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Am-Safe, Inc.; Grant of Petition for Determination of Inconsequential Noncompliance

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Am-Safe

Am-Safe, Inc.; Grant of Petition for Determination of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Barry Felrice
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
March 4, 1994


[Federal Register Volume 59, Number 43 (Friday, March 4, 1994)]
[Unknown Section]
[Page 0]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 94-4916]


[[Page Unknown]]

[Federal Register: March 4, 1994]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
[Docket No. 93-29; Notice 2]

 

Am-Safe, Inc.; Grant of Petition for Determination of 
Inconsequential Noncompliance

    Am-Safe, Inc. (Am-Safe) of Phoenix, Arizona, determined that some 
of its replacement seat belt assemblies fail to comply with 49 CFR 
571.209, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 209, ``Seat 
Belt Assemblies,'' and filed an appropriate report pursuant to 49 CFR 
part 573, ``Defect and Noncompliance Reports.'' Am-Safe also petitioned 
to be exempted from the notification and remedy requirements of the 
National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 1381 et seq.) 
on the basis that the noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to 
motor vehicle safety.
    Notice of receipt of the petition was published on April 29, 1993, 
and an opportunity afforded for comment (58 FR 26032). This notice 
grants that petition.
    Between January 1985 and the date it filed its petition, Am-Safe 
produced and distributed approximately 100,000 replacement seat belts 
which did not include the installation and maintenance instructions 
required by Standard No. 209.
    Paragraph S4.1(k) of Standard No. 209, requires that:

    A seat belt assembly or retractor shall be accompanied by an 
instruction sheet providing sufficient information for installing 
the assembly in a motor vehicle except for a seat belt assembly 
installed in a motor vehicle by an automobile manufacturer. The 
installation instructions shall state whether the assembly is for 
universal installation or for installation only in specifically 
stated motor vehicles * * * .

    In addition, section S.4.1(1) requires that:

    A seat belt assembly or retractor shall be accompanied by 
written instructions for the proper use of the assembly, stressing 
particularly the importance of wearing the assembly snugly and 
properly located on the body, and on the maintenance of the assembly 
and periodic inspection of all components. The instructions shall 
show the proper manner of threading webbing in the hardware of seat 
belt assemblies in which the webbing is not permanently fastened.

    Am-Safe supported its petition for inconsequential noncompliance 
with the following:

No Evidence of Incorrectly Installed Seat Belts

    [Am-Safe believes] the simplistic mounting design of these seat 
belts make [sic] it improbable that any incorrect installations 
exist. Am-Safe, Inc. is unaware of any suggestions or allegations, 
in regards to motor vehicle safety, concerning seat belts that were 
incorrectly installed.

[Am-Safe Sophisticated Part Numbering System

    Seat belts are identified by a nine or ten digit part number. A 
typical seat belt part number is 502293-401-6. The 502293 defines 
the basic belt configuration such as a retractable or nonretractable 
lap belt. The -401 specifies the dimensions of [the] web and 
component cover lengths. The -6 is the color code when applicable. 
Permanently affixed labels have pertinent information to ensure the 
proper seat belt is ordered for replacement. This label includes the 
part number, manufacturing date, and name and phone number of the 
manufacturer. This accurate numbering system can be confidently used 
for proper seat belt replacement.

Simple Installation Procedures

    The seat belts in question are attached to the vehicle anchorage 
holes with existing mounting hardware. These assemblies require only 
one bolt for attachment of the buckle half and one bolt for the 
attachment of the connector half. The accomplish the installation of 
a replacement seat belt, the existing seat belt must first be 
removed from the vehicle. These steps are then reversed for proper 
installation of the replacement seat belt. The majority of these 
replacements are performed by individuals acquainted with seat belt 
installation, i.e.; seat manufacturers, transit but operators, and 
associated companies [which] perform seat belt installation on a 
regular basis. In addition, the design and construction 
characteristics of these seat belts reflect universal practices of 
operation and maintenance procedures.

Conclusion

    There is no evidence that any of the subject seat belts are 
incorrectly installed. These seat belts have been installed and are 
currently in service without incident making a recall impractical. 
The complex part numbering system used by Am-Safe, Inc. leaves 
little chance for error when ordering a replacement seat belt. In 
the majority of cases, installation was performed by companies with 
experienced [personnel] familiar with correct procedures. [In 
i]nstances where seat belts are knowingly distributed to the general 
public, Am-Safe, Inc. has always supplied appropriate instructions. 
[As a] result of this noncompliance, Am-Safe, Inc. now includes 
these instructions with all seat belts unless otherwise instructed 
by the vehicle manufactures. In conclusion, Am-Safe, Inc. believes 
that lack of instructions for seat belts that are currently in 
service is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety.

    No comments were received on the petition.
    With respect to the failure to provide installation instructions, 
the petitioner has argued that its parts ordering and shipping 
procedures ensure that the correct replacement parts are received by 
the dealer. Installation of the belts is a simple procedure, requiring 
only one bolt for the attachment of the buckle half and one bolt for 
the attachment of the connector half. These restraints are typically 
installed by persons who perform replacements on a regular basis. After 
reviewing these arguments, NHTSA concurs with them.
    With respect to the failure to provide usage and maintenance 
instructions, the petitioner has argued that this information has 
always been provided with belts distributed to the general public. As 
for the belts covered by the petition, Am-Safe has concluded that since 
they are currently in service, lack of instructions for maintenance and 
use at this point is inconsequential as it relates to safety. With 
respect to this argument, NHTSA believes it more likely than not that 
instructions accompanying packaged belts will be discarded once the 
belts are installed. In addition, similar petitions from vehicle 
manufacturers have stated that maintenance and use instructions for 
belts are included in the operator's manuals of the vehicles in which 
the replacement belts have been installed. Given the fact that all seat 
belts must conform to Standard No. 209, NHTSA believes that there is 
such a sufficient similarity between belts of all manufacturers, 
whether used as original or replacement equipment, that the maintenance 
and use instructions in any specific vehicle operator's manual will be 
of general applicability.
    For the foregoing reasons, the petitioner has met its burden of 
persuasion that the noncompliances herein described are inconsequential 
as they relate to motor vehicle safety, and its petition is granted.

(15 U.S.C. 1417; delegations of authority at 49 CFR 1.50 and 49 CFR 
501.8)

    Issued on: February 28, 1994.
Barry Felrice,
Associated Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 94-4916 Filed 3-3-94; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-M

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