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Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Occupant Crash Protection

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Occupant Crash Protection

Barry Felrice
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
April 15, 1994


[Federal Register Volume 59, Number 73 (Friday, April 15, 1994)]
[Unknown Section]
[Page 0]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 94-9085]


[[Page Unknown]]

[Federal Register: April 15, 1994]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
49 CFR Parts 571 and 572

[Docket No. 74-14; Notice 85]
RIN 2127-AE34

 

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Occupant Crash Protection

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), DOT.

ACTION: Termination of rulemaking proceeding.

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SUMMARY: This notice terminates rulemaking to amend Standard No. 208, 
Occupant Crash Protection, to require compliance with a Neck Injury 
Criterion (NIC) instead of the currently specified Head Injury 
Criterion (HIC) in those compliance tests in which the test dummy's 
head does not contact any vehicle surface or component. Current agency 
estimates indicate that only 10 percent of the vehicle fleet would be 
affected by the time this rulemaking would go into effect and diminish 
to near zero within the next two years. The potential benefits would be 
sufficiently low that NHTSA believes agency efforts would be better 
directed in other areas. One of those areas would be research to 
develop a neck trauma criterion useful for all crash scenarios, 
including both tests in which the test dummy's head does not contact 
any vehicle surface or component and those in which the test dummy's 
head does contact a vehicle surface or component.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Stanley H. Backaitis, Office of 
Vehicle Safety Standards, NRM-10, National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590. 
Telephone: (202) 366-4912.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On December 10, 1992, NHTSA published a 
notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to change the injury criteria used 
to determine compliance with Standard No. 208, Occupant Crash 
Protection (57 FR 58444). The NPRM proposed to require compliance with 
a Neck Injury Criterion (NIC), based on tension forces in the neck, 
instead of the currently specified Head Injury Criterion (HIC) in those 
compliance test crashes in which the test dummy's head does not contact 
any vehicle surface or component, including a deploying air bag. These 
crashes are referred to as ``non-contact crashes'' throughout the rest 
of this document. This proposal was based on evidence indicating that 
there was no risk of belted occupants in frontal collisions suffering a 
serious head injury in non-contact crashes, but they might be subject 
to a risk for neck injury.
    The agency received 14 comments on the December 1992 NPRM. Three 
commenters opposed the proposal, while five commenters supported the 
proposal without further comment. Five additional commenters generally 
supported the proposal, but had various comments. These comments 
included the belief that both NIC and HIC should be measured, that neck 
injury assessment should include both contact and non-contact events, 
questions concerning the proposed level for NIC, questions concerning 
how contact would be determined, and leadtime issues. The remaining 
commenter addressed technical matters not directly related to the issue 
of whether NIC should be substituted for HIC in non-contact crashes.
    After reviewing the comments, NHTSA has decided to terminate this 
rulemaking. Many commenters questioned the correlation of NIC as a 
tension force in the neck to actual injury probability. Further, air 
bags are being introduced in vehicles at a more rapid pace than 
anticipated when this rulemaking was initiated. Because of this, the 
number of non-contact crashes will diminish, and the effectiveness of a 
final rule would be lower than anticipated. Current estimates indicate 
that a final rule at the time it would go into effect would affect less 
than 10 percent of the new vehicle fleet, the agency's current estimate 
of the percent of the new vehicle fleet that would lack air bags in the 
first year a final rule would be implemented. Given these figures, the 
agency believes that its efforts will have a greater safety benefit if 
focused on other research and rulemaking efforts.
    Terminating this rulemaking will allow the agency to focus its neck 
injury research on assessment of neck injury potential in both contact 
and non-contact crashes. Most of the commenters stressed the need to 
assess neck injuries in both types of crashes and urged the agency to 
expedite the development of appropriate injury criteria without further 
delay. While the agency has been researching neck injury since the 
early 1980s, these efforts have not yet yielded the answers necessary 
for a NIC covering all crash conditions. The agency will continue its 
neck injury research with the goal of adding a neck trauma criterion 
for all crash scenarios at a later date.

    Issued on April 11, 1994.
Barry Felrice,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 94-9085 Filed 4-14-94; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE: 4910-59-P

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