safety 
Plan (HSP) that it submits to NHTSA and 
FHWA under 23 U.S.C. 402. 

• An effective date of not later than September 1, 
1989. 

The data in Table 5 indicate the important safety 
benefits that can be derived from an effective 
MUL. The relative benefits of a MUL compared 
to an automatic occupant restraint rule are 
dependent on two unknowns: the percentage of 
cars equipped with each restraint and the usage or 
readiness rates for them. For example, if most cars 
were equipped with automatic belts and seatbelt 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 233 



usage increased 15 to 20 percent, some people 
would consider the automatic occupant restraint 
rule quite successful. A MUL would more than 
match the safety benefits of this rule, however, 
even if it was only half as successful as the data 
indicate foreign MULs have been. Unlike an auto- 
matic occupant restraint, MULs achieve these 
safety benefits without adding any cost to the car. 

Moreover, a MUL can save more lives immedi- 
ately. It covers all cars as soon as it is passed and 
put into effect. An automatic occupant restraint rule 
requires lead time before the manufacturers can 
begin installing the devices, and then it would take 
10 years before most of the American fleet was 
replaced with cars with the automatic restraints. 

At the same time, the Department recognizes 
that MULs must be enacted before they can have 
any effect. Although a number of States are consid- 
ering MULs, only one State legislature has passed 
one that is applicable to the general population. 
Many commenters have argued that the possibility 
that MULs may be passed is an insufficient basis 
for the Department of Transportation to decide 
not to issue an automatic occupant restraint rule; 
such inaction would violate the Department's obli- 
gations under the National Traffic and Motor Vehi- 
cle Safety Act. 

This rule allows the Department to meet the 
concerns over the obstacles to enactment of MULs 
and still be able to take advantage of their benefits 
if they are enacted. To the extent that automatic 
protection systems encounter substantial con- 
sumer resistance, it encourages State legislatures 
to seriously consider what some may view as a 
more attractive alternative. Regardless of the ulti- 
mate course the country takes, the end result will 
be a significant improvement in automobile safety, 
which is the Department's goal. 

This approach avoids many of the problems 
associated with the other MUL proposal set forth 
in the SNPRM. That alternative would have re- 
sulted in waivers being granted on an individual, 
State-by-State basis, for those States that passed 
MULs. The chosen approach eliminates the need 
to "regulate" the sale of manual belt automobiles 
to prevent them from being purchased by people 
in States without MULs. In addition, under the 
rule, consumers should not have to delay pur- 
chases of cars if they want to avoid automatic pro- 
tection systems. Before September 1, 1989, they 
will have a choice, since not all cars will be manu- 
factured with automatic protection systems. After 



that, either MULs will be in effect or automatic 
protection will be required in all cars. Under the 
other SNPRM MUL alternative, some consumers 
might have delayed the decision to buy a car while 
waiting for their State to pass an MUL. 

Under this aspect of the regulation, the Depart- 
ment will review each State MUL as it is passed to 
determine whether it meets the minimum criteria 
established by the regulation. If, at any time 
before April 1, 1989, the Secretary determines 
that the total population covered by MULs that 
meet the minimum criteria of the regulation 
reaches or exceeds two-thirds of the population of 
the United States, the Secretary will declare the 
rule rescinded. If, on April 1, 1989, the Depart- 
ment's information indicates that two-thirds of the 
population are not covered by MULs, the Depart- 
ment will publish a notice asking for public com- 
ment on these data. If no new data are presented 
to the Department establishing that, prior to 
April 1, 1989, two-thirds of the population were 
covered by MULs, the automatic occupant protec- 
tion requirement will remain in effect. 

Some have argued that as soon as the rule is 
rescinded, one or more States may rescind their 
MULs. The Department must presume the good 
faith of State legislators. It also believes that the 
advantages of MULs will be so clear that it would 
be extremely difficult and unlikely that any State 
would rescind its statute. The Department's posi- 
tion on this matter is fortified by the success of 
MULs in foreign jurisdictions and the fact that 
only one of those jurisdictions has ever withdrawn 
a MUL, and that nation subsequently reinstated 
the law. Furthermore, it would be completely im- 
practical to tie reinstatement/rescission in short 
cycles to the action of one or two State legisla- 
tures. The Department will, of course, continue to 
monitor the general issue of the protection of auto- 
mobile occupants and, in accordance with its statu- 
tory responsibilities, take whatever action is 
deemed necessary in the future to ensure that the 
objective of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle 
Safety Act are met. 

If the automatic occupant protection require- 
ments are rescinded because of the passage of 
MULs, up to one-third of the population may have 
no automatic occupant protection systems in their 
automobiles and their States may not pass MULs. 
However, as discussed at length above, there are 
disadvantages to each of the automatic restraint 
systems. No approach will completely eliminate 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 234 



deaths and injuries. The National Traffic and 
Motor Vehicle Safety Act's very purpose is 
"reduc(ing] traffic accidents and deaths and in- 
juries to persons resulting from traffic accidents." 
15 U.S.C. §1381. Coverage of two-thirds or more of 
the American people by MULs will be a major 
achievement and is clearly consistent with the Act, 
and it will result in a more substantial reduction in 
deaths and injuries more quickly and at a lower 
cost than any other practical alternative. In the 
interim, this rule will have required the automo- 
bile manufacturers to make automatic protection 
systems available on an unprecedented scale. 

A number of points must be kept in mind while 
considering the relative merits of an automatic 
restraint as compared to MULs: (1) MULs immedi- 
ately cover the entire fleet of automobiles within 
the State. We do not have to wait 10 or more years 
for a system to become installed in the entire fleet. 

(2) The Department expects that, under a simple 
automatic occupant restraint requirement, the 
primary method of compliance would have been 
through the use of automatic belts. Although 
automatic seatbelts would likely result in some in- 
creased usage, MULs, based on foreign experi- 
ence, should result in higher usage rates. 

(3) Although automatic belts are relatively inex- 
pensive in terms of the significant safety benefits 
they achieve, MULs have no cost increment over 
the existing system. (4) If only two-thirds of the 
population are covered by MULs and the MULs 
result in what the Department estimates to be the 
lowest possible usage rate based on our analysis of 
foreign experience — 40 percent of the occupants— 
they will still result in a reduction in fatalities of 
from 1,900 to 2,400 and a reduction in moderate to 
critical injuries of 32,000 to 40,000 on an annual 
basis. This compares to automatic restraints, 
which, if installed in all automobiles, would result 
in a reduction in fatalities of between 520 and 980 
and a reduction in moderate to critical injuries of 
between 8,740 and 15,650 at 20 percent usage, 
after they are installed in all automobiles. More- 
over, during the first 10 years, MULs would save a 
total of from 19,000 to 24,000 lives and prevent 
from 320,000 to 400,000 moderate to critical injur- 
ies. During those same 10 years, while they were 
being installed in the American fleet, automatic 
belts at 20 percent usage, for example, would save 
a total of between 2,900 and 5,400 lives and pre- 
vent between 48,000 and 86,000 moderate to criti- 
cal injuries. Thus, the overall safety benefits of the 



rule should exceed the benefits of a simple auto- 
matic protection requirement, even if one-third of 
the population are not covered. (5) We also expect 
that residents of MUL States will develop the 
habit of wearing seatbelts and will wear them even 
in non-MUL States. Residents of non-MUL States 
will be required to wear them while traveling in 
MUL States. This should increase the protection 
level somewhat. 

In addition to the tremendous safety benefits of 
MULs, we also have the advantage of providing 
some local option in the decision-making. If enough 
States prefer MULs to automatic occupant protec- 
tion, they can pass such laws and the requirement 
will be rescinded. We believe that offering this 
"option" should lessen any public resistance to an 
automatic occupant protection requirement. Hav- 
ing some ability to choose one alternative over the 
other should make both alternatives more accept- 
able. As noted earlier, public acceptance is an 
appropriate and important concern of the Depart- 
ment in its rulemaking under the National Traffic 
and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Some commenters 
argued that automatic restraints should be used in 
conjunction with and not as an alternative to 
MULs. This argument ignores both the public 
acceptability concerns set forth above and the 
incentive for passage of such laws — to the extent 
there is significant consumer resistance to auto- 
matic protection devices — created by the Depart- 
ment's approach. 

A number of commenters disagreed with the 
SNPRM proposal to establish criteria for the 
MULs. They argued that the criteria should be left 
to State governments and that establishment of 
criteria by the Department of Transportation 
might discourage a number of States from enact- 
ing MULs. Although the Department understands 
this concern, it believes that, under the National 
Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, in order for 
it to accept MULs as an alternative to requiring 
automatic crash protection, MULs must provide a 
level of safety equivalent to that which would be 
expected to be provided under existing technology 
by the automatic systems. The Department, there- 
fore, believes it is imperative that it establish 
minimum criteria that will ensure that the MULs 
will achieve a usage level high enough to provide 
at least an equivalent level of safety. Otherwise, 
for example, a State could pass an MUL that per- 
mitted so many waivers or exceptions as to be 
meaningless. 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 235 



The Department would like to note that, rather 
than requiring a State to amend an existing MUL, 
the Department will consider granting a waiver 
from the minimum requirements for an MUL for 
any State that, before August 1, 1984, has passed 
an MUL that substantially complies with these 
requirements. 

In the SNPRM, the Department asked whether 
a rule such as the one the Department has adopted 
should be based on the number of States pass- 
ing MULs or the population that is covered by 
the MULs. 

The Department has decided to base the final 
rule on the percentage of the population rather 
than the number of States for the following rea- 
sons. If three-quarters of the States passed MULs, 
it might result in as little as 41 to 42 percent of the 
population being covered. The Department believes 
that the percentage of the people who are covered 
is the important aspect of any MUL alternative. 
As the Department has already clearly explained, 
the valuable safety benefits of MULs warrant 
encouraging their enactment. 

It is the position of the Department that it has 
both the legal authority and the justification to 
require automatic occupant protection in all pas- 
senger automobiles. It is also the Department's 
position that it has the legal authority and the 
justification for rescinding the automatic occupant 
restraint requirement if two-thirds of the popula- 
tion are covered by MULs before September 1, 
1989. It believes that either alternative would pro- 
vide tremendous safety benefits; both meet all the 
standards of the Act and both carry out the objec- 
tive and purpose of the statute. 

The Phase-In 

The rule requires the manufacturers to follow a 
phase-in schedule for compliance with the auto- 
matic occupant protection requirements. A mini- 
mum of 10 percent of all cars manufactured after 
September 1, 1986, must have automatic occupant 
crash protection. After September 1, 1987, the per- 
centage is raised to 25 percent; after September 1, 
1988, it is raised to 40 percent; and after Septem- 
ber 1, 1989, all new cars must have automatic occu- 
pant crash protection. 

To enable the manufacturers to determine at 
the beginning of the model year how many auto- 
mobiles must be manufactured with automatic 
crash protection, the percentage of automobiles to 
be covered will be based upon each manufacturer's 



average number of automobiles produced in the 
United States during the prior three model years. 
If, for example, the manufacturer sold 3 million 
cars in model year 1984, 3.2 million in model year 
1985, and 3.7 million in model year 1986, its 3-year 
average would be 3.3 million automobiles; for 
model year 1987 (beginning September 1, 1986) it 
would have to equip 10 percent of 3.3 million — 
330,000 automobiles — with automatic occupant 
crash protection systems. 

The Department decided to phase in the require- 
ment for automatic occupant crash protection for a 
number of reasons. 

First, by phasing-in, some automatic protection 
systems will be available earlier than if implemen- 
tation were delayed until the systems could be in- 
stalled in all automobiles. The earliest the Depart- 
ment could have required automatic protection in 
100 percent of the fleet would have been Septem- 
ber 1, 1987. Manufacturers' comments to the 
docket on lead time for automatic belts ranged 
from immediately, for some cars such as the VW 
Rabbit, on which automatic belts are now offered 
as an option, to 3 to 4 years for all cars. Estimates 
for airbags ranged from 2 years for driver side air- 
bags on some models on which these devices were 
already planned to be offered as options (some 
Mercedes, BMW, and Volvo car lines) to 5 years for 
airbags for some companies (e.g., Chrysler and 
Saab). Differences in lead times among manufac- 
turers are due to such factors as the number of 
model lines a company has, previous research and 
development efforts and supplier considerations. 
The 36 months lead time needed for automatic 
belts, inter alia, is required to develop spool-out 
features and other components on some nonde- 
tachable belts in order to maximize consumer 
acceptability in terms of entry/egress. Detachable 
belts could require vehicle modifications to 
strengthen belt attachment points on the door or 
integrate door and roof strength to accommodate 
the belt anchorage. While some driver airbags 
could be introduced with 24 months lead time, 
available evidence suggests that many vehicle 
models will require major modifications to the 
steering wheel and column and extensive instru- 
ment panel modifications or redesign, including 
glove box relocation, for passenger airbags. Test- 
ing of occupant kinematics on the passenger side is 
also required. Because of the number of models 
involved, differing car sizes and available industry 
resources, it is the Department's judgment that at 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 236 



least a 48-month leadtime would have been re- 
quired for full front airbags. 

If the Department had required full compliance 
by September 1, 1987, it is very likely all of the 
manufacturers would have had to comply through 
the use of automatic belts. Thus, by phasing-in the 
requirement, the Department makes it easier for 
manufacturers to use other, perhaps better, sys- 
tems such as airbags and passive interiors. 

Phasing-in also permits consumers and the De- 
partment to develop more information about the 
benefits of these systems, thus enhancing the 
opportunity to overcome any public resistance to 
automatic protection. Over the first 3 years, con- 
sumers will have a choice as to whether they pur- 
chase an automobile with automatic protection. 
Since they will not be forced to accept them, the 
Department expects that they will be more likely 
to be openminded about their benefits. 

Another advantage of phasing-in the requirement 
for automatic protection is that is possible that by 
the time two-thirds of the population are covered 
by MULs, the manufacturers will have made pro- 
gress in designing and producing these systems at a 
lower cost and a significant number of consumers 
will continue to demand them from the manufac- 
turers as either standard or optional equipment. 

The specific percentages used for the phase-in 
were chosen because they balance technological 
feasibility with the need to encourage technologi- 
cal innovation. These percentages should also pro- 
vide the gradual phase-in that the Department 
believes will help build up public acceptance. 

To ensure compliance with the phase-in require- 
ment, it will be necessary for each manufacturer to 
submit a report to the Department of Transporta- 
tion within 60 days of the end of each model year 
certifying that it has met the applicable percent- 
age requirement. The report would have to sepa- 
rately identify, by Vehicle Identification Number 
(VIN) number, those cars that the manufacturer 
has equipped with automatic seatbelts and those 
cars that it has equipped with automatic airbags or 
some form of occupant protection technology. The 
Department will issue an NPRM on this matter in 
the very near future. In the event that a manufac- 
turer fails to comply with the percentage require- 
ment under the phase-in schedule, the Department 
has appropriate enforcement authority, e.g., civil 
penalties. 

Thus, the use of a phase-in appropriately takes 
into account the abilities of the different manufac- 



turers to comply with the requirement, encour- 
ages the use of different, and perhaps better, 
means of compliance, and provides the public with 
an opportunity to better understand the value of 
automatic protection. The phase-in will permit the 
manufacturers to ensure that whatever system 
they use is effective, trouble-free, and reliable. By 
starting off with a relatively small percentage and 
building up to full compliance, the phase-in will 
provide the manufacturers with a better opportu- 
nity to manage unforeseen development and pro- 
duction problems and, as a result, also make it less 
likely that consumers will develop adverse impres- 
sions based upon earlier experience. 

Some commenters suggested that the manufac- 
turers would use the cheapest system to comply 
with an automatic restraint requirement under 
our SNPRM MUL alternatives. They said the 
short time allowed for passage of MULs would 
force the manufacturers to choose the least expen- 
sive alternative so that they would lose little in 
investments if sufficient numbers of MULs passed. 
The Department does not agree with this conten- 
tion. It believes that competition, potential liabil- 
ity for any deficient systems and pride in one's 
product would prevent this. The phase-in schedule 
should provide adequate time to design and pro- 
duce high quality systems. 

The Credit for Nonbelt Restraints 

The rule also permits manufacturers to receive 
extra credit during the phase-in period if they use 
something other than an automatic belt to provide 
the automatic protection to the driver. For each 
car in which they do so, they will receive credit for 
an extra one-half automobile towards their per- 
centage requirement. It will be the manufacturer's 
option whether to use the same nonbelt technol- 
ogy to provide the automatic protection to the pas- 
senger; however, such protection must be auto- 
matic—the manufacturer may not use a manual 
belt for the right front seat. As a result of this 
option, manufacturers will be able to get extra 
credit for the use of airbags, passive interiors, or 
other systems that meet the test requirements of 
the rule. 

There are a number of reasons for the Depart- 
ment's decision to permit this option. First, it 
believes that the primary system that would be 
used under this "extra credit" alternative would 
be the airbag. As the data in Table 5 clearly illus- 
trate, airbags should provide very significant safety 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 237 



benefits. Even though fewer cars would be equipped 
with automatic protection if extra credit is given 
for airbag automobiles, airbags — when used with 
belts — are very effective. In addition, the Depart- 
ment believes that there is a definite advantage in 
the initial stages of compliance with this rule to en- 
courage the use of various automatic protection 
technologies. This should promote the development 
of what may be better alternatives to automatic 
belts than would otherwise be developed. If enough 
alternative devices are installed in automobiles 
during the phase-in period, it will also enable the 
Department to develop a sufficient data base to 
compare the various alternatives to determine 
whether any future modifications to the rule to 
make it more effective are necessary or appropriate. 
Both the Act and the Supreme Court's decision 
last year provide the Department with the neces- 
sary flexibility to establish safety standards that 
are tailored to engineering realities. Recognizing 
some of the technological problems, for example, 
that have been discussed earlier with respect to 
airbags and small cars and coupling this with a 
desire to comply with the statutory safety objec- 
tives with the best possible systems, the Depart- 
ment believes it appropriate to establish a regula- 
tory scheme that provides enough flexibility for 
the best possible systems to be developed. 

Rationale for Not Adopting Other Alternatives 

Retain 

We have determined, for reasons more fully 
explained in the prior section — "Rationale for 
Adoption of the Rule," not to simply retain the 
existing requirements for automatic occupant 
crash protection. Simply retaining the existing 
rule would result in the use of detachable auto- 
matic seatbelts in nearly all (i.e., 98 or 99 percent) 
cars. The amended rule the Department has 
adopted will encourage more effective solutions to 
the nation's safety problems, and it should result 
in the prevention of even more deaths and injuries. 

Amend 

Airbags Only 

Despite the potentially large safety benefits 
that would result from the use of airbags, there 
are a number of reasons why the Department has 
determined that airbags should not be required in 
all cars. 



Costs. As we have discussed in more detail else- 
where in this preamble, the Department has esti- 
mated that airbags will cost $320 more per car 
than manual belts. They will also increase fuel 
costs by $39 over the life of the car. In addition, the 
replacement cost for a deployed airbag is esti- 
mated to be $800. Because of the high cost of air- 
bags, physical damage and comprehensive insur- 
ance premiums will also increase, adding over $18 
to the lifetime cost of the vehicle. On the other 
hand, automatic belts would only add $40 for the 
equipment, $11 in increased fuel costs, and would 
not adversely affect physical damage and compre- 
hensive insurance premiums. Thus, although air- 
bags may provide greater safety benefits, when 
used with belts, and potentially larger injury pre- 
mium reductions than automatic belts, they are 
unlikely to be as cost effective. 

Moreover, there is still a great discrepancy 
between the Department's airbag cost estimates 
and those of industry, while the Department's esti- 
mates for the cost of automatic belts are much 
closer to those of industry. If, despite the Depart- 
ment's ability to fully justify our cost estimates, 
airbags are priced much higher than it has esti- 
mated, it will further compound this problem. 

Finally, the high cost of replacing an airbag may 
lead to its not being replaced after deployment. 
The result would be no protection for the front 
seat occupants of such an automobile. 

Technical Problems. Several technical problems 
concerning airbags have been mentioned by manu- 
facturers, consumers, and the vehicle scrapping 
industry. One technical concern involves the al- 
leged dangers of sodium azide. Some commenters 
claim that sodium azide, the solid propellant which 
is ignited and converts to nitrogen gas to inflate 
the air cushion, is hazardous. It is claimed that it is 
an explosive, is mutagenic, toxic, and an environ- 
mental hazard. As explained in the FRIA, sodium 
azide is not an explosive. Rather it ignites, under 
controlled conditions, to form harmless nitrogen 
gas. Furthermore, studies have continually shown 
that it is not mutagenic or carcinogenic in mam- 
mals, due to its inactivation by the liver. Sodium 
azide can be toxic, but its transport in hermetically 
sealed containers does not pose a hazard to manu- 
facturers, dealers, repairmen, or consumers. The 
scrapping of vehicles with undeployed airbag can- 
isters does have to be done under controlled condi- 
tions so as to avoid adverse environmental effects 
and, although the risk is small, the Department 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 238 



will continue to work with manufacturers and the 
vehicle scrapping industry in this area. 

Another concern involves the technical problem 
of out-of-position occupants in small cars. Manufac- 
turers claim that little development work has been 
done with airbags for small (e.g., subcompact or 
smaller) cars and that a particular problem in 
these vehicles is how to protect small children, 
who are not properly restrained, from the more 
rapidly deploying air cushion in such vehicles. The 
Department believes that this problem can be miti- 
gated and that technical solutions are available, as 
described in the FRIA. However, the lack of expe- 
rience in this area, as well as the lack of experience 
for some companies in any form of airbag develop- 
ment, make the Department reluctant to mandate 
across-the-board airbags. 

Some people have argued that the failure to issue 
a rule that will require at least some airbags might 
mean the end of the development of airbag tech- 
nology. In this regard, it must be remembered that 
some improvements — such as those made by Breed 
Corporation — have come about without regula- 
tion. Moreover, three manufacturers — Mercedes, 
Volvo, and BMW — are currently planning to offer 
driver only airbags in their automobiles even 
though not required, and Ford will produce driver 
airbags for 5,000 U.S. General Services Adminis- 
tration cars next year. It is, therefore, possible and 
likely that others may follow suit to meet the com- 
petition. Furthermore, the extra credit provided 
during the phase-in should encourage manufacturers 
to equip at least some of their cars with airbags. 

Public Acceptability. Airbags engendered the 
largest quantity of, andmost vociferously worded, 
comments to the docket. Some people have serious 
fears or concerns about airbags. If airbags were re- 
quired in all cars, these fears, albeit unfounded, 
could lead to a backlash affecting the acceptability 
of airbags. This could lead to their being disarmed, 
or, perhaps, to a repeat of the interlock reaction. 
Some people are, for example, fearful of the 
dangers of the sodium azide used to deploy the air- 
bag. People are also concerned that the airbag will 
inadvertently deploy and cause an accident or that 
it will not work at the time of an accident. Some 
people are also concerned because they feel less 
secure in an automobile unless they have a 3-point 
belt wrapped around them (and if the Department 
requires a 2-point belt with an airbag, the costs 
will be even higher) and are thus urtsure that they 
will be protected at the time of an accident. 



Although the Department believes that these 
concerns can be adequately addressed, these con- 
sumer perceptions must be recognized as real con- 
cerns. It may be easier to overcome these concerns 
if airbags are not the only way of complying with 
an automatic occupant protection requirement. 
Under the rule being issued, if people have con- 
cerns about airbags, they can purchase automo- 
biles that use automatic belts. The real world 
experience that will come with the production of 
airbag equipped cars during the phase-in period 
should help to mitigate these fears. 

Effectiveness. Airbags are not designed to pro- 
vide protection at barrier equivalent impact 
speeds less than approximately 12 mph. In addi- 
tion, in order to provide protection comparable to 
that of a 3-point belt, they must be used in conjunc- 
tion with at least a lap belt. Despite this, the over- 
all benefits provided by an airbag, because of its 
extremely high "usage" rate, may be much better 
than those provided by automatic belts. Wide- 
spread use of both systems is the only way to 
develop definitive data. 

Performance Standards. Several commenters 
questioned the Department's authority to issue an 
airbag only standard, claiming it would be a 
"design" standard. Even if the Department could 
legally issue a performance standard that could 
only be met by an airbag under present tech- 
nology, it believes that by taking away the manu- 
facturers' discretion to comply with an automatic 
occupant restraint requirement through the use of 
a variety of technologies, it creates a number of 
problems. First, by restricting the manufacturers, 
the Department runs the risk of killing or seri- 
ously retarding development of more effective, 
efficient occupant protection systems. With real 
world experience, the Department may find, for 
example, that automatic belts would be used by 
much higher percentages of occupants than cur- 
rently anticipated. The manufacturers also would 
not be able to develop better automatic belt sys- 
tems that may be more acceptable and, therefore, 
used by larger numbers of people. This may result 
in automatic belts that save as many lives but at a 
much lower cost than airbags. Similarly, the devel- 
opment of passive interiors, being pursued by GM, 
would be stymied under such an option. The De- 
partment believes an airbag only decision would 
unnecessarily stifle innovation in occupant protec- 
tion systems. 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 239 



In addition, if airbags were not mandated in 
every car, people may be more willing to give them 
a chance to prove themselves than they would be if 
they were forced to buy them. If consumers are 
concerned about automatic belts, it may cause 
manufacturers to make greater efforts to lower 
the costs of airbags to make them more acceptable 
as an alternative. 

Airbags and/or Nondetachable Seatbelts 
The rationale provided in the preceding sections 
for adopting the new rule and for not retaining the 
old rule or amending it to require airbags in all 
cars essentially provides the basis for the Depart- 
ment's decision not to amend the old rule to re- 
quire either airbags or nondetachable belts or just 
nondetachable belts; (i.e., would not permit the use 
of detachable belts to comply with the automatic 
protection requirements). It is also concerned that 
nondetachable belts may be too inconvenient and 
restrictive, resulting in serious adverse public 
reaction if required in all cars. (See the discussion 
on nondetachable belts in the first part of the 
"Analysis of the Alternatives.") 

Limited Seating Positions 

Several of the alternatives would have required 
all or some particular type of automatic protection 
for specified seating positions. For example, air- 
bags would have been required for only the driver 
position under one alternative. As explained under 
the section on "Rationale for Adoption of the 
Rule," the Department has determined that the 
data on center seats warrants exempting that posi- 
tion from automatic protection requirements. It 
also has decided that, during the phase-in period, it 
is appropriate to give "extra credit" for providing 
automatic protection to the driver through non- 
belt technology, such as airbags and passive inte- 
riors, to provide an incentive for developing and 
producing these other, possibly better, systems. 
The Department has determined that existing 
data, discussed earlier in the preamble and in the 
FRIA, does not warrant exempting the front right 
seat or providing any other special protection to 
the driver. 

Small Cars 

The SNPRM raised for comments the alterna- 
tive of providing airbag protection for the drivers 
of small cars and questioned the safety justifica- 
tion for this. We have not received data that indi- 



cate that small cars are always less safe than large 
cars. For that reason, we have no justification for 
requiring any special protection for small cars. 

Rescind 

After a full review of the rulemaking docket and 
performing the Analysis contained in our FRIA, 
we have concluded that the Supreme Court deci- 
sion in the State Farm case precludes us from 
rescinding the automatic occupant protection re- 
quirements at this time based on the present rec- 
ord in this rulemaking. 

The Supreme Court noted that "an agency chang- 
ing its course by rescinding a rule is obligated to 
supply a reasoned analysis for the change beyond 
that which may be required when an agency does 
not act in the first instance." 103 S. Ct. at 2866 
(emphasis supplied). 

To avoid having its actions labeled "arbitrary 
and capricious," the Supreme Court said that "the 
agency must examine the relevant data and articu- 
late a satisfactory explanation for its action includ- 
ing a 'rational connection between the facts found 
and the choice made.'" 103 S. Cr. at 2866-67. 

The Supreme Court also held that, if automatic 
belts are not justifiable, the agency should have 
considered requiring airbags in all automobUes. 

The Court found that: 

Given the effectiveness ascribed to airbag 
technology by the agency, the mandate of the 
Safety Act to achieve traffic safety would sug- 
gest that the logical response to the faults of 
detachable seatbelts would be to require the 
installation of airbags. 103 S. Ct. at 2869. 

It added that: 

Given the judgment made in 1977 that airbags 
are an effective and cost-beneficial life-saving 
technology, the mandatory passive restraint 
rule may not be abandoned without any consid- 
eration whatsoever of an airbags-only- 
requirement. 103 S. Ct. at 2871. 

The primary issue concerning automatic belts is 
the anticipated usage of the detachable belts. 
Although the Department cannot establish with 
certainty the level of usage it can expect with auto- 
matic belts, the information gathered during the 
comment periods on the current rulemaking 
NPRM and SNPRM does assist DOT in answering 
the Supreme Court's finding that: 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 240 



[T]here is no direct evidence in support of the 
agency's finding that detachable automatic 
belts cannot be predicted to yield a substan- 
tial increase in usage. The empirical evidence 
on the record, consisting of surveys of drivers 
of automobiles equipped with passive belts, 
reveals more than a doubling of the usage 
rate experienced with manual belts. 103 S. Ct. 
at 2872. 

Although some would argue that the belts will 
merely be detached after most drivers or passen- 
gers first enter the car and never used more than 
current manual belts are used, no evidence has 
been found to support this. In responding to 
NHTSA's 1981 rescission argument that "it cannot 
reliably predict even a 5 percentage point increase 
as the minimum level of increased usage," the 
Supreme Court said: 

But this and other statements that passive 
belts will not yield substantial increases in 
seatbelt usage apparently take no account of 
the critical difference between detachable 
automatic belts and current manual belts. A 
detached passive belt does require an affirma- 
tive act to reconnect it, but — unlike a manual 
seatbelt — the passive belt, once attached, will 
continue to function automatically unless 
again disconnected. Thus, inertia — a factor 
which the agency's own studies have found 
significant in explaining the current low 
usage rates for seatbelts — works in favor of, 
not against, use of the protective device. 
Since 20 to 50% of motorists currently wear 
seatbelts on some occasions, there would 
seem to be grounds to believe that seatbelts 
used by occasional users will be substantially 
increased by detachable passive belts. Whether 
this is in fact the case is a matter for the agency 
to decide, but it must bring its expertise to 
bear on the question. 103 S. Ct. at 2872. 
Although the Department believes that the 
existing automatic belt usage data is not generally 
applicable to the entire vehicle population, there is 
an absence of data that indicate that there will be 
no increase in usage associated with detachable 
automatic belts. The record of this rulemaking 
only has assertions that this will be so, but it lacks 
support for those assertions. 

The Supreme Court has made it clear that it 
believes the better arguments support increased 
usage. Not only does the Department have no new 



evidence to counter this, but, for the first time, the 
manufacturers have acknowledged that, at least 
initially, automatic detachable belts will result in 
an increase in usage. The Department also now 
believes that some level of increase will occur 
based on the reasons people give for not using 
manual belts (e.g., "forget" or are "lazy"). Thus, it 
has no evidence that the belts will not be used, but 
merely questions about how large an increase will 
occur. The Supreme Court said: 

[An agency may not] merely recite the terms 
"substantial uncertainty" as justification for 
its actions. The agency must explain the evi- 
dence which is available, and must offer a "ra- 
tional connection between the facts found and 
the choice made." . . . Generally, one aspect of 
that explanation would be a justification for 
rescinding the regulation before engaging in a 
search for further evidence. 103 S. Ct. 2871. 

It could also be argued that the public will not 
accept automatic belts because of such problems as 
their obtrusiveness and inconvenience. Although 
an argument about public acceptabUity can be 
made, strong data on which to base it do not exist. 
As is discussed in more detail elsewhere in this 
preamble, the public opinion surveys that have 
been taken are flawed to the extent that they will 
not withstand close scrutiny and support a rescis- 
sion decision that has already been struck down 
once by the Supreme Court. 

The Supreme Court also found that, if detach- 
able belts were unacceptable to the agency, than it 
"failed to articulate the basis for not requiring non- 
detachable belts under Standard 208." 103 S. Ct. at 
2873. The Court added that, "while the agency is 
entitled to change its view on the acceptability of 
continuous passive belts, it is obligated to explain 
its reasons for doing so." 103 S. Ct. at 2873. Finally, 
the Court said that: 

The agency also failed to offer any explana- 
tion why a continuous passive belt would 
engender the same adverse public reaction as 
the ignition interlock, and, as the Court of Ap- 
peals concluded "every indication on the 
record points the other way." . . . We see no 
basis for equating the two devices: the contin- 
uous belt, unlike the ignition interlock, does 
not interfere with the operation of the vehicle. 
103 S. Ct. at 2873-74. 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 241 



Again, "substantial uncertainty," 103 S. Ct. at 
2871, will not suffice and there is no substantive 
evidence in the rulemaking record to refute the 
point made by the Court. 

The Department has no new evidence that non- 
detachable belts are not an acceptable means for 
reducing deaths and injuries. Although there are 
some comments in the current docket that some 
people will dislike tham and may even cut them or 
otherwise destroy them, it is primarily specula- 
tion; there is no clear data. Moreover, even if 20 or 
30 or even 40 or 50 percent of the people find some 
method for defeating the belt, the evidence in the 
record indicates that it will still result in a signifi- 
cant reduction in deaths and injuries for the 
remainder who do not. 

Some people expressed concern about emer- 
gency egress from nondetachable belts. The 
Supreme Court had the following to say on this: 

. . . NHTSA did not suggest that the emer- 
gency release mechanisms used in nondetach- 
able belts are any less effective for emer- 
gency egress than the buckle release system 
used in detachable belts. In 1978, when Gen- 
eral Motors obtained the agency's approval to 
install a continuous passive belt, it assured 
the agency that nondetachable belts with 
spool releases were as safe as detachable 
belts with buckle releases. 103 S. Ct at 2873. 

Manufacturers commented that it would likely 
be more difficult to extricate oneself from a non- 
detachable as compared to detachable automatic 
belt. However, they did not claim that it repre- 
sented an "unsafe" condition, and again, there is no 
new evidence to buttress their concerns. 

Finally, there are a number of attractive argu- 
ments that are based in part on the following 
theme: the presence of the government in the mid- 
dle of the debate over passive restraints has dis- 
torted the activities of both automobile manufac- 
turers and insurance companies; if the marketplace 
had been allowed to work, insurance incentives 
would have led to the voluntary adoption of one or 
more systems by the manufacturers. Whether 
these arguments are correct or not, they cannot be 
considered in a vacuum. In fact, the context pro- 
vided by the Supreme Court is quite harsh: 

For nearly a decade, the automobile industry 
waged the regulatory equivalent of war against 
the airbag and lost— the inflatable restraint 



was proven sufficiently effective. Now the 
automobile industry has decided to employ a 
seatbelt system which will not meet the safety 
objectives of Standard 208. This hardly con- 
stitutes cause to revoke the standard itself. 
Indeed the Motor Vehicle Safety Act was nec- 
essary because the industry was not suffi- 
ciently responsive to safety concerns. The Act 
intended that safety standards not depend on 
current technology and could be "technology- 
forcing" in the sense of inducing the develop- 
ment of superior safety design. 103 S. Ct. at 
2870. (Footnotes omitted). 

The history of this rulemaking, the State Farm 
decision, and the rulemaking record have put us in 
a position where rescission of the automatic occu- 
pant restraint requirements — unless there is a 
very substantial increase in use of seatbelts in the 
future — cannot be justified. On the other hand, as 
discussed in detail elsewhere in the preamble, such 
a substantial increase as a result of the widespread 
enactment of MULs would provide increased safety 
benefits much more quickly and at a much lower 
cost, thus making rescission clearly justifiable. As 
the Supreme Court said, "We start with the ac- 
cepted ground that if used, seatbelts unquestion- 
ably would save thousands of lives and would pre- 
vent tens of thousands of crippling injuries." 
103 S. Ct. at 2871. It also noted that the Depart- 
ment originally began the passive restraint rule- 
making exercise because "[i]t soon became appar- 
ent that the level of seatbelt usage was too low to 
reduce traffic injuries to an acceptable level" 
103 S. Ct. at 2862. The data set out elsewhere in 
this preamble and in the Final Regulatory Impact 
Analysis demonstrate the dramatic reductions in 
deaths and injuries that widespread usage of the 
manual belt systems would achieve. Thus, the De- 
partment has concluded that if two-thirds or more 
of the American people are covered by such laws, 
the need for an automatic occupant restraint re- 
quirement would be obviated. 

Demonstration Program 

Because of the length of time a demonstration 
program would take, the Department believes that 
it would be necessary to justify rescission of the 
old rule under this alternative. It also believes that 
the phase-in portion of the amended rule will 
achieve the public education/acceptance aspects of 
any demonstration program. 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 242 



Other Mandatory Use Law Alternatives 

The Department's rationale for not adopting the 
other MUL alternatives is explained more fully in 
the preceding sections. These other alternatives 
are generally deficient in one of two respects: they 
either make it necessary for the Department to 
justify rescission under current circumstances 
or the requirements they impose are much too 
burdensome. 

Under the alternative raised in the NPRM, the 
Department would have sought the enactment of 
MULs. The Department could not be certain that a 
sufficient number of MULs would pass or that, if 
passed, they would contain the necessary provi- 
sions concerning penalties, enforcement, sanc- 
tions, education, and waivers. As a result, the 
Department could not determine whether the nec- 
essary level of benefits would be achieved. 

Under the other SNPRM alternative, the De- 
partment would have waived the requirement for 
automatic restraints in individual States that 
enacted MULs. This alternative would have re- 



quired the "regulation" of the sale of the manual 
belt cars to ensure that they were not covered by 
people not covered by MULs. It also would have 
had adverse market impacts if consumers delayed 
their purchases of cars, in anticipation of their 
States passing MULs, in order to avoid purchasing 
automatic restraints. 

Legislation to Require Consumer Option 

As with some of the previous alternatives, this 
approach would require the Department to justify 
rescission of the old rule. In addition, it would 
place a tremendous economic burden on the manu- 
facturers to have to be able to provide a variety of 
systems on each model. It would, in turn, raise the 
cost of all automobiles for the consumer. 

Airbag Retrofit Capability 

This, too, would require justification for rescis- 
sion. It would also result in increasing the cost of 
all cars even if no one ever retrofitted a car. 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 243-244 



TESTING PROCEDURES 



Repeatability 

The single most significant repeatability issue 
related to test procedures, as reflected in com- 
ments to the docket, was that of the repeatability 
of the barrier crash test results. Nearly all manu- 
facturers claim that because test result differences 
are encountered in repeated tests of the same car, 
and since these differences are large, they can not 
be certain that all their vehicles will be in com- 
pliance even when their development and compli- 
ance tests show that the vehicles are. These large 
differences, or test variability, place a manufac- 
turer in jeopardy, it is claimed, because NHTSA, 
while checking for compliance, may find a single 
vehicle with test results exceeding the maximum 
values in the standard, even though the manufac- 
turer's results are to the contrary. Thus, they 
stated, they might have to recall vehicles and 
make vehicle modifications (which they claim they 
would not know how to make) even though the 
vehicles actually comply with the standard. The 
auto companies say that the test result variances 
are essentially due to deficiencies in the test proce- 
dures themselves as well as the prescribed 
Part 572 test dummy. 

Because of these alleged deficiences, the argu- 
ment goes, the standard is neither "objective" nor 
"practicable" as required by statute. Manufac- 
turers cite court decisions in Chrysler Corp. 
V. DOT 472 F.2d 659 (6th Cir. 1972) and Paccar, Inc. 
V. NHTSA. 573 F.2d 632 (9th Cir. 1978), to argue 
their point. In Chrysler, the court said that for a 
standard to be "objective" 

tests to determine compliance must be capable 
of producing identical results where test con- 
ditions are exactly duplicated, that they be 



decisively demonstrable by performing a ra- 
tional test procedure, and that compliance is 
based upon the readings obtained from meas- 
uring instruments as opposed to the subjec- 
tive opinion of human beings. 472 F.2d at 676. 

Because manufacturers claim that the only way 
they can assure compliance is to "overdesign" 
their vehicles (e.g., because of alleged variances in 
results, to comply with a HIC requirement of 1000 
manufacturers would design their vehicles to only 
have an HIC of 500), resulting in excessive costs 
without safety benefit, the Paccar case has rele- 
vance. In overturning a truck braking standard, 
the Court said that although the standard's test 
procedures were "objective," they were not "prac- 
ticable" because variations in test surface skid 
numbers required manufacturers 

not simply to comply with the stated standard, 
but to over-compensate by testing their vehi- 
cles on road surfaces substantially slicker than 
official regulations require. 573 F.2d at 644. 

The Department continues to believe, however, 
that FMVSS 208 is both objective and practicable. 
Manufacturers have not supplied for the record 
data to support their claims of excessive test vari- 
ability nor have they demonstrated that the bulk 
of any variability is due to test procedures and 
instruments as compared to vehicle-to-vehicle 
differences. 

The primary, and for most manufacturers the 
sole, basis for claims of variability was the Repeat- 
ability Test Program conducted by NHTSA under 
its New Car Assessment Program. NHTSA tested 
12 Chevrolet Citations in an attempt to ascertain 
the reliability of publishing barrier crash test 



PART 571: S 208 -PRE 245 



results based on a single test. The results of the 
testing program for HIC (only HIC was mentioned 
by manufacturers as a variabUity "problem") were: 





Mean 


Standard 
Deviation 


Coefficient 
of Variation 


Driver 
Passenger 


655 
694 


137 

77 


21% 
11% 



The manufacturers focused on the GOV of the 
driver HIC values — 21 percent — and claimed that 
this is too large. They claim that with this large a 
COV, they would have to design their vehicles to 
achieve an HIC no higher than 560 to assure than 
95 percent of their cars, when tested, would have 
HIC values below 1000. 

This argument is faulty for several reasons. First, 
the NCAP results were based on the testing of a 
single car — the Citation — at a higher test speed 
(35mph) than required in FMVSS 208 (30 mph). 
Passing the FMVSS 208 criteria at 35 mph requires 
a vehicle to absorb 36 percent more energy — since 
the energy dissipated in a crash is proportional to 
the square of the speed — then in the required 
30 mph crash. The Department would expect that 
test result differences would be lower at 30 mph 
since at 35 mph the design limit of certain struc- 
tural members has been exceeded. Assuming that 
the COV at 35 mph would be identical or lower 
than that at 30 mph is without foundation and is 
counterintuitive to sound engineering theory. 

Second, the NCAP data can only be used to de- 
rive a COV, at 35 mph, for the Citation. Extending 
the Citation results to other vehicles is again with- 
out basis. For example, Volvo tested four MY 1983 
760 CLE vehicles according to the NCAP proce- 
dures (although an additional 3 760 GLEs were 
tested by a laboratory, MIRA, for Volvo, the 
NCAP procedures may not have been fully followed 
by that organization and thus can not be combined 
with Volvo's own data). The results of the four 
Volvo tests are: 



Mean 



Standard 
Deviation 



COV 



Driver 
Passenger 



898 
731 



71 
27 



8% 
4% 



Here, we see coefficients of variation about 
60 percent lower than that shown for the Citation. 



Although not as many tests were run as for the 
Citation, the Volvo 760 OLE results cast doubt as 
to whether the Citation results can be applied to 
all vehicles. The Department also points out that 
even the Citation results for the passenger, which 
tended to be ignored in the docket comments (man- 
ufacturers instead tended to focus on the higher 
COV for the driver) exhibit half the COV cited by 
the auto companies. 

Ford commented that the Volvo data, "though 
nominally somewhat lower, was not significantly 
different than that found in the Citation ..." Ford, 
however, used all seven Volvo tests. Since these 
tests were not all conducted similarly, they are 
from two different statistical "universes" and can- 
not be combined for statistical purposes. Nor does 
Ford disagree that the Volvo results are lower 
than for the Citation. And, Ford only compared the 
standard deviation of the Citation and 760 GLE 
results. Since the mean was higher for the 
760 GLE than the Citation, and since the COV is 
equal to the standard deviation divided by the 
mean, had Ford compared COVs it might have 
found that these differences were statistically sig- 
nificant. Thus, Ford's use of the Volvo is inac- 
curate in that it: (1) combines two unlike data 
sets -the MIRA and Volvo 760 GLE tests; (2) fails 
to examine coefficients of variation, a better des- 
criptor of variance than the standard deviation; 
and (3) only examines the larger differences asso- 
ciated with driver HIC, and ignores the lower, pas- 
senger variances. 

Ford also supplied, in response to the SNPRM, 
data which the company claims shows that their 33 
Mercury tests, with airbags, conducted in 1974 
also exhibited the same variances. Ford took the 
results of these tests on MY 1972 Mercurys, which 
were conducted at 30 mph, and "scaled" them to 
35 mph. They claim that after "scaling," the Mer- 
curys exhibited the same standard deviation as 
the Citation. 

The Department has examined the actual 
30 mph test results of these Mercurys, contained 
in Ford's February 1976 report, "Airbag Crash 
Test Repeatability," ESRO Report No. S-76-3, and 
finds that the results are not just for frontal bar- 
rier tests but also 30 degree angle tests. At least 
nine of the 24 frontal tests were at the oblique 
angle. Although FMVSS 208 requires angle tests, 
the comparison of angle plus frontal results to only 
frontal results is somewhat inappropriate. 



PART 571; S 208 - PRE 246 



Furthermore, Ford again compares only the 
standard deviations of driver HICs. After 
"scaling," Ford shows the driver HIC standard 
deviation to be 137. However, the standard devia- 
tion based on Tables 4-1 of the Ford report show 
driver HIC standard deviations, without "scaling," 
in frontal crashes to be only 80, and the GOV in 
frontal crashes, given the mean of 479, is 16.7 per- 
cent. As Ford somehow converted these values, or 
some other value representing both frontal and 
oblique crashes, from 30 mph to 35 mph. Ford is 
implicitly agreeing with NHTSA that one can not 
compare statistical results from crash tests con- 
ducted at different speeds. 

These Departmental positions — that the Cita- 
tion tests may not be applicable to all cars and that 
35 mph test results may not be applicable to results 
at 30 mph — were raised in the SNPRM wherein 
the Department stated "We are also interested in 
comments on the relevance of the Citation variabil- 
ity tests (conducted at 35 mph) to the FMVSS 208 
compliance tests (specified to be conducted at 
30 mph) and the applicability of the new Citation 
results to other vehicles." Other than the above 
cited Ford data, responses were submitted by only 
GM, which provided data based on 30 mph sled 
tests which showed COVs of 11 and 8 percent for 
the driver and passenger, respectively, and Volvo, 
which also provided sled test data showing a mean 
of 467 and a COV of 12.5 percent. Further, only 
Ford claimed that "comparable variability" to that 
resulting from the Citation tests "would be ex- 
pected for other vehicle models." Other manufac- 
turers failed to address the issue. 

Based on the above, the Department concludes 
that the Citation test results cannot, without the 
analysis of data for other vehicles, be applied to 
other cars models at lower speeds. 

The second reason the Department does not ac- 
cept manufacturer claims of excessive variability 
is also related to test speeds. Variability by itself 
is not a crucial factor for a manufacturer to be con- 
cerned about. Rather, it is the combination of vari- 
ability and the mean (or average) value which can 
be cause for concern. For example, assume that a 
manufacturer is 95 percent confident that all its 
HIC test results will be within ± 150 points of the 
mean. If the mean value is 900, then the manufac- 
turer may not be certain that all its vehicles will 
comply with a criterion whose maximum value is 
1000. However, if the mean is 500, then the ±150 
variation is of little consequence in ascertaining 



assurance of compliance. 

It is clearly intuitive, due to the 36 percent less 
energy involved in a 30 mph crash compared to a 
35 mph crash, that average test results will be 
lower at the 30 mph barrier crash speed than at 
the 35 mph speed used in the NCAP program. No 
commenter to the docket argued to the contrary. 
Therefore, the issue of variability can not be ex- 
amined in isolation but must be analyzed in the 
context of the mean value. 

Reexamining the Ford Mercury data, conducted 
with airbags at 30 mph, the mean HIC value, taken 
from page 4-20 of the Ford report, is 319.9. With 
such a low mean, the derived variance is irrelevant 
for compliance purposes. The Department wishes 
to point out that: (1) based on its NCAP testing, 
even with manual belt systems and when tested at 
35 mph, 80 percent of the dummy drivers and 
about 60 percent of the passenger dummies meet 
the FMVSS 208 injury prevention criteria with 
mean HICs of 899 and 845, respectively. These per- 
centages would of course increase and the means 
decrease at 30 mph. And (2) all airbag tests shown 
mean HICs in the 400 to 500 range, a range 
wherein variability again becomes meaningless for 
assuring compliance. For instance, tests with air- 
bags for MY 1972 Pintos showed maximum HICs 
in the 500 to 600 range with the median value less 
than 400; the maximum and mean for MY 1972 
Mercurys were less than 700 and less than 400, 
respectively; and for MY 1974-76 GM airbag cars 
the values were under 600 and about 450, respec- 
tively. 

Thus, mean HICs for automatic belt systems in 
30 mph barrier crashes would be lower than the 
899 and 845 values observed from the 35 mph 
NCAP program and for airbag equipped cars would 
likely be in the 400 to 500 range, making variabil- 
ity a moot issue. 

A third reason that the Department believes 
that variability is not so significant as issue as to 
preclude the standard's reinstatement is that 
manufacturers have not demonstrated that the 
test procedures and test dummy are the major 
causes of variability. GM and Volvo provided sled 
test data which showed COVs of about 10 percent. 
Since a sled test provides a steady crash pulse, it 
was argued that most of, if not all, the variability 
seen was due to dummy and test procedure vari- 
ances. Without arguing the point, the Department 
notes that these manufacturers failed to address 
the question of whether this 10 percent level of 



PART 571; S 208 - PRE 247 



variability, when combined with an expected 
mean, is unacceptable. For instance, if it is assumed 
that the mean 30 mph passive belt HIC is 800 — 
which is not unreasonable given current means of 
between 845 and 899 at 35 mph -a COV of 10 per- 
cent translates into a standard deviation of 80. Since 
95.45 percent of all test results fall within the mean 
± 2 standard deviations, a manufacturer can be sure 
than more than 95 percent of its cars will have 
HICs below 960 (800 + 2[80]) and the manufacturer 
could be about 98 percent certain that all tested 
cars will have values below 1,000. A lower mean 
would increase the above-mentioned percentages. 

In the SNPRM, the Department requested com- 
ments on what level of variability was deemed 
"reasonable," given that some variability will 
always exist. Only Renault provided a quantitative 
answer, saying the "the variation coefficient must 
not exceed a maximum of 10 percent." Although 
Renault provided no further justification for its 
recommendation, the Department notes it is nearly 
identical to the variation contributed by the test 
procedures and dummy, according to Volvo and GM. 

Manufacturers generally asserted that the ob- 
served variability was not caused by vehicle-to- 
vehicle differences but by the test procedures and 
use of Part 572 dummy. In the SNPRM, the Depart- 
ment said that it did not believe that the dummy 
contributed significantly to test variabUity. The 
Department, after reviewing the docket, stUl re- 
tains this conclusion. The 1976 Ford repeatability 
test report concluded that "that portion of the 
variabUity in the test results which can be attrib- 
uted to differences between the nine part 572 dum- 
mies ... is small for the HIC measurements and 
virtually nil for the chest g and femur load mea- 
surements." Ford engineers also said in an SAE 
paper (SAE paper 750935) the "differences in test 
readings from one test dummy to another were 
rather small, especially when compared to other 
factors ... In fact, the variance in test readings 
associated with differences among dummies was 
essentially zero for chest g and for femur loads." 
Renault, in response to the SNPRM, said that "the 
present Part 572 dummy is not the major cause of 
the dispersion of results." 

In its NCAP repeatability program, NHTSA 
found that differences in dummy calibration 
results have "no correlation ... to dummy response 
results in the vehicle crash event." (SAE paper 
840201, February 1984). NHTSA further noted 
that the Citation's "structural response . . . dis- 



played significant variability" from vehicle-to- 
vehicle. These differences included variations in 
engine cradle buckling, floor pan and toe board 
buckling, and irregular motion of the steering col- 
umn. NHTSA concluded that "previous safety 
research has demonstrated that these structural 
behavior characteristics do have influence on 
dummy HIC values, possible of major proportions." 
Because of the large variations among vehicles and 
the lack of correlation of dummy calibration to HIC 
results, NHTSA believes that a large part of the 
test variability is due to vehicle variability. 

In summary, the Department finds that FMVSS 
208 meets all statutory criteria for objectivity and 
practicability, that manufacturers have not 
demonstrated that there would be either exces- 
sive variabUity in total or due to the test proce- 
dures alone, and that compliance with FMVSS 208, 
particularly with airbags, does not represent an 
insurmountable burden to manufacturers. 

Compliance Procedure 

Having concluded that any test variabUity is not 
sufficient to delay the standard's reinstatement, 
the Department is stUl concerned that manufac- 
turers believe themselves to be in unacceptable 
compliance jeopardy. To reduce this jeopardy, 
manufacturers suggested that a "design to con- 
form" policy be adopted. They claimed this was 
neither inconsistent with court decisions regard- 
ing the required objectivity of standards nor 
would it materially affect vehicle design, since 
they would still have to demonstrate, through 
crash tests, that their design could achieve the re- 
quired levels of compliance. Furthermore, it was 
argued by VW that NHTSA presently operates 
under this concept. 

We agree with VW that, in the event of a non- 
conforming test result, NHTSA wUl seek to obtain 
manufacturer compliance, test data and/or conduct 
a second compliance test itself, prior to asserting 
that a particular model is in noncompliance. The 
Department is unaware of any instance in which 
NHTSA has sought remedy under the statute for 
noncompliance with a safety standard based on 
only a single test result. Thus, for example, if 
NHTSA found a car with an HIC value of 1050 and, 
after reviewing manufacturer test data and/or con- 
ducting another test, both of which demonstrated 
compliance, it would likely determine that the 
manufacturer had exercised "due care" and would 
not seek remedy under the statute. 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 248 



However, the Chrysler Court disapproved of 
any agency offering to investigate whether differ- 
ences in test results (between manufacturer tests 
and agency compliance tests) were sufficient to 
determine a noncompliance. The court stated that 
manufacturers needed objective assurances and 
there was no room for agency investigations. Thus, 
the Department recognizes that automobile com- 
panies need some guarantee that should one car 
out of a million, for example, be found to fail the 
compliance test, that all one million will not have 
to be recalled. 

The guarantee sought by the industry, "design 
to conform," though, is not acceptable. As pointed 
out in the SNPRM, the Department believes such 
an approach introduces unacceptable subjectivity 
into the determination of compliance with the stan- 
dard, in contravention to the decisions of the 
courts to minimize nonobjective determinations of 
noncompliance. Instead, since NHTSA already 
exercises discretion in compliance cases, we will 
seek, through a subsequent Notice to be issued 
shortly, to provide such assurances without com- 
promising either safety or the necessary statutory 
objectivity. Essentially, we will propose to amend 
FMVSS 208 by recognizing that a vehicle shall not 
be deemed in noncompliance if a manufacturer has 
exercised "due care" in designing and producing 
such vehicle. Rather than increase the subjectivity 
of the compliance process by introducing a "design 
to conform" concept, NHTSA will explicitly rec- 
ognize in FMVSS 208 the statutory direction ex- 
pressed in section 107(bK2) of the National Traffic 
and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (15 USC 1397), that 
the penalties associated with producing a noncom- 
plying vehicle "shall not apply to any person who 
establishes that he did not have reason to know in 
the exercise of due care that such vehicle ... is not 
in conformity with applicable Federal motor vehi- 
cle safety standards ..." (emphasis added). 



Test Dummies 

As stated earlier, the Department continues to 
believe that the Part 572 test dummy fully meets all 
statutory criteria and is not a major source of test 
result variability. Most manufacturers, however, 
disagreed. Volvo contended that the dummy has 
"serious limitations" and must be more durable, 
repeatable, and trouble-free. Toyota said it could 
not be sure of the influence of the dummy on test 
results. Mercedes also said that the Part 572 dummy 



is not sufficiently repeatable while Ford said that 
the dummy's calibration is repeatable but its crash 
test performance may not be. American Motors 
said that the Part 572 dummy is a state-of-the-art 
compromise and lacks in measurement fidelity. 

While not claiming that that Part 572 dummy is 
not repeatable or fails to meet statutory criteria, 
GM urged NHTSA to approve the use of the Hybrid 
HI dummy as an alternative test device. GM said 
that the Hybrid HI "offers significant improve- 
ments over the part 572 dummy relative to bio- 
fidelity of frontal head, chest and knee responses, 
fore-aft neck bending, ankle and knee articulation 
and automotive seated posture." Nissan agreed 
that the Hybrid HI is a superior dummy which 
demonstrates greater repeatability. Conversely, 
Mercedes said that the Hybrid HI is not any more 
repeatable than the Part 572 dummy. 

As part of its petition to use the Hybrid HI, GM 
submitted a paper by Mertz ("Anthropomorphic 
Models," GM USG 2284, Part HI, Attachment I, 
Enclosure 3) which stated that the Part 572 
dummy (actually, the Hybrid H dummy, also devel- 
oped by GM) has "good repeatability, durability, 
and serviceability." "The Part 572 dummy repre- 
sents the state-of-the-art of dummy technology in 
the early 1970's." 

Based on the conclusions of the Ford Mercury 
testing and the agency's NCAP testing, NHTSA 
has concluded that the dummy does not contribute 
significantly to test variability. Renault agreed 
with this conclusion. Industry characterizations of 
the dummy, as shown above, vary considerably, 
from the Part 572 being a major cause of variabil- 
ity to it not being a major cause, to the Hybrid III 
being an improvement, to it not being an improve- 
ment. Only a few manufacturers provided data to 
support their contentions but these data, supplied 
by Ford, GM, and Volvo, based on sled tests, could 
neither separate the contribution of variability 
associated with the dummy alone nor demonstrate 
why any dummy-induced test result variances 
were so high as to be unacceptable. Since the 
Department recognized, in the SNPRM, that some 
variability will always be present in specifically 
sought comment on the levels of variance which 
were deemed "unacceptable." Only Renault replied 
to this direct question and it did not supply a ratio- 
nale for its conclusion. In the absence of data to the 
contrary, the Department continues to believe 
that the current Part 572 test dummy is adequate 
to use as a compliance test device in standard 208. 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 249 



Nevertheless, it is recognized that the Part 572 
dummy is more than 10 years old and, we agree 
with AMC and GM in this regard, is a state-of-the- 
art compromise. Recognizing that dummy develop- 
ment, especially improved biofidelity — that is, the 
dummy's replication of actual human motion and 
potential for injury — is crucial for continued 
improvements in vehicle safety, NHTSA has been 
utilizing the Hybrid III dummy in its research and 
development work, as have GM and other manu- 
facturers. NHTSA recognizes that the Hybrid HI 
dummy does have additional measurement capa- 
bility over the Hybrid H (Part 572) and, assuming 
injury criteria can be agreed upon and its repeat- 
ability, durability, etc. verified, it could be viewed 
as an improvement over the Hybrid H. Because of 
these views, and the data presented in the GM 
position, NHTSA will address these issues in a 
separate rulemaking. Because we have concluded 
that the current Part 572 dummy is fully adequate 
to use in testing to the injury criteria specified in 
FMVSS 208, action on the Hybrid HI dummy is 
irrelevant for the purposes of this rulemaking. 
Should NHTSA decide to permit the use of the 
Hybrid HI as an alternative test device, as GM has 
petitioned, it would not pose any additional burden 
on manufacturers since they could still use the cur- 
rent Part 572 dummy for compliance purposes. If 
NHTSA decides to substitute the Hybrid III for 
the Hybrid II as the compliance test device speci- 
fied in Part 572, a gradual phase-in period would 
be provided so as not to interfere with manufac- 
turer leadtime and the timely implementation of 
the automatic occupant protection provisions of 
FMVSS 208. 

Injury Criteria 

Several manufacturers recommended that the 
injury criteria associated with potential head in- 
jury be adjusted in two ways: (1) to eliminate the 
measurement of HIC in the absence of head con- 
tact, and (2) to increase the HIC in case of a head 
strike to 1500 from its current level of 1000. 

It is recognized by NHTSA that the Head Injury 
Criterion (HIC) was primarily developed from tests 
of forehead impacts, resulting in acceleration of 
the brain in the anterior-posterior (i.e., forward 
and backward) directions. This was pointed out in 
the SNPRM, wherein the Department also briefly 
discussed accident and test data, including informa- 
tion from NHTSA itself, which suggested a very 
low probability of brain injury in the absence of 



head contact. However, it was suggested that mea- 
suring HIC in noncontact situations could serve as 
a surrogate for potential neck or other injuries. 

Volvo supplemented the above arguments by 
stating that the use of HIC for other than what 
was the basis of its development — forehead im- 
pacts in the anterior-posterior directions — results 
in less dummy biofidelity. Volvo suggested that 
this expanded use of HIC, beyond what it was in- 
tended to measure, is inappropriate. They stated 
that if neck injuries are of concern, then other cri- 
teria, related solely to the neck, be used. This posi- 
tion on neck injuries was supported by Peugeot, 
Renault, Ford, and GM. Mercedes and MVMA also 
opposed measuring HIC in noncontacts but did 
not mention its use as a surrogate in potentially 
preventing neck injuries. Allstate opposed its elimi- 
nation in such crash situations, claiming it protects 
occupants from cervical and spinal injuries. 

The primary derivation of HIC from head impact 
tests is not in question. HIC was developed from 
the Wayne State Tolerance Curve (WSTC) which 
was itself based on the hypothesis that the domi- 
nant head injury mechanism was linear acceleration. 

The Department agrees with the commenters, 
based on its own review of the origins of HIC, that 
its predictive capabUity of neck injuries is weak. 
The Department further agrees that the preven- 
tion of neck injuries, through assuring that exces- 
sive head motion is prevented, is important for 
automobile safety since neck injuries account for 
78.2 percent of all crash-related noncontact-harm 
in passenger cars (see SAE Paper 820242, "A 
Search for Priorities in Crash Protection," Mil- 
liaris, et al, February 1982). The Department also 
notes that the Hybrid III dummy is capable of neck 
injury measurements, by monitoring the dummy's 
neck's axial loading, shear load, and bending move- 
ment (see GM's petition, USG 2284 Part III, At- 
tachment I, Enclosure 2). Although the Hybrid 
Ill's neck biofidelity may be deficient in that its 
lateral bending response may not be humanlike 
and its neck too stiff in axial compression, its 
measurement of fore/aft bending provides supe- 
rior biofidelity to the Part 572 dummy, which is 
incapable of direct injury measurements (see ibid. 
Enclosure 3). 

The Department thus believes that prevention 
of neck injury would be better served by direct 
dummy measurement, measurement which can be 
made with the Hybrid III. This position was also 
expressed by the U.S. delegation to ISO/TC 22/SC 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 250 



12/WG 6 which stated that "the head injury cri- 
terion should not be applied in the event of no head 
impact other injury criteria, perhaps based on 
neck loads ..." should be used instead. As part of 
the subsequent rulemaking mentioned previously, 
the adoption of neck injury criteria will be pro- 
posed. In addition, the issue of noncontact HICs 
will be further addressed in the context of the cur- 
rent Part 572 dummy. Data relating to the biofi- 
delity of the dummy, in this regard, will be specif- 
ically sought. 

This issue is not viewed as one which affects the 
decision regarding FMVSS 208 contained in this 
notice. Any action by NHTSA in this area should 
only result in reducing the required test burden, 
thus additional leadtime should not be required. 
Action regarding the dummy is viewed by the De- 
partment as seeking to continually improve the 
biofidelity of its anthropomorphic test devices, and 
is thus separate from, although related to, the 
208 decision. 

Although several manufacturers requested that 
the HIC criterion, even when there is a head 
strike, be raised to 1500, the Department will not 
take any action on that issue at this time. The 1500 
HIC level is the subject of a petition for rule- 
making by the CCMC. NHTSA will respond directly 
to this petition at the same time that it prepares 
the aforementioned rulemaking action. 

Oblique Test Requirement 

The SNPRM contained a proposal to eliminate 
the requirement to test compliance at angles up to 
30° from the longitudinal direction. The basis for 
this proposal was data from Ford's Airbag Crash 
Test Repeatability report, which consistently 
showed lower dummy injury readings in angular 
crashes, especially for HIC and chest g's, and 
NHTSA test data which agreed with that from 
Ford. Chrysler, BMW, Volvo, Nissan, Mercedes, 
Honda, and Mazda agreed with the proposal, claim- 
ing that no insight in restraint performance was 
provided by the test, it was not essential for veri- 
fying compliance since test results were lower 
than in the direct frontal tests, and thus it only 
contributed to lead time and testing costs. Mazada 
was the only company to provide data to support 
its conclusion. Mazda provided the results of a 
single test which showed lower readings in the 
angular than the frontal crash. 

GM and Saab opposed the deletion of the oblique 
test. GM, in further discussions with NHTSA, 



based its objection on the belief that the oblique 
test is more representative of real world crashes 
than the frontal test. GM also said that regardless 
of the agency's decision it would continue to con- 
duct oblique tests; thus, although it believed such 
tests to be more representative it has no objection 
to their being deleted from the standard. Saab, in 
subsequent discussion with NHTSA, did not elab- 
orate on their assertion that deletion of the test 
would be a "cover-up" for airbag deficiencies nor 
did VW, when contacted by NHTSA, explain why 
they believed the test necessary for airbags but 
not automatic belts. 

The Department continues to believe, as ex- 
pressed in the SNPRM, that the oblique test require- 
ment may not meet the need for motor vehicle 
safety and thus may unnecessarily add to compli- 
ance costs. However, prior to taking final action the 
Department wishes to have additional test data 
and/or supporting and dissenting arguments. This 
information will be sought as part of the notice 
described earlier, as will comments from the public 
on the issue of international harmonization of test 
requirements, as sought by Peugeot and Renault. 

Other Test Procedure Issues 

The Department still believes that adoption of 
the NCAP test procedures will reduce test result 
variability. The added specificity of these proce- 
dures, as compared to the current FMVSS 208 com- 
pliance criteria, can have no other effect than to 
reduce variabUity compared to inconsistent dummy 
placement, albeit by some unknown amount. 

However, we also agree with manufacturer com- 
ments concerning the inadequacy of notice as to 
the specific parts of the NCAP procedure to be 
adopted. In addition, several commenters sug- 
gested other test procedure changes to even fur- 
ther reduce variability. The soon to be issued 
NPRM will thus repropose the specific NCAP pro- 
cedures to be adopted, plus propose additional 
changes as suggested in comments to Notice 35 of 
Docket 74-14. 

Ford, Chrysler, and VW suggested that if auto- 
matic belts are the means of compliance, then the 
static test requirements of FMVSS 209 and 210, 
instead of the dynamic test requirements of 
FMVSS 208, be used to check compliance. The De- 
partment disagrees. The concept behind FMVSS 
208 is that it is an overall vehicle standard, not just 
a restraint standard. To simply test the restraint 
system, statically, would not assure the occupant 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 251 



that injury protection, equivalent to that of other 
types of restraints which would continue to have 
to be dynamically tested, was being provided. In 
this regard, the Department agrees with Allstate 
that dynamic testing (as is also done for child 
restraint systems as required by FMVSS 213) is 
superior to static testing and the requests cited 
above are responded to in the negative. 

The Department also rejects GM's proposal to 
amend FMVSS 208 by permitting compliance with 
manual belts if the vehicle complies with the 
injury criteria at 30 mph with the dummies belted 
and at 25 mph with the dummies unbelted. The 
Department does not believe, based on data in its 
possession on crash tests at 25 mph with unre- 
strained dummies, that equivalent safety benefits 
are possible with this proposal. GM's estimate of 
benefits is not complete in that it is based on vehi- 
cles in NHTSA's NCSS file, vehicles which, on 
average, are of early 1970's vintage. A more com- 
plete analysis would be based on the ability of 
current production vehicles to supply such protec- 
tion. Data available to NHTSA indicate that some 
current vehicles are capable of supplying auto- 
matic occupant protection at speeds up to 25 mph. 
Without data to the contrary, there is no assur- 
ance of the magnitude of safety improvement asso- 
ciated with the GM proposal. Since it has not been 



demonstrated as an equal alternative, it will not be 
further considered in this rulemaking, although 
the Department applauds GM for its work in the 
area of passive interiors and encourages both it 
and other companies to continue to provide protec- 
tion for otherwise unprotected occupants. The 
Department also notes that nothing in FMVSS 208 
precludes compliance through the use of "passive 
interiors" as being developed by GM. But such 
compliance must be demonstrated at 30 mph, not 
25 mph as GM has suggested. 

Finally, Ford requested that convertibles by ex- 
empted from the automatic occupant protection re- 
quirements. Ford argues that automatic belts are 
not feasible in convertibles and that the only 
means of compliance would be airbags, thus result- 
ing in a "design" standard for these vehicles. Since 
the statute requires that safety standards be 
"appropriate for the class of vehicles to which they 
apply," and since convertibles are already exempt 
from the requirement that all front outboard seat- 
ing positions have lap and shoulder belts. Ford 
argues that exemption for convertibles is appro- 
priate. Although we disagree with Ford that pro- 
viding automatic belts in convertibles is not fea- 
sible, it may be not acceptable or appropriate to do 
so. NHTSA will seek additional guidance from the 
public on this issue in subsequent rulemaking. 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 252 



REGULATORY IMPACTS 



The Department has considered the impacts of 
this final rule and determined that it is a major 
rulemaking within the meaning of E.0. 12291 and a 
significant rule within the meaning of the Depart- 
ment of Transportation Regulatory Policies and 
Procedures. A Final Regulatory Impact Analysis 
is being placed in the public docket simultaneously 
with the publication of this notice. A copy of the 
Analysis may be obtained by writing to: National 
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Docket 
Section, Room 5109, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., 
Washington, D.C. 20590. 

The Department's determination that the rule is 
major and significant is based on the substantial 
benefits and costs resulting from the requirement 
for the installation of automatic protection sys- 
tems. The Department's determinations regarding 
these matters are discussed elsewhere in this pre- 
amble. As noted above, the number of lives saved 
and injuries prevented will depend on the type of 
automatic restraints installed in new cars and on 
the usage and effectiveness of those restraints. 
Estimates range from 520 to 9,110 lives saved, 
8,740 to 155,030 moderate to critical 2 to 5 injuries 
prevented and 22,760 to 255,770 minor injuries pre- 
vented. The total incremental cost increase for a 
new car would be $51 for automatic belt cars (incre- 
mental cost of $40 and lifetime energy costs of $11), 
$232 for a high volume of cars with driver position 
airbags (incremental cost of $220 and energy costs 
of $12), and $364 for a high volume of cars with air- 
bags for all front seat occupants (incremental cost 
of $320 and energy costs of $44). Assuming 10 mil- 
lion cars sold annually, total economic costs, exclu- 
sive of insurance or other savings, would be be- 
tween $510 million and $3,640 million. 

The Department has also assessed the impacts 



of this final rule on car manufacturers, automatic 
restraint suppliers, new car dealers, and small 
organizations and governmental units. Based on 
that assessment, I certify that this action will not 
have a significant economic effect on a substantial 
number of small entities. Accordingly, the Depart- 
ment has not prepared a final regulatory flexibility 
analysis. However, the impacts of the final rule on 
suppliers, dealers and other entities are discussed 
in the FRIA. 

The impact on airbag manufacturers is not likely 
to be significant, but will be positive. The final rule 
does not require any car manufacturer to install 
airbags in any new cars. To the extent that car 
manufacturers respond to the incentive provided 
by this final rule to install airbags, airbags sales 
will increase. The Department is not able to assess 
precisely the extent to which car manufacturers 
will so respond. 

Similarly, the suppliers of automatic belts are 
not likely to be significantly affected. These are 
generally the same firms that currently supply 
manual belts. Therefore, their volume of sales is 
not expected to increase significantly as a result of 
this final rule. There may be some economic bene- 
fits associated with developing and producing the 
more sophisticated types of automatic belts. 

Since the Department anticipates that most car 
manufacturers will comply with the final rule by 
installing detachable automatic belts, the cost im- 
pacts on new cars will not be large enough to have 
a significant effect on new car sales. Similarly, the 
Department does not expect that the design or oper- 
ation of the automatic restraints will affect new 
car sales. The Department expects that the detach- 
able automatic belts will be sufficiently acceptable 
to the public so that their presence in new cars will 



PART 571; S 208 - PRE 253 



not be a factor in the purchasing of new cars. 

For the reasons discussed in the preceding para- 
graph, the Department does not expect that small 
organizations or governmental units would be sig- 
nificantly affected. The price increases associated 
with the installation of detachable automatic belts 
should not affect the purchasing of new cars by 
these entities. A somewhat greater effect would 
occur to the extent that any of these entities 
decide to purchase airbag cars. 

In accordance with the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969, the Department has considered 
the environmental impacts of this final rule. A 
Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is 
being placed in the public docket simultaneously 
with the publication of this notice. The FEIS 
focuses on the environmental impacts associated 
with the alternative having the largest potential 
impacts. The alternative incorporated in this final 
rule will have substantially smaller impacts. The 
Department has concluded that there is no signifi- 
cant effect on the environment. Since most auto- 
matic restraints will be automatic belts, the 
amount of safety belt webbing manufactured should 
not change significantly. 

The Department finds good cause for making 
this final rule effective more than 1 year from 



the date of issuance, since the possibility exists 
that a substantial number of cars would comply 
with other than belt systems. As discussed earlier 
in this preamble and in the FRIA, the provision of 
automatic restraints requires significant vehicle 
modification. Airbag installation requires steering 
column changes and instrument panel redesign. 
The lead time to accomplish these alternatives, 
based on the time necessary to design and test the 
structural changes and to order tooling, especially 
for small cars, is several years. Similarly, a multi- 
year leadtime is necessary to provide automatic 
belts due to structural changes in seat and door 
strength and floor pan reinforcements. Passive 
interiors can require even longer leadtimes if 
structural modifications to a vehicle's front end, to 
better absorb the energy of a 30 mph crash, are 
necessary. The leadtime provided will provide car 
manufacturers with an effective choice about the 
type of automatic restraint they install in their 
cars. Providing less leadtime would limit their 
choices and tend to necessitate their selecting 
detachable automatic belts, the means of compli- 
ance with the least certainty as to level of benefits, 
in place of more advanced technology such as air- 
bags or passive interiors. 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 254 



THE RULE 



PART 571 — FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE 
SAFETY STANDARDS 

In consideration of the foregoing, Federal Motor 
Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208, Occupant Crash 
Protection, (49 CFR 571.208), is amended as set 
forth below. 

§571.208 (AmendecU 

1. S4.1.2 through S4.1.2.2 of Standard No. 208 
are revised to read as follows: 

S4.1.2 Passenger cars manufactured on or 
after September 1, 1973, and before September 1, 
1986. Each passenger car manufactured on or after 
September 1, 1973, and before September 1, 1986, 
shall meet the requirements of S4. 1.2.1, S4. 1.2.2, or 
S4.1.2.3. A protection system that meets the re- 
quirements of S4. 1.2.1 or S4.1.2.2 may be installed 
at one or more designated seating positions of a 
vehicle that otherwise meets the requirements of 
84.1.2.3. 

S4. 1.2.1 First option— frontal/angular auto- 
matic protection system. The vehicle shall: 

(a) At each front outboard designated seating 
position meet the frontal crash protection require- 
ments of S5.1 by means that require no action by 
vehicle occupants; 

(b) At the front center designated seating posi- 
tion and at each rear designated seating position 
have a Type 1 or Type 2 seat belt assembly that con- 
forms to Standard No. 209 and to S7.1 and S7.2; and 

(c) Either: (l)Meet the lateral crash protection 
requirements of S5.2 and the rollover crash protec- 
tion requirements of S5.3 by means that require no 
action by vehicle occupants; or 



(2) At each front outboard designated seating 
position have a Type 1 or Type 2 seat belt assem- 
bly that conforms to Standard No. 209 and to S7.1 
through S7.3, and that meets the requirements of 
S5.1 with front test dummies as required by S5.1, 
restrained by the Type 1 or Type 2 seabelt 
assembly (or the pelvic portion of any Type 2 seat 
belt assembly which has a detachable upper torso 
belt) in addition to the means that require no ac- 
tion by the vehicle occupant. 

S4. 1.2.2 Second option— head-on automatic 
protection system. The vehicle shall: 

(a) At each designated seating position have a 
Type 1 seatbelt assembly or Type 2 seatbelt 
assembly with a detachable upper torso portion 
that conforms to S7.1 and S7.2 of this standard. 

(b) At each front outboard designated seating 
position, meet the frontal crash protection require- 
ments of S5.1, in a perpendicular impact, by means 
that require no action by vehicle occupants; 

(c) At each front outboard designated seating 
position, meet the frontal crash protection require- 
ments of S5.1, in a perpendicular impact, with a 
test device restrained by a Type 1 seatbelt assem- 
bly; and 

(d) At each front outboard designated seating 
position, have a seatbelt warning system that con- 
forms to S7.3. 

2. S4.1.3 of Standard No. 208 is revised to read 
as follows: 

S4.1.3 Passenger cars manufactured on or after 
September 1, 1986, and before September 1, 1989. 

S4. 1.3.1 Passenger cars manufactured on 
or after September 1, 1986, and before Septem- 
ber 1, 1987 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 255 



54.1.3.1.1 Subject to S4.1.3.1.2 and S4.1.3.4, 
each passenger car manufactured on or after Sep- 
tember 1, 1986, and before September 1, 1987, 
shall comply with the requirements of S4.1.2.1, 
S4.1.2.2 or S4.1.2.3. 

54.1.3.1.2 Subject to S4.1.5, an amount of the 
cars specified in S4.1.3.1.1 equal to not less than 
10 percent of the average annual production of 
passenger cars manufactured on or after Septem- 
ber 1, 1983, and before September 1, 1986, by each 
manufacturer, shall comply with the requirements 
of S4.1.2.1. 

54. 1.3.2 Passenger cars manufactured on 
or after September 1, 1987, and before Septem- 
ber 1, 1988. 

54.1.3.2.1 Subject to S4.1.3.2.2 and S4.1.3.4, 
each passenger car manufactured on or after Sep- 
tember 1, 1987, and before September 1, 1988, 
shall comply with the requirements of S4.1.2.1, 
S4.1.2.2 or S4.1.2.3. 

54.1.3.2.2 Subject to S4.1.5, an amount of the 
cars specified in S4.1.3.2.1 equal to not less than 
25 percent of the average annual production of 
passenger cars manufactured on or after Septem- 
ber 1, 1984, and before September 1, 1987, by each 
manufacturer, shall comply with the requirements 
of S4.1.2.1. 

54.1.3.3 Passenger cars manufactured on 
or after September 1, 1988, and before Septem- 
ber 1, 1989. 

54.1.3.3.1 Subject to S4.1.3.3.2 and S4.1.3.4, 
each passenger car manufactured on or after Sep- 
tember 1, 1988, and before September 1, 1989, 
shall comply with the requirements of S4.1.2.1, 
S4.1.2.2 or S4.1.2.3. 

54.1.3.3.2 Subject to S4.1.5, an amount of the 
cars specified in S4.1.3.3.1 equal to not less than 
40 percent of the average annual production of 
passenger cars manufactured on or after Septem- 
ber 1, 1985, and before September 1, 1988, by each 
manufacturer, shall comply with the requirements 
of S4.1.2.1. 

54.1.3.4 For the purposes of calculating the 
number of cars manufactured under S4.1.3.1.2, 
S4.1.3.2.2, or S4.1.3.3.2 to comply with 84.1.2.1, 
each car whose driver's seating position will com- 
ply with these requirements by means other than 
any type of seatbelt is counted as 1.5 vehicles. 



3. Standard No. 208 is amended by adding the 
following new sections: 

54.1.4 Passenger cars manufactured on or 
after September 1, 1989. Except as provided in 
S4.1.5, each passenger car manufactured on or 
after September 1, 1989, shall comply with the re- 
quirements of S4.1.2.1. 

54.1.5 Mandatory seatbelt use laws. 

54. 1.5.1 If the Secretary of Transportation de- 
termines, by not later than April 1, 1989, that 
State mandatory safety belt usage laws have been 
enacted that meet the criteria specified in S4.1.5.2 
and that are applicable to not less than two-thirds 
of the total population of the 50 States and the Dis- 
trict of Columbia (based on the most recent Esti- 
mates of the Resident Population of States, by 
Age, Current Population Reports, Series P-25, 
Bureau of the Census), each passenger car manu- 
factured under S4.1.3 or S4.1.4 on or after the date 
of that determination shall comply with the re- 
quirements of S4.1.2.1, S4.1.2.2 or S4.1.2.3. 

54.1.5.2 The minimum criteria for State man- 
datory safety belt usage laws are: 

(a) Require that each front seat occupant of a 
passenger car equipped with safety belts under 
Standard No. 208 has a safety belt properly fas- 
tened about his or her body at all times when the 
vehicle is in forward motion. 

(b) If waivers from the safety belt usage re- 
quirement are to be provided, permit them for 
medical reasons only. 

(c) Provide for the following enforcement 
measures: 

(1) A penalty of not less than $25 (which may 
include court costs) for each occupant of a car who 
violates the belt usage requirement. 

(2) A provision specifying that the violation 
of the belt usage requirement may be used to miti- 
gate damages with respect to any person who is in- 
volved in a passenger car accident while violating 
the belt usage requirement and who seeks in any 
subsequent litigation to recover damages for injur- 
ies resulting from the accident. This requirement 
is satisfied if there is a rule of law in the State per- 
mitting such mitigation. 

(3) A program to encourage compliance with 
the belt usage requirement. 

(d) An effective date of not later than Septem- 
ber 1, 1989. 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 256 



Sec.103. 119, Pul. L. 89-563, 80 Stat. 718 (15 U.S.C. 
1392. 1407) 

Issued on July 11, 1984 



Elizabeth H. Dole 
Secretary of Transportation 
49 F.R. 28962 
July 17, 1984 



PART 571; S 208 -PRE 257-58 



PREAMBLE TO AN AMENDMENT TO 
FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208 



Occupant Crash Protection; Improvement of Seat Belt Assemblies 
[Docket No. 74-14; Notice 40] 



ACTION: Final rule. 

SUMMARY: This notice adopts a one-year delay, 
from September 1, 1985, to September 1, 1986, in 
the effective date for the safety belt comfort and 
convenience requirements issued by NHTSA in 
January 1981. The agency proposed a one-year de- 
lay in a notice issued in April of this year. The 
April notice also proposed several minor modifica- 
tions to the comfort and convenience require- 
ments, which will be addressed in a subsequent 
notice. 

This notice also denies the petitions submitted 
by American Motors Corporation and the Motor 
Vehicle Manufacturers Association for an indef- 
inite delay in the proposed effective date of these 
amendments. The denial is based on the agency's 
belief that the substantive issues in the proposal 
will be quickly resolved in a separate final rule 
and that delaying the effective date for one year 
will give the motor vehicle industry sufficient time 
to meet the modified comfort and convenience 
requirements. 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On January 
8, 1981, NHTSA amended Standard No. 208, Occu- 
pant Crash Protection, to specify additional perfor- 
mance requirements to promote the comfort and 
convenience of both manual and automatic safety 
belt systems installed in motor vehicles with a 
GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less (46 FR 2064). The 
requirements have not yet become effective. In 
partial response to seven petitions for reconsidera- 
tion, the agency extended the effective date of the 
comfort and convenience requirements for one 
year, from September 1, 1982, to September 1, 
1983 (47 FR 7254). Subsequently, the agency 
adopted (48 FR 24717) a further extension of the ef- 
fective date for the requirements to September 1, 
1985. 



On April 12, 1985, the agency proposed to 
change the effective date of the comfort and conve- 
nience requirements to September 1, 1986, to coin- 
cide with the effective date of the Department's 
July 11, 1984, rule requiring the installation of 
automatic restraints. This notice also proposed 
modifications to certain aspects of the comfort and 
convenience performance requirements in order to 
clarify the agency's intent and to address the con- 
cerns raised in the petitions for reconsideration (50 
FR 14580). 

After the April 12, 1985, notice of proposed rule- 
making was issued, American Motors Corporation 
and the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association 
petitioned NHTSA to postpone the effective date 
immediately and indefinitely, until all issues con- 
cerning the comfort and convenience requirements 
are resolved. They stated their belief that a final 
rule on the former effective date is unlikely to be 
issued before production of 1986 model year ve- 
hicles begins in July 1985; that manufacturers will 
be uncertain of the standard's applicable require- 
ments; and that it is unreasonable to have this 
critical timing issue tied to the rulemaking pro- 
cess. Chrysler Corporation, General Motors Cor- 
poration and Volkswagen of America, Inc., sup- 
ported this request in submission to the docket. 
General Motors stated that deferral is essential to 
provide time to resolve the many interrelated is- 
sues of Notices 37, 38, and 39, as well as to provide 
time to meet the final requirements flowing from 
these rulemaking actions. The agency disagrees. 
Although each of these proposals concerns Stan- 
dard No. 208, the agency maintains that the issues 
are separable, as are the notices proposing them. 

The agency realizes that September 1, 1985, is 
an inappropriate effective date for the comfort and 
convenience requirements because there is insuffi- 
cient lead time before the beginning of the new 



PART 571; S208-PRE 259 



model year to comply with the requirements either 
in the currently adopted version or in the version 
proposed in April 1985. The agency believes that 
an effective date of September 1, 1986, provides 
sufficient time for industry to meet either version 
of the comfort and convenience requirements. This 
conclusion is based on NHTSA's own analysis and 
on the absence of indication in the comments of the 
other domestic and foreign motor vehicle manufac- 
turers, seat belt manufacturers, and a technical re- 
presentative that a September 1, 1986, effective 
date would pose any problems in complying with 
the proposed requirements. Since its range of 
choices regarding the substantive differences in 
the two versions is not large, the agency does not 
foresee that there will be any changes to the com- 
fort and convenience requirements which would 
necessitate additional lead time beyond September 
1, 1986. Therefore, the agency is adopting that 
date as the new effective date for all requirements 
except the one discussed immediately below. How- 
ever, if the final rule on the substantive issues does 
include changes for which the industry might need 
additional lead time, the agency will consider 
these circumstances and, if necessary, take 
appropriate steps to adjust the effective date. 

In a separate final rule to be issued in the very 
near future, the agency will respond to the sub- 
stantive issues raised in the notice of proposed 
rulemaking and the comments thereon. 

In consideration of the foregoing, 49 CFR 
571.208 is amended as follows: 



1. The authority citation for Part 571 continues 
to read as follows: 

Authority: 15 U.S.C. 1391, 1401, 1403, 1407; 
delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.50. 

2. S7.1.1.3 is revised to read as follows: 

A lap belt installed at any front outboard desig- 
nated seating position in a vehicle manufactured 
on or after September 1, 1986, shall meet the re- 
quirements of this section by means of an emer- 
gency-locking retractor that conforms to Standard 
No. 209 (571.209) of this chapter. 

3. S7.4 is revised to read as follows: 
S7.4 Seat belt comfort and convenience. 

(a) Automatic seat belts installed in any vehicle 
with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less manufac- 
tured on or after September 1, 1986, shall meet 
the requirements of S7.4.1, S7.4.2, and S7.4.3. 

(b) Manual seat belts, other than manual Type 2 
belts in front seating positions in passengers cars, 
installed in any vehicle with a GVWR of 10,000 
pounds or less manufactured on or after September 
1, 1986, shall meet the requirements of S7.4.3, 
S7.4.4, S7.4.5, and S7.4.6. 

Issued on August 19, 1985 



Diane K. Steed 
Administrator 

50 F.R. 34152 
August 23, 1985 



PART 571; S208-PRE 260 



PREAMBLE TO AN AMENDMENT TO 
FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208 

Occupant Crash Protection 
[Docket No. 74-14; Notice 41] 



ACTION: Response to Petitions for Reconsidera- 
tion. 

SUMMARY: On July 11, 1984, the Secretary of 
Transportation issued a final rule requiring auto- 
matic occupant protection in all passenger cars 
based on a phased-in schedule beginning on 
September 1, 1986, with full implementation 
being required by September 1, 1989, unless, 
before April 1, 1989, states covering two-thirds of 
the population of the United States have enacted 
mandatory safety belt use laws meeting specified 
criteria, with such laws becoming effective by 
September 1, 1989. Subsequently, sixteen in- 
terested parties filed petitions for reconsideration 
of the final rule. This notice responds to the issues 
raised in those petitions. 

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 14, 1985 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background 
On July 1 1 , 1984 (49 FR 28962), the Secretary of 
Transportation issued a final rule requiring auto- 
matic occupant protection in all passenger cars 
based on a phased-in schedule beginning on Sep- 
tember 1, 1986, with full implementation being 
required by September 1, 1989, unless, before 
April 1, 1989, states covering two-thirds of the 
population of the United States have enacted 
mandatory safety belt use laws (MULs) meeting 
specified criteria, with such laws becoming effec- 
tive by September 1, 1989. 
More specifically, the rule requires: 
• Front outboard seating positions in passenger 
cars manufactured on or after September 1, 1986, 
for sale in the United States, will have to be equip- 



ped with automatic restraints based on the follow- 
ing schedule: 

• Ten percent of all cars manufactured on or 
after September 1, 1986. 

• Twenty-five percent of all cars manufactured 
on or after September 1, 1987. 

• Forty percent of all cars manufactured on or 
after September 1, 1988. 

• One hundred percent of all cars manufactured 
on or after September 1, 1989. 

• During the phase-in period, each car that is 
manufactured with a system that provides auto- 
matic protection to the driver without automatic 
belts will be given an extra credit equal to one- 
half car toward meeting the percentage require- 
ment. 

• The requirement for automatic restraints will 
be rescinded if MULs meeting specified conditions 
are passed by a sufficient number of states before 
April 1, 1989, to cover two-thirds of the population 
of the United States. 

Sixteen interested parties subsequently peti- 
tioned for reconsideration of the standard. The 
issues raised by the petitioners and the agency's 
response are discussed below. 

Rescind the Standard 

One petitioner asked the agency to reconsider 
the decision not to rescind the automatic restraint 
requirements of Standard No. 208. He argued 
that the Secretary's decision was apparently bas- 
ed on a belief that rescission was not a possible 
result under the Supreme Court decision in Motor 
Vehicle Manufacturer's Association v. State Farm 
Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. (State Farm). 
The petitioner further argued that the record in 
the Standard No. 208 proceeding in fact supports 
rescission. In particular, the petitioner argued that 
the rulemaking record shows that air bag techno- 



PART 57 1 ; S208-PRE 26 1 



logy is not an effective automatic restraint alterna- 
tive. Quoting from portions of the July 1984 final 
decision, the petitioner specifically Eirgued that air 
bag systems require the use of a lap belt and do not 
provide protection at less than 10-12 mph, the dis- 
posal problem related to the gas generation agent 
in air bag systems needs more action, air bag sys- 
tems may cause injury to out-of-position occupants, 
the cost of air bag systems is a major disadvantage, 
and the use of air bag systems in small cars re- 
quires more lead time. The petitioner concluded 
that few manufacturers will use air bag systems, 
thus leaving automatic belts as the only automatic 
restraint alternative. As to automatic belts, the 
petitioner argued that the record does not show 
that detachable automatic belts would increase 
usage. The petitioner specifically argued that 
there has been no showing that the combination of 
motorist inertia and automatic belts will increase 
belt usage. 

NHTSA's position is that the State Farm deci- 
sion allows the agency to make a reasoned choice 
between rescinding or retaining the standard. 
However, the agency stated in the July 1984 final 
rule, and still believes, that the rulemaking record 
does not justify rescission— unless there is a very 
substantial increase in the use of manual safety 
belts in the future. The data set forth in the July 
1984 final rule demonstrate the dramatic reduc- 
tions in deaths and injuries that widespread usage 
of the safety belt systems would achieve. Thus, if 
twothirds or more of the American people are co- 
vered by mandatory use laws, that would increase 
useage of safety belts, the need for an automatic oc- 
cupant restraint requirement would be obviated 
and the rule would be rescinded. 

The agency believes that the rulemaking record, 
taken as a whole, shows that air bag systems are 
an effective automatic restraint technology. The 
discussion in the final rule concerning the need to 
use a safety belt with an air bag system and the 
ability of such systems to provide protection at low 
speeds concerned the relative advantages and dis- 
advantages of different restraint technologies. As 
noted in that discussion, air bag systems have an 
advantage over other occupant restraints in that 
they ensure a usage rate of nearly 100 percent for 
both drivers and passengers. Even without use of a 
lap belt, an air bag system will offer protec- 
tion; however, to equal the effectiveness of a 
manual lap-shoulder belt, air bag systems must be 
used with a lap belt. 



Likewise, while air bag systems do not inflate in 
low speed crashes, other standards, such as those 
on energy-absorbing steering columns and instru- 
ment panel padding, ensure that occupants will 
still be provided with protection in low speed colli- 
sions. In addition, research data indicate that air 
bag systems will provide protection at higher 
speeds than safety belts. 

As to potential problems with the disposal of the 
gas generator, the July 1984 final rule pointed out 
that as long as appropriate procedures are followed 
by vehicle recyclers and scrappers, disposal should 
not pose a problem. Subsequent to issuance of the 
rule, the agency has had discussions with recyclers 
and scrappers concerning the joint NHTSA- 
General Services Administration air bag fleet 
demonstration program to discuss safe and reason- 
able disposal procedures. We believe that this ef- 
fort will lead to further improvements in the safe 
disposal of the chemical agents in air bag systems. 

The July final rule acknowledged concerns about 
the effects of air bag systems on out-of-position oc- 
cupants; however, it also explained that technical 
solutions are available to address the out-of-posi- 
tion occupant problem. The final rule also acknow- 
ledged the higher costs of air bag systems in com- 
parison to automatic belts; the high cost of replac- 
ing an air bag system, which could lead to its not 
being replaced after deployment; public uncertain- 
ty and concern associated wiht air bag systems; 
and the longer lead time needed for air bag sys- 
tems, particularly in small cars. It was a balancing 
of those factors, plus the factors discussed above, 
that led to the decision that air bag systems should 
not be mandated for all cars. However, as dis- 
cussed in the final rule, the agency believes that 
air bag systems are an effective restraint techno- 
logy which, along with other types of automatic re- 
straint technology, will provide demonstrable safe- 
ty benefits. The provision in the final rule pro- 
viding manufacturers that use non-belt automatic 
restraints with extra credit in complying with the 
phase-in requirements was intended to encourage 
alternative technologies, including enhanced 
availability of air bag systems. 

As to detachable automatic belts, as discussed in 
the July 1984 final rule, the agency cannot project 
either widespread usage for detachable automatic 
belts or a widespread refusal to use such systems. 
As discussed by the Supreme Court in the State 
Farm decision, it is reasonable to expect that iner- 
tia will work to increase usage, since once an auto- 



PART 571; S208-PRE 262 



matic belt is connected, it continues to function au- 
tomatically until it is disconnected. However, 
using even the lowest level of the range for the ef- 
fectiveness of automatic belts and a very little 
increase in usage (only a 7 1/2 percentage point in- 
crease), automatic belts will result in a significant 
incremental annual reduction in deaths and 
injuries. 

For the above reasons, the agency concluded in 
July 1984 that automatic restraint systems are 
reasonable in cost, feasible, and practicable, and 
the potential benefits in lives saved and injuries 
reduced in severity are substantial. At that time, 
the agency stated that rescission, in the absence of 
a substantial increase in manual belt usage, has 
not been justified. Since the petitioner has not pro- 
vided any new data to support rescission, the peti- 
tion is denied. 

Require Automatic Restraints 

Several petitioners urged the agency to recon- 
sider the decision to rescind the automatic re- 
straint requirements if two-thirds of the popula- 
tion of the United States is covered by State 
MULs. They urged the agency to retain the auto- 
matic restraint requirement, regardless of what 
action the States take in adopting MULs. 

The petitioners have offered no new evidence to 
justify modifying the July 11 final rule. As ex- 
plained in that rule, the Secretary determined that 
if enough people are covered by State mandatory 
belt use laws, usage rates will be sufficiently high 
so that the additional requirement for automatic 
restraints should not be required. The evidence 
from Canada and other countries with MULs sup- 
ports the conclusion that State belt use laws will 
bring higher usage rates and immediate and inex- 
pensive benefits. The petitioners' requests to man- 
date automatic restraints even if two-thirds of the 
population is covered by MULs is therefore denied. 
Phase-In Requirements 

A number of petitioners asked for several modifi- 
cations of the phase-in requirements of the stand- 
ard. Each of the modifications sought by the peti- 
tioners is addressed in the following discussions. 
Change September 1st Effective Date 

One modification was to change the September 1 
effective date used for each part of the phase-in. 
The petitioners argued that they would be pre- 
cluded from applying any portion of their vehicles 
produced prior to that date to meet the required 
percentage of automatic restraint equipped cars. 
The agency has already, in effect, proposed to 
grant a portion of the petitioners' request in an- 



other notice (Docket 74-14; Notice 38; 50 FR 
14602) issued on Standard No. 208. The agency 
proposal would not change the September 1 effec- 
tive date, but it does propose that manufacturers 
be allowed to count any automatic restraint vehi- 
cle produced during the one year preceding the 
first year of the phase-in. In addition, the agency 
proposes, in Notice 38, to permit manufacturers 
which exceed the minimum percentage phase-in 
requirements in the first or second years to count 
those extra vehicles toward meeting the require- 
ment in the second or third year. 

Several petitioners sought a change in the provi- 
sion of the final rule specifying that the computa- 
tion of the minimum vehicle production to be 
equipped with automatic restraints must be based 
on the average of the production for the three pre- 
ceding model years. The petitioners argued that if 
car sales were to drop drastically during the phase- 
in period, then the number of vehicles that they 
would have to equip with automatic restraints bas- 
ed on their prior three year sales volume would be 
a significantly greater percentage of their actual 
production than intended by the final rule. The 
agency has already responded to this request in 
Notice 38 by proposing to adopt an alternative that 
would permit a manufacturer to equip the re- 
quired percentage of its vehicles with automatic 
restraints based on its actual production of 
passenger cars during each affected year. 

Manufactured for Sale in the U.S. 

Several petitioners asked the agency to amend 
the rule to clarify that the rule applies only to cars 
manufactured for sale in the United States. As dis- 
cussed in the preamble to the final rule, the deter- 
mination of the base years' production figures and 
the calculation of the number of vehicles that must 
comply with the percentage phase-in requirements 
of the standard is to be based on vehicles manufac- 
tured for sale in the United States. Since all of the 
agency's safety standards apply only to vehicles 
manufactured for sale in the United States, the 
agency does not believe that an amendment to the 
rule is necessary. Nevertheless, today's preamble 
should serve as the clarification requested; that 
the rule applies only to vehicles manufactured for 
sale in the United States. 

Carry-Forward/Carry-Back 

A number of petitioners urged the agency to pro- 
vide manufacturers more flexibility in meeting the 
phase-in requirements. They proposed that 



PART 571 ; S208-PRE 263 



manufacturers be able to carry -forward credits for 
the number of automatic-restraint equipped ve- 
hicles they produce in excess of the required per- 
centage. One petitioner also asked that manufac- 
turers be permitted to carry -back credits earned in 
the second and third year to the first year. 

The agency agrees that it would be appropriate 
to permit manufacturers that exceed the minimum 
percentage phase-in requirements in earlier years 
to count those extra vehicles toward meeting the 
minimum percentage requirements of later years 
and has proposed such a carry-forward credit in 
Notice 38. Such a credit would encourage early in- 
troduction of larger numbers of automatic re- 
straints and provide increased safety to the public 
and flexibility for manufacturers. The agency has 
decided to deny requests for any carry -back credits 
because their use would delay the safety benefits of 
the rule and undermine the purpose of the phase- 
in, which is to introduce automatic restraints on a 
prompt and orderly basis. 
Definition of Manufacturer 

Several petitioners asked the agency to further 
define the term "manufacturer." The agency has 
responded to this request in Notice 38 by proposing 
to permit manufacturers to determine, by contract, 
which of them will count passenger cars as its own 
for the purposes of meeting the percentage goals 
set forth in the phase-in. Notice 38 proposes two 
rules of attribution in the absence of such a con- 
tract. First, a passenger car which is imported for 
purposes of resale would be attributed to the im- 
porter. Second, a passenger car manufactured in 
the United States by more than one manufacturer, 
one of which also markets the vehicle, would be at- 
tributed to the manufacturer which markets the 
vehicle. Readers are referred to Notice 38 for a 
more detailed discussion of the proposed attribu- 
tion rules. 
Credits for Non-Belt Technology 

The July 11 final rule provided that manufac- 
turers that used non-belt technology, such as air 
bags or passive interiors, to meet the automatic re- 
straint requirement for the driver's seating posi- 
tion and any type of automatic restraint at the pas- 
senger's seating position during the phase-in per- 
iod, would receive additional credit. For each car in 
which they use a non-belt system, they will receive 
credit for an extra one-half car toward meeting 
their percentage requirement. One petitioner said 
that the text of the rule does not achieve the agen- 
cy's intention, as stated in the July 1984 final rule, 
to encourage the use of automatic restraints other 



than automatic belts, since the rule precludes giv- 
ing the additional credit for a system that requires 
the use of a safety belt, whether automatic or man- 
ual, to enable the non-belt technology to provide 
full protection. That petitioner pointed out that all 
current air bag systems must also use safety belts 
for full protection; belts are permitted by the stan- 
dard to be used as an alternative to the use of auto- 
matic restraints to meet the lateral and rollover 
tests. It was not the agency's intention to deny the 
extra credits to air bag or other systems that also 
use such safety belt systems to ensure protection in 
other than frontal crashes. Therefore, the agency 
is amending the rule to ensure that those systems 
are eligible for the additional credit. 

The agency was also petitioned for another modi- 
fication to the credit provision. It was asked that 
manufacturers be allowed, during the phase-in, to 
receive a one vehicle credit for vehicles which are 
equipped with non-belt technology at the driver's 
position and manual safety belts at the front out- 
board position. The petitioner argued that this 
would encourage manufacturers to produce driver- 
side air bag systems or other non-belt system tech- 
nology sooner than if they had to complete develop- 
ment of passenger-side automatic restraint sys- 
tems as well, significantly advancing the Secre- 
tary's goal in this regard. 

The agency has decided to modify the credit pro- 
vision as requested by the petitioners. The purpose 
of the phase-in period is to provide a rapid intro- 
duction of the lifesaving benefits of automatic 
restraints and to facilitate the earliest possible in- 
troduction of such restraints to permit the public to 
become familiar with their operation and benefits. 
The purpose of the credit provision is to encourage 
the production of a wide variety of such restraints 
especially in the early years. The agency believes 
that permitting manufacturers to receive a 1.0 car 
credit for driver-only non-belt systems with man- 
ual belts on the passenger side will encourage the 
introduction of non-belt technologies into passen- 
ger cars, earlier than would otherwise occiu*. 

The agency is aware that one company is cur- 
rently offering driver-side air bags to the public. 
Other manufacturers have indicated that they 
may offer driver-side air bags to the public within 
the next few years. The agency is aware neither of 
any manufacturers that currently plan to offer a 
passenger-side air bag system nor of any firm 
plans for other types of non-belt automatic protec- 
tion on the passenger side of vehicles. The longer 
lead time estimated in the Final Rule to be re- 



PART 571; S208-PRE 264 



quired for non-belt automatic protection on the 
passenger side, coupled with the advanced stage of 
design of vehicles that will be available at the ear- 
ly stage of the phase-in period, mitigates against 
such full-front non-belt protection being available. 
Increasing public awareness of the benefits of a 
variety of automatic protection techniques is one of 
the primary objectives of the phase-in and credit 
provisions. Achieving this objective will depend, 
therefore, on the availability of an adequate num- 
ber of cars equipped with non-belt protection of the 
driver's side. We now believe that there are a 
number of factors that might discourage manufac- 
turers from making such equipment available in 
significant numbers. 

Under the current rule, cars equipped with non- 
belt driver's-side automatic protection would qual- 
ify for credit only if passive protection were made 
available on the passenger side. As noted above, 
such protection is most likely to be provided by au- 
tomatic belts. Some models in which driver's-side 
air bags are being considered by manufacturers, 
however, are at an advanced stage of design. It is 
unlikely the redesign required to equip these cars 
with automatic belts will be undertaken. Even if 
these cars could be modified to incorporate auto- 
matic belts, manufacturers would be faced with a 
complex, and expensive, marketing task. Not only 
would they have to convince customers of the safe- 
ty and utility of automatic belts, but they must 
also perform this task for the more expensive air 
bag. Unwillingness on the part of manufacturers 
to assume this added task may create a serious 
disincentive to the prompt offering of air bag 
technology. 

Alternatively, these manufacturers considering 
driver-side air bags might also elect to meet phase- 
in requirements by producing a sufficient number 
of automatic belt equipped cars. Under these cir- 
cumstances, it is likely that the marketing efforts 
of the manufacturers during the phase-in will con- 
centrate on marketing the automatic belts, pos- 
sibly to the detriment of the public's acceptance of 
the driver-side air bags. As the agency learned in 
recent research studying the marketing efforts 
used by General Motors to sell its air bag equipped 
cars in the mid-1970's effective, affirmative 
marketing of an air bag system is essential to over- 
come consumer concerns about such things as the 
fear of inadvertent deployment, price and post- 
crash replacement cost. ("A Retrospective An- 
alysis of the General Motors Air Cushion Restraint 
System Marketing Effort, 1974 to 1976") If cars 



equipped with driver-only air bags do not count to- 
ward compliance with the phase-in, the manufac- 
turers will have less incentive to market the air 
bags aggressively, and these circumstances may 
even lead to decisions to drop the early offering of 
air bags. The agency's goal of encouraging signifi- 
cant public exposure to alternative protection tech- 
nologies may not be realized. Therefore, the agen- 
cy has determined that permitting manufacturers 
to receive a 1.0 car credit during the phase-in by 
installing driver-only non-belt automatic protec- 
tion systems m their vehicles will encourage 
earlier introduction of alternative automatic pro- 
tection technologies, wider public availability of 
such technologies, and more effective marketing of 
such technologies than would be achieved by the 
original decision. The final rule is amended to per- 
mit such vehicles to be counted toward the phase- 
in requirements. 

The agency has fully considered the safety im- 
plication of this amendment. An important safety 
consideration is the number of occupants at the 
risk of injury at each seating position, not just the 
number of seating positions that are covered by the 
automatic restraint requirement. Accident data, 
presented in the agency's Final Regulatory Impact 
Analysis, show that there are approximately 2 1/2 
to 3 times as many driver injuries and fatalities as 
there are to front right seat passengers. Therefore, 
the agency believes that it is reasonable to encour- 
age manufacturers to provide automatic restraint 
protection as soon as possible to the driver— the 
person who is most at risk. 

Convertibles 

Several petitioners asked that convertibles be ex- 
empted from the automatic restraint require- 
ments. They argued, for example, that the installa- 
tion of automatic lap and shoulder belts is not fea- 
sible in convertibles, thus air bag systems must be 
used in those cars. The result, according to the pe- 
titioners, is a design standard for convertibles. 
They also stated that an exemption would be ap- 
propriate since convertibles are already exempt 
from the requirement in Standard No. 208 that all 
front outboard seating positions have lap and 
shoulder belts. The agency has already responded 
to these petitions in Notice 38 by proposing that 
manufacturers have the option of installing man- 
ual lap belts instead of automatic restraints in con- 
vertibles. Readers are referred to Notice 38 for a 
more detailed discussion of the petitions and the 
reasons for the agency's proposed alternative re- 
quirements for convertibles. 



PART 571; S208-PRE 265 



Oblique Crash Test 

A number of petitioners requested the agency to 
delete the oblique barrier crash test of Standard 
No. 208. They argued, among other things, that 
the test is unnecessary since it generates a lower 
crash pulse than the frontal crash test. As dis- 
cussed in detail in Notice 38, the agency is also 
concerned that the oblique test may not be neces- 
sary and has therefore requested commenters to 
provide additional data on the safety and cost ef- 
fects of deleting the tests. Readers are referred to 
Notice 38 for a more detailed discussion of the 
issues involved in the proposed deletion of the 
oblique test. 

Lead Time 

One petitioner requested a change in the two 
year lead time for the automatic restraint stan- 
dard. Citing the table on lead time requirements 
included with the July 11 final rule, the petitioner 
argued that only one manufacturer, Renault, has 
said that it can comply in 24 months. The table 
showed that most companies have said they need- 
ed at least 30 to 48 months. The petitioner asked 
for the lead time to be extended. 

The table cited by the petitioner reflects the lead 
time required by a manufacturer to equip its entire 
fleet with automatic restraints. The agency agrees 
that a longer lead time would be necessary if the 
automatic restraint requirement were simultane- 
ously applied to the entire vehicle fleet. The final 
rule, however, phases-in the automatic restraint 
requirement so that only a portion of a manufac- 
turer's fleet must be equipped initially. Based on a 
study of current automatic restraint equipped ve- 
hicles and manufacturers' comments, the agency 
has determined that automatic belt systems can be 
added on to existing vehicle designs with approxi- 
mately 24 months of lead time. The manufacturers 
generally agree with that estimate. For example, 
GM said that lead time for models for which de- 
tachable belts had previously been designed would 
be 21 months and Ford said that a driver-side air 
bag system could be in production for some of its 
cars within the allotted lead time. The Agency 
therefore does not believe that additional lead time 
is necessary for the percentage requirements dur- 
ing the phase-in period and the petition is denied. 

ALA raised a separate lead time issue. It said 
that the July 1984 final rule identified a number of 
issues, primarily related to test procedures, that 
would be the subject of further rulemaking. AIA 



argued that the implementation schedule for auto- 
matic restraints should not begin until those is- 
sues are resolved. Any changes due to the unre- 
solved issues are not expected to increase lead time 
and, indeed, should relieve some burdens associ- 
ated with preparing for compliance. At this time, 
the agency believes that the resolution of the re- 
maining issues, which does not involve the imposi- 
tion of more stringent performance requirements, 
should be accomplished shortly and therefore is 
denying AIA's petition. 



Repeatability 

One petitioner raised arguments about the re- 
peatability of the test procedures used in Standard 
No. 208 compliance testing. The petitioner's funda- 
mental argument is that the agency's Repeatabili- 
ty Test Program found what the petitioner says is 
an unacceptable level of variability in the test re- 
sults and thus, the petitioner argues, the agency 
has failed to demonstrate that the test procedures 
can be reproduced, car-to-car and test site-to-test 
site. The petitioner noted that for a manufacturer 
to certify its vehicles, it must meet maximum 
limits for each of eight separate requirements: HIC 
for driver and passenger dummy heads, "g" loads 
for driver and passenger chests; and femur loads 
for each dummy's right and left leg. Because of the 
test variability, the petitioner said that it cannot 
confidently predict that its vehicles will comply 
with the standard. It urged the agency to develop 
an alternative method of determining compliance 
with the standard. 

The petitioner did not, however, provide any new 
data which demonstrate that the crash test proce- 
dures and the test dummy pose significant repeat- 
ability problems. More importantly, the petition 
er did not provide new data indicating that the test 
procedure and the dummy are incapable of 
measuring compliance with Standard No. 208. 

The agency believes that the test procedure, test 
dummy, and test instrumentation are repeatable 
within the statutory requirements of objectivity 
and practicability. The agency does recognize that 
because of the complexity of the requirements of 
Standard No. 208, manufacturers are concerned 
about certifying compliance with each of the re- 
quirements of the standard. To address this con- 
cern, the agency has proposed in Notice 38 that the 
rule be amended to state that a vehicle shall not be 
deemed in noncompliance if its manufacturer es- 
tablishes that it did not have reason to know in the 



PART 571; S208-PRE 266 



exercise of due care that the vehicle is not incon- 
formity with the standard. 



by a MUL. The text of the final rule, requiring a 
MUL to cover all the front seating positions, is the 
correct version. 



Comfort and Convenience 
Several petitioners asked the agency to answer 
promptly the pending petitions for reconsideration 
of the comfort and convenience requirements of 
Standard No. 208. The agency has already issued a 
separate notice (Docket 74-14, Notice 37; 50 FR 
14580) proposing changes to the comfort and con- 
venience requirements in response to the petitions 
for reconsideration. Readers are referred to that 
notice for a detailed discussion of the proposed 
revisions. 



Judicial Review 
One petitioner asked the agency to clarify the ex- 
tent to which a challenge to the legality of the final 
rule must be made now, rather than when the Se- 
cretary makes a determination that two-thirds of 
the U.S. population is covered by a mandatory belt 
use law. The reviewability of the final rule and any 
subsequent agency action is a matter for the 
courts, not the agency, to decide. 



Mandatory Seat Belt Use Law Criteria 
A number of petitioners sought reconsideration of 
the minimum criteria for mandatory safety belt 
use laws. The agency is still considering the issues 
raised in those petitions and will respond to them 
at a later date. 



Corrections 

MVMA pointed out two minor errors in the text 
of the final rule. First, in section 4.1.2 of the rule, 
the word "before" should be used instead of the 
word "after." Likewise in section 4.1.2.2(b), the 
word "outboard" is misspelled. Both of those errors 
are corrected by this notice. 

In addition, the agency wants to clarify a conflict 
between the preamble to the MUL provisions of 
the final rule and the text of the final rule's 
provisions on MULs. The preamble to the rule 
stated that one of the minimum criteria for a MUL 
was that each front outboard occupant of a passen- 
ger car be required to wear a safety belt. The text 
of the final rule provides that each front seat occu- 
pant, which would include the outboard and the 
center seating positions, would have to be covered 



Cost and Benefits 
NHTSA has examined the impact of this rule- 
making action and determined that it is not major 
within the meaning of Executive Order 12291 or 
significant within the meaning of the Department 
of Transportation's regulatory policies and pro- 
cedures. A Preliminary Regulatory Evaluation has 
been prepared on the changes proposed in Notice 
38 and discussed in this notice. A copy of that eval- 
uation is available for public inspection and copy- 
ing in the agency's docket section. The agency has 
determined that the economic and other effects of 
the rulemaking action in this notice are so mini- 
mal that a full regulatory evaluation is not re- 
quired. The changes adopted in this action concern 
minor adjustments to the phase-in requirements, 
which will give manufacturers more flexibility 
without imposing any economic costs. 

Regulatory Flexibility Act 

NHTSA has also considered the effects of this 
rulemaking action under the Regulatory Flexibili- 
ty Act. I hereby certify that it will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities. Accordingly, the agency 
has not prepared a regulatory flexibility analysis. 

Few if any motor vehicle manufacturers would 
qualify as small entities. The suppliers of webbing 
and other manual or automatic restraint compon- 
ents will not likely be significantly affected, since 
this notice is not making a change in the perfor- 
mance requirements of the standard. Small organ- 
izations and governmental units will not be signifi- 
cantly affected since there are no price increases 
associated with this action. 

In consideration of the foregoing, Part 571.208, 
Occupant Crash Protection, of Title 49 of the Code 
of Federal Regulations is amended as follows: 

1. Section 4.1.3.4 is revised to read as follows: 

S4. 1.3.4 For the purposes of calculating the 
numbers of cars manufactured under S4. 1.3. 1.2, 
S4.1.3.2.2, or S4. 1.3.3.2 to comply with S4. 1.2.1: 

(a) Each car whose driver's seating position will 
comply with the requirements of S4. 1.2. 1(a) by 
means not including any type of seat belt and 
whose front right seating position will comply with 
the requirements of S4. 1.2. 1(a) is counted as 1.5 
vehicles. 



PART 571; S208-PRE 267 



fb) Each car whose driver's seating position will 3. Section 4.1.2.2(b) is revised to change the word 
comply with the requirements of S4. 1.2. 1(a) by "outbord" to the word "outboard." 
means not including any type of seat belt and 

whose front right seating position is equipped with Issued on August 27, 1985 

a Type 2 seat belt is counted as a vehicle conform- 
ing to S4. 1.2.1. 

2. The first sentence of section 4.1.2 is revised to Diane K. Steed 

read as follows: Administrator 

Each passenger car manufactured on or after 

September 1, 1973, and before September 1, 1986, 50 FR 35233 

shall meet the requirements of S4. 1.2.1, S4.1.2.2 or August 30, 1985 
S4.1.2.3. 



PART 571; S208-PRE 268 



PREAMBLE TO AN AMENDMENT TO 
FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208 

Improvement of Seat Belt Assemblies 
[Docket No. 74-14; Notice 42] 



ACTION: Final rule 

SUMMARY: On April 12, 1985, NHTSA issued 
a notice proposing modifications to certain aspects 
of the comfort and convenience performance re- 
quirements in Standard No. 208, Occupant Crash 
Protection. The agency's purpose was to clarify the 
intent of the requirements and to address the con- 
cerns raised in petitions for reconsideration re- 
ceived from seven vehicle manufacturers regard- 
ing the final rule on comfort and convenience 
issued on January 8, 1981. This notice sets com- 
fort and convenience performance requirements for 
both manual and automatic safety belt assemblies 
installed in motor vehicles with a Gross Vehicle 
Weight Rating of 10,000 pounds or less. The April 
12, 1985, notice also proposed to change the effec- 
tive date of the comfort and convenience re- 
quirements. A final rule setting the effective date 
as September 1, 1986, was issued on August 23, 
1985. 

EFFECTIVE DATE: September 1, 1986. 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On Jan 

uary 8, 1981 (46 FR 2064), NHTSA amended Safety 
Standard No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection (49 
CFR 571.208), to specify additional performance re- 
quirements to promote the comfort and conven- 
ience of both manual and automatic safety belt 
systems installed in motor vehicles with a GVWR 
of 10,000 pounds or less. The final rule included 
specifications relating to the following aspects of 
safety belt performance and design: latchplate ac- 
cessibility; safety belt guides; adjustable buckles 
for certain belts; shoulder belt pressure; conven- 
ience hooks; belt retraction; and comfort devices. 
Type 2 manual belts (lap and shoulder combina- 



tion belts) installed in front seating positions in 
passenger cars were excepted from these additional 
performance requirements, since it was assumed 
such belts would be phased out in passenger cars 
as the automatic restraint requirements of Stan- 
dard No. 208 became effective. 

Seven petitions for reconsideration of the 
January 8, 1981, amendment were received from 
vehicle manufacturers. On February 18, 1982 (47 
FR 7254), the agency issued a partial response to 
the petitions for reconsideration by extending the 
effective date of the comfort and convenience re- 
quirements for one year, from September 1, 1982, 
to September 1, 1983. Subsequently, the agency 
proposed (47 FR 51432) and then adopted (48 FR 
24717) a further extension of the effective date for 
the requirements until September 1, 1985. 

The April 12, 1985 (50 FR 14580), notice proposed 
to delay the effective date until September 1, 1986, 
in order to give the industry sufficient leadtime to 
meet the proposed changes in the rule. A final rule 
delaying the effective date to September 1, 1986, 
was issued on August 23, 1985 (50 FR 34152). 

As discussed in the April 12, 1985, notice, the 
agency continues to believe that certain of the per- 
formance requirements included in the final rule 
will tend to enhance safety belt use by providing 
occupants with safety belts which are more com- 
fortable to wear and more convenient to use. The 
requirements in this final rule are important to 
support the agency's program to increase safety 
belt use in the United States. 

This rule makes minor changes to the modifica- 
tions proposed in April 1985 in response to con- 
cerns raised by the commenters. A discussion of 
these changes is set forth below. (For a complete 
understanding of the performance requirements 
discussed in this notice, including the relationship 



PART 571; S208-PRE 269 



of the requirements to safety belt comfort and con- 
venience, interested persons should refer to both 
the December 31, 1979 (44 FR 77210), notice of pro- 
posed rulemaking and the January 8, 1981 (46 FR 
2064), final rule). 

Application to Manual Lap/Shoulder Belts in Pas- 
senger Cars 

The January 1981 final rule exempted manual 
Type 2 safety belts installed in the front seats of 
passenger cars from the comfort and convenience 
requirements. This was done to allow manufac- 
turers to devote their resources to automatic 
restraints in these vehicles since Type 2 manual 
belts in the front seats would have been phased out 
when the automatic restraint requirements 
became effective. However, the subsequent July 
1984 (49 FR 28962) final rule mandating automatic 
restraints specifies that if States representing two- 
thirds or more of the nation's population enact 
qualifying mandatory safety belt usage laws before 
April 1, 1989, the requirement for automatic pro- 
tection will no longer apply. The April 1985 notice 
proposed that, in the event that this occurs, the 
comfort and convenience requirements would be 
extended to Type 2 manual belts installed in the 
front seats of passenger cars, effective September 
1, 1989. 

Two domestic manufacturers objected to the ex- 
tension of the comfort and convenience re- 
quirements to manual Type 2 safety belts in front 
outboard seating positions of passenger cars until 
a decision has been made in 1989 regarding the 
future of automatic restraints. They stated that 
there is no justification for setting such a require- 
ment now, which could cause manufacturers to in- 
cur design and tooling costs, because manual belts 
could be phased out in 1989 if an insufficient 
number of States pass qualifying mandatory safety 
belt use laws. 

The September 1, 1989, effective date provides 
a leadtime of four years to comply with the com- 
fort and convenience requirements for Tj^e 2 front 
seat manual belts in passenger cars. The agency 
is therefore adopting the proposed September 1, 
1989, effective date for Type 2 front seat manual 
belts in passenger cars if the automatic restraint 
requirement is rescinded. 

The agency recognizes that the possibility exists 
that the industry will have to discontinue manual 
belts after 1989 if the automatic restraint require- 
ment for all cars becomes effective. However, the 



agency believes that comfort and convenience 
technology developed for automatic belts and for 
Type 2 manual belts in light trucks and multipur- 
pose passenger vehicles (MPV's) should be 
transferable to passenger cars with a minimum of 
design and tooling cost with a four -year leadtime. 
The agency notes that a large number of passenger 
cars will have been manufactured with manual 
belts between 1986 and 1989, and the agency 
believes it is desirable, from a safety standpoint, 
to have the front outboard seating positions of 
these cars incorporate comfort and convenience 
features which will contribute to increased belt 
usage. The agency therefore encourages manufac- 
turers to begin voluntarily incorporating comfort 
and convenience features in their Type 2 front seat 
manual belts. Since the technology is available, the 
cost to incorporate these features should be 
minimal, especially if they are made part of the 
design process for newly introduced vehicles. 

Emergency Locking Retractors (ELR) and Child 
Restraints 

Paragraph 37. 1.1.3 of Standard No. 208 was 
amended in the January 1981 final rule to specify 
that certain lap belts installed at front outboard 
seating positions are required to have an 
emergency-locking retractor rather than an 
automatic-locking retractor (which was previously 
allowed as an option). Some manufacturers also in- 
corporate emergency-locking retractors in rear 
seats as well. Automatic-locking retractors are in- 
convenient to use since they must be extended in 
a single continuous movement to a length suffi- 
cient to allow buckling or they will lock. They also 
tend to tighten excessively under normal driving 
conditions, sometimes making it necessary to un- 
buckle and refasten the lap belt to relieve pressure 
on the pelvis and abdomen. Neither of these prob- 
lems exists with the emergency-locking retractor, 
which allows occupant movement without tighten- 
ing and which locks only upon rapid occupant 
movement, vehicle deceleration or impact. 

The April 12, 1985, notice proposed a revised ver- 
sion of this requirement. The proposed revision 
reflected the agency's tentative judgment that use 
of child restraints in the front outboard passenger 
position with a lap belt equipped with an 
emergency-locking retractor could result in the 
child restraint moving forward during normal, low- 
speed driving and braking, or pre-crash vehicle 
maneuvering or braking. (At higher speeds or upon 



PART 571; S208-PRE 270 



impact, the locking mechanism in existing belt 
designs would work to restrain the child seat ap- 
propriately.) Therefore, the agency proposed that 
Type 1 safety belts or the lap belt portion of Type 
2 belts with emergency-locking retractors, used in 
any designated seating position other than the 
driver's position, be equipped with a locking means 
to prevent forward motion of child restraint 
devices. 

A majority of vehicle manufacturers objected to 
this proposal. The main arguments they raised 
were: ( 1 ) the locking means could degrade the per- 
formance of the belt system for adult passengers; 
(2) the proposed language would exclude alter- 
native designs, such as owner-installed "locking 
clips," which could serve the same purpose; (3) the 
requirement would not be cost effective, because 
not all vehicle .owners need a locking means to 
secure a child restraint system in the front seat; 
and (4) the proposed effective date for the require- 
ment, September 1, 1986, does not provide suffi- 
cient design and development time for compliance. 
They also argued that, if this requirement is main- 
tained, it should be delayed until the agency 
decides whether it will require dynamic testing of 
manual safety belts. 

Two manufacturers of child restraint devices and 
a child passenger safety association supported the 
proposed amendment. They stated that the ap- 
proach cited in the proposal would solve potential 
problems relating to child seats and ELR's, and 
would eliminate the need to devise what they 
termed makeshift solutions. 

Child restraint manufacturers stated that some 
restraint devices, when positioned by safety belt 
systems which are adjusted by ELR's, become 
unstable when occupied by very active children. 
Agency testing of child restraint devices under con- 
ditions of low-speed braking and vehicle maneu- 
vers indicates that, although improvements in belt 
systems could improve the stability of these 
devices, there are no data to show that low-speed 
movement of child safety seats is affecting the 
safety performance of child restraint devices in 
motor vehicle accidents (Docket 80-18-GR-004). 

Because the agency's research did not show that 
low-speed movement of the seats is actually reduc- 
ing the effectiveness of child restraints in acci 
dents, and because after-market locking devices 
are available which achieve the same goal, it has 
decided not to adopt a manual locking requirement 
for ELR's at this time. The agency will continue 
to monitor the potential problems associated with 



the restraint of child restraint devices by ELR 
safety belt systems and consider whether to ad- 
dress these problems in future rulemaking actions. 

Additional ELR Issues 

Regarding S7.1.1.3, one manufacturer asked 
NHTSA to clarify whether an ELR located at the 
point of shoulder belt retraction on a Type 2 belt 
system, which combines the lap and torso belt in 
a continuous running loop, complies with the re- 
quirement. NHTSA confirms that a Type 2 con- 
tinuous belt system, which incorporates an ELR to 
control slack in the lap and torso belt portions, 
would comply with the requirement. 

Another manufacturer asked for clarification on 
the use of lap belts in passenger cars equipped with 
air bags versus those equipped with single 
automatic diagonal belts. The requirement of 
S7.1.L3 only applies to lap belts installed in a vehi- 
cle to comply with Standard No. 208. Thus, a lap 
belt installed in conjunction with an air bag, in 
order to meet the lateral and rollover requirements 
of S4.L1.2(cX2), would be required to have an 
emergency locking retractor. However, a Type 1 
lap belt voluntarily installed by a manufacturer in 
conjunction with a single diagonal automatic belt 
would not have to comply with the provisions of 
S7.L1.3, since the single diagonal automatic belt 
would fully meet the belt requirements of the stan- 
dard by itself. 

Open-Body Vehicles, MPV's, and ELR's 

One manufacturer stated that open-body vehicles 
should be exempted from the ELR requirement of 
S7.1.L3, because these vehicles are designed to per- 
form numerous off-road, heavy-duty tasks, and 
both the lap and upper torso portions of the belt 
system are subjected to design criteria far different 
from typical passenger car belt systems. In par- 
ticular, occupants may want the belts tightly 
fastened around them when the vehicle is used on 
rough terrain. The agency agrees that open-body 
vehicles do perform numerous off-road, heavy-duty 
tasks, but they are also commonly used in normal 
highway driving to perform the same functions as 
passenger cars, where tight belts may discourage 
belt use. Furthermore, belt systems are available 
for open-body vehicles as well as passenger cars, 
which can function as ELR's for the lap belt or lap 
belt portion of a combined lap and shoulder belt, 
and still be capable of being manually or 



PART 571; S208-PRE 271 



automatically locked by occupants when they want 
the belt to be tightly fastened around them. These 
systems can also provide tension relieving and ELR 
functions for the torso portion of a Type 2 belt 
system. 

Incorporating a single retractor, which can func- 
tion as either an ALR or an ELR, into a lap belt 
or the lap belt portion of a Type 2 belt for off-road 
use, would accommodate the desire of occupants to 
be tightly restrained when needed and would also 
provide a more comfortable belt when this is suffi- 
cient for normal operation of the vehicle. Such an 
ALR/ELR feature may be desirable in some 
vehicles and is currently available in some im- 
ported and sports cars. The agency estimates the 
cost to range from $1.00 to $5.00 per seating posi- 
tion. Alternatively, a locking D-ring in the lap belt, 
which enables users to snugly fasten the lap belt, 
could be provided for virtually no increase in cost 
to the consumer. For these reasons, the agency is 
not exempting open-body vehicles from the require- 
ment of S7. 1.1.3. 

Another manufacturer requested an exemption 
from the requirements of S7. 1.1. 3 for all multipur- 
pose passenger vehicles, stating with no supporting 
rationale that the ELR requirement is design 
restrictive. The agency does not believe that the 
ELR requirement is design restrictive for the 
reasons discussed above. In addition, multipurpose 
passenger vehicles provide the same functions as 
passenger cars. While some types may also be 
designed for heavy-duty, off-road use, the same 
rationale set out in the discussion of open-body 
vehicles applies to other multipurpose passenger 
vehicles. The agency concludes that multipurpose 
passenger vehicles should continue to be subject to 
the requirement of S7.1.1.3. 

Corrections 

Two technical corrections are made in this final 
rule relating to paragraph S7. 1.1.3. As proposed in 
the April 12, 1985, notice paragraph S7. 1.1.3(b) ex- 
empts manual Type 2 safety belts installed in the 
front outboard seating position of passenger cars. 
That exemption was inadvertently omitted from 
paragraph S7.4(b), which specifies requirements for 
passenger cars after September 1, 1986. Clarifying 
language is added to paragraph S7.4(b) in this final 
rule. 

The second technical change clarifies the 
agency's intent to require passenger cars, manufac- 
tured on or after September 1, 1989, to have ELR's 



for the lap belts or the lap portion of lap/shoulder 
belts used in the front outboard seating positions, 
if the automatic restraint requirement is rescinded. 
Paragraph S7. 1.1. 3(b) is revised to include the 
September 1, 1989, effective date for manual Type 
2 belts in the front outboard seats of passenger 
cars. 

Convenience Hooks for Automatic Belts 

Some automatic belt design plans include a 
manual "convenience hook" which enables oc- 
cupants manually to stow the belt webbing totally 
out of the way as they are about to exit the vehicle. 
Paragraph 87.4.1 was included in the January 
1981 final rule to ensure that such convenience 
hooks would not affect compliance with the 
automatic restraint requirements. Automatic belts 
installed for compliance with the injury criteria of 
FMVSS 208 must operate without requiring any 
manual procedures by the vehicle occupant. Thus, 
manual hooks could not be a necessary component 
to move or hold the belt webbing out of the occu- 
pant's way since this would defeat the automatic 
aspect of performance. Paragraph S7.4.1 currently 
provides that any such hook must automatically 
release the belt webbing prior to the car being 
driven. 

In response to comments in one petition for recon- 
sideration of the 1981 final rule, the April 1985 pro- 
posal contained revised language to make it clear 
that convenience hooks are intended to release the 
webbing only when the automatic belt is otherwise 
operational. One commenter objected to the revi- 
sion, stating that it would not promote the use of 
detachable automatic belts which have been 
disconnected. These objections appear to be based 
on a misunderstanding of the function of the con- 
venience hook. The convenience hook concept was 
developed to allow it to be used in conjunction with 
automatic belt systems which would be in the 
automatic operational mode. In this way, the con- 
venience hook could promote the use of detachable 
or nondetachable automatic belts, because the hook 
would facilitate entering or exiting the vehicle by 
the front seat occupants, who would then be less 
prone to detach or mutilate the belt system. 

The commenter apparently believed that the 
"stowage hook," which is used to stow the latch- 
plate of a disconnected, detachable belt, should also 
be covered by the requirement of S7.4.1. The 
stowage hook is not a convenience hook; nor is it 
subject to the provisions of S7.4.1. The commenter 's 



PART 571; S208-PRE 272 



suggestion that the "stowage hook" also release a 
disconnected detachable belt automatically could, 
in theory, increase usage, but it might also en- 
courage owners to damage the belt physically or 
remove it, thus making it unavailable to subse- 
quent owners and vehicle users. In the case of a 
disconnected automatic belt, the warning system 
would indicate to the vehicle occupants that the 
belt is disconnected and remind them to reconnect 
the belt. For these reasons, the agency denies the 
suggestion for automatic release of stowage hooks. 

Webbing Tension-Relieving Devices 

Some safety belt designs include devices intended 
to relieve shoulder belt pressure. These "window- 
shade" mechanisms or other tension-relieving 
devices increase the comfort of the belt, but may 
reduce the effectiveness of belts in a crash situa- 
tion if they are misused so as to introduce excessive 
slack in the belt webbing. The January 1981 final 
rule specified that any such tension-relieving 
devices may be used on automatic belt systems only 
if the system would comply with the injury criteria 
of the standard with the device adjusted to any 
possible position. (The notice of proposed rulemak- 
ing preceding that final rule would have banned 
tension-relieving devices outright.) The 1981 final 
rule was adopted in recognition of the fact that 
tension-relieving devices can improve belt fit and 
increase belt comfort in certain circumstances, and 
was intended to allow manufacturers somewhat 
wider latitude in designing automatic belts, but, 
as discussed below, would probably have had the 
effect of banning these devices. 

Several manufacturers objected to the wording 
of the January 1981 final rule on the basis that the 
belt system would have to meet the injury criteria 
even when the device had been misused to produce 
excessive slack in order, essentially, to defeat the 
system, even if such a usage was not intended by 
the manufacturer. 

In the April 1985 proposal, the agency proposed 
rewording this provision to require manufacturers 
to include instructions in their vehicle owner's 
manual concerning the proper use of any tension- 
relieving devices incorporated in their automatic 
belt systems. These instructions must state the 
maximum amount of slack that can safely be 
introduced and include a warning to vehicle oc- 
cupants that if excessive slack is introduced into 
the system, the protection offered by the belt 
system would be substantially reduced or even 



eliminated. The agency will test for compliance 
with the injury criteria by adjusting the belt within 
the slack levels recommended by the manufac- 
turer. With one exception, those manufacturers 
who commented on this proposal supported the 
revision to allow tension-relieving devices. 

However, one domestic manufacturer and a con- 
sumer group objected to the provision related to 
dynamic testing with the tension-relieving device 
adjusted to the manufacturer's recommended slack 
position. The manufacturer objected to a dynamic 
test that would require any slack at all to be in- 
troduced into the belt system, on the grounds that 
uncontrolled variability would be introduced into 
the dynamic test procedure, which would then lack 
objectivity. The manufacturer asserted that it 
might have to eliminate all tension-relieving 
devices for its safety belts. 

The agency's proposed test procedure was 
intended to accommodate the view that tension- 
relieving devices increase the comfort of belts 
while, at the same time, limiting the potential 
reduction in effectiveness for safety belt systems 
in which excessive slack is introduced. The agency 
does not agree that this test procedure would 
eliminate tension-relieving devices from the 
marketplace. As mentioned earlier, other manufac- 
turers supported the proposal and did not indicate 
they would have to remove tension-relieving 
devices from their belt systems. This commenter 
did not show that injury levels cannot be controlled 
within the specified injury criteria by testing at the 
recommended slack adjustment, as determined by 
the manufacturer. The recommended slack could 
be between zero and any level selected by the 
manufacturer as appropriate to relieve belt 
pressure without being unsafe. As a practical mat- 
ter, most tension relievers automatically introduce 
some slack into the belt for all occupants. Testing 
without such slack would be unrealistic. 

The same commenter objected to the requirement 
that belt slack be cancelled each time the vehicle 
door is opened and the buckle is released, because 
this requirement would encourage occupants to 
disconnect automatic belts. In addition, this com- 
menter stated that the requirement is inconsistent 
with non-detachable, automatic belts and re- 
quested that the belt slack be required to be 
cancelled each time the door is opened whether or 
not the buckle is released. The agency believes this 
request has merit and has revised the requirement 
to reflect this change. 



PART 571; S208-PRE 273 



The consumer group objected to the proposal for 
automatic belt systems using tension-relieving 
devices to meet the injury criteria with only the 
specified amount of slack recommended in the 
owner's manual. They stated that most owners 
would not read the instructions in the owner's 
manual regarding the proper use of the tension- 
relieving device. It said an occupant could have a 
false sense of adequate restraint when wearing an 
automatic belt system adjusted beyond the recom- 
mended limit. 

The agency's views on allowing the use of ten- 
sion relievers in automatic safety belts were 
detailed in the April 1985 notice. The agency 
specifically noted the effectiveness of a safety belt 
system could be compromised if excessive slack 
were introduced into the belt. However, the agency 
recognizes that a belt system must be used to be 
effective at all. Allowing manufacturers to install 
tension-relieving devices makes it possible for an 
occupant to introduce a small amount of slack to 
relieve shoulder belt pressure or to get the belt 
away from the neck. As a result, safety belt use is 
promoted. This factor could outweigh any loss in 
effectiveness due to the introduction of a recom- 
mended amount of slack in normal use. This is par- 
ticularly likely in light of the requirement that the 
belt system, so adjusted, must meet the injury 
criteria of Standard No. 208 under 30 mph test con- 
ditions. Further, the inadvertent introduction of 
slack into a belt system, which is beyond that for 
normal use, is unlikely in most current systems. 
In addition, even if too much slack is introduced, 
the occupant should notice that excessive slack is 
present and a correction is needed, regardless of 
whether he or she has read the vehicle owner's 
manual. 

Torso Belt Body Contact Force 

NHTSA research indicates that a substantial 
number, approximately 60 percent, of occupants 
are likely to complain about belt pressure if the 
torso belt net contact force on an occupant is 
gi-eater than 0.7 pound (DOT HS-805 597). 
Therefore, the January 8, 1981, final rule specified 
that the torso portion of any manual or automatic 
belt system shall not create a contact pressure ex- 
ceeding that of a belt with a total net contact force 
of 0.7 pound. Most of the petitions for reconsidera- 
tion objected to this requirement, but gave no new 
reasons which would cause the agency to reverse 
its prior decision on this issue. 



The April 1985 proposal contained a revised 
S7.4.2 which retained the 0.7-pound contact force 
requirement and proposed applying the require- 
ment to tension relievers. Several commenters ob- 
jected to the requirement that automatic belt 
systems with tension-relieving devices must meet 
the 0.7-pound contact force limit when the tension 
reliever is deactivated. Both domestic and foreign 
manufacturers questioned whether imposing this 
contact force requirement on belt systems with ten- 
sion relievers would advance safety, because the 
belt contact force requirement could result in in- 
sufficient force to retract webbing reliably in some 
systems. 

The agency has decided to exempt safety belt 
systems incorporating tension-relieving devices, 
such as window-shade devices, which can com- 
pletely relieve belt tension, from the 0.7-pound tor- 
so belt contact force requirement. The agency is 
still concerned that some occupants may introduce 
belt slack, who otherwise would not, in a belt 
system incorporating a tension-reliever, if the belt 
force exceeds 0.7 pound. However, the agency does 
not want compliance with the body contact force 
requirement to limit manufacturers' design 
flexibility in meeting the retraction and other 
requirements in the rule. 

The 0.7-pound contact force limit is retained for 
belt systems without tension-relieving devices, 
which have either a constant or variable force. The 
tension in these belt systems cannot be completely 
removed, as it can in a belt system incorporating 
a window-shade or other type of tension reliever. 
Therefore, the agency believes it is important to 
limit belt contact force in those systems to promote 
belt usage. 

One manufacturer requested that the 0.7-pound 
contact force level be increased to ensure belt 
retraction. Another manufacturer stated that oc- 
cupants of open-body vehicles may prefer to have 
the secure feeling of the upper torso belt webbing 
tight against their chests, i.e., a force greater than 
0.7 pound. The company asked that open-body 
vehicles be excluded from the 0.7-pound limit. As 
previously noted, manufacturers may use an 
ALR/ELR belt system or other means to allow oc- 
cupants to have belts with a tight fit. In addition, 
the agency believes that such an exclusion, or an 
increase in the 0.7-pound contact force level, is un- 
necessary with the modification of S7.4.3 to allow 
tension-relieving devices in lieu of meeting the 
0.7-pound force requirement. Both manufacturers 
will have the option of meeting this requirement 



PART 571; S208-PRE 274 



by installing a tension-relieving device in a belt 
system with a contact force of more than 0.7 pound. 
One commenter stated that the standard should 
be revised to specify requirements for manual belts 
with tension-relieving devices. The agency did pro- 
pose requirements for these manual belts in Notice 
38, in conjunction with the dynamic tests for 
manual belts. If the agency does adopt a dynamic 
test requirement for manual belts, the provision 
on tension-relievers for manual belts would be ex- 
pected to be identical to those for automatic belts. 

Belt Contact Test Procedures 

The April 1985 NPRM proposed that the test 
dummy be unclothed during the belt contact force 
test to avoid drag produced by clothing. The agency 
was concerned that such drag could cause un- 
wanted deviations in the measurement of belt con- 
tact force, as specified in S10.6. Three commenters 
supported the change to remove the dummy 
clothing for the test. However, two other com- 
menters stated that test variability would be 
greater with the test dummy's clothes removed 
based on the variability of skin friction due to 
changes in test temperature and humidity. They 
also said that a clothed dummy would more close- 
ly represent real world conditions. After considera- 
tion of the comments, NHTSA agrees that the 
clothed test dummy would more closely represent 
real world conditions. The agency has therefore 
revised the rule to require testing on a clothed test 
dummy, using the clothing specified in Part 572. 

Two commenters asked that the test for belt con- 
tact force set maximum limits for belt release 
speed. The agency believes that adding a belt 
release speed requirement would add an un- 
necessary complication to the test without pro- 
viding any significant improvement in controlling 
repeatability. 

Several commenters correctly pointed out that 
the proposed text for S7.4.3 should reference the 
test procedure of S10.6 instead of S10.8. This notice 
adopts that correction. 

Latchplate Accessibility 

One of the most inconvenient aspects of using 
many current manual saifety belt designs is the dif- 
ficulty that a seated occupant has in reaching back 
to grasp the belt latchplate when the belt is un- 
buckled and in its retracted position. The greater 
the difficulty in reaching the latchplate to buckle 



the belt, the more likely the occupant will be 
discouraged from using the belt. 

Paragraph S7.4.4 of the January 1981 final rule 
specified requirements to define limits on the 
distances an occupant has to reach for latchplates 
and to prescribe minimum clearances for arm and 
hand access. The latter requirement was specified 
in terms of a test block which must be able to move 
to the latchplate unhindered. The April 12, 1985, 
proposal contained a revision in the dimensions of 
the test block, reducing it from 3x4x 12 inches to 
2'/ix4x8 inches. 

Two manufacturers requested a test procedure 
revision which would provide for seat cushion 
deflection in determining access to a latchplate 
with the test block shown in Figure 4. One sug- 
gested that force applied to the test block, not to 
exceed a certain limit, should be used to allow for 
seat cushion deflection. The other stated that the 
requirement should be deleted until such time as 
a test device that simulates the human hand can 
be developed to address seat cushion deflection. 

The agency believes that reducing the size of the 
test block is simpler than developing an objective 
method for measuring and limiting seat cushion 
deflection. The agency also believes that the test 
block with its new dimensions, which are based on 
hand length and thickness dimensions referenced 
by the Society of Automotive Engineers, is suffi- 
ciently representative of the human hand. 
Therefore, the agency is adopting the new test 
block in the test procedure. 

One manufacturer stated that Figure 3 in Stan- 
dard No. 208, which gives the location of the reach 
strings for the latchplate accessibility test, does not 
state whether the view of the dummy is intended 
to depict the dummy being tested on the left or 
right side of the vehicle. Therefore, the implication 
is that the outboard reach string is always located 
on the right side of the dummy, according to the 
manufacturer. The view in Figure 3 is meant to 
depict the dummy being tested on the right side 
of the vehicle. The agency would use the string 
placements in Figure 3 to perform an accessibility 
test for the right front outboard passenger seating 
position, because the outboard reach string is 
located on the right side of the test dummy. This 
string would be reversed for the driver position, 
because the outboard side would be located on the 
left side of the dummy with the dummy facing for- 
ward. The string in Figure 3 is labeled "outboard" 
and the agency believes this explanation is suffi- 
cient without changing Figure 3. 



PART 571; S208-PRE 275 



Several manufacturers stated that a latchplate 
accessibility test using the test block representing 
a human hand to check the clearance between the 
arm rest and seat cushion should not be necessary, 
if the belt system is designed so that the latchplate 
is retained in an accessible area. For example, one 
manufacturer said that it uses a sliding plastic bar 
on its belt webbing which positions the latchplate 
in an accessible area near the upper torso an- 
chorage point. The manufacturer said that the 
plastic bar prevents the latchplate from sliding 
down the webbing to a position under the arm rest 
or between the seat and side of the vehicle. The 
manufacturer said that it could also use a fixed 
plastic button to retain the latchplate near the up- 
per torso anchorage. The agency agrees that if a 
latchplate is permanently retained in an accessi- 
ble area, reachable by the test block, there is no 
need to conduct a clearance test between the arm 
rest and seat cushion. 

The purpose of the latchplate accessibility re- 
quirement is to address designs in which the latch- 
plate can freely move on the belt webbing. In those 
cases, the latchplate may initially be located in an 
accessible area, but the design of the belt may per- 
mit the latchplate to slide along the webbing into 
the area between the seat cushion and the door in- 
terior, or below the door arm rest when the belt is 
retracted. If this situation is likely to occur in nor- 
mal use with any regularity, such a belt system 
would be required to comply with the test for 
accessibility at the point where the latchplate nor- 
mally slides along the webbing into the area be- 
tween the seat cushion and the door interior, or 
below the door arm rest. The agency believes that 
the addition of language stating that access to the 
latchplate should be tested with the latchplate in 
its "normally stowed position" to the requirement 
should clarify this requirement. If the belt system 
incorporates a design which ensiu-es that the latch- 
plate cannot move near an arm rest or move down 
between the seat and the vehicle's side structure, 
the system will have no problem passing the hand 
access test. 

Several commenters apparently believed that 
S7.4.4 requires the latchplate to be mounted on the 
outboard side of a vehicle seat. They said that the 
requirement was design-restrictive for a Type 1 
safety belt assembly because such an assembly 
could otherwise be designed so that the latchplate 
is located at either the inboard or outboard posi- 
tion. The requirement was developed to test for ac- 
cess of the latchplate or buckle on belt assemblies 



which are located outboard of the designated 
seating position for which the latchplate is 
installed. This is because access to a latchplate 
located in that position can be hindered by the vehi- 
cle's side structure. The requirement was not in- 
tended to specify that the latchplate or buckle be 
located outboard of a designated seating position. 
The language of the rule is therefore revised to in- 
dicate that the test applies only to latchplates or 
buckles located outboard of the designated seating 
position. 

One manufacturer recommended that the com- 
pliance test for accessibility be made similar to the 
requirement for safety belt anchorages in Standard 
No. 210, Seat Belt Anchorages. Compliance arcs 
would be generated from a point on the SAE two- 
dimensional manikin, whose H-point is positioned 
at the full-forward position of the design H-point, 
or on a full-scale design drawing. This commenter 
stated that such a procedure would eliminate test 
variability, reduce the compliance test burden, and 
allow manufacturers to determine compliance 
while the vehicle is in the advance design stage. 

Manufacturers are free to determine compliance 
with a requirement by any method they choose, 
while exercising due care. There is no reason to 
believe that the procedure suggested by the com- 
menter is not compatible with the procedure defin- 
ed in Standard No. 208. Therefore, it is un- 
necessary to revise the current test procedure for 
latchplate accessibility. 

Another manufacturer requested that the 
language of S7.4.4 be amended to specify that the 
access requirement be met with the seat within the 
adjustment range of a person whose dimensions 
range from those of a 50th percentile six-year-old 
child to those of a 95th percentile adult male. The 
rationale for the request is that, when securing a 
child restraint in some of their vehicles, the latch- 
plate is located at a very low height near the floor, 
after locking. In this situation, the ability of small 
cars to comply with the latchplate access require- 
ment is severely compromised. To achieve com- 
pliance, the seat back would have to be deeply cut 
away at the outboard side. 

The latchplate access requirement is meant to ad- 
dress access problems when the latchplate is in its 
normally stowed position. It was not meant to ad- 
dress potential access problems with child 
restraints that might occur in specific vehicles. 
Therefore, the agency does not believe an amend- 
ment is necessary. 



PART 571: S208-PRE 276 



Belt Retraction 

The April 12, 1985, notice proposed to revise 
S7.4.5 to allow for the stowage of arm rests on vehi- 
cle seats, such as captain's chairs, which must have 
the outboard arm rests stowed before the occupant 
can exit the vehicle. One commenter asked the 
agency to permit all arm rests, which protrude into 
the door opening in a manner which encumbers 
egress, to be placed in their stowed position for the 
retraction test. The agency believes this comment 
has merit and has revised S7.4.5 to permit the 
stowage of outboard arm rests if they protrude in- 
to the door opening in a manner which encumbers 
egress. The agency notes that folding arm rests are 
usually designed that way for the purpose of 
facilitating egress or ingress by moving them out 
of the way to a stowed position. 

The April notice also proposed to allow tension- 
relieving devices on the safety belts of open-body 
vehicles without doors to be manually deactivated 
for the retraction test. One commenter objected to 
allowing these tension-relieving devices to be 
manually, rather than automatically, cancelled. 
The commenter said that there are belt systems 
currently available which will automatically 
cancel a tension-relieving device when the latch- 
plate is released from the buckle. 

At the time the agency proposed the requirement 
for open-body vehicles, it was not aware that there 
were belt systems which would automatically deac- 
tivate tension-relieving devices solely through the 
action of unbuckling the belt. Therefore, the 
agency only proposed that belt systems in open- 
body vehicles be tested with their tension-relieving 
devices manually deactivated. The agency will con- 
sider the commenter's suggestion as one for future 
rulemaking. The agency notes that manufacturers 
can voluntarily adopt the use of other automatic 
means for deactivating the tension-relieving device 
in open-body vehicles. 

The April notice also proposed that the latchplate 
must retract to its "completely stowed position." 
Two commenters objected to this proposal saying 
that determining whether the belt is "completely" 
stowed is difficult. They believe that, if the stowed 
position prevents the safety belt from extending 
out of the vehicle's adjacent open door, the require- 
ment for belt retraction should be satisfied. The 
agency believes that this comment is reasonable 
and consistent with the intent of this section to pre- 
vent belts from getting dirty as a result of being 
caught in the door and from hindering ingress or 



egress of occupants. The language in the rule is 
revised accordingly. 



Seat Belt Guides 

The April notice proposed clarifications in the 
language of S7.4.6.1(a) to increase the accessibility 
of belt buckles and latchplates and belt webbing 
to the vehicle occupant, while giving manufac- 
turers flexibility to use stifTeners, guide openings, 
cables, or conduits of any type. The notice also pro- 
posed modifying S7.4.6.1(b) to exempt seats which 
are movable to serve a dual function. 

Two commenters stated that the language in 
S7.4.6. 1(h) did not adequately address seats which 
are removable or seats which are movable to serve 
a secondary function. NHTSA believes these com- 
ments are valid, because a seat belt latchplate, a 
buckle, or a portion of the webbing cannot be main- 
tained on top of a seat which has been removed or 
moved to serve a secondary function. Therefore, the 
requirement does not apply to seats which are 
removable or movable so that the space formerly 
occupied by the seat can be used for a secondary 
function, such as cargo space. However, the term, 
secondary function, does not include the movement 
of a seat to provide a comfortable driving and 
riding position for different size occupants. 

Two manufacturers requested that the words 
"seat cushion" in S7.4.6.1(1d) be amended by adding 
the words "and/or seat backs." The agency 
specifically excluded "seat backs" from the exemp- 
tion because there is no evidence that seats with 
folding seat backs cannot comply with the re- 
quirements. Adding movable seat backs to the 
language in S7. 4. 6. 1(b) could exempt front seats in 
passenger cars and the second seat in some 
vehicles, such as station wagons. The agency 
believes that there is no reason for exempting these 
seats. 

One manufacturer stated that the center safety 
belt in the rear seat of a motor vehicle should be 
exempted from the requirement in S7.4.6.1(a) con- 
cerning seat guides. This commenter stated that 
there is little chance of this belt ever becoming 
"lost" behind the seat due to the abundance of web- 
bing material available for the center rear safety 
belt; therefore, a webbing guide seems un- 
necessary. The agency disagrees. The agency 
believes that the requirements are necessary since 
they address specific problems associated with belts 
which are not adjusted by retractors, such as the 



PART 571; S208-PRE 277 



rear center seat belts. (Center seats are not re- 
quired to have safety belt retractors, which auto- 
matically stow the webbing after the belt is taken 
off. Instead, they usually have more of the webbing 
lying on the seat cushion and have a manually ad- 
justable buckle which slides along the webbing so 
that an occupant can tighten the belt around 
himself or herself) Having more of the belt lying 
on the seat can make the belt more accessible; it 
can also cause the user to stuff the belt behind the 
seat cushion to get the webbing out of the way 
when the center seating position is not being used. 
In addition, one company, such as the commenter, 
may provide ample webbing which will lie on the 
seat cushion, while another company may not. The 
agency is therefore not exempting center seats. 

One manufacturer stated that a 3-point belt 
assembly, with the lap webbing portion designed 
to pass between the seat cushion and seat back, will 
not necessarily have the latchplate positioned on 
the top of the seat, when the webbing is retracted. 
It urged that the requirement be revised to read, 
"maintain the accessibility of the safety belt latch- 
plate or buckle," and to strike the words "or a por- 
tion of the safety belt webbing on top of the seat 
cushion." The agency agrees that the latchplate 
and buckle do not necessarily have to be located 
on the seat cushion to be accessible. NHTSA does 
believe that as long as the webbing is accessible 
on top of or above the seat, an occupant should be 
able to retrieve the latchplate and buckle. 
Therefore, the rule is revised to require that only 
one of the three belt parts (the seat belt latchplate, 
the buckle, or seat belt webbing) be maintained on 
top of or above the seat cushion under normal con- 
ditions. Although the other two parts will not be 
required to be on the seat cushion, the agency has 
revised the rule to require that they remain ac- 
cessible under normal conditions. 

Another manufacturer stated that the provision 
that a buckle be accessible in S7.4.6.2 with an ad- 
justable arm rest in any position of adjustment 
lacked objectivity and should be deleted. The 
agency does not agree and continues to believe that 
a simple visual inspection should be sufficient to 
determine whether or not the buckle is accessible 
when the arm rest is in the down position. 

Warning System Requirements 

The purpose of the proposed revision to these re- 
quirements in the April notice was to allow for a 
warning light which activates for at least 60 



seconds if condition (A)— the vehicle's ignition 
switch is moved to the "on" or "start" position, 
exists simultaneously with condition (B)— the 
driver's automatic belt is not in use or, if the belt 
is non-detachable, the emergency release 
mechanism is in the released position. Specifying 
a minimum activation time was intended to allow 
the manufacturer the option of providing for addi- 
tional warning time. The proposal would also re- 
quire that condition (O— the belt webbing of a 
motorized automatic belt is not in its locked, pro- 
tective mode at the anchorage point— be indicated 
only by a continuous or flashing warning light in 
lieu of a buzzer each time the ignition switch is 
turned to the "on" position. The light would re- 
main lit as long as condition (C) existed. 

Two manufacturers raised concerns about deter- 
mining when condition (B) exists— the driver belt 
is not in use or the emergency release mechanism 
is released— in a motorized belt system. They, in 
effect, made the point that with certain motorized 
designs, the April proposal would have required 
the audible warning required for condition (B) to 
sound while the belt webbing is moving along its 
track to its fully locked position. For example, one 
manufacturer stated that in some motorized belt 
systems the emergency release belt latch 
mechanism sensing is done by a proximity switch 
in the (B) pillar which senses the presence of a 
magnet in the part attached to the webbing. In this 
case, the system will sense that the latch is un- 
fastened until the motorized belt is in its fully 
locked position and, thus, under the proposal, 
would activate the audible warning during the 
period that the belt is in motion. This commenter 
requested that to prevent an audible warning from 
being given when the mechanism is being operated 
normally, the manufactuer should be given the op- 
tion of starting the audible warning period from 
the time that the belt reaches the fully locked 
position. 

The agency believes that it is important that an 
audible warning sound when the driver's belt is not 
in use or the belt's emergency release mechanism 
is actuated. However, to prevent the sounding of 
the audible warning when a motorized belt is mov- 
ing into place, the agency is revising the warning 
system requirement. The revision provides that, in 
the case of a motorized belt, the existence of condi- 
tion (B) is determined once the belt is in its fully 
locked position. Once a motorized belt has reached 
its fully locked position, an audible warning must 
sound if condition (B) exists. The agency wishes to 



PART 571; S208-PRE 278 



emphasize that all motorized belts, regardless of 
their design, should have an audible warning that 
sounds if the driver's belt is not in use or the belt's 
emergency release mechanism is actuated. 

One of the same commenters also said it is plan- 
ning to use detachable automatic belts in some of 
its new belt system designs. Its concern is that con- 
dition (B), which is determined by the belt latch 
mechanism not being fastened, would require them 
to locate the electrical sensor in the emergency 
release buckle. In a motorized system, the wire 
harness for the electric sensor would have to be 
moved along a track, because the "emergency 
release buckle" slides along the track with the 
buckle end. The location of the electrical sensor in 
the buckle makes the wire harness less reliable, 
because of the constant movement, according to the 
commenter. After the close of the comment period 
on the April notice, NHTSA received a petition for 
rulemaking to amend the requirements of 
paragraph S4. 5. 3. 3(b) of Standard No. 208 from 
Chrysler Corporation which raised the same issues. 
Chrysler petitioned for an alternative means to 
determine when the belt latch mechanism is not 
fastened. It asked that the warning requirement 
be modified to permit actuation of the warning 
when less than 20 inches of webbing has been 
withdrawn from the driver's seat belt retractor. 

The agency believes the problems identified by 
the commenter and the Chrysler petition are valid. 
NHTSA did not intend to imply in the April 1985 
notice that the method for determining that the 
belt latch is not fastened must be by a sensor 
located in the belt buckle. The agency believes that 
manufacturers should have maximum design flex- 
ibility to develop systems to determine if the latch 
is not fastened. The condition could be determined 
by any means, such as a predetermined amount of 
belt webbing spool-out, or the location of a sensor 
in the overhead, motorized track area or in the 
working mechanism of the buckle/latchplate, 
which would show that the automatic belt is not 
fastened. The agency does note that if a manufac- 
turer decides to use belt webbing spool-out that it 
determine the least amount of webbing necessary 
to go around a person in the driver's position with 
the seat in its rearmost position. If less than this 
minimum amount of webbing spools out of the 
retractor in an attempt to defeat the system, the 
warning should be activated. 

Two manufacturers requested that NHTSA con- 
firm that the same light signal may be activated 
under both conditions (B) and (C), since the re- 



quired audible signal suffices to differentiate be- 
tween the two conditions. The agency agi'ees that 
this comment has merit and confirms that the 
same light signal may be activated under both con- 
ditions (B) and (C). 

Use of Additional Warnings 

One manufacturer sought permission to use ad- 
ditional warnings to supplement those required by 
the standai'd. This manufacturer stated that its 
warning system provided for an audible warning 
system in addition to the warning light to indicate 
that condition (A) + (C) exists. Further, the 
passenger seating position is also equipped with a 
warning system, which is not required by the stan- 
dard. The agency notes, again, that a manufacturer 
is free to provide features in addition to those re- 
quired by the standard, as long as the standard's 
requirements are met. No change in the standard 
is necessary to permit the commenter to install ad- 
ditional features in its warning systems. 

Another company stated that, for non-detachable 
automatic belts, the proposed 60-second visual 
warning and the 4- to 8-second audible warning 
may not be sufficient to indicate that the 
emergency spool release is in the released position. 
This company believes that the visual warning 
should remain on for as long as the emergency 
release mechanism remains in the release or 
"emergency" position. The agency notes that the 
requirement specifies a minimum 60-second visual 
warning and does not limit it to 60 seconds for con- 
dition (B). The agency specified a minimum period 
of time, which is believed sufficient to warn oc- 
cupants of this condition. Manufacturers have the 
choice of extending the time for a warning light 
to more than 60 seconds to indicate that the 
emergency release mechanism is in the release or 
emergency condition. Therefore, no change in the 
language of the standard is required. 

Walk-in Van Vehicles 

The agency tentatively proposed to exclude walk- 
in step vans from the safety belt comfort and con- 
venience requirements in the April 12, 1985, 
notice. By the term, "walk-in vans," NHTSA is 
referring to city delivery type vehicles used, for ex- 
ample, to deliver parcels or dry cleaning where the 
drivers can walk directly into the vans without 
stooping. A consumer group objected to the pro- 
posed exemption for walk-in step vans on the basis 



PART .S7I; S208-PRE 279 



that NHTSA should promote belt use in these 
vehicles by making them easier to use. The agency 
is not persuaded that the increase in belt usage 
which might result from the redesign of walk-in 
vans to meet the comfort and convenience re- 
quirements would justify the cost of such a 
modification. Moreover, these vehicles do not nor- 
mally have a secondary use, for example, as a 
family vehicle, as do other utility vehicles which 
are required to meet the comfort and convenience 
requirements for safety belts. Due to the problems 
with cost and vehicle redesign, the agency does not 
believe that it is appropriate to apply the comfort 
and convenience requirements to these vehicles. 

Weights and Dimensions 

In the April 12, 1985, notice, the agency proposed 
a chart of weights and dimensions which included 
small dimension changes and tolerances for the 
50th percentile adult male. One manufacturer com- 
mented that the agency has supplied no rationale 
for these changes and that such dimensional revi- 
sions to the Part 572 dummy should be the subject 
of a separate rulemaking under Part 572. This com- 
menter also objected to inclusion of a seated hip 
circumference in the chart. The agency notes that 
the chart of weights and dimensions of vehicle oc- 
cupants was included in Standard No. 208 as a 
guide for manufactuers. The seated hip cir- 
cumference was included in this chart because it 
is referred to in Standard No. 208. There is no re- 
quirement in Part 572 for a seated hip cir- 
cumference; therefore, this dimension is not a re- 
quirement for the Part 572 test dummy. The 
agency proposed the minor changes to the chart to 
ensure that the dimensions set forth in the chart 
agreed with the dimensions specified on drawing 
SA 150 M002 of the test dummy, which is incor- 
porated by reference in Part 572.5. The agency is 
therefore adopting the proposed changes. 

Another company said that the dimensions of a 
six-year-old child are contained in the table defin- 
ing the vehicle occupants. Although it highly 
recommends safety belt use for a child of this age, 
this commenter stressed that optimum protection 
for a person of these dimensions can only be 
obtained by using an additional special booster 
cushion equipped with a safety belt guide system. 
These types of cushions are readily available in the 
United States. The commenter therefore requested 
that the standard be amended to permit the com- 
menter to recommend the use of such a cushion in 



order to ensure correct positioning of the belt 
around a six-year-old child. The agency agrees that, 
in some instances, booster seats do facilitate the 
use of adult restraints by this size occupant. 
However, the agency also believes that the average 
six-year-old child should be suitably accommodated 
by the adult belt system in such a way that the 
child is adequately protected from injury and 
fatality. Therefore, the agency declines to make 
this change to the standard. 

Automatic Safety Belt Interpretation 

In 1974 (39 FR 14594), the agency issued an in- 
terpretation that it would not consider a belt 
system which had to be manually moved out of the 
way by the occupant to be an "automatic" system 
that would satisfy the requirements of Standard 
No. 208. In the April 12, 1985, notice, the agency 
stated its belief that such an interpretation may 
be overly stringent and requested public comment. 

Four commenters argued that the past inter- 
pretation was overly stringent, because it would 
have allowed no manual movement of the belt to 
accommodate ingress into the vehicle. As a 
minimum, these commenters stated, such an inter- 
pretation should acknowledge that a safety belt 
design should be considered "passive" or 
"automatic" if an occupant would normally push 
the webbing aside upon entering the vehicle. In 
addition, an automatic belt requiring a slight ad- 
justment for comfort should be considered an 
automatic restraint system. The commenters urged 
that any belt design, which would perform its pro- 
tective restraining function after a normal process 
of ingress, without separate deliberate action by 
the vehicle occupant to deploy the restraint system, 
should be allowed. Finally, the commenters said 
that to provide an automatic lap and shoulder belt 
design which would comply with the original in- 
terpretation could increase the tendency for the oc- 
cupant to submarine under the belt. The reason is 
that the lap belt portion, which would enable an 
occupant to enter or exit the vehicle without 
manually moving the belt, could be raised too high. 
To solve this problem, a very expensive motorized 
system would be required to move the belts out of 
the occupant's ingress/egress area. 

The agency believes these comments have merit 
and has revised its interpretation. The concept of 
an occupant protection system which requires "no 
action by vehicle occupants," as that term is used 
in Standard No. 208, is intended to designate a 



PART 571: S208-PRE 280 



system which will perform its protective restrain- 
ing function after a normal process of ingress or 
egress without separate deliberate actions by the 
vehicle occupant to deploy the restraint system. 
Thus, the agency considers an occupant protection 
system to be automatic if an occupant has to take 
no action to deploy the system but would normally 
slightly push the safety belt webbing aside when 
entering or exiting the vehicle or would normally 
make a slight adjustment in the webbing for com- 
fort. The agency believes that the marketplace will 
help curb use of automatic belt systems which are 
complicated, or require excessive adjustments 
before ingress or egress, since prospective pur- 
chasers would reject vehicles with such systems. 
The agency believes that adoption of the comfort 
and convenience requirements will help ensure 
that manufacturers provide automatic belt systems 
which will promote belt usage. 

In consideration of the foregoing, 49 CFR 571.208 
is amended as follows: 

1 . The authority citation for Part 57 1 continues to 
read as follows: 

Authority: 15 U.S.C. 1392, 1401, 1403, 1407; 
delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.50. 

2. S7. 1.1.3 is revised to read: 

S7. 1.1.3(a) Except as provided in S7. 1.1.3(b), a 
Type 1 lap belt or the lap belt portion of any Type 
2 belt installed at any front outboard designated 
seating position for compliance with this standard 
in a vehicle (other than walk-in van-type vehicles) 
manufactured on or after September 1, 1986, shall 
meet the requirements of S7.1 by means of an 
emergency-locking retractor that conforms to Stan- 
dard No. 209 (§ 571.209). 

(h) The requirements of S7. 1.1. 3(a) do not apply 
to the lap belt portion of any Type 2 belt installed 
in a passenger car manufactured before September 
1, 1989, or to walk-in van-type vehicles. 

3. S7.4 is revised to read: 

87. 4 Seat belt comfort and convenience, (a) 
Automatic seat belts installed in any vehicle, other 
than walk-in van-type vehicles, with a GVWR of 
10,000 pounds or less, manufactured on or after 
September 1, 1986, shall meet the requirements of 
S7.4.1, 87.4.2, and 87.4.3. 

(b) Except as provided in S7.4(c), manual seat 
belts, other than manual Type 2 belt systems in- 
stalled in the front outboard seating position in 
passenger cars, installed for compliance with this 



standard in any vehicle which has a GVWR of 
10,000 pounds or less, and is manufactured on or 
after September 1, 1986, shall meet the re- 
quirements of 87.4.3, S7.4.4, 87.4.5, and 87.4.6. 
Manual Type 2 seat belts in the front outboard 
seating positions of passenger cars manufactured 
on or after September 1, 1989, shall meet the re- 
quirements of 87. 1.1.3(a), S7.4.3, S7.4.4, S7.4.5, and 
87.4.6, if the automatic restraint requirements are 
rescinded pursuant to 84.1.5. 

(c) The requirements of S7. 4(b) do not apply to 
manual belts installed in walk-in van-type 
vehicles. 

4. 87.4.1 is revised to read: 

87.4.1 Convenience hooks. Any manual conven- 
ience hook or other device that is provided to stow 
seat belt webbing to facilitate entering or exiting 
the vehicle shall automatically release the webbing 
when the automatic belt system is otherwise opera- 
tional and shall remain in the released mode for 
as long as (a) exists simultaneously with (b), or, at 
the maufacturer's option, for as long as (a) exists 
simultaneously with (c)— 

(a) The vehicle ignition switch is moved to the 
"on" or "start" position; 

fb) The vehicle's drive train is engaged; 

(c) The vehicle's parking brake is in the released 
mode (nonengaged). 

5. 87.4.2 is revised to read: 

57.4.2 Webbing tension-relieving device. Each 
automatic seat belt assembly that includes either 
manual or automatic devices that permit the in- 
troduction of slack in the webbing of the shoulder 
belt (e.g., "comfort clips" or "window-shade" 
devices) shall comply with the occupant crash pro- 
tection requirements of 85 of this standard with 
the belt webbing adjusted to introduce the max- 
imum amount of slack that is recommended by the 
vehicle manufacturer in the vehicle owner's 
manual to be introduced into the shoulder belt 
under normal use conditions. The vehicle owner's 
manual shall explain how the device works and 
shall specify the maximum amount of slack (in 
inches) which is recommended by the vehicle 
manufacturer in the owner's manual to be in- 
troduced into the shoulder belt under normal use 
conditions. These instructions shall also warn that 
introducing slack beyond the specified amount 
could significantly reduce the effectiveness of the 
belt in a crash. Any belt slack that can be 
introduced into the belt system by means of any 



PART 571; .S208-PRE 281 



tension-relieving device or design shall be can- 
celled each time the safety belt is unbuckled or the 
adjacent vehicle door is opened except for belt 
systems in open-body vehicles with no doors. 

6. S7.4.3 is revised to read as follows: 

57.4.3 Belt contact force. Except for seat belt 
assemblies which incorporate a webbing tension- 
relieving device that complies with S7.4.2, the up- 
per torso webbing of any seat belt assembly, when 
tested in accordance with S10.6, shall not exert 
more than 0.7 pound of contact force when 
measured normal to and one inch from the chest 
of an anthropomorphic test dummy, positioned in 
accordance with SIO in the seating position for 
which that assembly is provided, at the point where 
the centerline of the torso belt crosses the midsagit- 
tal line on the dummy's chest. 

7. The first sentence of S7.4.4 is revised to read 
as follows: 

57.4.4 Latchplate access. Any seat belt assembly 
latchplate which is located outboard of a front out- 
board seating position in accordance with S4.1.2, 
shall also be located within the outboard reach 
envelope of either the outboard arm or the inboard 
arm described in SlO.5 and Figure 3 of this stan- 
dard, when the latchplate is in its normal stowed 
position. There shall be sufficient clearance be- 
tween the vehicle seat and the side of the vehicle 
interior to allow the test block defined in Figure 
4 unhindered transit to the latchplate or buckle. 

8. S7.4.5 is revised to read as follows: 

57.4.5 Retraction. When tested under the condi- 
tions of S8.1.2 and SB. 1.3, with the anthropomor- 
phic test dummies whose arms have been removed 
and which are positioned in accordance with SlO 
and restrained by the belt systems for those posi- 
tions, the torso and lap belt webbing of any of those 
seat belt systems shall automatically retract when 
the adjacent vehicle door is in the open position, 
or when the seat belt latchplate is released, to a 
stowed position. That position shall prevent any 
part of the webbing or hardware from being 
pinched when the adjacent vehicle door is closed. 
A belt system with a tension-relieving device in an 
open-bodied vehicle with no doors shall fully retract 
when the tension-relief device is manually deac- 
tivated. For the purpose of the retraction require- 
ment, outboard armrests may be placed in their 
stowed positions if they are on vehicle seats which 



must have the armrests in the stowed position to 
allow an occupant to exit the vehicle. 

9. S7.4.6.1 is revised to read as follows: 

S7.4.6.1(a) Any manual seat belt assembly whose 
webbing is designed to pass through the seat 
cushion or between the seat cushion and seat back 
shall be designed to maintain one of the following 
three seat belt parts (the seat belt latchplate, the 
buckle, or the seat belt webbing) on top of or above 
the seat cushion under normal conditions (i.e., con- 
ditions other than when belt hardware is inten- 
tionally pushed behind the seat by a vehicle occu- 
pant). In addition, the remaining two seat belt 
parts must be acessible under normal conditions, 
(b) The requirements of S7.4.6.1(a) do not apply 
to: (1) seats whose seat cushions are movable so 
that the seat back serves a function other than 
seating, (2) seats which are removable, or (3) seats 
which are movable so that the space formerly oc- 
cupied by the seat can be used for a secondary 
function. 

10. S4. 5. 3. 3(b) is revised to read as follows: 
S4.5.3.3(b) In place of a warning system that con- 
forms to S7.3 of this standard, be equipped with 
the following warning system: At the left front 
designated seating position (driver's position), a 
warning system that activates a continuous or in- 
termittent audible signal for a period of not less 
than 4 seconds and not more than 8 seconds and 
that activates a continuous or flashing warning 
light visible to the driver for not less than 60 
seconds (beginning when the vehicle ignition 
switch is moved to the "on" or the "start" position) 
when condition (A) exists simultaneously with con- 
dition (B), and that activates a continuous or 
flashing warning light, visible to the driver, 
displaying the identifying symbol for the seat belt 
telltale shown in Table 2 of Standard No. 101 (49 
CFR 571.101), or, at the option of the manufacturer 
if permitted by Standard No. 101, displaying the 
words "Fasten Seat Belts" or "Fasten Belts," for 
as long as condition (A) exists simultaneously with 
condition (C). 

(A) The vehicle's ignition switch is moved to the 
"on" position or to the "start" position. 

(B) The driver's automatic belt is not in use, as 
determined by the belt latch mechanism not being 
fastened or, if the automatic belt is non-detachable, 
by the emergency release mechanism being in the 
released position. In the case of motorized 



PART 571; S208-PRE 282 



automatic belts, the determination of use shall be 
made once the belt webbing is in its locked protec- 
tive mode at the anchorage point. 

(C) The belt webbing of a motorized automatic 
belt system is not in its locked, protective mode at 
the anchorage point. 

11. The first sentence of SlO.5 is amended to delete 
"S7.4.7" and to insert in its place "S7.4.4." 

12. S10.6 is amended to read as follows: 

S10.6 To determine compliance with ST. 4. 3 of 



this standard, position the anthropomorphic test 
dummy in the vehicle in accordance with S8. 1 . 11 , 
and under the conditions of S8.1.2, S8.1.3, and 
SB. 1.9. Close the vehicle's adjacent door, pull 12 
inches of belt webbing from the retractor and then 
release it, allowing the belt webbing to return to 
the dummy's chest. Pull the belt webbing three 
inches from the dummy's chest and release until 
the webbing is within one inch of the dummy's 
chest and measure belt pressure. 

13. Figure 4 of this standard is modified as follows: 




Clearance Test Block 




(Note corners are rounded off 
to reduce snagging.) 



Typical arm rest 



Figure 4-USE OF CLEARANCE TEST BLOCK TO DETERMINE HAND/ARM ACCESS 



PART 571: S208-PRE 283 



14. The weights and dimensions of the vehicle oc- 
cupants referred to in this standard and specified 
in S7.1.13 are modified to read as follows: 



an occupant has to take no action to deploy the 
system but would normally slightly push the seat 
belt webbing aside when entering or exiting the 



50th-percentile 
6-year-old child 



5th-perCentile 
adult female 



50th-percentile 
adult male 



95th-percentile 
adult male 



Weight 

Erect sitting height 

Hip breadth (sitting) 

Hip circumference (sitting) 

Waist circumference (sitting). 
Chest depth 



47.3 


pounds 


25.4 


inrhe.s 


8.4 


inches 


23.9 


inches 


20.8 


inches 



Chest circumference: 

(nipple) 

(upper) 

(lower) 



102 


pounds 


_ 164 


pounds 


30.9 


inches 


_ 35.7 


inches 


12.8 


inches 


_ 14.7 


inches 


36.4 


inches 


_ 42 


inches 


23.6 


inches 


_ 32 


inches 


7.5 


inches 


_ 9.3 


inches 


30.5 


inches 






29.8 


inches 


_ 37.4 


inches 


26.6 


inches 







± 3 



±10 



+ 7 



+ 60 
±20 



±6 



215 pounds 
38 inches 
16.5 inches 
42.5 inches 
42.5 inches 
10.5 inches 



44.5 inches 



15. The Note following paragraph Si 1.8 is revised 
to read as follows: 

Note: The concept of an occupant protection 
system which requires "no action by vehicle oc- 
cupants," as that term is used in Standard No. 208, 
is intended to designate a system which will per- 
form its protective restraining function after a nor- 
mal process of ingress or egress without separate 
deliberate actions by the vehicle occupant to deploy 
the restraint system. Thus, the agency considers 
an occupant protection system to be automatic if 



vehicle or would normally make a slight adjust- 
ment in the webbing for comfort. 

Issued on November 1, 1985 

Diane K. Steed 
Administrator 



50 FR 46056 
November 5, 1985 



PART 571; S208-PRE 284 



PREAMBLE TO AN AMENDMENT TO 

FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208 

OCCUPANT CRASH PROTECTION 

[Docket No. 74-14; Notice 43] 



ACTION: Final rule. 

SUMMARY: On April 12, 1985, NHTSA issued a 
notice proposing a number of amendments to Stand- 
ard No. 208. Occupant Crash Protection. Based on its 
analysis of the comments received in response to that 
notice, the agency has decided to take the following 
actions: retain the oblique crash test for automatic 
restraint equipped cars, adopt some New Car Assess- 
ment Program test procedures for use in the stand- 
ard's crash tests, provide in the standard for a due 
care defense with respect to the automatic restraint 
requirement, and require the dynamic testing of 
manual lap/shoulder belts in passenger cars. This 
notice also creates a new Part 585 that sets reporting 
requirements regarding compliance with the 
automatic restraint phase-in requirements of the 
standard. 

EFFECTIVE DATE: The amendments made by this 
notice will take effect on May 5, 1986, except the re- 
quirement for dynamic testing of manual safety belts 
in passenger cars will go into effect on September 1, 
1989, if the automatic restraint requirement is 
rescinded. 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background 

On July 11, 1984 (49 FR 28962), the Secretary of 
Transportation issued a final rule requiring automatic 
occupant protection in all passenger cars. The rule is 
based on a phased-in schedule beginning on 
September 1, 1986, with full implementation being re- 
quired by September 1, 1989. However, if before 



April 1, 1989, two-thirds of the population of the 
United States are covered by effective state man- 
datory safety belt use laws (MULs) meeting specified 
criteria, the automatic restraint requirement will be 
rescinded. 
More specifically, the rule requires: 

• Front outboard seating positions in passenger 
cars manufactured on or after September 1, 1986, for 
sale in the United States, will have to be equipped 
with automatic restraints based on the following 
schedule; 

• Ten percent of all cars manufactured on or 
after September 1, 1986. 

• Twenty-five percent of all cars manufactured 
on or after September 1, 1987. 

• Forty percent of all cars manufactured on or 
after September 1, 1988. 

• One hundred percent of all cars manufactured 
on or after September 1, 1989. 

• During the phase-in period, each car that is 
manufactured with a system that provides automatic 
protection to the driver without the use of safety belts 
and automatic protection of any sort to the passenger 
will be given an extra credit equal to one-half car 
toward meeting the percentage requirement. In addi- 
tion, each car which provides non-belt automatic pro- 
tection solely to the driver will be given a one vehicle 
credit. 

• The requirement for automatic restraints will be 
rescinded if MULs meeting specified conditions are 
passed by a sufficent number of states before April 1, 
1989, to cover two-thirds of the population of the 
United States. The MULs must go into effect no later 
than September 1, 1989. 

In the July 1984 notice, the Secretary identified 
various issues requiring additional rulemaking. On 
April 12, 1985, the agency issued two notices setting 



PART 571; S208-PRE 285 



forth proposals on all of those issues. One notice (50 
FR 14589), which is the basis for the final rule being 
issued today, proposed: reporting requirements for 
the phase-in, deletion of the oblique test, alternative 
calculations of the head injury criterion (HIC), allow- 
ing the installation of manual belts in convertibles, 
use of the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) 
test procedures, and adoption of a due care defense. 
The notice also proposed the dynamic testing of 
manual lap/shoulder belts for passenger cars, light 
trucks and light vans. The second notice (50 FR 
14602) set forth the agency's proposals on the use of 
the Hybrid III test dummy and additional injury 
criteria. NHTSA has not yet completed its analysis of 
the comments and issues raised by the Hybrid HI pro- 
posal or the proposal regarding convertibles and 
dynamic testing of safety belts in light trucks and 
light vans. The agency will publish a separate Federal 
Register notice announcing its decision with regard to 
these issues when it has completed its analysis. 

Oblique Crash Tests 

Standard No. 208 currently requires cars with 
automatic restraints to pass the injury protection 
criteria in 30 mph head-on and oblique impacts into a 
barrier. The April 1985 notice contained an extensive 
discussion of the value of the oblique test and re- 
quested commenters to provide additional data re- 
garding the safety and other effects of deleting the 
requirements. 

The responses to the April notice reflected the 
same difference of opinion found in the prior 
responses on this issue. Those favoring elimination 
of the test argue that the test is unnecessary since 
oblique crash tests generally show lower injury levels. 
They also said the additional test adds to the cost of 
complying with the standard - although manufac- 
turers differed as to the extent of costs. Four manufac- 
turers suggested that any cost reduction resulting 
from elimination of the test would be minimal, in part 
because they will continue to use the oblique tests in 
their restraint system developmental programs, 
regardless of what action the agency takes. Another 
manufacturer, however, said that while it would con- 
tinue to use oblique testing during its vehicle develop- 
ment programs, the elimination of the oblique test in 
Standard No. 208 would result in cost and manpower 
savings. These savings would result because the parts 
used in vehicles for certification testing must be more 
representative of actual production parts than the 
parts used in vehicles crashed during development 
tests. 



Those favoring retention of the test again em- 
phasized that the test is more representative of real- 
world crashes. In addition, they said that occupants in 
systems without upper torso belts, such as some air 
bag or passive interior systems, could experience con- 
tact with the A-pillar and other vehicle structures in 
the oblique test that they would not experience in a 
head-on test. Although, again, there were conflicting 
opinions on this issue -one manufacturer said that 
oblique tests would not affect air bag design, while 
other manufacturers argued that the oblique test is 
necessary to ensure the proper design of air bag 
systems. The same manufacturer that said air bag 
design would not be affected by the oblique test, em- 
phasized that vehicles with 2-point automatic belts or 
passive interiors, "may show performance charac- 
teristics in oblique tests that do not show up on 
perpendicular tests." Similarly, one manufacturer 
said that oblique tests will not result in test dummy 
contact with the A-pillar or front door - while another 
manufacturer argued that in the oblique test contact 
could occur with the A-pillar in vehicles using non- 
belt technologies. 

After examining the issues raised by the com- 
menters, the agency has decided to retain the oblique 
tests. There are a number of factors underlying the 
agency's decision. First, although oblique tests 
generally produce lower injury levels, they do not 
consistently produce those results. For example, the 
agency has conducted both oblique and frontal crash 
tests on 14 different cars as part of its research ac- 
tivities and NCAP testing. The driver and passenger 
HIC's and chest acceleration results for those tests 
show that the results in the oblique tests are lower in 
31 of the 38 cases for which data were available. 
However, looking at the results in terms of vehicles, 6 
of the 14 cars had higher results, exclusive of femur 
results, in either passenger or driver HIC's or chest 
accelerations in the oblique tests. The femur results 
in approximately one-third of the measurements were 
also higher in the oblique tests. Accident data also in- 
dicate that oblique impacts pose a problem. The 1982 
FARS and NASS accident records show that 14 per- 
cent of the fatalities and 22 percent of the AIS 2-5 in- 
juries occur in 30 degree impacts. 

The agency is also concerned that elimination of the 
oblique test could lead to potential design problems in 
some automatic restraint systems. For example, air 
bags that meet only a perpendicular impact test could 
be made much smaller. In such a case, in an oblique 
car crash, the occupant would roll off the smaller bag 
and strike the A-pillar or instrument panel. Similarly, 
the upper torso belt of an automatic belt system 



PART 571; S208-PRE 286 



could slip off an occupant's shoulder in an oblique 
crash. In belt system with a tension-relieving device, 
the system will be tested with the maximum amount 
of slack recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, 
potentially increasing the possibility of the upper 
torso belt slipping off the occupant's shoulder. In the 
case of passive interiors, an occupant may be able to 
contact hard vehicle structures, such as the A-pillar. 
in oblique crashes that would not be contacted in a 
perpendicular test. If the A-pillar and other hard 
structures are not designed to provide protection in 
oblique crashes then there would be no assurance, as 
there presently is, that occupants would be adequate- 
ly protected. Thus, the oblique test is needed to pro- 
tect unrestrained occupants in passive interiors, and 
to ensure that air bags and automatic or manual safe- 
ty belts are designed to accommodate some degree of 
oblique impact. 

The agency recognizes that retention of the oblique 
test will result in additional testing costs for manufac- 
turers. The agency believes, however, that there are a 
number of factors which should minimize those costs. 
First, even manufacturers opposing retention of the 
oblique test indicated that they will continue to per- 
form oblique crash tests to meet their own internal re- 
quirements as well as to meet the oblique test re- 
quirements of the Standard No. 301, Fuel System In- 
tegrity. Since the oblique tests of Standard No. 208 
and Standard No. 301 can be run simultaneously, the 
costs resulting from retention of the oblique crash 
test requirements of Standard No. 208 should not be 
significant. 

Dynamic Testing of Manual Belts 

The April notice proposed that manual lap/shoulder 
belts installed at the outboard seating positions of the 
front seat of four different vehicle types comply with 
the dynamic testing requirements of Standard No. 
208. Those requirements provide for using test dum- 
mies in vehicle crashes for measuring the level of pro- 
tection offered by the restraint system. The four vehi- 
cle types subject to this proposal are passenger cars, 
light trucks, small van-like buses, and light multipur- 
pose passenger vehicles (MPV's). (The agency con- 
siders light trucks, small van-like buses, and light 
MPV's to be vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight 
Rating (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds or less and an 
unloaded vehicle weight of 5,500 pounds or less. The 
5,500 pound unloaded vehicle weight limit is also used 
in Standard No. 212, Windshield Retention, and 
Standard No. 219, Windshield Zone Intrusion. The 
limit was adopted in those standards on April 3, 1980 



(45 FR 22044) to reduce compliance problems for 
final-stage manufacturers. Readers are referred to 
the April 1980 notice for a complete discussion of the 
5,500 pound limit.) 

Currently, manual belts are not subject to dynamic 
test requirements. Instead they must be tested in ac- 
cordance with Standard No. 209, Seat Belt 
Assemblies, for strength and other qualities in 
laboratory bench tests. Once a safety belt is certified 
as complying with the requirements of Standard No. 
209, it currently may be installed in a vehicle without 
any further testing or certification as to its perform- 
ance in that vehicle. The safety belt anchorages in the 
vehicle are tested for strength in accordance with 
Standard No. 210, Seat Belt Assembly Anchorages. 

The April 1985 notice also addressed the issue of 
tension-relieving devices on manual belts. Tension- 
relieving devices are used to introduce slack in the 
shoulder portion of a lap-shoulder belt to reduce the 
pressure of the belt on an occupant or to effect a more 
comfortable "fit" of the belt to an occupant. The 
notice proposed that manufacturers be required to 
specify in their vehicle owner's manuals the maximum 
amount of slack they recommend introducing into the 
belt under normal use condition. Further, the owner's 
manual would be required to warn that introducing 
slack beyond the maximum amount specified by the 
manufacturer could significantly reduce the effec- 
tiveness of the belt in a crash. During the agency's 
dynamic testing of manual belts, the tension-relieving 
devices would be adjusted so as to introduce the max- 
imum amount of slack specified in the owner's 
manual. 

The agency proposed that the djTiamic test require- 
ment for passenger cars take effect on September 1, 
1989, and only if the Secretary determines that two- 
thirds of the population is covered by effective safety 
belt use laws, thereby rescinding the automatic 
restraint requirement. Should such a determination 
be made, it is important that users of manual belts be 
assured that their vehicles offer the same level of oc- 
cupant protection as if automatic restraints were in 
their vehicles. Absent a rescission of the automatic 
restraint requirement, application of the dynamic 
testing requirements to manual safety belts in 
passenger cars would be unnecessary since those 
belts would not be required in the outboard seating 
positions of the front seat. In the case of light trucks, 
light MPV's and small van-like buses, the agency pro- 
posed that the dynamic test requirement take effect 
on September 1, 1989. The proposed effective date 
for light trucks, light MPV's and van-like buses was 



PART 571; S208-PRE 287 



not conditional, because those vehicles are not 
covered by the automatic restraint requirement and 
will likely continue to have manual safety belts. 

Adoption of the requirement 

As discussed in detail below, the agency has decided 
to adopt a dynamic test requirement for safety belts 
used in passenger cars. The agency is still analyzing 
the issues raised in the comments about dynamic 
testing for safety belt systems in other vehicles and 
will announce its decision about safety belt systems in 
light trucks, MPV's and buses at a later date. 

Most of the commenters favored adopting a 
dynamic test requirement for manual belts at least 
with respect to passenger cars, although many of 
those commenters raised questions about the lead- 
time needed to comply with the requirement. Those 
opposing the requirement argued that the field ex- 
perience has shown that current manual belts provide 
substantial protection and thus a dynamic test re- 
quirement is not necessary. In addition, they argued 
that dynamic testing would substantially increase a 
manufacturer's testing costs, and its testing 
workload. One commenter said that because of the 
unique nature of the testing, it could not necessarily 
be combined with other compliance testing done by a 
manufacturer. The same commenter argued that 
vehicle downsizing, cited by the agency as one reason 
for dynamically testing belts, does not create safety 
problems since the interior space of passenger cars 
has remained essentially the same as it was prior to 
downsizing. The commenter also argued there is no 
field evidence that the use of tension-relieving devices 
in safety belts, the other reason cited by the agency in 
support of the need to test dynamically manual safety 
belts, is compromising the performance of safety 
belts. 

The agency strongly believes that current manual 
belts provide very substantial protection in a crash. 
The Secretary's 1984 automatic protection decision 
concluded that current manual safety belts are at 
least as effective, and in some cases, more effective 
than current automatic belt designs. That conclusion 
was based on current manual safety belts, which are 
not certified to dynamic tests. However, as discussed 
in the April 1985 notice, the agency is concerned that 
as an increasing number of vehicles are reduced in 
size for fuel economy purposes and as more tension- 
relieving devices are used on manual belts, the poten- 
tial for occupant injury increases. The agency agrees 
that downsizing efforts by manufacturers have at- 
tempted to preserve the interior space of passenger 



cars, while reducing their exterior dimensions. 
Preserving the interior dimensions of the passenger 
compartment means that occupants will not be placed 
closer to instrument panels and other vehicle struc- 
tures which they could strike in a crash. However, the 
reduction in exterior dimensions can result in a 
lessening of the protective crush distance available in 
a car. Thus the agency believes it is important to en- 
sure that safety belts in downsized vehicles will per- 
form adequately. In the case of tension-relieving 
devices, agency tests of lap/shoulder belt restrained 
test dummies have shown that as more slack is in- 
troduced into a shoulder belt, the injuries measured 
on the test dummies increased. Thus, as discussed in 
detail later in this notice, the agency believes it is im- 
portant to ensure that safety belts with tension- 
relievers provide adequate protection when they are 
used in the manner recommended by vehicle manu- 
facturers. This is of particular concern to the agency 
since the vast majority of new cars (nearly all 
domestically-produced cars) now are equipped with 
such devices. For those reasons, the agency is adopt- 
ing the dynamic test requirement. 

The adoption of this requirement will ensure that 
each and every passenger car, as compared to the 
vehicle population in general, offers a consistent, 
minumum level of protection to front seat occupants. 
By requiring dynamic testing, the standard will 
assure that the vehicle's structure, safety belts, steer- 
ing column, etc., perform as a unit to protect oc- 
cupants, as it is only in such a test that the synergistic 
and combination effects of these vehicle component 
can be measured. As discussed in detail in the Final 
Regulatory Evaluation (FRE), vehicle safety im- 
provements will result from dynamic testing; and, as 
discussed later in this notice, such improvements can 
often be made quickly and at low cost. 

The agency recognizes that manufacturers may 
have to conduct more testing than they currently do. 
However, the dynamic testing of manual belts in 
passenger cars, as with testing of automatic 
restraints, can be combined with other compliance 
tests to reduce the overall number of tests. The agen- 
cy notes that in its NCAP tests, it has been able to 
combine the dynamic testing of belts with measuring 
the vehicle's compliance with other standards. The 
agency has followed the same practice in its com- 
pliance tests. For example, the agency has done com- 
pliance testing for Standard Nos. 208, 212, 219, and 
301 in one test. The agency would, of course, 
recognize a manufacturer's use of combined tests as a 
valid testing procedure to certify compliance with 
these standards. 



PART 571; S208-PRE 288 



Effective Date 

Two commenters argued that the requirement 
should become effective as soon as practical. As 
discussed in the April 1985 notice, the agency pro- 
posed an effective date of September 1, 1989, because 
it did not want to divert industry resources away 
from designing automatic restraints for passenger 
cars. The agency continues to believe it would be in- 
appropriate to divert those resources for the purposes 
of requiring improvements on manual belt systems 
that might not be permitted in passenger cars. 

Other commenters asked for a delay in the effective 
date-one asked for a delay until September 1, 1991, 
while another asked that the effective date be set 2-3 
years after the determination of whether a sufficient 
number of States have passed effective mandatory 
safety belt use laws. NHTSA does not agree there is a 
need to delay the effective date beyond September 1, 
1989 for passenger cars. Commenters argued that 
the time span between any decision on rescission of 
the automatic restraint requirements (as late as April 
1, 1989) and the effective date of the dynamic testing 
of manual belts (September 1, 1985) is too short to 
certify manual belts. 

The agency believes there is sufficient leadtime for 
passenger cars. Most of the vehicle components in 
passenger cars necessary for injury reduction 
management are the same for automatic restraint 
vehicles and dynamically tested manual belt vehicles. 
Additionally, as indicated and discussed in the April 
notice, approximately 40 percent of the passenger 
cars tested in the agency's 35 mph (NCAP) program 
meet the injurj- criteria specified in Standard No. 208, 
even though a 35 mph crash involves 36 percent more 
energy than the 30 mph crash test required by Stand- 
ard No. 208. In addition, the FRE shows that with 
relatively minor vehicle and/or restraint system 
changes some safety belt systems can be dramatically 
improved. This is further evidence that development 
of dynamically tested manual belts for passenger cars 
in 30 mph tests should not be a major engineering 
program. Thus, a delay in the effective date for 
passenger cars is not needed. 

Webbing tension-relieving devices 

With one exception, those manufacturers who com- 
mented on the proposal concerning tension-relieving 
devices supported testing safety belts adjusted so 
that they have the amount of slack recommended by 
the manufacturer in the vehicle owner's manual. 
However, one manufacturer and two other com- 
menters objected to the provision related to dynamic 



testing with the tension-relieving device adjusted to 
the manufacturer's maximum recommended slack 
position. The manufacturer objected to a dynamic 
test that would require any slack at all to be intro- 
duced into the belt system, on the grounds that un- 
controlled variability would be introduced into the 
dynamic test procedure, which would then lack objec- 
tivity. The manufacturer asserted that it might have 
to eliminate all tension-relieving devices for its safety 
belts. 

The agency's proposed test procedure was intended 
to accommodate tension-relieving devices since they 
can increase the comfort of belts. At the same time, 
the proposal would limit the potential reduction in ef- 
fectiveness for safety belt systems with excessive 
slack. The agency does not agree that this test pro- 
cedure need result in the elimination of tension- 
relieving devices from the marketplace. As men- 
tioned earlier, other manufacturers supported the 
proposal and did not indicate they would have to 
remove tension-relieving devices from their belt 
systems. The commenter opposing the requirement 
did not show that injury levels cannot be controlled 
within the specified injury criteria by testing with the 
recommended amount of slack, as determined by the 
manufacturer. The recommended slack could be very 
small or at any level selected by the manufacturer as 
appropriate to relieve belt pressure and still ensure 
that the injury reduction criteria of Standard No. 208 
would be met. As a practical matter, most tension- 
relievers automatically introduce some slack into the 
belt for all occupants. Testing without such slack 
would be unrealistic. 

The two other commenters objected to the proposal 
that manual belt systems using tension-relieving 
devices meet the injury criteria with only the 
specified amount of slack recommended in the 
owner's manual. They stated that most owners would 
not read the instructions in the owner's manual re- 
garding the proper use of the tension-relieving 
device. They said an occupant could have a false sense 
of adequate restraint when wearing a belt system ad- 
justed beyond the recommended limit. 

The agency's views on allowing the use of tension 
relievers in safety belts were detailed in the April 
1985 notice. The agency specifically noted the effec- 
tiveness of a safety belt system could be compromised 
if excessive slack were introduced into the belt. 
However, the agency recognizes that a belt system 
must be used to be effective at all. Allowing manufac- 
turers to install tension-relieving devices makes it 
possible for an occupant to introduce a small amount 
of slack to relieve shoulder belt pressure or to divert 



PART 571; 8208 -PRE 289 



the belt away from the neck. As a result, safety belt 
use is promoted. This factor should outweigh any loss 
in effectiveness due to the introduction of a recom- 
mended amount of slack in normal use. This is par- 
ticularly likely in light of the requirement that the 
belt system, so adjusted, must meet the injury criteria 
of Standard No. 208 under 30 mph test conditions. 
Further, the inadvertent introduction of slack into a 
belt system, which is beyond that for normal use, is 
unlikely in most current systems. In addition, even if 
too much slack is introduced, the occupant should 
notice that excessive slack is present and a correction 
is needed, regardless of whether he or she has read 
the vehicle's owner's manual. 

Exemption from Standard Nos. 203 and 204 

One commenter suggested that vehicles equipped 
with dynamically tested manual belts be exempt from 
Standard Nos. 203, Impact Protection for the Driver 
from the Steering Control Systems, and 204, Steering 
Column Rearward Displacement. The agency does 
not believe such an exemption would be appropriate 
because both those standards have been shown to pro- 
vide substantial protection to belted drivers. 

Latching procedure in Standard No. 208 

One commenter asked that Standard No. 208 be 
modified to include a test procedure for latching and 
adjusting a manual safety belt prior to the belt being 
dynamically tested. NHTSA agrees that Standard 
No. 208 should include such a procedure. The final 
rule incorporates the instructions contained in the 
NCAP test procedures for adjusting manual belts, as 
modified to reflect the introduction of the amount of 
slack recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. 

Revisions to Standard No. 209 

The notice proposed to exempt dynamically tested 
belts from the static laboratory strength tests for 
safety belt assemblies set forth in S4.4 of Standard 
No. 209. One commenter asked that such belts be ex- 
empted from the remaining requirements of Stand- 
ard No. 209 as well. 

NHTSA agrees that an additional exemption from 
some performance requirements of Standard No. 209 
is appropriate. Currently, the webbing of automatic 
belts is exempt from the elongation and other belt 
webbing and attachment hardware requirements of 
Standard No. 209, since those belts have to meet the 
injury protection criteria of Standard No. 208 during 
a crash. For dynamically-tested manual belts, 



NHTSA believes that an exemption from the webbing 
width, strength and elongation requirements (sec- 
tions 4.2(a)-(c)) is also appropriate, since these belts 
will also have to meet the injury protection re- 
quirements of Standard No. 208. The agency has 
made the necessary changes in the rule to adopt that 
exemption. 

The agency does not believe that manual belts 
should be exempt from the other requirements in 
Standard No. 209. For example, the requirements on 
buckle release force should continue to apply, since 
manual safety belts, unlike automatic belts, must be 
buckled every time they are used. As with retractors 
in automatic belts, retractors in dynamically tested 
manual belts will still have to meet Standard No. 
209's performance requirements. 

Revisions to Standard No. 210 

The notice proposed that dynamically tested 
manual belts would not have to meet the location re- 
quirements set forth in Standard No. 210, Seat Belt 
Assembly Anchorages. One commenter suggested 
that dynamically tested belts be completely exempt 
from Standard No. 210; it also recommended that 
Standard No. 210 be harmonized with Economic 
Commission for Europe (ECE) Regulation No. 14. 
Two other commenters suggested using the "out-of- 
vehicle" dynamic test procedure for manual belts con- 
tained in ECE Regulation No. 16, instead of the pro- 
posed barrier crash test in Standard No. 208. 

The agency does not believe that the 
"out-of- vehicle" laboratory bench test of ECE Regula- 
tion No. 16 should be allowed as a substitute for a 
dynamic vehicle crash test. The protection provided 
by safety belts depends on the performance of the 
safety belts themselves, in conjunction with the struc- 
tural characteristics and interior design of the vehi- 
cle. The best way to measure the performance of the 
safety belt/vehicle combination is through a vehicle 
crash test. 

The agency has already announced its intention to 
propose revisions to Standard No. 210 to harmonize it 
with ECE Regulation No. 14; therefore the com- 
menters' suggestions concerning harmonization and 
exclusion of dynamically tested safety belts from the 
other requirements of Standard No. 210 will be con- 
sidered during that rulemaking. At the present time, 
the agency is adopting only the proposed exclusion of 
anchorages for dynamically tested safety belts from 
the location requirements, which was not opposed by 
any commenter. 



PART 571; S208-PRE 290 



Belt Labelling 

One commenter objected to the proposal that 
djTiamically tested belts have a label indicating that 
they may be installed only at the front outboard 
seating positions of certain vehicles. The commenter 
said that it is unlikely that anyone would attempt to 
install a Tj^pe 2 lap shoulder belt in any vehicle other 
than the model for which it was designed. The agency 
does not agree. NHTSA believes that care must be 
taken to distinguish dynamically tested belt systems 
from other systems, since misapplication of a belt in a 
vehicle designed for use with a specific dynamically 
tested belt could pose a risk of injury. If there is a 
label on the belt itself, a person making the installa- 
tion will be aware that the belt should be installed 
only in certain vehicles. 

Use of the Head Injury Criterion 

The April 1985 notice set forth two proposed alter- 
native methods of using the head injury criterion 
(HIC) in situations when there is no contact between 
the test dummy's head and the vehicle's interior dur- 
ing a crash. The first proposed alternative was to re- 
tain the current HIC calculation for contact situa- 
tions. However, in non-contact situations, the agency 
proposed that a HIC would not be calculated, but in- 
stead new neck injury criteria would be calculated. 
The agency explained that a crucial element 
necessary for deciding whether to use the HIC 
calculation or the neck criteria was an objective 
technique for determining the occurrence and dura- 
tion of head contact in the crash test. As discussed in 
detail in the April 1985 notice, there are several 
methods available for establishing the duration of 
head contact, but there are questions about their 
levels of consistency and accuracy. 

The second alternative proposed by the agency 
would have calculated a HIC in both contact and non- 
contact situations, but it would limit the calculation to 
a time interval of 36 milliseconds. Along with the re- 
quirement that a HIC not exceed 1000, this would 
limit average head acceleration to 60g's or less. 

Almost all of the commenters opposed the use of 
the first proposed alternative. The commenters 
uniformly noted that there is no current technique 
that can accurately identify whether head contact has 
or has not occurred during a crash test in all situa- 
tions. However, one commenter urged the agency to 
adopt the proposed neck criteria, regardless of 
whether the HIC calculation is modified. There was a 
sharp division among the commenters on the second 
proposed alternative. Manufacturers commenting on 



the issue uniformly supported the use of the second 
alternative: although many manufacturers argued 
that the HIC calculation should be limited to a time in- 
terval of approximately 15 to 17 milliseconds (ms), 
which would limit average head accelerations to 80-85 
g's. Another manufacturer, who supported the sec- 
ond alternative, urged the agency to measure HIC 
only during the time interval that the acceleration 
level in the head exceeds 60 g's. It said that this 
method would more effectively differentiate results 
received in contacts with hard surfaces and results 
obtained from systems, such as airbags, which pro- 
vide good distribution of the loads experienced during 
a crash. Other commenters argued that the current 
HIC calculation should be retained; they said that the 
proposed alternatives would lower HIC calculations 
without ensuring that motorists were still receiving 
adequate head protection. 

NHTSA is in the process of reexamining the poten- 
tial effects of the two alternatives proposed by the 
agency and of the two additional alternatives sug- 
gested by the commenters. Once that review has been 
completed, the agency will issue a separate notice an- 
nouncing its decision. 

NCAP Test Procedures 

The April 1985 notice proposed adopting the test 
procedures on test dummy positioning and vehicle 
loading used in the agency's NCAP testing. The com- 
menters generally supported the adoption of the test 
procedures, although several commenters suggested 
changes in some of the proposals. In addition, several 
commenters argued that the new procedures may im- 
prove test consistency, but the changes do not affect 
what they claim is variability in crash test results. As 
discussed in the April 1985 notice, the agency 
believes that the test used in Standard No. 208 does 
produce repeatable results. The proposed changes in 
the test procedures were meant to correct isolated 
problems that occurred in some NCAP tests. The 
following discussion addresses the issues raised by 
the commenters about the specific test procedure 
changes. 

Vehicle test attitude 

The NPRM proposed that when a vehicle is tested, 
its attitude should be between its "as delivered" condi- 
tion and its "loaded" condition. (The "as delivered" 
condition is based on the vehicle attitude measured 
when it is received at the test site, with 100 percent of 
all its fluid capacities and with all its tires inflated to 
the manufacturer's specifications. For passenger 



PART 571; S208-PRE 291 



cars, the "loaded" condition is based on the vehicle's 
attitude with a test dummy in each front outboard 
designated seating position, plus carrying the cargo 
load specified by the manufacturer). 

One commenter said that the weight distribution, 
and therefore the attitude, of the vehicle is governed 
more by the Gross Axle Weight Rating (defined in 49 
CFR Part 571.3) than the loading conditions iden- 
tified by the agency. The commenter recommended 
that the proposal not be adopted. Another commenter 
said that the agency should adopt more specific pro- 
cedures for the positioning of the dummy and the 
cargo weight. For example, that commenter recom- 
mended that the "cargo weight shall be placed in such 
manner that its center of gravity will be coincident 
with the longitudinal center of the trunk, measured 
on the vehicle's longitudinal centerline." The com- 
menter said that unless a more specific procedure is 
adopted, a vehicle's attitude in the fully loaded condi- 
tion would not be constant. 

The agency believes that a vehicle attitude 
specification should be adopted. The purpose of the 
requirement is to ensure that a vehicle's attitude dur- 
ing a crash test is not significantly different than the 
fully loaded attitude of the vehicle as designed by the 
manufacturer. Random placement of any necessary 
ballast could have an effect on the test attitude of the 
vehicle. If these variables are not controlled, then the 
vehicle's test attitude could be affected and potential 
test variability increased. 

NHTSA does not agree that the use of the Gross 
Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) is sufficient to deter- 
mine the attitude of a vehicle. The use of GAWR only 
defines the maximum load-carrying capacity of each 
axle rather than in effect specifying a minimum and 
maximum loading as proposed by the agency. In addi- 
tion, use of the GAWR may, under certain conditions, 
make it necessary to place additional cargo in the 
passenger compartment in order to achieve the 
GAWR loading. This condition is not desirable for 
crash testing, since the passenger compartment 
should be used for dummy placement and instrumen- 
tation and not ballast cargo. Thus the commenter's 
recommendation is not accepted. 

The other commenter's recommendations regard- 
ing more specific test dummy placement procedures 
for the outboard seating positions were already ac- 
commodated in the NPRM by the proposed new 
SIO.1.1, Driver position placement, and SIO.1.2, 
Passenger position placement. Since those proposals 
adequately describe dummy placement in these posi- 
tions, they are adopted. 

NHTSA has evaluated the commenter's other sug- 



gestion for placing cargo weight with its center of 
gravity coincident with the longitudinal center of the 
trunk. The agency does not believe that it is 
necessary to determine the center of gravity of the 
cargo mass, which would add unnecessary complexity 
to the test procedure, but does agree that the cargo 
load should be placed so that it is over the longitudinal 
center of the trunk. The test procedures have been 
amended accordingly. 

Open window 

One commenter raised a question about the require- 
ment in S8.1.5 of Standard No. 208 that the vehicle's 
windows are to be closed during the crash test. It said 
adjustment of the dummy arm and the automatic 
safety belt can be performed only after an automatic 
belt is fully in place, which occurs only after the door 
is closed. Therefore, the window needs to be open to 
allow proper arm and belt placement after the door is 
closed. 

NHTSA agrees that the need to adjust the slack in 
automatic and dynamically-tested manual belts prior 
to the crash test may require that the vnndow remain 
open. The agency has modified the test procedure to 
allow manufacturers the option of having the window 
open during the crash test. 

Seat back position 

One commenter recommended that proposed 
S8.1.3, Adjustable seat back plaxieTYient, be modified. 
The notice proposed that adjustable seat backs should 
be set in their design riding position as measured by 
such things as specific latch or seat track detent posi- 
tions. The commenter suggested two options. The 
first option would be to allow vehicle manufacturers 
to specify any means they want to determine the seat 
back angle and the resulting dummy torso angle. As 
its second option, the commenter recommended that 
if the agency decides to adopt the proposal, it should 
determine the "torso angle with a H-point machine ac- 
cording to SAE J826." The commenter said that 
depending on how the torso angle is established, dif- 
ferent dummy torso angles could result in substantial 
adjustment deviations that can affect seat back place- 
ment. 

The purpose of the requirement is to position the 
seat at the design riding position used by the 
manufacturer. The agency agrees with the com- 
menter that manufacturers should have the flexibility 
to use any method they want to specify the seat back 
angle. Thus, the agency has made the necessary 
changes to the test procedure. 



PART 571; S208-PRE 292 



Dummy placement 

One commenter made several general comments 
about dummy placement. It agreed that positioning is 
very important and can have an influence on the out- 
come of crash tests. It argued that both the old and 
the proposed procedures are complicated and imprac- 
tical to use. The commenter claims this sitution will 
become more complicated if the Hybrid III is permit- 
ted, since the positioning must be carried out within a 
narrow temperature range (3°F) for the test dummy 
to remain in calibration. 

The commenter also believes that the positioning of 
the dummy should relate to vehicle type. It said that 
the posture and seating position of a vehicle occupant 
will not be the same in a van as in a sports car. For ex- 
ample, it said it has tried the proposed positioning 
procedures and found that they can result in an "un- 
natural" position for the dummy in a sports vehicle. 
The commenter argued that this "unnatural" position 
would then lead to a knee bolster design which would 
perform well in a crash test, but would likely not pro- 
vide the same protection to a real occupant because of 
difference in positioning. The commenter recom- 
mended that the old positioning procedure be re- 
tained and the new procedure be provided as an op- 
tion for those manufacturers whose vehicles cannot 
be adequately tested otherwise. 

Because consistency in positioning the dummy is re- 
quired prior to test, NHTSA believes that a single set 
of procedures should apply. As discussed in the April 
1985 notice, the agency proposed the new procedures 
because of positioning problems identified in the 
NCAP testing. Allowing the use of the old positioning 
procedures could lead to sources of variability, thus 
negating a major objective of the procedures. The 
commenter's suggestion is therefore not adopted. 
The agency also notes that during its NCAP testing, 
which has involved tests of a wide variety of cars (in- 
cluding sports cars), trucks and MPV's, NHTSA has 
not experienced the "unnatural" seating position 
problem cited by the commenter. 

Knee pivot bolt head clearance 

Two commenters said that the proposal did not 
specify the correct distance between the dummy's 
knees, as measured by the clearance between the 
knee pivot bolt heads. The commenters are correct 
that the distance should be 11% inches rather than 
the proposed value of 14V2 inches. The agency has 
corrected the number in the final rule. 



Foot rest 

One commenter believes that a driver of cars 
equipped with foot rests typically will place his or her 
left foot on the foot rest during most driving and 
therefore this position should be used to simulate nor- 
mal usage. The commenter said that using the foot 
rest will minimize variations in the positioning of the 
left leg, thus improving the repeatability of the test. 
In a discussion with the commenter, the agency has 
learned that the type of foot rest the commenter is 
referring to is a pedal-like structure where the driver 
can place his or her foot. 

For vehicles without foot rests, the commenter 
recommended the agency use the same provisions for 
positioning the left leg of the driver as are used for 
the right leg of the passenger. It noted that position- 
ing the driver's left leg, as with the passenger's right 
leg, can be hampered by wheelwell housing that pro- 
jects into the passenger compartment and thus similar 
procedures for each of those legs should be used. 

NHTSA agrees that in vehicles with foot rests, the 
test dummy's left food should be positioned on the 
foot rest as long as placing the foot there will not 
elevate the test dummy's left leg. As discussed below, 
the agency is concerned that foot rests, such as pads 
on the wheelwell, that elevate the test dummy's leg 
can contribute to test variability. The agency also 
agrees that the positioning procedures for the 
driver's left leg and the passenger's right leg should 
be similar in situations where the wheelwell housing 
projects into the passenger compartment and has 
made the necessary changes to the test procedure. 

Wheelwell 

One commenter believes that the wheelwell should 
be used to rest the dummy's foot. It said that position- 
ing the test dummy's foot there is particularly ap- 
propriate if the wheelwell has a design feature, such 
as a rubber pad, installed by the manufacturer for this 
purpose. 

NHTSA disagrees that the dummy's foot should be 
rested on the wheelwell housing. The agency is con- 
cerned that elevating the test dummy's leg could lead 
to test variability by, among other things, making the 
test dummy unstable during a crash test. Although 
the wheelwell problem is similar to the foot rest prob- 
lem, placement of the test dummy's foot on a 
separate, pedal-like foot rest can be accomplished 
while retaining the heel of the test dummy in a stable 
position on the floor. That is not the case with pads 
located on the wheelwell. 



PART 571; S208-PRE 293 



Another commenter also said that the proposed 
procedure for positioning the test dummy's legs in 
vehicles where the wheelwell projected into the 
passenger compartment was unclear as to how the 
centerlines of the upper and lower legs should be ad- 
justed so that both remain in a vertical longitudinal 
plane. In particular, it was concerned that in a vehicle 
with a large wheelhousing, it may not be possible to 
keep the left foot of the driver test dummy in the ver- 
tical longitudinal plane after the right foot has been 
positioned. It believes that the procedure should 
specify which foot position should be given priority; it 
recommended that the position of the right leg be re- 
quired to remain in the plane, while bringing the left 
leg as close to the vertical longitudinal plane as possi- 
ble. The agency agrees that maintaining the inboard 
leg of the test dummy in the vertical plane is more 
easily accomplished since it will not be blocked by the 
wheelwell. The agency has modified the test pro- 
cedure to specify that when it is not possible to main- 
tain both legs in the vertical longitidinal plane, that 
the inboard leg must be kept as close as possible to 
the vertical longitudinal plane and the outboard leg 
should be placed as close as possible to the vertical 
plane. 

Lower leg angle 

One commenter argued that proposed sections on 
lower leg positioning (SIO.1.2.1 (b) and SIO. 1.2.2 (b)) 
will not result in a constant positioning of the test 
dummy's heels on the floor pan, thus causing dif- 
ferences in the lower leg angles. It stated that the 
lower leg angles will affect the femur load generated 
at the moment the foot hits the toe board during a col- 
lision. The commenter therefore proposed that the 
test procedure be revised to include placing a 20 
pound load on the test dummy's knee during the foot 
positioning procedure. The commenter did not, 
however, explain the basis for choosing a force of 20 
pounds. 

NHTSA believes that use of the additional weight 
loading and settling procedure proposed by the com- 
menter will add an unnecessary level of complexity to 
the test procedure vnthout adding any corresponding 
benefit. The positioning of the test dummy's heel has 
not been a problem in the agency's NCAP tests. Ac- 
cordingly, the agency is not adopting the 
commenter's recommendation. 

Shoulder adjustment 

One commenter asked the agency to specify that 
the shoulders of the test dummy be placed at their 



lowest adjustment position. While the shoulders are 
slightly adjustable, the agency believes that specifying 
an adjustment position is unnecessary. The agency's 
test experience has shown that the up and down move- 
ment of the shoulders is physically limited by the test 
dummy's rubber "skin" around the openings where the 
arms are connected to the test dummy's upper torso. 

Dummy lifting procedure 

One commenter was concerned about the dummy 
lifting proposed in (Section SlO.4.1, Dummy Vertical 
Upward Displacement). It said that if the dummy lift- 
ing method is not standardized, test results could be 
affected by allowing variability in the position of the 
dummy's H point (the H point essentially represents 
the hip joint) through use of different lifting methods. 
It recommended use of a different chest lifting 
method to avoid variability in the subsequent posi- 
tioning of the test dummy H-point. 

The agency is not aware of any test data indicating 
that the use of different lifting methods is a signifi- 
cant source of variability. As long as a manufacturer 
follows the procedures set forth in SlO.4.1 in position- 
ing the test dummy, it can use any lifting procedure it 
wants. 

Dummy settling load 

One commenter was concerned about the proposed 
requirements for dummy settling (SlO.4.2, Lower tor- 
so force application, and SIO. 4. 5, Upper torso force 
application). The commenter believes that the pro- 
posals are inadequate because they do not prescribe 
the area over which to apply the load used to settle 
the test dummy in the seat. The commenter said that 
if the proposed 50 pound settling force is applied to an 
extremely small contact area, then the dummy may 
be deformed. It recommended that the load be applied 
to a specified area of 9 square inches on the dummy. 
In addition, it recommended that the agency specify 
the duration of the 50 lb. force application during the 
adjustment of the upper torso; it suggested a period 
of load application ranging from 5 to 10 seconds. 

NHTSA and others have successfully used the pro- 
posed settling test procedures in their own tests 
without having any variability problems. Unless ab- 
normally small contact areas are employed, or ex- 
tremely short durations are used, standard 
laboratory practices should not result in any such 
problems. The agency believes that further specifying 
the area and timing of the force application is not 
necessary. 



PART 571; S208-PRE 294 



Dummy head adjustment 

One commenter pointed out that it is impossible to 
adjust the head according to SlO.6. Head Adjust- 
ment, because the Part 572 test dummy does not have 
a head adjustment mechanism. The agency agrees 
and has deleted the provision. 

Additional dummy settling and shoulder belt posi- 
tioning procedures 

One commenter suggested a substantial revised 
dummy settling procedure and new procedures for 
positioning of the shoulder belt. NHTSA believes that 
its proposed procedures sufficiently address the set- 
tling and belt position issues. In addition, the com- 
menter did not provide any data to show that 
variability would be further reduced by its suggested 
procedures. A substantial amount of testing would be 
needed to verify if the commenter's suggested test 
procedures do, in fact, provide any further decrease 
in variability than that obtained by the agency's test 
procedures. For those reasons, the agency is not 
adopting the commenter's suggestions for new pro- 
cedures. 

D%ie Care 

In the April 1985 notice, the agency proposed 
amending the standard to state that the due care pro- 
vision of section 108(bX2) of the National Traffic and 
Motor Vehicle Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 1397(bX2)) ap- 
plies to compliance with the standard. Thus, a vehicle 
would not be deemed in noncompliance if its manufac- 
turer establishes that it did not have reason to know 
in the exercise of due care that such vehicle is not in 
conformity with the standard. 

Commenters raised a number of questions about 
the proposal, with some saying that the agency 
needed to clarify what constitutes "due care," others 
recommending that the agency reconsider the use of 
"design to conform" language instead of due care and 
another opposing the use of any due care provision. 

A number of commenters, while supporting the use 
of a due care provision, said that the proposal pro- 
vides no assurance that a manufacturer's good faith 
effort will be considered due care. They said that the 
agency should identify the level of testing and 
analysis necessary to constitute due care. Another 
commenter emphasized that in defining due care, the 
agency must ensure that a manufacturer uses 
recognized statistical procedures in determining that 
its products comply with the requirements of the 
standard. 



Another group of commenters requested the agen- 
cy to reconsider its decision not to use "design to con- 
form" language in the standard; they said that the 
agency's concerns about the subjectivity of a "design 
to conform" language are not greater and could well 
be less than that resulting from use of due care 
language. 

One commenter opposed the use of any due care 
language in the standard. It argued that the National 
Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act requires the 
agency to set objective performance requirements in 
its standards. When a manufacturer determines that 
it has not met those performance requirements, then 
the manufacturer is under an obligation to notify 
owners and remedy the noncom.plying vehicles. It 
argued that the proposed due care provision, in ef- 
fect, provides manufacturers with an exemption from 
the Vehicle Safety Act recall provisions. 

As discussed in the July 1984 final rule and the 
April 1985 notice, the agency believes that the test 
procedure of Standard No. 208 produces repeatable 
results in vehicle crash tests. The agency does, 
however, recognize that the Standard No. 208 test is 
more complicated than NHTSA's other crash test 
standards since a number of different injury 
measurements must be made on the two test dum- 
mies used in the testing. Because of this complexity, 
the agency believes that manufacturers need 
assurance from the agency that, if they have made a 
good faith effort in designing their vehicles and have 
instituted adequate quality control measures, they 
will not face the recall of their vehicles because of an 
isolated apparent failure to meet one of the injury 
criteria. The adoption of a due care provision provides 
that assurance. For the reasons discussed in the July 
1984 final rules, the agency still believes use of a due 
care provision is a better approach to this issue than 
use of a design to conform provision. 

As the agency has emphasized in its prior inter- 
pretation letters, a determination of what constitutes 
due care can only be made on a case-by-case basis. 
Whether a manufacturer's action will constitute due 
care will depend, in part, upon the availability of test 
equipment, the limitations of available technology, 
and above all, the diligence evidenced by the 
manufacturer. 

Adoption of a due care defense is in line with the 
agency's long-standing and well-known enforcement 
policy on test differences. Under this long standing 
practice if the agency's testing shows noncompliance 
and a manufacturer's tests, valid on their face, show 
complying results, the agency will conduct an inquiry 
into the reason for the differing results. If the agency 



PART 571; S208- PRE 295 



concludes that the difference in results can be ex- 
plained to the agency's satisfaction, that the agency's 
results do not indicate an unreasonable risk to safety, 
and that the manufacturer's tests were reasonably 
conducted and were in conformity with standard, 
then the agency does not use its own tests as a basis 
for a finding of noncompliance. Although this inter- 
pretation has long been a matter of public record, 
Congress, in subsequent amendments of the Vehicle 
Safety Act, has not acted to alter that interpretation. 
The Supreme Court has said that under those cir- 
cumstances, it can be presumed that the agency's in- 
terpretation has correctly followed the intent of the 
statute. (See United States v. Rutherford, 442 U.S. 
544, 544 n. 10 (1979)) 



Phase-In 



Attribution rules 



With respect to cars manufacturered by two or 
more companies, and cars manufactured by one com- 
pany and imported by another, the April 1985 notice 
proposed to clarify who would be considered the 
manufacturer for purposes of calculating the average 
annual production of passenger cars for each 
manufacturer and the amount of passenger cars 
manufacturered by each manufacturer that must 
comply with the automatic restraint phase-in re- 
quirements. In order to provide maximum flexibility 
to manufacturers, while assuring that the percentage 
phase-in goals are met, the notice proposed to permit 
manufacturers to determine, by contract, which of 
them will count, as its own, passenger cars manufac- 
tured by two or more companies or cars manufac- 
tured by one company and imported by another. 

The notice also proposed two rules of attribution in 
the absence of such a contract. First, a passenger car 
which is imported for purposes of resale would be at- 
tributed to the importer. The agency intended that 
this proposed attribution rule would apply to both 
direct importers as well as importers authorized by 
the vehicle's original manufacturer. (In this context, 
direct importation refers to the importation of cars 
which are originally manufactured for sale outside 
the U.S. and which are then imported without the 
manufacturer's authorization into the U.S. by an im- 
porter for purposes of resale. The Vehicle Safety Act 
requires that such vehicles be brought into conformi- 
ty with Federal motor vehicle safety standards.) 
Under the second proposed attribution rule, a 
passenger car manufactured in the United States by 
more than one manufacturer, one of which also 



markets the vehicle, would be attributed to the 
manufacturer which markets the vehicle. 

These two proposed rules would generally attribute 
a vehicle to the manufacturer which is most responsi- 
ble for the existence of the vehicle in the United 
States, i.e., by importing the vehicle or by manufac- 
turing the vehicle for its own account as part of a joint 
venture, and marketing the vehicle. (Importers 
generally market the vehicles they import.) All com- 
menters on these proposals supported giving 
manufacturers the flexibility to determine contrac- 
tually which manufacturer would count the passenger 
car as its own. The commenters also supported the 
proposed attribution rules. Therefore, the agency is 
adopting the provisions as proposed. 

Credit for early phase-In 

The April 1985 notice proposed that manufacturers 
that exceeded the minimum percentage phase-in re- 
quirements in the first or second years could count 
those extra vehicles toward meeting the re- 
quirements in the second or third years. In addition, 
manufacturers could also count any automatic 
restraint vehicles produced during the one year 
preceding the first year of the phase-in. Since all the 
commenters addressing these proposals supported 
them, the agency is adopting them as proposed. The 
agency believes that providing credit for early in- 
troduction will encourage introduction of larger 
numbers of automatic restraints and provide in- 
creased flexibility for manufacturers. In addition, it 
will assure an orderly build-up of production capabili- 
ty for automatic restraint equipped cars as con- 
templated by the July 1984 final rule. 

One commenter asked the agency to establish a 
new credit for vehicles equipped with non-belt 
automatic restraints at the driver's position and a 
dynamically-tested manual belt at the passenger posi- 
tion. The commenter requested that such a vehicle 
receive a 1.0 credit. The commenter also asked the 
agency to allow vehicles equipped with driver-only 
automatic restraint systems to be manufactured after 
September 1, 1989, the effective date for automatic 
restraints for the driver and front right passenger 
seating positions in all passenger cars. In its August 
30, 1985 notice (50 FR 35233) responding to petitions 
for reconsideration of the July 1984 final rule on 
Standard No. 208, the agency has already adopted a 
part of the commenter's suggestion by establishing a 
1.0 vehicle credit for vehicles equipped with a non- 
belt automatic restraint at the driver's position and a 
manual lap/shoulder belt at the passenger's position. 
For reasons detailed in the July 1984 final rule, the 



PART 571; S208-PRE 296 



agency believes that the automatic restraint require- 
ment should apply to both front outboard seating 
positions beginning on September 1, 1989, and is 
therefore not adopting the commenter's second sug- 
gestion. 

Phase-In Reporting Requirements 

The April 1985 notice proposed to establish a new 
Part 585, Automatic Restraint Phase-in Reporting 
Requirements. The agency proposed requiring 
manufacturers to submit three reports to NHTSA, 
one for each of the three automatic restraint phase-in 
periods. Each report, covering production during a 
12-month period beginning September 1 and ending 
August 31, would be required to be submitted within 
60 days after the end of such period. Information re- 
quired by each report would include a statement 
regarding the extent to which the manufacturer had 
complied with the applicable percentage phase-in re- 
quirement of Standard No. 208 for the period covered 
by the report; the number of passenger cars manufac- 
tured for sale in the United States for each of the 
three previous 12-month production periods; the ac- 
tual number of passenger cars manufactured during 
the reporting production (or during a previous pro- 
duction period and counted toward compliance in the 
reporting production period) period with automatic 
safety belts, air bags and other specified forms of 
automatic restraint technology, respectively; and 
brief information about any express written contracts 
which concern passenger cars produced by more than 
one manufacturer and affect the report. 

One commenter questioned the need for a reporting 
requirement, saying that the requirement was un- 
necessary since manufacturers must self-certify that 
their vehicles meet Standard No. 208. The agency 
believes that a reporting requirement is needed for 
the limited period of the phase-in of automatic 
restraints so that the agency can carry out its 
statutory duty to monitor compliance with the 
Federal motor vehicle safety standards. During the 
phase-in, only a certain percentage of vehicles are re- 
quired to have automatic restraints. It would be vir- 
tually impossible for the agency to determine if the 
applicable percentage of passenger cars has been 
equipped with automatic restraints unless manufac- 
turers provide certain production information to the 
agency. NHTSA is therefore adopting the reporting 
requirement. 

The same commenter said that requiring the report 
to be due 60 days after the end of the production year 
can be a problem for importers. The commenter said 



that production records may accompany the vehicle, 
which may not actually reach the United States until 
30 or 45 days after the production year ends. The 
commenter asked the agency to provide an appeal 
process to seek an extension of the period to file the 
report. The agency believes that the example 
presented by the commenter represents a worst case 
situation and complying with the 60 day requirement 
should not be a problem for manufacturers, including 
importers. However, to eliminate any problems in 
worst case situations, the agency is amending the 
regulation to provide that manufacturers seeking an 
extension of the deadline to file a report must file a 
request for an extension at least 15 days before the 
report is due. 

Calculation of average annual production 

The agency also proposed an alternative to the re- 
quirement that the number of cars that must be 
equipped with automatic restraints must be based on 
a percentage of each manufacturer's average annual 
production for the past three model years. The pro- 
posed alternative would permit manufacturers to 
equip the required percentage of its actual production 
of passenger cars with automatic restraints during 
each affected year. Since all commenters addressing 
this proposal supported it, the agency is adopting it as 
an alternative means of compliance, at the manufac- 
turer's option. In the case of a new manufacturer, the 
manufacturer would have to calculate the amount of 
passenger cars required to have automatic restraints 
based on its production of passenger cars during each 
of the affected years. Since the agency has decided to 
adopt the alternative basis for determining the pro- 
duction quota, it has made the necessary conforming 
changes in the reporting requirements adopted in this 
notice. 

One commenter also requested the agency to clarify 
whether a manufacturer does have to include its pro- 
duction volume of convertibles when it is calculating 
the percentage of vehicles that must meet the phase- 
in requirement. The automatic restraint requirement 
applies to all passenger cars. Thus, a manufacturer's 
production figures for passenger car convertibles 
must be counted when the manufacturer is 
calculating its phase-in requirements. 

Retention of VINs 

In order to keep administrative burdens to a 
minimum, the agency proposed that the required 
report need not use the VIN to identify the particular 
type of automatic restraint installed in each 



PART 571; S208-PRE 297 



passenger car produced during the phase-in period. 
Since that information could be necessary for pur- 
poses of enforcement, however, the agency proposed 
to require that manufacturers maintain records until 
December 31, 1991, of the VIN and type of automatic 
restraint for each passenger car which is produced 
during the phase-in period and is reported as having 
automatic restraints. Although direct import cars are 
not required to have a US-format VIN number, those 
cars would still have a European-format VIN number 
and thus direct importers would be required to retain 
that VIN information. (The agency is considering a 
petition from Volkswagen requesting that direct im- 
port cars be required to have US-format VINs.) 

The reason for retaining the information until 1991 
is to ensure that such information would then be 
available until the completion of any agency enforce- 
ment action begun after the final phase-in report is 
filed in 1990. The agency believes this requirement 
meets the needs of the agency, with minimal impacts 
on manufacturers, and therefore is adopting it as pro- 
posed. One commenter asked whether a manufac- 
turer is required to keep the VIN information as a 
separate file or whether keeping the information as a 
part of its general business records is sufficient. As 
long as the VIN information is retrievable, it may be 
stored in any manner that is convenient for a 
manufacturer. 

In consideration of the foregoing, 49 CFR Part 
571.208 is amended as follows: 

The authority citation for Part 571 would continue 
to read as follows: 

Authority: 15 U.S.C. 1392, 1401, 1403, 1407; 
delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.50. 

1. Section S4. 1.3. 1.2 is revised to read as follows: 

S4.1.3.1.2 Subject to S4.1.3.4 and S4.1.5, the 
amount of passenger cars, specified in S4. 1.3. 1.1 
complying with the requirements of S4. 1.2.1 shall be 
not less than 10 percent of: 

(a) the average annual production of passenger 
cars manufactured on or after September 1, 1983, 
and before September 1, 1986, by each manufacturer, 
or 

(b) the manufacturer's annual production of pas- 
senger cars during the period specified in S4. 1.3. 1.1. 

2'. Section 4.1.3.2.2 is revised to read as follows: 
S4. 1.3.2.2 Subject to S4.1.3.4 and S4.1.5, the 
amount of passenger cars specified in S4. 1.3.2.1 com- 
plying with the requirements of S4. 1.2.1 shall be not 
less than 25 percent of: 

(a) the average annual production of passenger 
cars manufactured on or after September 1, 1984, 



and before September 1, 1987, by each manufacturer, 
or 

(b) the manufacturer's annual production of pas- 
senger cars during the period specified in S4. 1.3.2.1. 

3. Section 4.1.3.3.2 is revised to read as follows: 
S4. 1.3.3. 2 Subject to S4. 1.3.4 and S4.1.5, the 

amount of passenger cars specified in S4. 1.3.3.1 com- 
plying with the requirements of S4. 1.2.1 shall not be 
less than 40 percent of: 

(a) the average annual production of passenger 
cars manufactured on or after September 1, 1985, 
and before September 1, 1988, by each manufacturer 
or 

(b) the manufacturer's annual production of pas- 
senger cars during the period specified in S4. 1.3.3.1. 

4. Section S4. 1.3.4 is revised to read as follows: 
S4. 1.3.4 Calculation of complying passenger cars. 

(a) For the purposes of calculating the numbers of 
cars manufactured under S4. 1.3. 1.2, S4. 1.3.2.2, or 
S4. 1.3.3.2 to comply with S4. 1.2.1: 

(1) each car whose driver's seating position com- 
plies with the requirements of S4. 1.2. 1(a) by means 
not including any type of seat belt and whose front 
right seating position will comply with the re- 
quirements of S4. 1.2. 1(a) by any means is counted as 
1.5 vehicles, and 

(2) each car whose driver's seating position com- 
plies with the requirements of S4. 1.2. 1(a) by means 
not including any type of seat belt and whose right 
front seat seating position is equipped with a manual 
Type 2 seat belt is counted as one vehicle. 

(b) For the purposes of complying with S4. 1.3. 1.2, 
a passenger car may be counted if it: 

(1) is manufactured on or after September 1, 1985, 
but before September 1, 1986, and 

(2) complies with S4. 1.2.1. 

(c) For the purposes of complying with S4. 1.3. 2.2, 
a passenger car may be counted if it: 

(1) is manufactured on or after September 1, 1985, 
but before September 1, 1987, 

(2) compHes with S4. 1.2.1, and 

(3) is not counted toward compliance with 
S4.1.3.1.2 

(d) For the purposes of complying with S4. 1.3.3.2, 
a passenger car may be counted if it: 

(1) is manufactured on or after September 1, 1985, 
but before September 1, 1988, 

(2) complies with S4. 1.2.1, and 

(3) is not counted toward compliance with 
S4.1.3.1.2 or S4.1.3.2.2. 



PART 571; S208-PRE 298 



5. A new section S4.1.3.5 is added to read as follows: 
S4. 1.3.5 Passenger cars produced by more than one 

manufacturer. 

54. 1.3. 5.1 For the purposes of calculating average 
annual production of passenger cars for each 
manufacturer and the amount of passenger cars 
manufactured by each manufacturer under 
S4. 1.3. 1.2, S4.1.3.2.2 or S4. 1.3.3.2, a passenger car 
produced by more than one manufacturer shall be at- 
tributed to a single manufacturer as follows, subject 
to S4. 1.3.5.2: 

(a) A passenger car which is imported shall be at- 
tributed to the importer. 

(b) A passenger car manufactured in the United 
States by more than one manufacturer, one of which 
also markets the vehicle, shall be attributed to the 
manufacturer which markets the vehicle. 

54. 1.3.5.2 A passenger car produced by more than 
one manufacturer shall be attributed to any one of the 
vehicle's manufacturers specified by an express writ- 
ten contract, reported to the National Highway Traf- 
fic Safety Administration under 49 CFR Part 585, 
between the manufacturer so specified and the 
manufacturer to which the vehicle would otherwise be 
attributed under S4. 1.3. 5.1. 

6. A new section S4.6 is added to read as follows: 
S4.6 Dynamic testing of manual belt systems. 

54.6.1 If the automatic restraint requirement of 
S4.1.4 is rescinded pursuant to S4.1.5, then each 
passenger car that is manufactured after September 
1, 1989, and is equipped with a Type 2 manual seat 
belt assembly at each front outboard designated 
seating position pursuant to S4.1.2.3 shall meet the 
frontal crash protection requirements of S5.1 at those 
designated seating positions with a test dummy 
restrained by a Type 2 seat belt assembly that has 
been adjusted in accordance with S7.4.2. 

54.6.2 A Type 2 seat belt assembly subject to the re- 
quirements of S4.6.1 of this standard does not have to 
meet the requirements of S4.2(a)-(c) and S4.4 of 
Standard No. 209 (49 CFR 571.209) of this Part. 

7. 87.4.2 is revised to read as follows: 

S7.4.2 Webbing tension relieving device. Each vehi- 
cle with an automatic seat belt assembly or with a 
Type 2 manual seat belt assembly that must meet 
S4.6 installed in a front outboard designated seating 
position that has either manual or automatic devices 
permitting the introduction of slack in the webbing of 
the shoulder belt (e.g., "comfort clips" or "window- 
shade" devices) shall: 

(a) comply with the requirements of S5.1 with the 
shoulder belt webbing adjusted to introduce the max- 
imum amount of slack recommended by the manufac- 
turer pursuant to S7.4.2.(b); 



(b) have a section in the vehicle owner's manual that 
explains how the tension-relieving device works and 
specifies the maximum amount of slack (in inches) 
recommended by the vehicle manufacturer to be in- 
troduced into the shoulder belt under normal use con- 
ditions. The explanation shall also warn that in- 
troducing slack beyond the amount specified by the 
manufacturer can significantly reduce the effec- 
tiveness of the shoulder belt in a crash; and 

(c) have an automatic means to cancel any shoulder 
belt slack introduced into the belt system by a 
tension-relieving device each time the safety belt is 
unbuckled or the adjacent vehicle door is opened, ex- 
cept that open-body vehicles with no doors can have a 
manual means to cancel any shoulder belt slack in- 
troduced into the belt system by a tension-relieving 
device. 

8. Section 8.1.1(c) is revised to read as follows: 
S8. 1 . 1(c) Fuel system capacity. With the test vehicle 

on a level surface, pump the fuel from the vehicle's 
fuel tank and then operate the engine until it stops. 
Then, add Stoddard solvent to the test vehicle's fuel 
tank in an amount which is equal to not less than 92 
and not more than 94 percent of the fuel tank's usable 
capacity stated by the vehicle's manufacturer. In ad- 
dition, add the amount of Stoddard solvent needed to 
fill the entire fuel system from the fuel tank through 
the engine's induction system. 

9. A new section 8.1.1(d) is added to read as follows: 
S8. 1.1(d) Vehicle test attitude. Determine the 

distance between a level surface and a standard 
reference point on the test vehicle's body, directly 
above each wheel opening, when the vehicle is in its 
"as delivered" condition. The "as delivered" condition 
is the vehicle as received at the test site, with 100 per- 
cent of all fluid capacities and all tires inflated to the 
manufacturer's specifications as listed on the vehicle's 
tire placard. Determine the distance between the 
same level surface and the same standard reference 
points in the vehicle's "fully loaded condition". The 
"fully loaded condition" is the test vehicle loaded in ac- 
cordance with S8. 1.1(a) or (b), as applicable. The load 
placed in the cargo area shall be centered over the 
longitudinal centerline of the vehicle. The pretest 
vehicle attitude shall be equal to either the as 
delivered or fully loaded attitude or between the as 
delivered attitude and the fully loaded attitude. 

10. S7.4.3 is revised by removing the reference to 
"S10.6" and replacing it with a reference to "S10.7." 

11. S7.4.4 is revised by removing the reference to 
"S10.5" and replacing it with a reference to "S10.6." 

12. S7.4.5 is revised by removing the reference to 
"SB. 1.11" and replacing it with a reference to "SIO." 



PART 571; S208-PRE 299 



13. Section 8.1.3 is revised to read as follows: 
S8.1.3 Adjustable seat back placement. Place ad- 
justable seat backs in the manufacturer's nominal 
design riding position in the manner specified by the 
manufacturer. Place each adjustable head restraint in 
its highest adjustment position. 

14. Sections 8.1.11 through 8.1.11.2.3 are removed. 

15. Sections 8.1.12 and 8.1.13 are redesignated 
8.1.11 and 8.1.12, respectively. 

16. Section 10 is revised to read as follows: 

SIO Test dummy positioning procedures. Position a 
test dummy, conforming to Subpart B of Part 572 (49 
CFR Part 572), in each front outboard seating posi- 
tion of a vehicle as specified in SlO.l through SIO. 9. 
Each test dummy is: 

(a) not restrained during an impact by any means 
that require occupant action if the vehicle is equipped 
with automatic restraints. 

(b) restrained by manual Type 2 safety belts, ad- 
justed in accordance with SIO. 9, if the vehicle is 
equipped with manual safety belts in the front out- 
board seating positions. 

SlO.l Vehicle equipped with front bucket seats. 
Place the test dummy's torso against the seat back 
and its upper legs against the seat cushion to the ex- 
tent permitted by placement of the test dummy's feet 
in accordance with the appropriate paragraph of SIO. 
Center the test dummy on the seat cushion of the 
bucket seat and set its midsagittal plane so that it is 
vertical and parallel to the centerline of the vehicle. 

SIO. 1.1 Driver position placem,ent. 

(a) Initially set the knees of the test dummy IPA 
inches apart, measured between the outer surfaces of 
the knee pivot bolt heads, with the left outer surface 
5.9 inches from the midsagittal plane of the test dum- 
my. 

(b) Rest the right foot of the test dummy on the 
undepressed accelerator pedal with the rearmost 
point of the heel on the floor pan in the plane of the 
pedal. If the foot cannot be placed on the accelerator 
pedal, set it perpendicular to the lower leg and place 
it as far forward as possible in the direction of the 
geometric center of the pedal with the rearmost point 
of the heel resting on the floor pan. Except as 
prevented by contact with a vehicle surface, place the 
right leg so that the upper and lower leg centerlines 
fall, as close as possible, in a vertical longitudinal 
plane without inducing torso movement. 

(c) Place the left foot on the toeboard with the rear- 
most point of the heel resting on the floor pan as close 
as possible to the point of intersection of the planes 
described by the toeboard and the floor pan. If the 
foot cannot be positioned on the toeboard, set it 



perpendicular to the lower leg and place it as far for- 
ward as possible with the heel resting on the floor 
pan. Except as prevented by contact with a vehicle 
surface, place the left leg so that the upper and lower 
leg centerlines fall, as close as possible, in a vertical 
plane. For vehicles with a foot rest that does not 
elevate the left foot above the level of the right foot, 
place the left foot on the foot rest so that the upper 
and lower leg centerlines fall in a vertical plane. 

SlO.1.2 Passenger position placement. 

SIO. 1.2.1 Vehicles with a flat floor pan/toeboard. 

(a) Initially set the knees IPA inches apart, 
measured between the outer surfaces of the knee 
pivot bolt heads. 

(b) Place the right and left feet on the vehicle's 
toeboard with the heels resting on the floor pan as 
close as possible to the intersection point with the 
toeboard. If the feet cannot be placed flat on the 
toeboard, set them perpendicular to the lower leg 
centerlines and place them as far forward as possible 
with the heels resting on the floor pan. 

(c) Place the right and left legs so that the upper 
and lower leg centerlines fall in vertical longitudinal 
planes. 

Si 0.1. 2. 2 Vehicles with wheelhou^e projections in 
passenger compartment. 

(a) Initially set the knees 11% inches apart, 
measured between outer surfaces of the knee pivot 
bolt heads. 

(b) Place the right and left feet in the well of the 
floor pan/toeboard and not on the wheelhouse projec- 
tion. If the feet cannot be placed flat on the toeboard, 
set them perpendicular to the lower leg centerlines 
and as far forward as possible with the heels resting 
on the floor pan. 

(c) If it is not possible to maintain vertical and 
longitudinal planes through the upper and lower leg 
centerlines for each leg, then place the left leg so that 
its upper and lower centerlines fall, as closely as 
possible, in a vertical longitudinal plane and place the 
right leg so that its upper and lower leg centerlines 
fall, as closely as possible, in a vertical plane. 

SIO. 2 Vehicle equipped with bench seating. Place a 
test dummy with its torso against the seat back and 
its upper legs against the seat cushion, to the extent 
permitted by placement of the test dummy's feet in 
accordance with the appropriate paragraph of SlO.l. 

SIO. 2.1 Driver position placement. Place the test 
dummy at the left front outboard designated seating 
position so that its midsagittal plane is vertical and 
parallel to the centerline of the vehicle and so that the 
midsagittal plane of the test dummy passes through 
the center of the steering wheel rim. Place the legs, 



PART 571; S208-PRE 300 



knees, and feet of the test dummy as specified in 
SIO.1.1. 

SlO.2.2 Passenger position placement. Place the 
test dummy at the right front outboard designated 
seating position as specified in S 10. 1.2, except that 
the midsagittal plane of the test dummy shall be ver- 
tical and longitudinal, and the same distance from the 
vehicle's longitudinal centerline as the midsagittal 
plane of the test dummy at the driver's position. 

510.3 Initial test dummy placement. With the test 
dummy at its designated seating position as specified 
by the appropriate requirements of SlO.l or S10.2, 
place the upper arms against the seat back and 
tangent to the side of the upper torso. Place the lower 
arms and palms against the outside of the upper legs. 

510.4 Test dummy settling. 

SlO.4.1 Test dummy vertical upward displacement. 
Slowly lift the test dummy parallel to the seat back 
plane until the test dummy's buttocks no longer con- 
tact the seat cushion or until there is test dummy 
head contact with the vehicle's headlining. 

Si 0.4. 2 Lower torso force application. Using a test 
dummy positioning fixture, apply a rearward force of 
50 pounds through the center of the rigid surface 
against the test dummy's lower torso in a horizontal 
direction. The line of force application shall be 6V2 in- 
ches above the bottom surface of the test dummy's but- 
tocks. The 50 pound force shall be maintained with the 
rigid fixture applying reaction forces to either the floor 
pan/toeboard, the 'A' post, or the vehicle's seat frame. 

S 10.4.3 Test dummy vertical downward displace- 
ment. While maintaining the contact of the horizontal 
rearward force positioning fixture with the test dum- 
my's lower torso, remove as much of the 50 pound 
force as necessary to allow the test dummy to return 
downward to the seat cushion by its own weight. 

510.4.4 Test dummy upper torso rocking. Without 
totally removing the horizontal rearward force being 
applied to the test dummy's lower torso, apply a 
horizontal forward force to the test dummy's 
shoulders sufficient to flex the upper torso forward 
until its back no longer contacts the seat back. Rock 
the test dummy from side to side 3 or 4 times so that 
the test dummy's spine is at any angle from the ver- 
tical in the 14 to 16 degree range at the extremes of 
each rocking movement. 

510.4.5 Upper torso force application. With the test 
dummy's midsagittal plane vertical, push the upper 
torso against the seat back with a force of 50 pounds 
applied in a horizontal rearward direction along a line 
that is coincident with the test dummy's midsagittal 
plane and 18 inches above the bottom surface of the 
test dummy's buttocks. 



510.5 Placement of test dummy arms and hands. 
With the test dummy positioned as specified by S10.3 
and without inducing torso movement, place the 
arms, elbows, and hands of the test dummy, as ap- 
propriate for each designated seating position in ac- 
cordance with S 10.3.1 or S 10.3.2. Following place- 
ment of the arms, elbows and hands, remove the force 
applied against the lower half of the torso. 

510.5.1 Driver's position. Move the upper and the 
lower arms of the test dummy at the driver's position 
to their fully outstretched position in the lowest possi- 
ble orientation. Push each arm rearward, permitting 
bending at the elbow, until the palm of each hand con- 
tacts the outer part of the rim of the steering wheel at 
its horizontal centerline. Place the test dummy's 
thumbs over the steering wheel rim and position the 
upper and lower arm centerlines as close as possible 
in a vertical plane without inducing torso movement. 

510.5.2 Passenger position. Move the upper and the 
lower arms of the test dummy at the passenger posi- 
tion to fully outstretched position in the lowest possi- 
ble orientation. Push each arm rearward, permitting 
bending at the elbow, until the upper arm contacts 
the seat back and is tangent to the upper part of the 
side of the torso, the palm contacts the outside of the 
thigh, and the little finger is barely in contact with the 
seat cushion. 

510.6 Test dummy positioning for latchplate access. 
The reach envelopes specified in S7.4.4 are obtained 
by positioning a test dummy in the driver's seat or 
passenger's seat in its forwardmost adjustment posi- 
tion. Attach the lines for the inboard and outboard 
arms to the test dummy as described in Figure 3 of 
this standard. Extend each line backward and out- 
board to generate the compliance arcs of the outboard 
reach envelope of the test dummy's arms. 

510.7 Test dummy positioning for belt contact force. 
To determine compliance with S7.4.3 of this stand- 
ard, position the test dummy in the vehicle in accord- 
ance with the appropriate requirements specified in 
SlO.l or S10.2 and under the conditions of S8.1.2 and 
SB. 1.3. Pull the belt webbing three inches from the 
test dummy's chest and release until the webbing is 
within 1 inch of the test dummy's chest and measure 
the belt contact force. 

SlO.9 Manual belt adjustment for dynamic testing. 
With the test dummy at its designated seating posi- 
tion as specified by the appropriate requirements of 
S8.1.2, S8.1.3 and SlO.l through S10.5, place the 
Type 2 manual belt around the test dummy and fasten 
the latch. Remove all slack from the lap belt. Pull the 
upper torso webbing out of the retractor and allow it 
to retract; repeat this operation four times. Apply a 2 



PART 571; S208-PRE 301 



to 4 pound tension load to the lap belt. If the belt 
system is equipped with a tension-relieving device in- 
troduce the maximum amount of slack into the upper 
torso belt that is recommended by the manufacturer 
for normal use in the owner's manual for the vehicle. If 
the belt system is not equipped with a tension relieving 
device, allow the excess webbing in the shoulder belt to 
be retracted by the retractive force of the retractor. 

17. Sll is removed. 

18. S4.1.3.1.1, S4.1.3.2.1, S4.1.3.3.1, S4.1.4 and 
S4.6.1 are revised by adding a new second sentence to 
S4. 1.3.1.1, S4.1.3.2.1, S4. 1.3.3.1 and S4.1.4 and a 
new second sentence to S4.6.1 to read as follows: 

A vehicle shall not be deemed to be in non- 
compliance with this standard if its manufacturer 
establishes that it did not have reason to know in the 
exercise of due care that such vehicle is not in con- 
formity with the requirement of this standard. 

19. S8.1.5 is amended to read as follows: 
Movable vehicle windows and vents are, at the 

manufacturer's option, placed in the fully closed posi- 
tion. 

20. S7.4 is amended to read as follows: 
S7.4. Seat belt comfort and convenience. 

(a) Automatic seat belts. Automatic seat belts in- 
stalled in any vehicle, other than walk-in van-type 
vehicles, which has a gross vehicle weight rating of 
10,000 pounds or less, and which is manufactured on 
or after September 1, 1986, shall meet the re- 
quirements of S7.4.1, S7.4.2, and S7.4.3. 

(b) Manual seat belts. 

(1) Vehicles manufactured after September 1. 
1986. Manual seat belts installed in any vehicle, other 
than manual Type 2 belt systems installed in the front 
outboard seating positions in passenger cars or 
manual belts in walk-in van-type vehicles, which have 
a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less, 
shall meet the requirements of S7.4.3, S7.4.4, S7.4.5, 
and S7.4.6. 

(2) Vehicles manufactured after September 1. 1989. 

(i) If the automatic restraint requirement of S4.1.4 
is rescinded pursuant to S4.1.5, then manual seat 
belts installed in a passenger car shall meet the re- 
quirements of S7. 1.1.3(a), S7.4.2, S7.4.3, S7.4.4, 
S7.4.5, and S7.4.6. 

(ii) Manual seat belts installed in a bus, multipur- 
pose passenger vehicle and truck with a gross vehicle 
weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less, except for 
walk-in van-type vehicles, shall meet the re- 
quirements of S7.4.3, S7.4.4, S7.4.5, and S7.4.6. 

571.209 Standard ko. 209, Seat belt assemblies. 

1. A new S4.6 is added, to read as follows: 

S4.6 Manual belts subject to crash protection re- 
quirements of Standard No. 208. 



(a) A seat belt assembly subject to the requirements 
of S4.6.1 of Standard No. 208 (49 CFR Part 571.208) 
does not have to meet the requirements of S4.2 (a)-(c) 
and S4.4 of this standard. 

(b) A seat belt assembly that does not comply with 
the requirements of S4.4 of this standard shall be per- 
manently and legibly marked or labeled with the 
following language: 

This seat belt assembly may only be installed at a 
front outboard designated seating position of a vehi- 
cle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 
pounds or less. 

571.210 Standard No. 210, Seat Belt Assembly An- 
chorages. 

1. The second sentence of S4.3 is revised to read as 
follows: 

Anchorages for automatic and for dynamically 
tested seat belt assemblies that meet the frontal crash 
protection requirement of S5.1 of Standard No. 208 
(49 CFR Part 571.208) are exempt from the location 
requirements of this section. 

PART 585 -AUTOMATIC RESTRAINT PHASE- 
IN REPORTING REQUIREMENTS 

1. Chapter V, Title 49, Transportation, the Code of 
Federal Regulations, is amended to add the following 
new Part: 

PART 585 -AUTOMATIC RESTRAINT PHASE- 
IN REPORTING REQUIREMENTS 

Sees. 

585.1 Scope. 

585.2 Purpose. 

585.3 Applicability. 

585.4 Definitions. 

585.5 Reporting requirements. 

585.6 Records. 

585.7 Petition to extend period to file report. 

Authority: 15 U.S.C. 1392, 1407; delegation of 
authority at 49 CFR 1.50. 

585.1 Scope. 

This section establishes requirements for passenger 
car manufacturers to submit a report, and maintain 
records related to the report, concerning the number 
of passenger cars equipped with automatic restraints 
in compliance with the requirements of S4.1.3 of 
Standard No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection (49 
CFR Part 571.208). 

585.2 Purpose. 

The purpose of the reporting requirements is to aid 
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 
in determining whether a passenger car manufac- 



PART 571; S208-PRE 302 



turer has complied with the requirements of Standard 
No. 208 of this Chapter (49 CFR 571.208) for the in- 
stallation of automatic restraints in a percentage of 
each manufacturer's annual passenger car produc- 
tion. 

585.3 Applicability. 

This part applies to manufacturers of passenger 
cars. 

585.4 Definitions. 

All terms defined in section 102 of the National 
Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 
1391) are used in their statutory meaning. 

"Passenger car" is used as defined in 49 CFR Part 
571.3. 

"Production year" means the 12-month period be- 
tween September 1 of one year and August 31 of the 
following year, inclusive. 

585.5 Reporting requirements. 

(a) General reporting requirements. 

Within 60 days after the end of each of the produc- 
tion years ending August 31, 1987, August 31, 1988, 
and August 31, 1989, each manufacturer shall submit 
a report to the National Highway Traffic Safety Ad- 
ministration concerning its compliance with the re- 
quirements of Standard No. 208 for installation of 
automatic restraints in its passenger cars produced in 
that year. Each report shall - 

(1) Identify the manufacturer; 

(2) State the full name, title and address of the of- 
ficial responsible for preparing the report; 

(3) Identify the production year being reported on; 

(4) Contain a statement regarding the extent to 
which the manufacturer has complied with the re- 
quirements of S4.1.3 of Standard No. 208; 

(5) Provide the information specified in 585.5(b); 

(6) Be written in the English language; and 

(7) Be submitted to: Administrator, National High- 
way Traffic Safety Administration, 400 Seventh 
Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20590. 

(b) Report content. 

(1) Basis for phase-in production goals. 

Each manufacturer shall provide the number of 
passenger cars manufactured for sale in the United 
States for each of the three previous production 
years, or, at the manufacturer's option, for the cur- 
rent production year. A new manufacturer that is, for 
the first time, manufacturing passenger cars for sale 
in the United States must report the number of 
passenger cars manufactured during the current pro- 
duction year. 



(2) Production. 

Each manufacturer shall report for the production 
year being reported on, and each preceding produc- 
tion year, to the extent that cars produced during the 
preceding years are treated under Standard No. 208 
as having been produced during the production year 
being reported on, the following information: 

(i) the number of passenger cars equipped with 
automatic seat belts and the seating positions at 
which they are installed, 

(ii) the number of passenger cars equipped with air 
bags and the seating positions at which they are in- 
stalled, and 

(iii) the number of passenger cars equipped with 
other forms of automatic restraint technology', which 
shall be described, and the seating positions at which 
they are installed. 

(3) Passenger cars produced by more than one 
manufacturer. 

Each manufacturer whose reporting of information 
is affected by one or more of the express written con- 
tracts permitted by section S4. 1.3.5.2 of Standard 
No. 208 shall: 

(i) Report the existence of each contract, including 
the names of all parties to the contract, and explain 
how the contract affects the report being submitted, 

(ii) Report the actual number of passenger cars 
covered by each contract. 

585.6 Records. 

Each manufacturer shall maintain records of the 
Vehicle Identification Number and type of automatic 
restraint for each passenger car for which informa- 
tion is reported under 585.5(b)(2), until December 31, 
1991. 

585.7 Petition to extend period to file report. 

A petition for extension of the time to submit a 
report must be received not later than 15 days before 
expiration of the time stated in 585.5(a). The petition 
must be submitted to: Administrator, National 
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 400 Seventh 
Street, SW, Washington, DC 20590. The filing of a 
petition does not automatically extend the time for fil- 
ing a report. A petition will be granted only if the 
petitioner shows good cause for the extension and if 
the extension is consistent with the public interest. 



Issued on March 18, 1986 



Diane K. Steed 
Administrator 

51 F.R. 9801 
March 21, 1986 



PART 571; S208-PRE 303-304 



PREAMBLE TO AN AMENDMENT TO 

FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208 

Occupant Protection-Improvement of Seat Belt Assemblies 

(Docket 74-14; Notice 44) 



ACTION: Final rule; response to petitions for 
reconsideration. 

SUMMARY: In November 1985, NHTSA pub- 
lished a final rule setting comfort and convenience 
performance requirements for both manual and 
automatic safety belt assemblies installed in motor 
vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 
pounds or less. This notice responds to two petitions 
for reconsideration and corrects certain technical 
and typographical errors in that final rule. 

EFFECTIVE DATE: The amendments made by 
this notice to the text of Standard No. 208 will take 
effect on June 17, 1986. Manufacturers do not have 
to comply with the comfort and convenience re- 
quirements of S7.4 until September 1, 1986. 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The agency 
published a final rule on November 6, 1985 (50 FR 
46056), which modified the comfort and convenience 
performance requirements in Standard No. 208, 
Occupant Crash Protection. Petitions for reconsider- 
ation of that final rule were received from Ford 
Motor Company (Ford) and General Motors Corpor- 
ation (GM). 

Webbing Tension-Relieving Devices 
Both Ford and GM requested modification of the 
requirement in ST. 4. 2 of the final rule that any belt 
slack that can be introduced into an automatic safety 
belt system by means of any tension-relieving device 
or design "shall be cancelled each time the safety 
belt is unbuckled or the adjacent vehicle door is 
opened except for belt systems in open-body vehicles 
with no doors." Both petitioners said that the 
language in the rule could be interpreted as requir- 
ing belt slack to be cancelled each time a safety belt 
is unbuckled, whether or not the adjacent door is 
open. The petitioners also stated that the language 
in the amendment did not reflect the agency's in- 
tent as expressed in the preamble to the final rule. 
They urged the agency to amend the requirement 
so that belt slack in an automatic belt system must 



be cancelled only when the adjacent vehicle door is 
opened. 

The agency's intent, as expressed in the pream- 
ble (50 FR at 46059), was that belt slack in automatic 
belt systems must be cancelled each time that the 
adjacent vehicle door is opened, whether or not the 
belt is buckled. Anticipating the adoption of a 
dynamic test requirement for manual belts, the 
language of the final rule was also intended to give 
manufacturers increased design flexibility by pro- 
viding them the option of linking cancellation of 
tension-relievers in dynamically-tested manual belt 
systems to, at their choice, either opening of the door 
or releasing of the belt. Therefore NHTSA is amend- 
ing the requirement to clarify that for automatic 
belts, cancellation of the tension-reliever is linked 
to opening the adjacent vehicle door and for 
dynamically-tested manual safety belts, a manufac- 
turer has the option of using either opening the door 
or releasing the belt as the event leading to cancella- 
tion of the tension-reliever. 

Torso Belt Body Contact Force 
In the final rule, the agency exempted certain 
automatic and manual safety belt systems incor- 
porating tension-relieving devices, such as window- 
shade devices, from the 0.7-pound torso belt contact 
force requirement. The reason for this exemption 
was the agency's concern that compliance with the 
body contact force requirement could limit manufac- 
turers' design flexibility in meeting the retraction 
and other requirements in the rule. In their com- 
ments on the notice of proposed rulemaking, both 
foreign and domestic manufacturers had questioned 
whether imposing a contact force requirement on 
belt systems with tension-relievers would advance 
safety. They said that the necessity for complying 
with the belt contact force requirement could result 
in the production of some belt systems in which there 
was insufficient force to retract webbing reliably. 
Ford and GM objected to the language in the final 
rule, because the exemption was limited to safety 
belt systems "which incorporate a webbing tension- 



PART 208-PRE 305 



relieving device that complies with S7.4.2." Section 
7.4.2 requires automatic belt systems with webbing 
tension-relieving devices to meet the injury criteria 
of the standard when the belt is adjusted to have the 
maximum amount of slack recommended by the 
vehicle manufacturer. The petitioners stated that 
they do not believe the reference to S7.4.2 was in- 
tended to discourage the use of tension-relief devices 
on manual seat belt systems or to imply that manual 
seat belt systems incorporating tension-relief devices 
should not be eligible for the exemption now ac- 
corded automatic seat belt systems. 

In the preamble to the final rule (50 FR at 46060), 
the agency noted that the tension-relieving re- 
quirements for manual safety belts were proposed 
in Notice 38 of this docket, in conjunction with the 
dynamic tests for manual safety belts. The agency 
also said that if a dynamic test requirement for 
manual belts was adopted, the provisions on tension- 
relievers for manual belts would be expected to be 
identical to those for automatic belts. On March 21, 
1986 (51 FR 9800), the agency published a final rule 
setting dynamic test requirements for manual safety 
belts in passenger cars. The March 1986 rule adopted 
the same requirements for tension-relieving devices 
in dynamically-tested manual safety belts that were 
adopted in the November 1985 final rule for auto- 
matic belts. (In the March 1986 rule, the agency 
deferred action on whether to adopt the proposed 
dynamic testing for manual safety belts in light trucks 
and vans. If such a requirement is adopted, NHTSA 
will apply the same requirement on tension-relievers 
to those manual belts that are applied to other 
dynamically-tested manual safety belts.) 

In the November 1985 final rule, the agency did 
not intend to preclude the use of tension-relieving 
devices on non-dynamically-tested manual safety 
belts or to imply that manual belt systems incor- 
porating tension-relieving devices should not be 
eligible for the exemption from the belt contact force 
requirement now accorded automatic safety belt 
systems and dynamically-tested manual safety belts. 
The agency has revised the language of S7.4.3 to ex- 
empt all belts, whether manual or automatic, incor- 
porating tension-relievers from the belt contact 
force requirement. The agency encourages manufac- 
turers to provide information in their owner's 
manual on properly adjusting non-dynamically- 
tested manual safety belts with tension-relievers. 

Belt Retraction 
In the final rule, the retraction requirement for 
manual safety belts stated that torso and lap belt 
webbing must automatically retract to a stowed posi- 



tion, when the adjacent vehicle door is in the open 
position, or when the seat belt latchplate is released. 
Both Ford and GM interpreted this requirement to 
mean that retraction must occur when the latchplate 
is released whether or not the adjacent door is 
opened. They requested that the wording be revised 
to require retraction only when both conditions 
exist, i.e., release of the latchplate and opening of 
the adjacent door. They stated that the belt cannot 
retract until it is unbuckled and that they see no 
safety need to require retraction before the adjacent 
door is opened. 

As stated in the April 1985 notice of proposed 
rulemaking, many persons find seat belts incon- 
venient because the belt webbing will not retract 
completely to its stowed position when the system 
is unbuckled, thus creating an obstacle when the oc- 
cupant is trying to exit the vehicle or soiling the belt 
if it is caught in the door. The intent of the retrac- 
tion requirement in the final rule was to provide 
manufacturers increased flexibility by giving them 
the option of triggering tension-relief cancellation 
and belt retraction by either release of the latchplate 
or opening of the adjacent vehicle door. As noted 
by the American Safety Belt Council in its comments 
on the April 1985 NPRM, new safety belt designs 
are available which will cancel a tension-relieving 
device and retract the belt when the latchplate is 
released from the buckle, regardless of whether the 
door is open or not. The agency did not intend that 
each condition trigger the retraction mechanism, but 
instead intended to allow manufacturers the option 
of using either condition to initiate belt retraction. 
For these reasons, the agency is amending the re- 
quirement to make it clear that manufacturers have 
the option of determining whether door opening or 
latchplate release is the mechanism that triggers 
retraction of a manual safety belt. 

The rule will continue to provide that in an open- 
body vehicle with no doors, a manufacturer has the 
option to provide either automatic or manual deac- 
tivation of a tension-relieving device. Thus, in the 
retraction test in those vehicles, the agency will 
deactivate the tension-relieving devices in the man- 
ner provided by the manufacturer. 

Armrests 
The petitioners also requested a further clarifica- 
tion of the language of the final rule on belt retrac- 
tion. That requirement permits an outboard armrest 
of a seat to be placed in its stowed position for the 
purpose of the retraction test, if the armrest must 
be stowed to allow the seat occupant to exit the 



PART 208-PRE 306 



vehicle. The agency stated in the preamble to the 
final rule that it intended to allow the stowage of 
folding armrests during the retraction test if "they 
protrude into the door opening in a manner which 
encumbers egress." (50 FR at 46061). 

Ford noted that the common dictionary meaning 
of "encumber" is "impede," or "hinder," so that 
egress would be made difficult although not 
necessarily impossible. Ford said that the language 
of the final rule limited the stowage of armrests to 
situations in which armrests, unless stowed, make 
egress impossible. 

To eliminate the possibility of having to make sub- 
jective judgments as to whether an armrest 
"hinders" occupant egress, the agency is modifying 
the retraction requirement to provide that any 
folding armrest must be stowed prior to initiation 
of the retraction test. 

Technical Corrections 

Ford pointed out a typographical error in amend- 
ment 14 of the final rule, which referred to S7.1.13, 
instead of referring to S7.1.3. The agency has made 
the necessary correction. Ford also stated that 
decimal points should be added, where appropriate, 
to the specified dimensional tolerances in the table 
of weights and dimensions of vehicle occupants. 
These corrections would conform the dimensions set 
forth in the chart, which is in amendment 14 in the 
final rule, to the corresponding dimensions specified 
on drawing SA 150 M002 or the test dummy. The 
agency agrees and has made the necessary 
corrections. 

The comfort and convenience requirements in S7.4 
of Standard No. 208 apply to automatic and manual 
safety belt assemblies installed in any vehicle with 
a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less. The title of S7 
in this standard. Seat belt assembly requirements— 
passenger cars, is no lonqer accurate, because the 
paragraphs of S7., by their terms, apply to pas- 
senger cars and several other types of vehicles. 
Therefore, the title is corrected in this notice to read 
S7. Seat belt assembly requirements. The agency is 
also amending the retraction requirements of S7.4.5 
to make clear that, as proposed in the April 1985 
NPRM, the retraction test only applies to the front 
outboard designated seating positions. 

The remaining amendments are made to remove 
an extra "and" in paragraph S7. 4. 6. 1(a), and to cor- 
rect a typographical error in S4. 5.3.3(b) (change 
"set" to "seat"). 



Effective Date 
This notice makes minor clarifications and 
typographical and technical corrections to the text 
of Standard No. 208. NHTSA has determined that 
it is in the public interest to have these amendments 
to the language of the standard go into effect on 
publication of this notice in the Federal Register, 
since these amendments will provide manufacturers 
with more flexibility in developing designs to 
comply with the safety belt comfort and convenience 
requirements, which will go into effect on 
September 1, 1986. 

In consideration of the foregoing, 49 CFR 571.208 
is amended as follows: 

1. The title of S7. is revised to read: 
S7 Seat belt assembly requirements. 

2. S7.4.2 is revised to read: 

S7.4.2 Webbing tension-relieving device. Each 
vehicle with an automatic seat belt assembly, or with 
a Tj^pe 2 manual seat belt assembly that must meet 
S4.6, installed in a front outboard designated seating 
position that has either manual or automatic tension- 
relieving devices permitting the introduction of slack 
in the webbing of the shoulder belt (e.g., "comfort 
clips" or "window-shade" devices) shall: 

(a) Comply with the requirements of S5.1 with the 
shoulder belt webbing adjusted to introduce the 
maximum amount of slack recommended by the 
vehicle manufacturer pursuant to S7.4.2(b). 

(b) Have a section in the vehicle owner's manual 
that explains how the tension-relieving device works 
and specifies the maximum amount of slack (in in- 
ches) recommended by the vehicle manufacturer to 
be introduced into the shoulder belt under normal 
use conditions. The explanation shall also warn that 
introducing slack beyond the amount specified by the 
manufacturer could significantly reduce the effec- 
tiveness of the shoulder belt in a crash; and 

(c) Have, except for open-body vehicles with no 
doors, an automatic means to cancel any shoulder 
belt slack introduced into the belt system by a 
tension-relieving device. In the case of an automatic 
safety belt system, cancellation of the tension- 
relieving device shall occur each time the adjacent 
vehicle door is opened. In the case of a manual seat 
belt required to meet 84. 6, cancellation of the 
tension-relieving device shall occur, at the manufac- 
turer's option, either each time the adjacent door 
is opened or each time the latchplate is released from 
the buckle. In the case of open-body vehicles with 
no doors, cancellation of the tension-relieving device 
may be done by a manual means. 



PART 208-PRE 307 



3. S7.4.3 is revised to read as follows: 

S7.4.3 Belt contact force. Except for manual or 
automatic seat belt assemblies which incorporate a 
webbing tension-relieving device, the upper torso 
webbing of anv seat belt assembly, when tested in 
accordance with S10.6, shall not exert more than 0.7 
pounds of contact force when measured normal to 
and one inch from the chest of an anthropomorphic 
test dummy positioned in accordance with SlO in the 
seating position for which that assembly is provided, 
at the point where the centerline of the torso belt 
crosses the midsagittal line on the dummy's chest. 

4. S7.4.5 is revised to read as follows: 

S7.4.5 Retraction. When tested under the condi- 
tions of S8.1.2 and S8.1.3, with anthropomorphic 
test dummies whose arms have been removed and 
which are positioned in accordance with SlO in the 
front outboard designated seating positions and 
restrained ^y ^*i» belt systems for those positions, 
the torso and lap belt webbing of any of those seat 
belt systems shall automatically retract to a stowed 
position either when the adjacent vehicle door is in 
the open position and the seat belt latchplate is 



released, or, at the option of the manufacturer, when 
the latchplate is released. That stowed position shall 
prevent any part of the webbing or hardware from 
being pinched when the adjacent vehicle door is 
closed. A belt system with a tension-relieving device 
in an open-bodied vehicle with no doors shall fully 
retract when the tension-relieving device is deac- 
tivated. For the purpose of the retraction require- 
ment, outboard armrests, which are capable of being 
stowed, on vehicle seats shall be placed in their 
stowed positions. 

5. S7. 4. 6. 1(a) is amended by removing the second 
occurrence of the word "and" in the first sentence. 

6. S4. 5. 3. 3(b) is amended by correcting the word 
"set" to read "seat" and the word "show" to read 
"shown." 

7. Condition (B) of S4. 5.3.3(b) is amended by 
removing the second occurrence of the word "the" 
and by correcting the word "relases" to read 
"release." 

8. The weights and dimensions of the vehicle oc- 
cupants referred to in this standard and specified 
in S7.1.3 are revised to read as follows: 



50th-percentile 5th-percentile 50th-percentile 95th-percentile 

6-year-old child adult female adult male adult male 



Weight 

Erect sitting height 

Hip breadth (sitting) 

Hip circumference (sitting) . . , 
Waist circumference (sitting) , 

Chest depth 

Chest circumference: 

(nipple) 

(upper) 

(lower) 



47.3 pounds .... 102 pounds 164 pounds .±.3. 

25.4 inches 30.9 inches 35.7 inches .±.1. 

8.4 inches 12.8 inches 14.7 inches .±.-7. 

23.9 inches 36.4 inches 42 inches 

20.8 inches 23.6 inches 32 inches . .±.-.6 

7.5 inches 9.3 inches .±.-?. 



30.5 inches 

29.8 inches 37.4 inches ±.-f'. 

26.6 inches 



215 pounds 
38 inches 
16.5 inches 
47.2 inches 
42.5 inches 
10.5 inches 



44.5 inches 



Issued on: June 11, 1986. 

Diane K. Steed 
Administrator 
51 F. R. 21912 
June 17, 1986 



PART 208-PRE 308 



PREAMBLE TO AN AMENDMENT TO 
FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARD NO. 208 

Anthropomorphic Test Dummies 
(Docket No. 74-14; Notice 45 ) 



ACTION: Final Rule. 

SUMMARY: This notice adopts the Hybrid III test 
dummy as an alternative to the Part 572 test dummy 
in testing done in accordance with Standard No. 208, 
Occupant Crash Protection. The notice sets forth the 
specifications, instrumentation, calibration test pro- 
cedures, and calibration performance criteria for the 
Hybrid HI test dummy. The notice also amends 
Standard No. 208 so that effective October 23, 1986, 
manufacturers have the option of using either the 
existing Part 572 test dummy or the Hybrid III test 
dummy until August 31, 1991. As of September 1, 
1991, the Hybrid HI will replace the Part 572 test 
dummy and be used as the exclusive means of deter- 
mining a vehicle's conformance with the perfor- 
mance requirements of Standard No. 208. 

The notice also establishes a new performance 
criterion for the chest of the Hybrid HI test dum- 
my which will limit chest deflection. The new chest 
deflection limit applies only to the Hybrid HI since 
only that test dummy has the capability to measure 
chest deflection. 

These amendments enhance vehicle safety by per- 
mitting the use of a more advanced test dummy 
which is more human-like in response than the cur- 
rent test dummy. In addition, the Hybrid III test 
dummy is capable of making many additional 
sophisticated measurements of the potential for 
human injury in a frontal crash. 

DATES: The notice adds a new Subpart E to Part 
572 effective on October 23, 1986. 

This notice also amends Standard No. 208 so that 
effective October 23, 1986, manufacturers have the 
option of using either the existing Part 572 test 
dummy or the Hybrid III test dummy until August 
31, 1991. As of September 1, 1991, the Hybrid III 
will replace the Part 572 test dummy and be used 
as the exclusive means of determining a vehicle's 
conformance with the performance requirements of 
Standard No. 208. The incorporation by reference 



of certain publications listed in the regulation is ap- 
proved by the Director of the Federal Register as 
of October 23, 1986. 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In December 
1983, General Motors (GM) petitioned the agency to 
amend Part 572, Anthropomorphic Test Dummies, 
to adopt specifications for the Hybrid HI test dum- 
my. GM also petitioned for an amendment of Stand- 
ard No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection, to allow the 
use of the Hybrid HI as an alternative test device 
for compliance testing. The agency granted GM's 
petition on July 20, 1984. The agency subsequently 
received a petition from the Center for Auto Safety 
to propose making Standard No. 208's existing in- 
jury criteria more stringent for the Hybrid HI and 
to establish new injury criteria so as to take advan- 
tage of the Hybrid Ill's superior measurement 
capability. The agency granted the Center's petition 
on September 17, 1984. On April 12, 1985 (50 FR 
14602), NHTSA proposed amendments to Part 572 
and Standard No. 208 that were responsive to the 
petitioners and which, in the agency's judgment, 
would enhance motor vehicle safety. Twenty-eight 
individuals and companies submitted comments on 
the proposed requirements. This notice presents the 
agency's analysis of the issues raised by the com- 
menters. The agency has decided to adopt the use 
of the Hybrid III test dummy and some of the pro- 
posed injury criteria. The agency has also decided 
to issue another notice on the remaining injury 
criteria to gain additional information about the 
potential effects of adopting those criteria. 

This notice first discusses the technical specifica- 
tions for the Hybrid III, its calibration requirements, 
its equivalence with the existing Part 572 test 
dummy, and the applicable injury criteria. Finally, 
it discusses the test procedure used to position the 
dummy for Standard No. 208 compliance testing and 
the economic and other effects of this rule. 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 309 



Test Dummy Drawings and Specifications 

Test dummies are used as human surrogates for 
evaluation of the severity of injuries in vehicle 
crashes. To serve as an adequate surrogate, a test 
dummy must be capable of simulating human impact 
responses. To serve as an objective test device, the 
test dummy must be adequately defined through 
technical drawings and performance specifications 
to ensure uniformity in construction, impact 
response, and measurement of injury in identical 
crash conditions. 

Virtually all of the commenters, with the excep- 
tion of GM, said that they have not had sufficient 
experience with the Hybrid III to offer comments 
on the validity of the technical specifications for the 
test dummy. Since the issuance of the notice, GM 
has provided additional technical drawings and a 
Society of Automotive Engineers-developed user's 
manual to further define the Hybrid HI. These new 
drawings do not alter the basic nature of the test 
dummy, but instead provide additional information 
which will enable users to make sure that they have 
a correctly designed and correctly assembled test 
dummy. The user's manual provides information on 
the inspection, assembly, disassembly, and use of the 
test dummy. Having the user's manual available wdll 
assist builders and users of the Hybrid HI in pro- 
ducing and using the test dummy. GM also provided 
information to correct the misnumbering of several 
technical drawings referenced in the notice. 

In addition, the agency has reviewed the proposed 
drawings and specifications. While NHTSA believes 
the proposed drawings are adequate for producing 
the test dummy, the agency has identified and 
obtained additional information which should make 
production and use of the test dummy even more ac- 
curate. For example, the agency has obtained infor- 
mation on the range of motions for each moving 
body part of the test dummy. Finally, to promote 
the ease of assembly, NHTSA has made arrange- 
ments with GM to ensure that the molds and pat- 
terns for the test dummy are available to all in- 
terested parties. Access to the molds vdll assist other 
potential builders and users of the Hybrid III since 
it is difficult to specify all of the details of the various 
body contours solely by technical drawings. 

The agency has adopted the new drawings and 
user manual in this rule and has made the necessary 
corrections to the old drawings. The agency believes 
that the available drawings and technical specifica- 
tions are more than sufficient for producing, 
assembling, and using the Hybrid III test dummy. 



Commercial Availability of the Hybrid III 
A number of commenters raised questions about 
the commercial availability of the Hybrid HI test 
dummy, noting problems they have experienced in 
obtaining calibrated test dummies and the in- 
strumentation for the neck and lower leg of the 
Hybrid III. For example, Chrysler said that it had 
acquired two Hybrid III test dummies, but has been 
unable to obtain the lower leg and neck instrumen- 
tation for five months. Likewise, Ford said that it 
has been unable to obtain the knee displacement and 
chest deflection measurement devices for the Hybrid 
III. It also said that of the test dummies it had 
received, none had sufficient spine stiffness to meet 
the Hybrid III specifications. Ford claimed to have 
problems in retaining a stable dummy posture which 
would make it difficult to carry out some of the 
specified calibration tests. Subsequent investigation 
showed that the instability was caused by out-of- 
specification rubber hardness of the lumbar spine, 
and was eliminated when spines of correct hardness 
were used. In addition. Ford said that the necks and 
ribs of the test dummy would not pass the proposed 
calibration procedures. Finally, Ford said that the 
equipment needed for calibrating the dummy is not 
commercially available. 

Although the commenters indicated they had ex- 
perienced difficulty in obtaining the instnmientation 
for the Hybrid Hi's neck and lower legs, they did 
not indicate that there is any problem in obtaining 
the instrumentation needed to measure the three in- 
jury criteria presently required by Standard No. 208, 
the head injury criterion, chest acceleration, and 
femur loading and which are being adopted by this 
rule for the Hybrid HI. For example, Volkswagen 
said it had obtained Hybrid III test dummies with 
sufficient instrumentation to measure the same in- 
jury criteria as with the Part 572. VW did say it had 
ordered the additional test devices and instrumen- 
tation for the Hybrid III but was told the instrumen- 
tation would not be available for six months. 

The agency notes that there are now two commer- 
cial suppliers of the Hybrid HI test dummy. Alder- 
son Research Labs (ARL) and Humanoid Systems. 
Humanoid has built nearly 100 test dummies and 
ALR has produced five prototype test dummies as 
of the end of December 1985. Both manufacturers 
have indicated that they are now capable of produc- 
ing sufficient Hybrid Ills to meet the demand for 
those dummies. For example, Humanoid Systems 
said that while the rate of production is dependent 
on the number of orders, generally three test dum- 
mies per week are produced. Thus, in the case of the 
basic test dummy, there appears to be sufficient 
commercial capacity to provide sufficient test dum- 
mies for all vehicle manufacturers. 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 310 



As to test dummy instrumentation, the agency is 
aware that there have been delays in obtaining the 
new neck, thorax, and lower leg instrumentation for 
th-i Hybrid III. However, as Humanoid commented, 
while there have been delays, the supplies of the 
needed parts are expected to increase. Even if the 
supply of the lower leg instrumentation is slow to 
develop, this will not pose a problem, since the 
agency is not adopting, at this time, the proposed 
lower leg injury criteria. In the case of the neck in- 
strumentation, the supply problem should be 
minimized because each test facility will only need 
one neck transducer to calibrate all of its test dum- 
mies. The neck instrumentation will not be needed 
for a manufacturer's crash testing since at this time, 
the agency is not adopting any neck injury criteria. 
In the case of the instrumentation for measuring 
thoracic deflection, the supplier has indicated that 
it can deliver the necessary devices within 3 months 
of the time an order is placed. As to Ford's comment 
about calibration test equipment, the agency notes 
that current equipment used for calibrating the ex- 
isting Part 572 test dummy can be used, wdth minor 
modification, to calibrate the Hybrid III test dummy. 

Calibration Requirements 
In addition to having complete technical drawings 
and specifications, a test dummy must have ade- 
quate calibration test procedures. The calibration 
tests involve a series of static and dynamic tests of 
the test dummy components to determine whether 
the responses of the test dummy fall vidthin specified 
performance requirements for each test. The testing 
involves instrumenting the head, thorax and femurs 
to measure the test dummy's responses. In addition, 
there are tests of the neck, whose structural prop- 
erties may have considerable influence on the 
kinematics and impact responses of the instru- 
mented head. Those procedures help ensure that the 
test dummy has been properly assembled and that, 
as assembled, it will provide repeatable and 
reproducible results in crash testing. (Repeatability 
refers to the ability of the same test dummy to pro- 
duce the same results when subjected to several 
identical tests. Reproducibility refers to the ability 
of one test dummy to provide the same results as 
another test dummy built to the same specifications.) 

Lumbar Spine Calibration Test 

The technical specifications for the Hybrid III set 
out performance requirements for the hardness of 
the rubber used in the lumbar spine to ensure that 
the spine will have appropriate rigidity. NHTSA's 
test data show that there is a direct relationship be- 
tween rubber hardness and stiffness of the spine and 



that the technical specification on hardness is suffi- 
cent to ensure appropriate spine stiffness. Accord- 
ingly, the agency believes that a separate calibra- 
tion test for the lumbar spine is not necessary. 
Humanoid supported the validity of relying on the 
spine hardness specification to assure adequate 
stability of the dummy's posture, even though it 
found little effect on the dummy's impact response. 
Humanoid's support for this approach was based on 
tests of Hybrid III dummies which were equipped 
with a variety of lumbar spines having different 
rubber hardnesses. 

Subsequent to issuance of the notice, the agency 
has continued its testing of the Hybrid III test 
dummy. Through that testing, the agency found that 
commercially available necks either cannot meet or 
cannot consistently meet all of the calibration tests 
originally proposed for the neck. To further evaluate 
this problem, NHTSA and GM conducted a series 
of round robin tests in which a set of test dummies 
were put through the calibration tests at both GM's 
and NHTSA's test laboratories. 

The test results, which were placed in the docket 
after the tests were completed, showed that none 
of the necks could pass all of the originally specified 
calibration tests. 

In examining the test data, the agency determined 
that while some of the responses of the necks fell 
slightly outside of the performance corridors 
proposed in the calibration tests, the responses of 
the necks showed a relatively good match to existing 
biomechanical data on human neck responses. Thus, 
while the necks did not meet all of the calibration 
tests, they did respond as human necks are expected 
to respond. 

In discussions with GM, the agency learned that 
the calibration performance requirements were 
originally established in 1977 based on the responses 
of three prototype Hybrid III necks. GM first 
examined the existing biomechanical data and 
established several performance criteria that 
reflected human neck responses. GM then built 
necks which would meet the biomechanically based 
performance criteria. GM established the calibration 
tests that it believed were necessary to ensure that 
the necks of the prototype test dummies would pro- 
duce the required biomechanical responses. 
Although extensive performance specifications may 
have been needed for the development of specially 
built prototype necks, not all of the specifications 
appear to be essential once the final design was 
established for the mass-produced commercial 
version. Based on the ability of the commercially 
available test dummies to meet the biomechanical 
response criteria, NHTSA believes that the GM- 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 311 



derived calibration requirements should be adjusted 
to reflect the response characteristics of commer- 
cially available test dummies and simplified as much 
as possible to reduce the complexity of the testing. 

Based on the results of the NHTSA-GM calibra- 
tion test series, the agency is making the following 
changes to the neck calibration tests. In the flexion 
(forward bending) calibration test, the agency is: 

1. increasing the time allowed for the neck to 
return to its preimpact position after the pendulum 
impact test from a range of 109-119 milliseconds 
to a range of 113-128 milliseconds. 

2. changing the limits for maximum head rotation 
from a range of 67°-79° to a range of 64°-78°. 

3. expanding the time limits during which max- 
imum moment must occur from a range of 46-56 
milliseconds to 47-58 milliseconds. 

4. modifying the limits for maximum moment 
from a range of 72-90 ft-lbs to a range of 65-80 
ft-lbs. 

5. increasing the time for the maximum moment 
to decay from a range of 95-105 milliseconds to a 
range of 97-107 milliseconds. 

In the extension (backward bending) calibration 
test, the agency is: 

1. expanding the time allowed for the neck to 
return to its preimpact position after the pendulum 
impact test from a range of 157-167 milliseconds 
to a range of 147-174 milliseconds. 

2. changing the limits for maximimi head rotation 
from a range of 94°-106° to a range of 81 °-106°. 

3. expanding the time limit during which the 
minimum moment must occur from a range of 69-77 
milliseconds to 65-79 milliseconds. 

4. modifying the limits for minimum moment 
from a range of -52 to -63 ft-lbs to a range of -39 
to -59 ft-lbs. 

5. increasing the time for the minimum moment 
to decay from the range of 120-144 milliseconds, 
contained in GM's technical specifications for the 
Hybrid III, to a range of 120-148 milliseconds. 

In reviewing the NHTSA-GM test data, the 
agency also identified several ways of simplifying 
the neck's performance requirements. In each case, 
the following calibration specifications appear to be 
redundant and their deletion should not affect the 
performance of the neck. The agency has thus 
deleted the requirement for minimum moment in 
flexion and the time requirement for that moment. 
For extension, the agency has eliminated the limit 
on the maximum moment permitted and the time 
requirement for that moment. The agency has 



deleted those requirements since the specification on 
maximum rotation of the neck in flexion and minimum 
rotation of the neck in extension appear to adequately 
measure the same properties of the neck. Similarly, 
the agency has simplified the test by eliminating the 
pendulum braking requirement for the neck test, since 
GM's testing shows that the requirement is not 
necessary to ensure test consistency. Finally, the 
agency is clarifying the test procedure by deleting the 
specification in the GM technical drawings for the 
Hybrid III calling for two pre-calibration impact tests 
of the neck. GM has informed the agency that the two 
pre-calibration tests are not necessary. 

Based on the NHTSA-GM calibration test data, 
the agency is making two additional changes to the 
neck calibration test procedure. Both NHTSA and 
GM routinely control the calibration pendulum im- 
pact speed to within plus or minus one percent. 
Currently available dummy necks are able to meet 
the calibration response requirements consistently 
when the pendulum impact speed is controlled to 
that level Thus, NHTSA believes that the proposed 
range of allowable velocities ( ± 8.5 percent) for the 
pendulum impact is excessive. Reducing the allow- 
able range is clearly feasible and vdll help maintain 
a high level of consistency in dummy neck responses. 
The agency has therefore narrowed the range of per- 
missible impact velocities to the neck to ± 2 per- 
cent. This range is readily obtainable with commer- 
cially available test equipment. In reviewing the 
neck calibration test data, GM and NHTSA noted 
a slight sensitivity in the neck response to 
temperature variation. In its docket submission of 
January 27, 1986, GM recommended controlling the 
temperature during the neck calibration test to 71 ° 
±1°. NHTSA agrees that controlling the tem- 
perature for the neck calibration test wall reduce 
variability, but the agency believes that a slightly 
wider temperature range of 69 ° to 72 °, which is the 
same range used in the chest calibration test, is 
sufficient. 

Neck Durability 

Nissan commented that, in sled tests of the two 
test dummies, the neck bracket of one of the Hybrid 
III test dummies experienced damage after 10 tests, 
while the Part 572 test dummy had no damage. The 
agency believes that Nissan's experience may be the 
result of an early neck design which has been subse- 
quently modified by GM. (See GM letter of Septem- 
ber 16, 1985, Docket 74-14, Notice 39, Entry 28.) 
The agency has conducted numerous 30 mile per 
hour vehicle impact tests using the Hybrid III test 
dummy and has not had any neck bracket failures. 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 312 



Thorax Calibration Test 

As a part of the NHTSA-GM calibration test 
series, both organizations also performed the pro- 
posed calibration test for the thorax on the same test 
dummies. That testing showed relatively small dif- 
ferences in the test results measured between the 
two test facilities The test results from both test 
facilities show that the chest responses of the Hybrid 
III test dummies were generally within the 
established biomechanical performance corridors for 
the chest. In addition, the data showed that the 
Hybrid III chest responses fit those corridors 
substantially better than the chest responses of the 
existing Part 572 test dummy. The data also showed 
that the chest responses in the high speed (22 ft/sec) 
pendulum impact test more closely fit the corridors 
than did the chest responses in the low speed (14 
ft/sec) test. In addition, the data showed that if a 
test dummy performed satisfactorily in the low 
speed pendulum impact test, it also performed 
satisfactorily in the more severe high speed test. 

Based on those results, GM recommended in a 
letter of January 27, 1986, (Docket No. 74-14, Notice 
39, Entry 41) that only the low speed pendulum im- 
pact be used in calibration testing of the Hybrid III 
chest. GM noted that deleting the more severe pen- 
dulum impact test "can lead to increasing the useful 
life of the chest structure." 

Based on the test data, the agency agrees with the 
GM recommendation that only one pendulum impact 
test is necessary. NHTSA recognizes that using only 
the low speed pendulum impact will increase the 
useful life of the chest. However, the agency has 
decided to retain the high speed rather than the low 
speed test. While NHTSA recognizes that the high 
speed test is more severe, the agency believes the 
high speed test is more appropriate for a number 
of reasons. First, the data showed that the high 
speed chest impact responses compared more closely 
with the biomechanical corridors than the low speed 
responses. Thus, use of the high speed test will make 
it easier to identify chests that do not have the cor- 
rect biofidelity. In addition, since the higher speed 
test is more severe it will subject the ribcage to 
higher stresses, which will help identify chest struc- 
tural degradation. Finally, the high speed impact 
test is more representative of the range of impacts 
a test dummy can receive in a vehicle crash test. 

Although the NHTSA-GM test data showed that 
the production version of the Hybrid III chest had 
sufficient biofidelity, the data indicated that 
proposed calibration performance requirements 



should be lightly changed to account for the wider 
range in calibration test responses measured in com- 
mercially available test dummies. Accordingly, the 
agency is adjusting the chest deflection requirement 
to increase the allowable range of deflections from 
2.51-2.75 inches to 2.5-2.85 inches. In addition, the 
agency is adjusting the resistive force requirement 
from a range of 1186-1298 pounds to a range of 
1080-1245 pounds. Also, the hysteresis requirement 
is being adjusted from a 75-80 percent range to a 
69-85 percent range. Finally, the agency is clarify- 
ing the chest calibration test procedure by deleting 
the specification in GM's technical drawing for the 
Hybrid III that calls for two pre-calibration impact 
tests of the chest. GM has informed the agency that 
these tests are not necessary. These slight changes 
will not affect the performance of the Hybrid III 
chest, since the NHTSA-GM test data showed that 
commercially available test dummies meeting these 
calibration specifications had good biofidelity. 

Chest Durability 

Testing done by the agency's Vehicle Research 
and Test Center has indicated that the durability of 
the Hybrid Ill's ribs in calibration testing is less than 
that of the Part 572 test dummy. ("State-of-the-Art 
Dummy Selection, Volume I" DOT Publication No. 
HS 806 722) The durability of the Hybrid III was 
also raised by several commenters. For example, 
Toyota raised questions about the durability of the 
Hybrid Hi's ribs and suggested the agency act to 
improve their durability. 

The chest of the Hybrid III is designed to be more 
flexible, and thus more human-like, than the chest 
of the Part 572 test dummy. One of the calibration 
tests used for the chest involves a 15 mph impact 
into the chest by a 51.5 pound pendulum; an impact 
condition which is substantially more severe than a 
safety belt or airbag restrained occupant would ex- 
perience in most crashes. The chest of the Hybrid 
III apparently degrades after such multiple impacts 
at a faster rate than the chest of the Part 572 test 
dummy. As the chest gradually deteriorates, the 
amount of acceleration and deflection measured in 
the chest are also affected. Eventually the chest will 
fall out of specification and will require either repair 
or replacement. 

In its supplemental comments to the April 1985 
notice, GM provided additional information about 
the durability of the Hybrid HI ribs. GM said that 
it uses the Hybrid III in unbelted testing, which is 
the most severe test for the dummy. GM said that 
the Hybrid III can be used for about 17 crash tests 
before the ribs must be replaced. GM explained 



PART 571; S 208-PRE 313 



that it does not have comparable data for the Part 
572 test dummy since it does not use that test 
dummy in unbelted tests. GM said, however, that 
it believes that the durability of the Part 572 test 
dummy ribs in vehicle crash testing would be com- 
parable to that of the Hybrid III. 

Having reviewed all the available information, the 
agency concludes that both the Hybrid HI and ex- 
isting Part 572 test dummy ribs will degrade under 
severe impact conditions. Although the Hybrid Hi's 
more flexible ribs may need replacement more fre- 
quently, particularly after being used in unre- 
strained testing, the Hybrid Ill's ribs appear to have 
reasonable durability. According to GM's data, 
which is in line with NHTSA's crash test experience, 
the Hybrid Ill's ribs can withstand approximately 
17 severe impacts, such as found in unrestrained 
testing, before they must be replaced. Ford, in a 
presentation at the MVMA Hybrid III workshop 
held on February 5, 1986, noted that one of its belt- 
restrained Hybrid HI test dummies was subjected 
to 35 vehicle and sled crashes without any failures. 
The potential lower durability of the ribs in 
unrestrained testing should be of little consequence 
if the Hybrid HI test dummy