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Notice

Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Application for an Exemption From Ford Motor Company

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AGENCY:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION:

Notice of application for exemption; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

FMCSA requests public comment on an application for exemption from Ford Motor Company (Ford) to allow motor carriers to operate Ford's Transit commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) that do not meet the exhaust system location requirements in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). The FMCSRs require (1) the exhaust system of a bus powered by a gasoline engine to discharge to the atmosphere at or within 6 inches forward of the rearmost part of the bus and (2) the exhaust system of every truck and truck tractor to discharge to the atmosphere at a location to the rear of the cab or, if the exhaust projects above the cab, at a location near the rear of the cab. Based on the results of performance-based tests it has conducted to measure the concentration of carbon monoxide (CO) in the occupant compartment of the Transit-based CMVs, Ford believes that the location of the exhaust system on these vehicles, as currently designed, will maintain a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety achieved without the Start Printed Page 21295exemption. Ford is requesting the temporary exemption in advance of petitioning FMCSA to conduct a rulemaking to amend 49 CFR 393.83.

DATES:

Comments must be received on or before May 18, 2015.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments bearing the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) Docket ID FMCSA-2015-0111 using any of the following methods:

  • Web site: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments on the Federal electronic docket site.
  • Fax: 1-202-493-2251.
  • Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
  • Hand Delivery: Ground Floor, Room W12-140, DOT Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. e.t., Monday-Friday, except Federal holidays.

Instructions: All submissions must include the Agency name and docket number for this notice. For detailed instructions on submitting comments and additional information on the exemption process, see the “Public Participation” heading below. Note that all comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. Please see the “Privacy Act” heading for further information.

Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov or to Room W12-140, DOT Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

Privacy Act: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT posts these comments, without edit, including any personal information the commenter provides, to www.regulations.gov, as described in the system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at www.dot.gov/​privacy.

Public participation: The http://www.regulations.gov Web site is generally available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. You may find electronic submission and retrieval help and guidelines under the “help” section of the http://www.regulations.gov Web site as well as the DOT's http://docketsinfo.dot.gov Web site. If you would like notification that we received your comments, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope or postcard or print the acknowledgment page that appears after submitting comments online.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mr. Luke W. Loy, Vehicle and Roadside Operations Division, Office of Bus and Truck Standards and Operations, MC-PSV, (202) 366-0676; Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

Section 4007 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA- 21) [Pub. L. 105-178, June 9, 1998, 112 Stat. 401] amended 49 U.S.C. 31315 and 31136(e) to provide authority to grant exemptions from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). On August 20, 2004, FMCSA published a final rule (69 FR 51589) implementing section 4007. Under this rule, FMCSA must publish a notice of each exemption request in the Federal Register (49 CFR 381.315(a)). The Agency must provide the public with an opportunity to inspect the information relevant to the application, including any safety analyses that have been conducted. The Agency must also provide an opportunity for public comment on the request.

The Agency reviews the safety analyses and the public comments and determines whether granting the exemption would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to or greater than the level that would be achieved by the current regulation (49 CFR 381.305). The decision of the Agency must be published in the Federal Register (49 CFR 381.315(b)). If the Agency denies the request, it must state the reason for doing so. If the decision is to grant the exemption, the notice must specify the person or class of persons receiving the exemption and the regulatory provision or provisions from which an exemption is granted. The notice must specify the effective period of the exemption (up to 2 years) and explain the terms and conditions of the exemption. The exemption may be renewed (49 CFR 381.315(c) and 49 CFR 381.300(b)).

Ford Application for Exemption

Ford applied for an exemption from 49 CFR 393.83 to allow motor carriers to operate Ford-manufactured Transit-based CMVs that do not comply with the regulation's exhaust system location requirements. A copy of the application is included in the docket referenced at the beginning of this notice.

Section 393.83 of the FMCSRs, “Exhaust systems,” includes requirements regarding the location of exhaust systems on CMVs to ensure that exhaust fumes will not affect the driver's alertness or health or the health of passengers. Specifically, section 393.83(c) states that “The exhaust system of a bus powered by a gasoline engine shall discharge to the atmosphere at or within 6 inches forward of the rearmost part of the bus,” and section 393.83(e) provides that “The exhaust system of every truck and truck tractor shall discharge to the atmosphere at a location to the rear of the cab or, if the exhaust projects above the cab, at a location near the rear of the cab.” However, the exhaust system on Ford Transit vehicles for Model Year 2015 and newer is located approximately (1) 20 inches forward of the rearmost part of the medium/long wheelbase bus or van (truck) configuration, and (2) 46 inches forward of the rearmost part of the extended length bus or van (truck) configuration.

In its application, Ford notes that while its Transit-based CMVs may not satisfy the specific exhaust system location requirements in the FMCSRs, it has several internal requirements applicable to the design of the tailpipe system that ensure the system will provide high levels of safety for its customers. Specifically, Ford states:

In particular, Ford's requirements address passenger compartment exhaust gas intrusion and management of high temperature components. These requirements include testing of the system and basic design requirements for the location of the tailpipe in relation to underbody components like the brake lines and fuel lines.

Most significantly Ford uses internal performance based tests that demonstrate the system achieves a level of safety equivalent to or greater than, the level of safety that would be obtained by complying with the regulation. The main test of interest is the Carbon Monoxide Concentration test. This performance based test uses CO monitors at various locations in the vehicle to measure the concentration of CO ingress into the occupant compartment (from vehicles' own powertrain and exhaust system) under various driving conditions including idle and top speed.

Ford tested the 2015 model year Transit in accordance with “Ford global common engineering test procedures,” which limits carbon monoxide (CO) levels to 27 parts-per-million (ppm) for a 30 minute Time Weighted Average (TWA) during continuous driving. Ford states that that limit is based on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Acute Exposure Guideline Level limits for CO exposure for 8 hour TWA, which is more severe than both the Occupational Safety & Health Administration's (OSHA) permissible Start Printed Page 21296exposure limit of 50 ppm for an 8 hour TWA and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health's (NIOSH) permissible exposure limit of 35 ppm for a 10 hour TWA. Under “worst-case conditions,” Ford measured the CO level to be 17 ppm for the Model year 2015 Transit, well below the EPA, OSHA, and NIOSH limits.

Additionally Ford states that it has internal requirements to establish the appropriate clearance required between a vehicle and the ground to meet a minimum level of on-road functionality. Ford has specific departure angle requirements for their vehicle to reduce tailpipe contact with the ground, curbs, ramps, etc., during various driving modes which may result in damage to the exhaust system that may adversely affect the exhaust function. Ford implied that the tailpipe placement used on its 2015 and future Transit-based passenger vehicles protects the exhaust system from operational damage that might expose passengers to dangerous levels of exhaust gases.

The exemption application would apply to Model Year 2015 Transit-based gas bus models (all gross vehicle weight ratings), vans over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating, and corresponding future Transit-based production model years. Ford estimates the annual production of these vehicles to be similar to the current Ford Econoline vehicle, which is less than 50,000 vehicles annually.

Ford acknowledges that the exhaust system location requirements in section 393.83 are intended to ensure that exhaust gases do not seep into the passenger compartment of the vehicle. However, Ford believes that the performance-based testing that it has conducted demonstrates that the design of the exhaust system for the Model Year 2015 and later Ford Transit CMVs (1) results in CO exposure limits that are well below EPA, OSHA, and NIOSH established thresholds, and (2) will maintain a level of safety that is equivalent to the level of safety achieved without the exemption.

Request for Comments

In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31315 and 31136(e), FMCSA requests public comment from all interested persons on Ford's application for an exemption from 49 CFR 393.83. All comments received before the close of business on the comment closing date indicated at the beginning of this notice will be considered and will be available for examination in the docket at the location listed under the ADDRESSES section of this notice.

Comments received after the comment closing date will be filed in the public docket and will be considered to the extent practicable. In addition to late comments, FMCSA will continue to file relevant information in the public docket that becomes available after the comment closing date. Interested persons should continue to examine the public docket for new material.

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Issued on: April 13, 2015.

Larry W. Minor,

Associate Administrator for Policy.

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[FR Doc. 2015-08858 Filed 4-16-15; 8:45 am]

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