Home Page About Us Contribute




Escort, Inc.



Tweets by @CrittendenAuto






By accessing/using The Crittenden Automotive Library/CarsAndRacingStuff.com, you signify your agreement with the Terms of Use on our Legal Information page. Our Privacy Policy is also available there.

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

Raymond R. Posten
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
6 April 2016


[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 66 (Wednesday, April 6, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 19902-19904]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-07828]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 571

[Docket No. NHTSA-2013-0121]


Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Occupant Crash Protection

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

ACTION: Denial of petitions for reconsideration.

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

SUMMARY: This document denies petitions for reconsideration submitted 
by bus manufacturers IC Bus, LLC (IC Bus), Daimler Trucks North America 
(Daimler Trucks) and Prevost, concerning a November 25, 2013 final rule 
requiring seat belts on large buses. IC Bus and Daimler Trucks 
petitioned to modify the definition of ``over-the-road bus'' specified 
in the final rule. NHTSA is denying these petitions because any change 
to the definition may serve to reduce the standard's applicability, 
contrary to Congressional and NHTSA intent, and the definition of 
``over-the-road bus'' is sufficiently clear. Prevost petitioned to 
revise the seat belt anchorage strength requirements for last row seats 
having no passenger seating behind them. NHTSA is denying this petition 
primarily because the requested force level reduction may set strength 
levels below an acceptable level for a dynamic environment.

DATES: April 6, 2016.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For non-legal issues: Mr. Vinay 
Nagabhushana, Office of Crashworthiness Standards, National Highway 
Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, 
DC 20590. Telephone: (202) 366-1452. Facsimile: (202) 493-2739.
    For legal issues: Ms. Deirdre Fujita, Office of Chief Counsel, 
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue 
SE., Washington, DC 20590. Telephone: (202) 366-2992. Facsimile: (202) 
366-3820.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This document denies petitions for 
reconsideration of a November 25, 2013 final rule requiring seat belts 
on large buses (78 FR 70416). We first deny the petitions submitted by 
bus manufacturers IC Bus and Daimler Trucks to modify the definition of 
``over-the-road bus'' specified in the final rule. These petitions are 
denied because any change to the definition may serve to reduce the 
standard's applicability, contrary to Congressional intent and the 
safety need addressed by the rule, and the current definition of 
``over-the-road bus'' is sufficiently clear as to which buses must be 
equipped with seat belts. Second, this document denies a petition for 
reconsideration from bus manufacturer Prevost to revise the seat belt 
anchorage strength requirements for last row seats having no passenger 
seating behind them. This petition is denied because, as explained in 
the 2013 final rule, the agency is concerned about the 
interchangeability of these seats with those equipped with integrated 
seat belts and the risk that a seat that is certified to a lesser 
requirement could be moved to a row that has passenger seats behind it. 
Further, we deny the petition because the requested force level 
reduction may set strength levels below an acceptable level for a 
dynamic environment.

I. Motorcoach Definition

    On July 6, 2012, President Obama signed the ``Moving Ahead for 
Progress in the 21st Century Act'' (MAP-21), which incorporates the 
``Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2012'' in subtitle G. Section 
32703(a) of this legislation calls for prescribing regulations for seat 
belts at all designated seating positions in ``motorcoaches.'' Section 
32702(6) states that ``[t]he term `motorcoach' has the meaning given 
the term `over-the-road bus' in section 3038(a)(3) of the 
Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (49 U.S.C. 5310 note)'' 
with two specific exceptions.\1\ Section 3038(a)(3) (49 U.S.C. 5310 
note) defines the term ``over-the-road bus'' as a bus characterized by 
an elevated passenger deck located over a baggage compartment.\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ The two exceptions are buses used for public transportation 
provided by, or on behalf of, a public transportation agency, and 
school buses.
    \2\ The definition also appears in 49 CFR 37.3.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    On November 25, 2013, NHTSA issued a final rule on occupant 
protection in large buses, fulfilling the statutory mandate in section 
32703(a) of MAP-21. The 2013 final rule amended Federal Motor Vehicle 
Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 208, ``Occupant crash protection,'' to 
require lap/shoulder seat belts for each passenger seating position in 
all new over-the road buses regardless of gross vehicle weight rating 
(GVWR). In the final rule, consistent with MAP-21, NHTSA incorporated 
the term ``over-the-road bus'' into FMVSS No. 208 and the definition 
for the term set forth in MAP-21. Further, finding a safety need to 
improve occupant protection for passengers on other large buses, the 
agency also required seat belts in new buses, other than over-the road 
buses, with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kilograms (kg) (26,000 pounds 
(lb)).\3\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ The exceptions in the final rule are non-over-the-road 
transit buses, school buses, prison buses and perimeter seating 
buses.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Petitions for Reconsideration

    In response to the November 25, 2013 final rule, the agency 
received petitions for reconsideration requesting the agency further 
define the term ``over-the road bus'' with dimensional specificity and/
or with other bus attributes. IC Bus stated that the current definition 
of over-the-road bus is ambiguous and the terms ``elevated passenger 
deck'' and ``baggage compartment'' are undefined and subject to 
interpretation. IC Bus petitioned the agency to--
     modify the definition such that ``over the road bus means 
a bus characterized by an elevated passenger deck to accommodate a 
baggage compartment underneath, except a school bus,'' and
     define the term ``elevated passenger deck'' based on 
physical attributes of the bus such as passenger compartment floor 
height as measured from the ground (scaled for different GVWR) or 
define a passenger compartment floor height requirement with respect to 
some specific vehicle reference point.
    Daimler Trucks also petitioned the agency to modify the definition 
of over-the road bus to include objective dimensional criteria for the 
elevated passenger deck, such as floor height from the ground (variable 
for different GVWR), and also to define baggage compartment in terms of 
volume per seating position.

Agency Response

    The petitioners did not provide information supporting the 
requested action. They made broad suggestions as to how the definition 
of over-the-road bus might be quantified, but specific criteria and 
supporting data were lacking in the submissions. The petitioners did 
not provide data on the floor height or luggage compartment volume for 
any bus body type. They did not discuss what floor height or luggage 
compartment volume should be used to distinguish an over-the-road bus 
from

[[Page 19903]]

other buses, and the basis for the criterion.
    NHTSA has limited discretion regarding the ``motorcoach'' 
definition and the application of the November 2013 final rule. Section 
32702(6) of MAP-21 precisely defines the meaning of the term 
``motorcoach,'' incorporating the ``over-the-road bus'' definition used 
in 49 U.S.C. 5310 note (which the petitioners seek to change). Further, 
section 32703(a) requires the Secretary to ``prescribe regulations 
requiring safety belts to be installed in motorcoaches at each 
designated seating position.'' We note that buses are built for 
different purposes to different specifications, with varying floor 
height, floor length, compartment sizes, etc. Adding dimensional limits 
to the bus attributes as the petitioners suggest would reduce the 
number of vehicles fitting under the definition, which in turn would 
reduce the number of buses that would be required to have seat belts. 
The agency is concerned that such a reduction in the number of buses 
subject to the seat belt requirement would be contrary to Congress's 
intent to enhance the safety of buses used for passenger transport for 
compensation.\4\ MAP-21 specified the over-the-road bus definition to 
be used by the agency, without regard to vehicle weight and without 
indicating any additional specificity in regards to floor height or 
luggage compartment volume.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ Section 32702(7) of MAP-21 defines ``motorcoach services'' 
as ``passenger transportation by motorcoach for compensation.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Additionally, NHTSA does not believe that the requested action is 
needed to clarify the application of the seat belt requirement. The 
applicability of the requirement is quite clear. As previously 
discussed, all buses with a GVWR greater than 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) 
must have seat belts.\5\ For buses with GVWRs of 11,793 kg (26,000 lb) 
or less, if the vehicle has ``an elevated passenger deck located over a 
baggage compartment,'' it must have seat belts.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ See footnote 3, supra, for exceptions.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We believe that a bus manufacturer can determine whether the 
vehicle they manufacture must have seat belts, based on the vehicle's 
GVWR and whether the bus has a luggage compartment under any part of 
the passenger deck. A bus that does not fit the definition is one 
without a luggage-carrying compartment under any part of the passenger 
deck.
    Based on the above, the agency declines the petitioners' request to 
modify the definition of over-the-road bus.

II. Reduced Anchorage Strength for Last Row Seats

    As part of the motorcoach seat belt requirements, the agency 
specified that the seat belt assembly anchorages must meet the 
requirements of FMVSS No. 210, ``Seat belt assembly anchorages,'' to 
ensure effective occupant restraint and to reduce the likelihood of 
their failure. Further, the rule required that the seat belt anchorages 
must be integrated to the seat structure, except for the belt 
anchorages in the last row of the coach (if there is no wheelchair 
position or side emergency door behind these seats) and in the driver 
seating position. For the excluded seats in the last row, the final 
rule provided manufacturers the option of either having an integrated 
seat belt or attaching the seat belt anchorages to the bus side or back 
structure, as such placement would not impede ingress or egress of 
passengers in the coach.

Petition for Reconsideration

    In response to the final rule, Prevost petitioned asking for 
reduced ``seat retention'' requirements for last row seats where there 
is no possibility of any passengers being behind them. Prevost is 
concerned that ``the very last seats are secured over a thin metal 
bulkhead which did not require being very rigid when there were no seat 
belts'' \6\ and believes that this bulkhead will require reinforcement. 
It claimed that ``[a]ny strength requirement is transmitted into added 
weight which in turn transferred into fuel consumption.'' The 
petitioner argued that FMVSS No. 210 would be applicable to any other 
seats in the motorcoach where there would be combined belted occupant 
and inertial loading of the seat plus loading from the unbelted 
occupant behind, but for last row seats, there is no possibility of 
occupant loading from behind so the FMVSS No. 210 load should be 
reduced. No supporting data was provided in the petition.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \6\ Docket No. NHTSA-2013-0121-005.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Agency Response

    The agency has carefully considered the petitioner's request to 
reduce the seat belt anchorage forces for the subject seats. We are 
denying the request for the reasons explained below.
    We first note that Prevost's petition is essentially a repeat of 
the comments it made to the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) \7\ 
preceding the final rule. The agency responded to that comment in the 
preamble of the final rule as follows:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ 75 FR 50958 (August 18, 2010).

    We are unable to agree to Prevost's suggestion that the strength 
requirements be adjusted (reduced) for seats where there are no 
other seats behind it (and therefore no unbelted passengers seated 
behind it). We are aware that some operators of covered buses have 
changed the passenger seating configuration from that set by the 
factory or have removed and reinstalled seats. If ``weaker'' seats 
are moved after the factory installation to a position that had a 
passenger seat behind it, the weaker seat would not provide the 
performance required by FMVSS No. 210. Furthermore, this final rule 
provides some of the flexibility Prevost seeks. Under this final 
rule, seats with no other seats behind them are not required to have 
the lap/shoulder belt anchorages attached to the seat structure. For 
these seats, the lap/shoulder belt anchorages can be attached 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
directly to the vehicle structure. (78 FR at 70455)

    Consistent with our final rule response, we remain concerned about 
the interchangeability of the seats with integrated seat belts, 
particularly in consideration of the long life of these vehicles (20+ 
years) and subsequent sales to operators that may need to reconfigure 
seating. If the operator moved the reduced-strength seat to a position 
that had a passenger seat behind it, the moved seat will not have the 
characteristics needed to withstand the loading from the aft 
passengers. If the reduced-strength seat were in a position that had a 
storage space behind it, loose items may create forward loading in a 
crash, similarly to rear occupant loading. The petitioner did not 
address this point. Similarly, no information or analysis was provided 
to suggest a value by which the seat belt anchorage strength 
requirement should be reduced.
    The agency is not convinced of the merits of lowering the strength 
requirement per se. NHTSA conducted a full scale 48 kilometers per hour 
(km/h) (30 miles per hour) crash test of a 2000 Model Year MCI 102EL3 
Renaissance motorcoach (capacity of 54 passengers seats). Post-test 
examination of the bus \8\ found shoulder belt D-ring excursion for one 
of the seats (seating position 11R). The top bolt of the D-ring 
shoulder belt mount attached to the seat back by two bolts sheared 
resulting in forward excursion of the D-ring. This was a row of 7G 
Amaya seats with two 50th percentile dummies restrained with lap/
shoulder belts. There was no added reinforcement to the floor or to the 
side structure and no occupant loading from behind. This seat design 
passed the FMVSS No. 210 force requirements in our static pull tests. 
Although the D-ring mount failure did not result in dummy contact with 
the

[[Page 19904]]

seats in front of them or result in high injury values, it suggests 
that the dynamic loading was sufficient to cause partial failure of the 
torso anchorage hardware without any loading from dummies in the row 
behind. Thus, the agency is concerned that any reduction in the seat 
belt loading below the FMVSS No. 210 level may reduce the torso 
anchorage strength to an unacceptable level.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ Figure 7 in Technical Report DOT HS 813 335, Docket NHTSA-
2013-0121.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In addition, data indicate that the last row of seats may be 
subject to loading unique to the rear of the bus. The vehicle 
accelerometer data from the full scale crash test were suggestive of 
forward flexing and dynamic rebound near the rear wall of the passenger 
compartment, compared to the front of the passenger compartment.\9\ The 
static FMVSS No. 210 test cannot account for the dynamic forward 
displacement and rebound of the vehicle structure to which the seat or 
seat belt may be anchored and any weakening of the attachments that may 
result from such dynamic phenomena. Thus, reducing the anchorage 
strength requirements for this last row of seats may set strength 
levels below an acceptable level for a dynamic environment.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \9\ The maximum dynamic deflection near the front of the 
passenger compartment was 1,727 mm (68 inches) and the maximum 
dynamic displacement near the rear wall was 1,930 mm (76 inches). 
The rear wall separates the engine compartment in large over-the-
road buses and in other buses from the cargo compartment.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In its petition, Prevost states that reducing the strength 
requirement of FMVSS No. 210 for last row seats would result in a 
weight reduction and fuel savings. The agency is not convinced that 
there would be a significant weight reduction or fuel savings. Prevost 
did not provide information substantiating its claims, such as data on 
the thickness changes to the metal bulkhead (for example) required to 
secure seat belts designed to comply with the FMVSS No. 210 
requirements compared to current designs.
    Further, the final rule permits--rather than requires--
manufacturers to attach the seat belts to the vehicle structure for 
last-row seats. In the final rule, NHTSA stated that ``[l]ap/shoulder 
belt equipped seats that meet the requirements of FMVSS No. 210 are 
available in the U.S. that are equivalent in weight to the European 
seats.'' (78 FR at 70460.) We concluded that, depending on the 
efficiency of the structural design, there would be little or no weight 
penalty associated with the structural changes needed to meet FMVSS No. 
210. Thus, the petitioner could use the integrated seat belt design for 
the last row seats if attaching the belt to the bus rear wall is 
problematic. Regardless, we emphasize that the petitioners have not 
shown that there will be a weight penalty for seat belt anchorages 
integrated into the vehicle structure. The increased flexibility of 
attachment to the vehicle rather than the seat has expanded the 
opportunity for efficient, innovative and practicable designs for 
manufacturers choosing to attach the belts to the vehicle structure.
    For the reasons stated above, NHTSA hereby denies all petitions for 
reconsideration of the November 25, 2013 final rule amending FMVSS No. 
208.

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 322, 30111, 30115, 30117 and 30166; 
delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.95.

    Issued on: March 31, 2016.
Raymond R. Posten,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 2016-07828 Filed 4-5-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE P

Connect with The Crittenden Automotive Library

The Crittenden Automotive Library at Google+ The Crittenden Automotive Library on Facebook The Crittenden Automotive Library on Instagram The Crittenden Automotive Library at The Internet Archive The Crittenden Automotive Library on Pinterest The Crittenden Automotive Library on Twitter The Crittenden Automotive Library on Tumblr
 


The Crittenden Automotive Library

Home Page    About Us    Contribute