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

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Ford Transit

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

T.F. Scott Darling, III
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
August 12, 2015


[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 155 (Wednesday, August 12, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 48408-48409]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-19801]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2015-0111]


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

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of final disposition.

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SUMMARY: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) 
announces its decision to grant Ford Motor Company's (Ford) exemption 
application to allow motor carriers to operate Ford's Transit-based 
commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) that do not meet the exhaust system 
location requirements in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations 
(FMCSRs). 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. Although the Ford Transit 
does not meet these requirements, it has undergone performance-based 
testing which demonstrates that the exhaust system achieves a level of 
safety equivalent to or greater than the level of safety that would be 
obtained by complying with the regulation. Ford performed carbon 
monoxide (CO) concentration tests which used CO monitors at various 
locations within the vehicle to measure the concentration of CO ingress 
into the occupant compartment (from the vehicles' own powertrain and 
exhaust system) under various driving conditions including idle and top 
speed. The tests showed that the resulting CO concentration is below 
every threshold used by Federal agencies. FMCSA has concluded that the 
limited 2-year exemption will achieve a level of safety equivalent to 
or greater than the level of safety provided by the rule restricting 
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.

DATES: This exemption is effective August 12, 2015 and ending August 
14, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Luke Loy, Vehicle and Roadside 
Operations Division, Office of Carrier, Driver, and Vehicle Safety, MC-
PSV, (202) 366-0676, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 1200 
New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments submitted to notice requesting public comments on the 
exemption application, go to www.regulations.gov at any time or visit 
Room W12-140 on the ground level of the West Building, 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., ET, Monday 
through Friday, except Federal holidays. The on-line Federal document 
management system is available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. 
The docket number is listed at the beginning of this notice.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    FMCSA has authority under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315 to grant 
exemptions from certain parts of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety 
Regulations. FMCSA must publish a notice of each exemption request in 
the Federal Register (49 CFR 381.315(a)). The Agency must provide the 
public 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 safety analyses and public comments submitted, 
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)) with the reasons for denying or granting the application 
and, if granted, the name of the person or class of persons receiving 
the exemption, and the regulatory provision from which the exemption is 
granted. The notice must also specify the effective period and explain 
the terms and conditions of the exemption. The exemption may be renewed 
(49 CFR 381.300(b)).

Ford's 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 exhaust system location requirements. A copy of the 
application is included in the docket referenced at the beginning of 
this notice.
    Section 393.83, ``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, Sec.  393.83(c) states that ``[t]he 
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''; Sec.  393.83(e) states that ``[t]he 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.''
    Ford noted in its application that, while its Transit-based CMVs 
may not satisfy the specific exhaust system location requirements of 
Sec.  393.83, 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. According to the application:

    . . . 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 stated that the 
27 ppm 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

[[Page 48409]]

Administration's (OSHA) permissible exposure 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 stated 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.
    FMCSA published a notice of the application in the Federal Register 
on April 17, 2015, and asked for public comment (80 FR 21294).

Comments

    The Agency received one comment, from an anonymous commenter. The 
commenter expressed concern ``that over time after the vehicle is 
initially manufactured, the exhaust system will be subject to wear and 
tear and as such may not perform to the same standard that it did upon 
original manufacture. Although Ford was able to demonstrate that the 
system was able to detect potentially dangerous situations with the 
exhaust at the time of manufacture, we will truly have no understanding 
of how that system will perform 10 or 15 years later.''

FMCSA Response

    FMCSA acknowledges the commenter's concern that exhaust systems, 
like other vehicle components and equipment, are subject to wear and 
tear as vehicles age. However, 49 CFR part 396 requires a motor carrier 
to systematically inspect, repair, and maintain all motor vehicles 
subject to its control (Sec.  396.3(a)), and ensure that all parts and 
accessories are in safe and proper operating condition at all times 
(Sec.  396.3(a)(1)). Further, Sec.  396.17 requires every CMV to be 
inspected at least once every 12 months in accordance with the 
provisions of Appendix G to Subchapter B of Chapter III of the FMCSRs, 
``Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards,'' which includes a review of 
the vehicle's exhaust system. Finally, FMCSA expects that, as these 
exhaust systems wear out, vehicle owners will replace them with exhaust 
systems identical or equivalent to the original equipment, ensuring an 
equivalent level of performance.
    As noted below, this temporary exemption is valid for a limited 
period of 2 years, and any party possessing information that would 
demonstrate that motor carriers using Ford Transit-based CMVS are not 
achieving the requisite statutory level of safety should immediately 
notify FMCSA. The Agency will evaluate any such information and, if 
safety is being compromised or if the continuation of the exemption is 
not consistent with 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315(b), will take 
immediate steps to revoke the exemption.

FMCSA Decision

    The FMCSA has evaluated the Ford exemption application. The Agency 
believes that granting the temporary exemption to allow the operation 
of Model Year 2015 Ford Transit-based gas bus models (of all gross 
vehicle weight ratings), vans over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight 
rating, and corresponding future Transit-based models of the same 
design produced during the effective period of the exemption will 
provide a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the 
level of safety achieved without the exemption. Ford conducted 
performance-based testing that demonstrates that the design of the 
exhaust system for the Model Year 2015 and later Fort 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.

Terms and Conditions for the Exemption

    The Agency hereby grants the exemption for a 2-year period, 
beginning August 12, 2015 and ending August 14, 2017. During the 
temporary exemption period, motor carriers will be allowed to operate 
Model Year 2015 Ford Transit-based gas bus models (of all gross vehicle 
weight ratings), vans over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating, 
and corresponding future Transit-based models of the same design 
produced during the effective period of the exemption that do not meet 
the exhaust system location requirements. The exemption will be valid 
for 2 years unless rescinded earlier by FMCSA. The exemption will be 
rescinded if: (1) Motor carriers and/or commercial motor vehicles fail 
to comply with the terms and conditions of the exemption; (2) the 
exemption has resulted in a lower level of safety than was maintained 
before it was granted; or (3) continuation of the exemption would not 
be consistent with the goals and objectives of 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 
31315(b).
    Interested parties possessing information that would demonstrate 
that motor carriers using Ford Transit-based CMVs are not achieving the 
requisite statutory level of safety should immediately notify FMCSA. 
The Agency will evaluate any such information and, if safety is being 
compromised or if the continuation of the exemption is not consistent 
with 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315(b), will take immediate steps to 
revoke the exemption.

Preemption

    During the period the exemption is in effect, no State shall 
enforce any law or regulation that conflicts with or is inconsistent 
with this exemption with respect to a person operating a vehicle 
covered by the exemption.

    Issued on August 5, 2015.
T.F. Scott Darling, III,
Chief Counsel.
[FR Doc. 2015-19801 Filed 8-11-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P

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