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Proposed Rule

NHTSA Vehicle Safety Rulemaking Priorities: 2002-2005

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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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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National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), DOT.


Request for comments.


This document announces the availability of a planning document that describes NHTSA's proposed vehicle safety rulemaking priorities through 2005. The plan includes those rulemaking actions of highest priority for the period 2002 to 2005, based primarily on the greatest potential protection of lives and prevention of injury, that fall within the immediate four-year time frame. In addition, NHTSA has considered the realistic likelihood for successful action, especially considering the reality of numerous worthwhile options competing for budgetary resources. The priorities were defined through extensive discussions within the agency, taking into account the views heard in recent years at public meetings and comments submitted to the agency via rulemaking notices and requests for comment. The results produced by previous NHTSA rulemaking priority planning exercises also provided input to this process. While the plan includes other active areas, in addition to the rulemaking priorities, it discusses only a portion of all rulemaking actions the agency plans to undertake in the coming four-plus years. The absence of a particular regulatory activity from the plan does not necessarily imply that the agency will not pursue it. Although the execution of a priority plan is affected by factors beyond its control (e.g., Start Printed Page 48600petitions, budgets, legislation), this plan provides a blueprint for regulatory action on those vehicle safety goals the agency considers its highest priorities. NHTSA seeks public review and comment on the planning document. Comments received will be evaluated and incorporated, as appropriate, into the planned agency activities.


Comments must be received no later than September 23, 2002.


Interested persons may obtain a copy of the planning document by downloading a copy of the document from the Docket Management System, U.S. Department of Transportation, at the address provided below, or from NHTSA's Web site at​cars/​rules/​rulings. Alternatively, interested persons may obtain a copy of the document by contacting the agency officials listed in the section titled, “For Further Information Contact,” immediately below.

Submit written comments to the Docket Management System, U.S. Department of Transportation, PL 401, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590-0001. Comments should refer to the Docket Number (NHTSA-2002-212391) and be submitted in two copies. If you wish to receive confirmation of receipt of your written comments, include a self-addressed, stamped postcard.

Comments may also be submitted to the docket electronically by logging onto the Docket Management System Web site at Click on “Help & Information” to obtain instructions for filing the comment electronically. In every case, the comment should refer to the docket number.

The Docket Management System is located on the Plaza level of the Nassif Building at the Department of Transportation at the above address. You can review public dockets there between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. You can also review comments on-line at the DOT Docket Management System Web site at

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Lawrence L. Hershman, Office of Safety Performance Standards, NPS-33, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Room 5104, 400 Seventh Street, SW, Washington, DC 20590. Telephone: 202-366-4929. E-mail:

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Motor vehicle crashes killed 41,821 individuals and injured 3,189,000 others in 6.4 million crashes in 2000. In addition to the terrible personal toll, these crashes make a huge economic impact on our society with an estimated annual cost of $230.6 billion, or an average of $820 for every person living in the United States. One of the most important ways in which NHTSA carries out its safety mandate is to issue and enforce Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). Through these rules, NHTSA strives to reduce the number of crashes and to minimize the consequences of those crashes that do occur. NHTSA's rulemaking activities, via the Safety Performance Standards Program with support from the offices of Research and Development, Safety Assurance, Plans and Policy, and Chief Counsel, identify safety problem areas, develop countermeasures, and collect and analyze information to develop new FMVSS and amendments to existing FMVSS.

In the first years of the new century, NHTSA will strive to influence the automotive industry to incorporate the rapidly accelerating pace of advances in vehicle and safety technology into new vehicles while ensuring that the use of the new technologies enhances vehicle safety. The plan outlines the highlights of NHTSA's vehicle safety rulemaking plans through 2005. Agency priorities emanate from many sources, including: The size of the safety problem and likelihood of solutions, Executive initiatives, Congressional interest and mandates, petitions to the agency for rulemaking and other expressions of public interest, interest in harmonizing safety standards with those of other nations, and changes needed as a result of new vehicle technologies. The starting point for rulemaking priorities is the quest for the greatest potential protection of lives and prevention of injury.

The plan is organized along several broad categories: Crash Prevention includes crash avoidance data, driver distraction, vehicle visibility, crash warnings, and vehicle control and handling. Occupant Protection includes advanced crash dummies and protection in frontal, side, rollover, and rear crashes. Other sections cover Incompatibility Between Passenger Cars and Light Trucks, Heavy Truck Safety, and Special Population Protection, including safety for children, people with disabilities, and older people.

The plan includes several potential rulemaking projects that require additional research to determine whether rulemaking action is needed, but are priorities based on their potential for significantly sizeable death and injury prevention benefits. The plan also contains an appendix that discusses some other regulatory activities, particularly regulatory-related research activities, that may extend beyond the four-year horizon of the plan and that the agency considers important, although not rising to the same level of immediate high priority as the activities included in the main body of the plan. Another appendix discusses upcoming milestones in consumer information activities that the agency plans to pursue in the next few years, including the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP).

This document announces the availability of the document for public review and comment. The plan will be posted on NHTSA's website on July 23, 2002. Received comments will be evaluated and incorporated, as appropriate, into planned agency activities. The agency intends to periodically update the plan. Comments that cannot be accommodated in the current plan will be reviewed and considered in the context of future updates.

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 (NHTSA-2002212391) in your comments.

Please send two paper copies of your comments to Docket Management or submit them electronically. The mailing address is U.S. Department of Transportation Docket Management, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590. If you submit your comments electronically, log onto the Docket Management System Web site at and click on “Help & Information” or “Help/Info” to obtain instructions.

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, stamped 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, send three copies of your complete submission, including the information you claim to be confidential business information, to the Chief Counsel, NCC-01, National Highway Traffic Safety Start Printed Page 48601Administration, Room 5219, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590. Include a cover letter supplying the information specified in our confidential business information regulation (49 CFR part 512).

In addition, send two copies from which you have deleted the claimed confidential business information to Docket Management, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington DC 20590.

Will the Agency Consider Late Comments?

In our response, 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.

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.

How Can I Read the Comments Submitted By Other People?

You may read the comments by visiting Docket Management in person at Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

You may also see the comments on the Internet by taking the following steps:

1. Go to the Docket Management System (DMS) Web page of the Department of Transportation (

2. On that page, click on “search.”

3. On the next page (​search/​) type in the four-digit Docket number shown at the beginning of this document (NHTSA-2002-212391). Click on “search.”

4. On the next page, which contains Docket summary information for the Docket you selected, click on the desired comments. You may also download the comments.

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Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30111, 30117, 30168; delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.50 and 501.8.

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Issued on: July 19, 2002.

Stephen R. Kratzke,

Associate Administrator for Safety Performance Standards.

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[FR Doc. 02-18760 Filed 7-24-02; 8:45 am]