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Ride the Ducks International, LLC, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Ride the Ducks

Ride the Ducks International, LLC, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Jeffrey M. Giuseppe
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
15 September 2017


[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 178 (Friday, September 15, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 43452-43454]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-19631]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2017-0039; Notice 1]


Ride the Ducks International, LLC, Receipt of Petition for 
Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

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

ACTION: Receipt of petition.

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SUMMARY: Ride the Ducks International, LLC (RTDI), has determined that 
certain model year (MY) 1996-2014 Ride the Ducks International Stretch 
Amphibious passenger vehicles (APVs) do not fully comply with Federal 
Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 113, Hood Latch System, and 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 302, Flammability of 
Interior Materials. RTDI filed a noncompliance information report dated 
March 15, 2017. RTDI also petitioned NHTSA on April 12, 2017, for a 
decision that the subject noncompliance is inconsequential as it 
relates to motor vehicle safety.

DATES: The closing date for comments on the petition is October 16, 
2017.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written data, 
views, and arguments on this petition. Comments must refer to the 
docket and notice number cited in the title of this notice and 
submitted by any of the following methods:
     Mail: Send comments by mail addressed to U.S. Department 
of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.
     Hand Delivery: Deliver comments by hand to U.S. Department 
of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590. The 
Docket Section is open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except 
Federal Holidays.
     Electronically: Submit comments electronically by logging 
onto the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) Web site at https://www.regulations.gov/. Follow the online instructions for submitting 
comments.
     Comments may also be faxed to (202) 493-2251.
    Comments must be written in the English language, and be no greater 
than 15 pages in length, although there is no limit to the length of 
necessary attachments to the comments. If comments are submitted in 
hard copy form, please ensure that two copies are provided. If you wish 
to receive confirmation that comments you have submitted by mail were 
received, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard with the 
comments. Note that all comments received will be posted without change 
to https://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information 
provided.
    All comments and supporting materials received before the close of 
business on the closing date indicated above will be filed in the 
docket and will be considered. All comments and supporting materials 
received after the closing date will also be filed and will be 
considered to the fullest extent possible.
    When the petition is granted or denied, notice of the decision will 
also be published in the Federal Register pursuant to the authority 
indicated at the end of this notice.
    All comments, background documentation, and supporting materials 
submitted to the docket may be viewed by anyone at the address and 
times given above. The documents may also be viewed on the Internet at 
https://www.regulations.gov by following the online instructions for 
accessing the dockets. The docket ID number for this petition is shown 
in the heading of this notice.
    DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement is available for review in a 
Federal Register notice published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477-78).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 
    I. Overview: Ride the Ducks International, LLC (RTDI), has 
determined that certain model year (MY) 1996-2014 Ride the Ducks 
International Stretch Amphibious passenger vehicles (APVs) do not fully

[[Page 43453]]

comply with paragraph S4.2 of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 
(FMVSS) No. 113, Hood Latch System, and paragraph S2 of Federal Motor 
Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 302, Flammability of Interior 
Materials. RTDI filed a noncompliance information report dated March 
15, 2017, pursuant to 49 CFR 573, Defect and Noncompliance 
Responsibility and Reports. RTDI also petitioned NHTSA on April 12, 
2017, pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h) and 49 CFR part 556, 
for an exemption from the notification and remedy requirements of 49 
U.S.C. Chapter 301 on the basis that this noncompliance is 
inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety.
    This notice of receipt of RTDI's petition is published under 49 
U.S.C. 30118 and 30120 and does not represent any agency decision or 
other exercise of judgment concerning the merits of the petition.
    II. Vehicles Involved: Approximately 105 MY 1996-2014 Ride the 
Ducks International Stretch APVs, manufactured between January 1, 1996, 
and December 31, 2014, are potentially involved.
    III. Noncompliance: RTDI explained that the noncompliance is that 
the subject vehicles were not equipped with a secondary hood latch 
system, as required by paragraph S4.2 of FMVSS No. 113 and that there 
are interior components and materials that do not conform to the burn 
rate requirements of paragraph S2 of FMVSS No. 302.
    IV. Rule Text: Paragraph S4.2 of FMVSS No. 113 states in pertinent 
part:

    S4.2 A front opening hood which, in any open position, partially 
or completely obstructs a driver's forward view through the 
windshield must be provided with a second latch position on the hood 
latch system or with a second hood latch system.

    Paragraph S2 of FMVSS No. 302 states in pertinent part:

    S2 Purpose. The purpose of this standard is to reduce the deaths 
and injuries to motor vehicle occupants caused by vehicle fires, 
especially those originating in the interior of the vehicle from 
sources such as matches or cigarettes.

    V. Summary of RTDI's Petition: As background, in 1996, RTDI began 
to produce APVs. The original Amphibious Passenger vehicles (APVs) are 
based on military vehicles that were capable of operation over both 
land and water. The ``Stretch'' APVs were refurbished by RTDI in 
accordance with state and U.S. Coast Guard rules and regulations. These 
vehicles have renewed hulls that are ``stretched'' over the original 
chassis frame and original vehicle components that were replaced with 
modern equipment. RTDI manufactured the stretch APVs until 2005, when 
RTDI introduced its ``Truck'' APVs. The truck APVs are based on 
military cargo vehicles. RTDI has not manufactured any vehicles since 
2014.
    RTDI described the subject noncompliance and stated its belief that 
the noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle 
safety.
    In support of its petition, RTDI submitted the following reasoning:
    1. FMVSS No. 113 specifies, ``a front opening hood which, in any 
open position, partially or completely obstructs a driver's forward 
view through the windshield must be provided with a second latch 
position on the hood latch system or with a second hood latch system.'' 
49 CFR Sec.  571.113, S4.2. The purpose of FMVSS No. 113 is to 
establish requirements for vehicle hood latch systems so that the hood 
remains secure while the vehicle is operated.
    2. FMVSS 302 sets out the burn resistance requirements for 
materials used in certain parameters within the occupant compartments 
of vehicles. The stated purpose of FMVSS No. 302 is ``to reduce the 
deaths and injuries to motor vehicle occupants caused by vehicle fires, 
especially those originating in the interior of the vehicle from 
sources such as matches or cigarettes.'' 49 CFR 571.302, S2.
    3. The fire risks that exist in traditional motor vehicles are not 
the same concerns that present themselves in the APVs. Mitigating the 
risks of a fire occurring on board an APV are centered around the 
operation and safeguarding of the engine compartment and passenger 
egress conditions. The USCG has adopted specific design and operational 
requirements for APVs.\1\ Pursuant to the USCG regulations, while an 
APV is operating, the hood is to remain in an ``open'' position. See 46 
CFR 182.460 (``a space containing machinery powered by, or fuel tanks 
for, gasoline must have a ventilation system that complies with this 
section''), 46 CFR 182.465 (``a space containing diesel machinery must 
be fitted with adequate means . . . to provide sufficient air for 
proper operation of main engines and auxiliary engines.'') This 
requirement is intended to permit a sufficient amount of air flow 
around the engine compartment which reduces the potential for the 
engine to overheat and potentially cause a fire.\2\ During operation, 
the hood of the APV is opened or elevated by approximately four inches. 
Although the hood of the APV is slightly raised, it has vertical arms 
which rest on manually operated drop latches. The hood does not pose a 
risk of opening unexpectedly during operation, even without a secondary 
hood latch system. The hoods of the APVs are substantially heavier than 
the hoods of traditional motor vehicles. As a practical matter, it is 
highly unlikely that the force of the wind against the vehicle could 
move the hood of the APV. In its more than 30 years of operation, RTDI 
has never received a report or allegation involving the opening of a 
vehicle's hood while operating either on the public roads or in the 
public waterways.
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    \1\ Under the USCG rubric, APVs are classified as ``T-Boats'' 
which are small passenger vessels weighing less than 100 gross tons.
    \2\ USCG regulations also require that while operating in the 
water, the engine compartment has the ability to be fully closed. In 
the event of a fire in the engine compartment, the operator will 
deploy the hood latch, dropping the hood and closing off the 
compartment. This feature is designed to contain the fire by 
preventing the flow of oxygen around the engine.
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    4. The APVs also have installed a series of systems designed to 
protect passengers and allow for ease of egress from the occupant 
compartment in the event of a fire. The RTDI vehicles have an open-air 
design with multiple areas of passenger egress. Additionally, and per 
USCG requirements, all of the vehicles have a fire suppression system 
installed throughout the vehicle. The fire suppression systems include 
vent closures, heat detection devices, vapor detection systems and fire 
extinguishing systems. In the event of a fire in the APV, the operator 
will activate the fire suppression system which releases the carbon 
dioxide fire extinguishing agent. The vehicles are also equipped with 
two portable fire extinguishers and all vehicle operators receive 
emergency evacuation training on no less than a quarterly basis, per 
Coast Guard requirements, and often more regularly.
    5. By contrast, FMVSS No. 302 is primarily concerned with 
protecting passengers against vehicle fires that occur due to flames or 
sparks inside the vehicle. In addition to the safety features described 
above, the vehicles have implemented other measures that provide an 
equivalent measure of safety to vehicle occupants. Smoking is expressly 
prohibited in the APVs. Passengers are advised of this requirement 
prior to the start of the tour. On board each vehicle there is a 
``narrator'' or second crew member present. The narrator sits rearward, 
facing into the occupant compartment and is in continuous view of the 
passenger's activities at all times while the APV is in operation. The 
narrator is physically located so that he/she would

[[Page 43454]]

be able to see and stop a passenger attempting to light a match, flame 
or smoke on board.
    6. In recognizing that APVs have a unique design and may encounter 
specialized hazard conditions, the USCG employs a ``systems approach'' 
to certification for APVs. To meet the USCG requirements, the APVs must 
have ``a level of safety equivalent to that required for a vessel of 
similar size and service.'' See Navigation and Vessel Inspection 
Circular (NVIC) No. 1-01. These requirements are met, ``in part through 
a combination of design requirements and operational restrictions'' and 
by considering ``the entire vehicle and its equipment as a complete 
safety system.'' Id. The RTDI APVs are certified to meet the USCG's 
fire safety requirements for T-boats.
    7. From its inception, the Safety Act has included a provision 
recognizing that some noncompliances may pose little or no actual 
safety risk. The Safety Act exempts manufacturers from their statutory 
obligation to provide notice and remedy upon a determination by NHTSA 
that a noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. See 49 
U.S.C. 30118(d). In applying this recognition to particular fact 
situations, the agency considers whether the noncompliance gives rise 
to ``a significantly greater risk than . . . in a compliant vehicle.'' 
69 FR 19897, 19900 (April 14, 2000). The design and construction of the 
APVs addresses the potential risks to passenger safety arising from 
fire-related concerns particular to these vehicles. The safety features 
present on the APVs provide a level of protection that is, at a 
minimum, equivalent to the vehicle safety standards so that granting 
the company's petition would be appropriate.
    RTDI concluded by expressing the belief that the subject 
noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety, 
and that its petition to be exempted from providing notification of the 
noncompliance, as required by 49 U.S.C. 30118, and a remedy for the 
noncompliance, as required by 49 U.S.C. 30120, should be granted.
    NHTSA notes that the statutory provisions (49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 
30120(h)) that permit manufacturers to file petitions for a 
determination of inconsequentiality allow NHTSA to exempt manufacturers 
only from the duties found in sections 30118 and 30120, respectively, 
to notify owners, purchasers, and dealers of a defect or noncompliance 
and to remedy the defect or noncompliance. Therefore, any decision on 
this petition only applies to the subject vehicles that RTDI no longer 
controlled at the time it determined that the noncompliance existed. 
However, any decision on this petition does not relieve vehicle 
distributors and dealers of the prohibitions on the sale, offer for 
sale, or introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate 
commerce of the noncompliant vehicles under their control after RTDI 
notified them that the subject noncompliance existed.

    Authority: (49 U.S.C. 30118, 30120: delegations of authority at 
49 CFR 1.95 and 501.8)

Jeffrey M. Giuseppe,
Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.
[FR Doc. 2017-19631 Filed 9-14-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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