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Proposed Rule

Consumer Information; Safety Rating Program for Child Restraint Systems

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), DOT.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

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SUMMARY:

Section 14(g) of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act requires that, by November 2001, a notice of proposed rulemaking be issued to establish a child restraint safety rating consumer information program to provide practicable, readily understandable, and timely information to consumers for use in making informed decisions in the purchase of child restraint systems (CRS). In response to this mandate, NHTSA is proposing to establish such a program. The program would not impose any binding legal obligations on any child restraint manufacturer regarding the generation or distribution of information.

The details of the new program are set forth in a companion request for comments being published today in the Federal Register. In developing the program, NHTSA reviewed existing rating systems that other countries and organizations have developed, and conducted its own performance testing to explore a possible rating system for child restraints. In the request for comments, the agency has tentatively concluded that the most effective consumer information system is one that gives the consumer a combination of information about child restraints' ease of use and dynamic performance, with the dynamic performance obtained through higher-speed sled testing and/or in-vehicle NCAP testing. The agency is also giving consideration to conducting both higher-speed sled tests and in-vehicle NCAP testing in conjunction with the ease of use rating. That document provides a review of the information and reasoning used by the agency to reach that conclusion, describes the rating systems planned to meet the TREAD requirements, and seeks comment on this program.

DATES:

You should submit your comments early enough to ensure that Docket Management receives them not later than January 7, 2002.

ADDRESSES:

You should mention the docket number of this document in your comments and submit your comments in writing to: Docket Management, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20590.

You may call Docket Management at 202-366-9324. You may visit the Docket from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

For issues related to a performance rating, you may call Brian Park of the New Car Assessment Program (NPS-10) at 202-366-6012.

For issues related to a compatibility/ease of use rating, you may call Lori Miller of the Office of Traffic Safety Programs (NTS-12) at 202-366-9835.

You may send mail to both officials at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 400 Seventh St., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20590.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Congress has directed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop a child restraint safety rating system that is practicable and understandable (Section 14 (g) of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act, November 1, 2000, Pub. L. 106-414, 114 Stat. 1800) and that will help consumers to make informed decisions when purchasing child restraints. Section 14(g) reads as follows:

(g) Child restraint safety rating program. No later than 12 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation shall issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to establish a child restraint safety rating consumer information program to provide practicable, readily understandable, and timely information to consumers for use in making informed decisions in the purchase of child restraints. No later than 24 months after the date of the enactment of this Act the Secretary shall issue a final rule establishing a child restraint safety rating program and providing other consumer information which the Secretary determines would be useful (to) consumers who purchase child restraint systems.

NHTSA notes that issuing requests for comments is the procedure that the agency has consistently used over the last several decades to provide for public participation in the development and selection of the performance criteria and test protocols to be used by the agency in generating consumer information. The agency selected this procedure, instead of the more formal step of issuing an NPRM, because establishing the various aspects of its consumer information program did not involve imposing any binding legal obligations on any party to generate or distribute any of the information. Since the performance criteria and test protocols are not binding, NHTSA does not place them in the Code of Federal Regulations when they are adopted. The most recent example of the agency's use of a request for comments in connection with a consumer information program is the one that the agency published to obtain comments on a draft test protocol to expand the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) to provide brake performance information (July 17, 2001; 66 FR 37253). Several weeks earlier, the agency published a request for comments on developing a dynamic test on rollover pursuant to section 12 of the TREAD Act (July 3, 2001; 66 FR 37179). Unlike section 14(g), section 12 does not require the issuance of an NPRM to obtain public comment.

Nevertheless, to comply with the specific language of the TREAD Act, NHTSA is issuing this NPRM and a companion request for comments. In this NPRM, the agency proposes to establish a child restraint rating program. In the request for comments, the agency solicits comments on the details of that program. In developing the program, NHTSA reviewed existing rating systems that other countries and organizations have developed, and conducted its own performance testing to explore a possible rating system for child restraints. In the request for comments, the agency has tentatively concluded that the most effective consumer information system is one that gives the consumer a combination of information about child restraints' ease of use and dynamic performance, with the dynamic performance obtained through higher-speed sled testing and/or in-vehicle NCAP testing. The agency is also giving consideration to conducting both higher-speed sled tests and in-vehicle NCAP testing in conjunction with the ease of use rating. That document provides a review of the information and reasoning used by the agency to reach that conclusion, describes the rating systems planned to meet the TREAD requirements, and seeks comment on this program.

Submission of Comments

How Do I Prepare and Submit Comments?

Your comments must be written and in English. To ensure that your comments are correctly filed in the Docket, please include the docket number of this document in your comments.

Your comments must not be more than 15 pages long. (49 CFR 553.21). We established this limit to encourage you to write your primary comments in a concise fashion. However, you may attach necessary additional documents to your comments. There is no limit on the length of the attachments.

Please submit two copies of your comments, including the attachments, to Docket Management at the address given above under ADDRESSES.

How Can I Be Sure That My Comments Were Received?

If you wish Docket Management to notify you upon its receipt of your comments, enclose a self-addressed, Start Printed Page 56050stamped postcard in the envelope containing your comments. Upon receiving your comments, Docket Management will return the postcard by mail.

How Do I Submit Confidential Business Information?

If you wish to submit any information under a claim of confidentiality, you should submit three copies of your complete submission, including the information you claim to be confidential business information, to the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, at the address given above under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. In addition, you should submit two copies, from which you have deleted the claimed confidential business information, to Docket Management at the address given above under ADDRESSES. When you send a comment containing information claimed to be confidential business information, you should include a cover letter setting forth the information specified in our confidential business information regulation. (49 CFR part 512.)

Will the Agency Consider Late Comments?

We will consider all comments that Docket Management receives before the close of business on the comment closing date indicated above under DATES. To the extent possible, we will also consider comments that Docket Management receives after that date.

How Can I Read the Comments Submitted by Other People?

You may read the comments received by Docket Management at the address given above under ADDRESSES. The hours of the Docket are indicated above in the same location.

You may also see the comments on the Internet. To read the comments on the Internet, take the following steps:

I. Go to the Docket Management System (DMS) Web page of the Department of Transportation (http://dms.dot.gov/​).

II. On that page, click on “search.”

III. On the next page (http://dms.dot.gov/​search/​), type in the four-digit docket number shown at the beginning of this document. Example: If the docket number were “NHTSA-1999-1234,” you would type “1234.” After typing the docket number, click on “search.”

IV. On the next page, which contains docket summary information for the docket you selected, click on the desired comments.

You may download the comments. However, since the comments are imaged documents, instead of word processing documents, the downloaded comments are not word searchable.

Please note that even after the comment closing date, we will continue to file relevant information in the Docket as it becomes available. Further, some people may submit late comments. Accordingly, we recommend that you periodically check the Docket for new material.

IX. Rulemaking Analyses and Notices

A. Executive Order 12866 and DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures

Executive Order 12866, “Regulatory Planning and Review” (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993), provides for making determinations whether a regulatory action is “significant” and therefore subject to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review and to the requirements of the Executive Order. The Order defines a “significant regulatory action” as one that is likely to result in a rule that may:

(1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or Tribal governments or communities;

(2) Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency;

(3) Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or

(4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in the Executive Order.

This document was not reviewed under Executive Order 12866. Since this NPRM would not establish a rule imposing binding legal obligations on any party, it does not involve a significant rule within the meaning of that Executive Order or the Department of Transportation's Regulatory Policies and Procedures. Further, preparation of a full regulatory evaluation is not required under these circumstances. As noted above, NHTSA is issuing this NPRM and a companion request for comments, instead of a request for comments alone, because section 14(g) of the TREAD Act expressly requires the issuance of an NPRM.

B. Regulatory Flexibility Act

Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) of 1996), whenever an agency is required to publish a notice of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must prepare and make available for public comment a regulatory flexibility analysis that describes the effect of the rule on small entities (i.e., small businesses, small organizations, and small governmental jurisdictions). The Small Business Administration's regulations at 13 CFR part 121 define a small business, in part, as a business entity “which operates primarily within the United States.” (13 CFR 121.105(a)). No regulatory flexibility analysis is required if the head of an agency certifies the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. SBREFA amended the Regulatory Flexibility Act to require Federal agencies to provide a statement of the factual basis for certifying that a rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

NHTSA has considered the effects of this NPRM under the Regulatory Flexibility Act. For the reasons noted above in the section on Executive Order 12866 and DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures, I certify that this NPRM does not involve a rule that would have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

C. National Environmental Policy Act

NHTSA has analyzed this rulemaking action for the purposes of the National Environmental Policy Act. The agency has determined that implementation of this NPRM does not involve a rule that would have any significant impact on the quality of the human environment.

D. Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

Executive Order 13132 requires NHTSA to develop an accountable process to ensure “meaningful and timely input by State and local officials in the development of regulatory policies that have federalism implications.” “Policies that have federalism implications” is defined in the Executive Order to include regulations that have “substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.” Under Executive Order 13132, the agency may not issue a regulation with Federalism implications, that imposes substantial direct compliance costs, and that is not required by statute, unless the Federal government provides the funds necessary to pay the direct compliance costs incurred by State and local Start Printed Page 56051governments, the agency consults with State and local governments, or the agency consults with State and local officials early in the process of developing the regulation. NHTSA also may not issue a regulation with Federalism implications and that preempts State law unless the agency consults with State and local officials early in the process of developing the regulation.

The agency has analyzed this NPRM in accordance with the principles and criteria set forth in Executive Order 13132 and has determined that it does not involve a rule that would have sufficient federalism implications to warrant consultation with State and local officials or the preparation of a federalism summary impact statement. The NPRM would not have any substantial effects on the States, or on the current Federal-State relationship, or on the current distribution of power and responsibilities among the various local officials.

E. Civil Justice Reform

This NPRM does not involve a rule that would have any retroactive effect. Under 49 U.S.C. 30103, whenever a Federal motor vehicle safety standard is in effect, a State may not adopt or maintain a safety standard applicable to the same aspect of performance which is not identical to the Federal standard, except to the extent that the state requirement imposes a higher level of performance and applies only to vehicles procured for the State's use. 49 U.S.C. 30161 sets forth a procedure for judicial review of final rules establishing, amending, or revoking Federal motor vehicle safety standards. That section does not require submission of a petition for reconsideration or other administrative proceedings before parties may file suit in court.

F. Paperwork Reduction Act

Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), a person is not required to respond to a collection of information by a Federal agency unless the collection displays a valid OMB control number. This NPRM does not involve a rule that would require any collection of information.

G. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act

Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (NTTAA), Public Law 104-113, section 12(d) (15 U.S.C. 272) directs NHTSA to use voluntary consensus standards in its regulatory activities unless doing so would be inconsistent with applicable law or otherwise impractical. Voluntary consensus standards are technical standards (e.g., materials specifications, test methods, sampling procedures, and business practices) that are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies, such as the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The NTTAA directs NHTSA to provide Congress, through OMB, explanations when the agency decides not to use available and applicable voluntary consensus standards. The NTTAA does not apply to symbols.

The NTTAA does not apply to this NPRM since it does not involve regulatory activities. The NPRM would not impose binding legal obligations on any party.

H. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

Section 202 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) requires Federal agencies to prepare a written assessment of the costs, benefits, and other effects of proposed or final rules that include a Federal mandate likely to result in the expenditure by State, local, or tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of more than $100 million in any one year (adjusted for inflation with base year of 1995). Before promulgating a rule for which a written statement is needed, section 205 of the UMRA generally requires NHTSA to identify and consider a reasonable number of regulatory alternatives and adopt the least costly, most cost-effective, or least burdensome alternative that achieves the objectives of the rule. The provisions of section 205 do not apply when they are inconsistent with applicable law. Moreover, section 205 allows NHTSA to adopt an alternative other than the least costly, most cost-effective, or least burdensome alternative if the agency publishes with the final rule an explanation why that alternative was not adopted.

This NPRM would not require any expenditures by State, local, or tribal governments, or by private parties.

I. Regulation Identifier Number (RIN)

The Department of Transportation assigns a regulation identifier number (RIN) to each regulatory action listed in the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulations. The Regulatory Information Service Center publishes the Unified Agenda in April and October of each year. You may use the RIN contained in the heading at the beginning of this document to find this action in the Unified Agenda.

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List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 575

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In consideration of the foregoing, 49 CFR part 575 would be amended as follows:

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PART 575—CONSUMER INFORMATION

1. The heading for part 575 would be revised to read as set forth above.

2. The authority citation for part 575 would be revised to read as follows:

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Authority: 49 U.S.C. 322, 30111, 30115, 30117, 30166 and Pub.L. 106-414, 114 Stat. 1800; delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.50.

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3. The heading for subpart A would be revised to read as follows:

Subpart A—Regulations; General

4. The heading for subpart B would be revised to read as follows:

Subpart B—Regulations; Consumer Information Items

5. Subpart C would be added to read as follows:

Subpart C—Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation Act; Consumer Information

Child restraint performance.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has established a program for rating the performance of child restraints. The agency makes the information developed under this rating program available through a variety of means, including postings on its Web site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

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Dated: October 29, 2001.

Stephen R. Kratzke,

Associate Administrator for Safety Performance Standards.

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[FR Doc. 01-27546 Filed 10-31-01; 9:54 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-59-P