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Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Warning Devices

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Warning Devices

Christopher A. Hart
Federal Register
September 29, 1994

[Federal Register: September 29, 1994]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 571

[Docket No. 93-31, Notice 02]
RIN 2127-AE78

 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Warning Devices

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, DOT.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This final rule amends Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 
No. 125, Warning Devices. As amended, the standard applies only to 
those warning devices that do not have self-contained energy sources 
and that are designed to be carried in buses and trucks that have a 
gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 10,000 lbs. Previously, 
the standard applied to all warning devices that do not have self-
contained energy sources and that are designed to be carried in motor 
vehicles. This final rule provides warning device manufacturers with 
greater design flexibility and regulatory relief.

DATES: The amendments made by this final rule are effective October 31, 
1994. Petitions for reconsideration of this final rule must be filed by 
October 31, 1994.

ADDRESSES: Petitions for reconsideration of this final rule should 
refer to the docket and notice number cited in the heading of this 
final rule and be submitted to: Administrator, National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration, 400 Seventh Street, SW, Washington, DC 20590. It 
is requested, but not required, that 10 copies be submitted.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Mr. Kenneth O. Hardie, Office of Vehicle Safety Standards, National 
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 400 Seventh Street, SW, 
Washington, DC 20590. Mr. Hardie's telephone number is: (202) 366-6987.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 125, Warning 
Devices, specifies requirements for warning devices that do not have 
self-contained energy sources (nonpowered warning devices) and that are 
designed to be carried in motor vehicles and placed on the roadway to 
warn approaching traffic of the presence of a stopped vehicle. The 
standard does not apply to devices designed to be permanently affixed 
to the vehicle. The purpose of the standard is to reduce deaths and 
injuries due to rear-end collisions between moving traffic and disabled 
or stopped vehicles. The standard specifies that the warning devices 
are to be triangular, open in the center, covered with orange 
fluorescent and red reflex reflective material, and capable of being 
erected on the roadway. The characteristics are intended to assure that 
the warning device can be readily observed during daytime and nighttime 
lighting conditions, have a standardized shape for quick message 
recognition, and perform properly when deployed.
    Standard No. 125 proscribes manufacturers from marketing other 
nonpowered warning devices with physical or performance characteristics 
differing from the standard's specifications. Some, including P.C.S. 
Safety Corporation, that petitioned for rulemaking to amend Standard 
No. 125, have contended that the standard is too design restrictive 
since it prohibits other nonpowered warning devices which may 
adequately warn approaching drivers of a disabled vehicle.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

    On May 10, 1993, NHTSA published in the Federal Register a notice 
of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) (See 58 FR 27514). In the NPRM, NHTSA 
proposed to amend Standard No. 125 by making the standard applicable 
only to those warning devices that do not have self-contained energy 
sources and that are designed to be carried in buses and trucks that 
have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 10,000 lbs. As a 
rationale for the proposed change, NHTSA tentatively concluded that no 
longer applying Standard No. 125 to nonpowered warning devices designed 
to be carried in vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less would 
provide greater freedom for manufacturers in designing nonpowered 
warning devices for the general public and would relieve an unnecessary 
regulatory burden on industry. NHTSA also tentatively concluded that 
Standard No. 125 should continue to apply to nonpowered warning devices 
for use in vehicles subject to Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) 
regulations and to any comparable state regulations, since the FMVSS 
and FHWA's regulations complement one another. The Federal Motor 
Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) (49 CFR parts 350-399) of the 
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are applicable to commercial 
motor vehicles (vehicles that have a GVWR greater than 10,000 pounds) 
and their operators.
    NHTSA further noted that although it regulated nonpowered warning 
devices designed to be carried in a motor vehicle, the agency has not 
required that vehicles be equipped with such warning devices. In the 
May 1993 NPRM, NHTSA also cited two NHTSA-funded studies of warning 
device efficacy in support of its tentative conclusion that nonpowered 
warning triangles may not be effective in reducing disabled vehicle-
related accident rates. Neither study addressed vehicles stopped on the 
road. The studies addressed vehicles stopped on the road. The studies 
addressed vehicles stopped on the shoulder of the road. (Since many 
public comments addressed the studies' findings, the studies are more 
fully discussed below in the section on NHTSA's response to public 
comments.) In the NPRM, NHTSA further stated its belief that additional 
data on the efficacy of the nonpowered warning triangles could be 
collected only after significant expenditure of agency resources. Even 
if NHTSA devoted its resources to collecting data, it believed the 
findings resulting from the data might not demonstrate a safety 
benefit.
    NHTSA also acknowledged concern about problems that might occur if 
nonpowered warning devices designed for use in passenger cars were no 
longer subject to Standard No. 125. NHTSA invited comments and 
supporting technical information about any potential problems which 
commenters might envision.
    This rulemaking also responds to a petition for rulemaking from 
P.C.S. Safety Corporation. P.C.S. apparently wishes to market a 
nonpowered warning device that does not meet Standard No. 125 
specifications. P.C.S. petitioned NHTSA to amend Standard No. 125 to 
permit the marketing of its device.

Public Comments and NHTSA Response

    In response to the NPRM, NHTSA received comments from 16 
commenters. Two commenters supported the proposal. One supporter was 
Dr. Andrew Huang, an inventor of an alternate warning device, without a 
self-contained energy source, that is designed to be carried in motor 
vehicles. If the proposal becomes final, Dr. Huang's device would be 
permitted to be produced for use in vehicles that have a GVWR of 10,000 
lbs. or less. Ford Motor Company, the other supporter, stated that the 
proposal would potentially benefit motor vehicle safety by removing 
design restrictions that may result in warning devices whose designs 
and costs are more suitable for purchase and use by drivers of light 
duty vehicles. Another inventor, Mr. Carl Monk, wrote in favor of 
changes to specifications for Standard No. 125, since ``no one can read 
the required instructions for assembly at night without lights'' and in 
emergencies, nighttime assembly may be necessary.
    Thirteen commenters opposed the proposal to make Standard No. 125 
applicable only to nonpowered warning devices designed to be carried in 
buses and trucks that have a GVWR greater than 10,000 pounds. Most 
commenters provided reasons for their opposition. Although the comments 
varied, the commenters' reasons for opposing the proposal can generally 
be categorized as follows:
    1. Studies show Standard No. 125's equilateral triangle design 
provides the most effective warning of a disabled vehicle.
    2. Greater design freedom will dilute the distinctiveness of the 
warning triangle, and will result in increased motorist confusion, with 
a potential for increased collisions.
    3. NHTSA's not regulating nonpowered warning devices designed to be 
carried in vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less would result in 
state regulation of such warning devices. Motorists would be 
discouraged from using warning devices, for fear that the use of a 
particular device would be permitted in one state, but not in other 
states.
    The three issues raised by opposing commenters, additional minor 
issues, and NHTSA's response to each issue are discussed below.

1. Studies On Efficacy of the Standard No. 125 Warning Triangle as a 
Warning Device

    Federal Mogul Corporation, K.D. Lamp Company, Sate-Light 
Manufacturing, Transportation Safety Equipment Institute (TSEI), Dr. 
Merrill Allen of Indiana University, and Dr. Helmut Zwahlen of Ohio 
University, all disagreed with NHTSA's conclusion that studies did not 
show efficacy of the Standard No. 125 warning device (warning 
triangles). Sate-Lite and TSEI, in particular, disagreed with NHTSA's 
position that two NHTSA-funded studies support the conclusion that 
warning triangles may not be effective in reducing disabled-vehicle 
related accident rates.
    The two studies at issue are: Study of Safety-Related Devices--
Emergency Warning Devices for Disabled Vehicles, of August 19, 1986 
(prepared by NHTSA's Office of Crash Avoidance Research); and Analysis 
of the Dismounted Motorist and Road-Worker Model Pedestrian Safety 
Regulation, August 1982 (prepared by Ulmer, Leaf, and Blomberg). Among 
other subjects, both studies discussed field experiments conducted by 
M.J. Allen, S.D. Miller, and J.L. Short of Indiana University. The 
field experiments simulated disabled vehicles that were parked on the 
shoulder of a roadway whose speed limit was 65 mph. The experiments 
tried to evaluate the responses of passing motorists to a stopped 
vehicle and warning devices, including warning triangles and flares.
    The experiments were based on the assumptions that if warning 
devices were effective, they would induce measurable decreases in 
passing vehicle speed and increases in lateral separation between the 
moving and disabled vehicle and that such measurable changes would 
signify a decrease in accident potential. In a 1971 Allen, Miller and 
Short experiment, it was determined that at night, the warning 
triangles induced a reduction in passing vehicle speed of only 1.5 mph 
on average. During the day, none of the emergency warning device 
configurations (i.e., flares alone, flares and triangles, triangles 
alone, etc.) induced any reduction in passing vehicle speed or any 
increase in lateral separation, when compared to the situation when no 
warning devices were placed behind the disabled vehicle. The 1971 Allen 
et al experiment showed that although flares and triangles were about 
equally effective, the single most effective daytime condition for 
reducing speed was three triangles placed at 2, 48, and 100 paces 
behind the vehicle. This condition, however, only induced a speed 
reduction of 3-4 mph compared to the disabled vehicle-only condition.
    In Standard No. 125, NHTSA does not specify the number of triangles 
that should be deployed with a stopped vehicle. Figure 2 of Standard 
No. 125 depicts only one triangle deployed behind the stopped vehicle. 
At no time during the history of Standard No. 125, has NHTSA ever 
considered the use of more than one triangle for vehicles with a GVWR 
of 10,000 lbs. or less.
    In 1975, Miller performed a follow-up study along the same roadway. 
As in the earlier field experiment, disabled vehicles, parked on the 
shoulder of the roadway, were simulated. Miller's experiment tried to 
evaluate the responses of passing motorists to a stopped vehicle and 
warning devices, including triangles and flares. In his follow-up 
study, Miller added a four-way flasher activation (on the disabled 
vehicle) as a condition. Miller concluded that during the day, the use 
of four-way flashers or warning triangles generally had no effect on 
speed. The 1975 Miller study also indicated that at night, four-way 
flashers were more effective than warning triangles in inducing a 
reduction in passing vehicle speed and an increase in lateral 
separation in the disabled vehicle situation.
    In their comments, both TSEI and Sate-Lite cited the August 1986 
and August 1982 studies as showing efficacy of the warning triangles. 
Both TSEI and Sate-Lite appeared to believe that NHTSA believes powered 
warning devices are more effective than nonpowered warning triangles 
because the powered devices may induce greater speed reductions and 
greater lateral separations with respect to passing vehicles. NHTSA has 
no position on the efficacy of warning devices with self-contained 
energy sources, since it has no data regarding their effectiveness.
    In the NPRM, NHTSA stated that the 1986 and 1982 studies about 
warning devices evaluated the response of passing motorists to such 
devices, based on the assumption that measurable changes in passing 
vehicle speed and lateral separation between the moving and the 
disabled vehicle signify a decrease in accident potential. While 
studies based on this assumption may not fully evaluate warning device 
effectiveness, they do evaluate the response of some drivers when 
confronted with a warning device.
    Sate-Lite in its defense of retaining warning triangle 
applicability for vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less, stated 
that the effectiveness or primary function of the warning triangle is 
not necessarily to halt traffic, reduce speed or alter driving activity 
such as lateral movement, as suggested by NHTSA's discussion of the 
field experiments' data on the two studies at issue. Sate-Lite stated 
that the purpose of the warning triangle is to impart awareness to the 
approaching driver of the presence of a parked or disabled vehicle. 
Sate-Lite in its discussion of this issue adopted the perspective that 
the passing motorists may, in fact, have reacted to the warning 
triangle, assessed the situation, and proceeded past the test site 
without adjusting speed or separation because the drivers judged that 
no hazard was involved (or that the motorist reacted well before the 
site and then resumed normal course and speed). Sate-Lite suggested 
that an apparently normal parked vehicle that is off the roadway would 
not be considered hazardous and would cause no overt driving response 
(although it might prompt changes in visual search behavior or in 
readiness to respond; changes not detectable by remote measurement).
    NHTSA does not find Sate-Lite's interpretation of the field 
experiments' data to favor use of the warning triangle. Sate-Lite's 
interpretation does not indicate whether the drivers may have slowed 
down in advance of the vehicle because they saw just the stopped 
vehicle or the warning triangle and the stopped vehicle. If it cannot 
be shown that the Standard No. 125 warning triangle changes driver 
behavior any more than just the presence of the stopped vehicle, there 
does not appear to be any demonstrable safety benefit in using the 
warning triangle.
    Dr. Helmut Zwahlen also disagreed that speed reduction and lateral 
displacement correctly measure accident reduction potential of a 
warning device. He asserted that more guidance about the roadway 
conditions ahead, such as that provided in a warning triangle, provides 
more comfort in driving. However, Dr. Zwahlen provided no criteria for 
measuring a warning device's accident reduction potential, and except 
for data showing that the triangle shape is the one most recognizable 
from a distance, provided no data on the Standard No. 125 warning 
triangle's efficacy in accident avoidance or reduction.
    Dr. Merrill Allen (one of the Indiana University researchers cited 
in the NHTSA-funded studies) expressed concern that NHTSA has 
interpreted his research as not supportive of warning triangles. Dr. 
Allen commented that in reviewing ``hundreds'' of accident cases with 
vehicles stopped in the lane of traffic, he had never seen a case where 
an accident occurred with the warning triangles in place. Dr. Allen did 
not specify the number of instances where he observed triangles in 
place.
    NHTSA notes that the Indiana University experiments, with Dr. Allen 
as a participant, observed a different situation, where warning 
triangles were used in association with a vehicle on the shoulder of 
the road. Dr. Allen in his comments, acknowledged that his research 
(involving vehicles on the shoulder of the road) was ``not 
representative of the major purpose of the warning, namely place a 
vehicle and triangles or flares in the lane of travel.'' Dr. Allen 
offered no references to studies or other evidence of efficacy in using 
warning triangles for vehicles stopped in the lane of travel. NHTSA is 
aware of no reliable quantitative statistics relating to the 
effectiveness of emergency warning devices in preventing accidents with 
disabled vehicles on or off the roadway. The most meaningful studies 
that NHTSA is aware of are similar to Dr. Allen's experiments of 
measuring changes in passing vehicle speed and lateral separation. It 
continues to be NHTSA's belief that these studies are not supportive of 
warning triangles' efficacy in reducing disabled vehicle related 
accident rates.
    Apparently in the belief that a FHWA rulemaking concerning fusees/
flares is related to NHTSA's proposal to amend Standard No. 125, some 
commenters described in detail the superiority of warning triangles 
over fusees/flares as warning devices. Several commenters, including 
TSEI, Sate-Lite, Federal Mogul, Cortina Tool and Molding, and Dr. 
Zwahlen, cited a April 1992 Consumer Reports article that favorably 
compared the warning triangle with several powered warning devices. 
NHTSA, however, has no comment on Consumer Reports' research, or other 
evidence comparing warning triangles with flares, fusees, or other 
powered warning devices. The agency does not believe that the 
information about powered warning devices has any bearing upon this 
rulemaking, which addresses only nonpowered warning devices.
    NHTSA does not disagree with commenters that state the equilateral 
triangle may be the most effective warning device. However, after 
reviewing the public comments, which did not offer new, probative 
research information, NHTSA still is not convinced that using the 
warning triangle is effective either in giving motorists advance 
warning of a stopped vehicle or in reducing accidents.

2. Greater Design Flexibility

    Federal Mogul, Mr. Jerry Wachtel, K.D. Lamp, Sate-Lite, Cortina 
Tool and Molding, TSEI, James King and Co., Inc., Dr. Helmut Zwahlen, 
and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety each commented that greater 
flexibility in warning device design, permitting warning devices other 
than the Standard No. 125 device, will lessen the recognizability of 
the warning triangle as a symbol of a stopped vehicle. They appeared to 
state that less recognizability will result in increased motorist 
confusion, possibly resulting in more collisions.
    James King stated that it has manufactured Standard No. 125 warning 
devices since 1989. James King commented that regulation to ensure 
uniformity is necessary because the general public cannot assess 
warning device effectiveness, and that ``ineffective reflectors'' do 
not look significantly different from effective ones. James King's 
comment, favoring Standard No. 125's specification of a nonpowered 
warning device in a triangular shape, appears to presume that the 
Standard No. 125 warning device is effective, and warning devices that 
do not comply with Standard No. 125 are ineffective. However, no data 
is available to NHTSA that supports the view that warning devices that 
do not conform to Standard No. 125 will be less effective in preventing 
accidents than warning devices that do conform to Standard No. 125. 
NHTSA is conducting this rulemaking to relieve an unnecessary 
regulatory burden on industry because of the design restrictive nature 
of Standard No. 125, and because research data suggest that the 
standard has produced no benefits. Additionally, this final rule will 
result in greater design freedom for manufacturers to provide the 
public with warning devices, should the public so desire, without an 
adverse effect on safety.
    James King also appears to believe that because it would 
manufacture nonpowered Standard No. 125 warning devices designed to be 
carried on motor vehicles subject to the Federal Highway 
Administration's regulations, it would face unfair competition from 
devices that (to the layperson) appear to comply with Standard No. 125, 
but really do not. For the following reasons, NHTSA does not believe 
James King would be at such a disadvantage. When this final rule 
becomes effective, James King would have more flexibility, since it 
could then manufacture any nonpowered warning device designed to be 
carried in vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less. If it decides 
to manufacture nonpowered warning devices designed to be carried in 
buses and trucks that have a GVWR greater than 10,000 lbs., James King, 
and its competitors, must manufacture devices to Standard No. 125 
specifications. Anyone manufacturing a nonpowered device designed to be 
carried in buses and trucks that have a GVWR greater than 10,000 lbs., 
that does not meet Standard No. 125 specifications may be subject to an 
enforcement action by NHTSA. Further, section 393.95 of title 49 of the 
Code of Federal Regulations is enforced by the FHWA. Section 393.5 
states that all bidirectional emergency reflective triangles deployed 
by commercial motor vehicle operators must satisfy the requirements of 
Standard No. 125.
    Dr. Zwahlen commented that the safety device industry should be 
kept within a narrow band of performance, physical specifications and 
test procedures. Dr. Zwahlen stated that he had conducted independent 
research that showed that the triangle shape was the most recognizable 
from a distance, comparing the triangle with five other shapes, each 
with an area of 18 sq. inches. NHTSA does not dispute Dr. Zwahlen's 
contention that the triangular shape may be the most recognizable shape 
from a distance. However, Dr. Zwahlen's research appears to presume 
that drivers use warning devices. Dr. Zwahlen has not shown that 
drivers are carrying and using warning devices of any type. A 1993 
NHTSA survey (discussed below) indicates that few, if any, passenger 
car and light truck drivers, in fact, use any warning devices when 
their vehicles are stopped. If drivers do not carry and use warning 
devices, there is limited practical significance to the fact that the 
triangular shape is the most recognizable.
    Although Standard No. 125 applies to devices designed to be carried 
in all vehicles, the standard does not require that new vehicles be 
equipped with them. Further, the agency cannot require that the device 
be carried in used motor vehicles. As a result, since there is no NHTSA 
requirement that they carry and use the devices, drivers of passenger 
cars and light trucks rarely use Standard No. 125 devices when their 
vehicles are stalled.
    That the warning devices are rarely used by passenger car and light 
truck drivers was indicated in a 1993 survey by two NHTSA engineers. 
Traveling on approximately 700 miles of highway in the Washington, DC 
area and between DC and Newport News, Virginia, the engineers counted a 
total of 74 stopped vehicles. Based on personal observation, the 
engineers classified each vehicle type. Of the 74 vehicles, the 
engineers determined 65 stopped vehicles were passenger cars or light 
trucks. The engineers observed that no warning device of any type was 
used for 62 of these, flares were used for 2, and two orange cones were 
used for the remaining one. None of the drivers of the stopped 
passenger cars or light trucks used the Standard No. 125 warning 
device. All of the remaining 9 vehicles were heavy trucks. No device 
was used for 6 of them; the Standard No. 125 device was used for the 
other 3 vehicles.
    Since it appears use of the warning devices is infrequent with 
vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs or less, NHTSA does not believe 
permitting additional types of nonpowered warning devices will result 
in motorist confusion or in more collisions. If the usage rate 
suggested in the NHTSA survey is typical, there would appear to be no 
possibility of a significant adverse effect on safety if Standard No. 
125 were amended to apply only to devices designed to be carried in 
buses and trucks that have a GVWR greater than 10,000 lbs. In fact, as 
suggested in Ford Motor Company's comment, if there were no standards 
for devices designed to be carried in motor vehicles under 10,000 
pounds GVWR, nonprofessional drivers, having a greater variety of 
nonpowered items to choose from, may be motivated to carry a warning 
device of some sort when they have none now.

3. Potential State Regulation of Warning Devices

    TSEI and the American Trucking Associations (ATA) commented that 
the NPRM, if made final, might result in each state regulating warning 
devices, since there would no longer be a Federal standard regulating 
nonpowered devices. TSEI expressed a belief that state regulation would 
discourage customers from using warning devices, for fear of purchasing 
a device whose use is permitted in one state, but prohibited in 
another. ATA favors an NHTSA-promulgated uniform standard for warning 
devices designed to be carried in vehicles not subject to the Federal 
Highway Administration's regulations, in order to preclude states from 
issuing ``differing and conflicting standards.'' It urged no changes in 
the applicability of Standard No. 125 until NHTSA develops a standard 
applicable to warning devices designed to be carried in vehicles with a 
GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less.
    In response to the TSEI and ATA comments, the issue of state 
regulation of warning devices was indirectly addressed above in section 
2, Greater Design Flexibility. As noted in section 2, it appears that 
use of the Standard No. 125 warning device is infrequent. Since driver 
use of the devices is infrequent in the absence of state regulation, it 
does not appear that the presence of such regulation would have any 
significant effect.

4. Other Issues Raised by Commenters

    Two commenters, Dr. Allen and Dr. Zwahlen, recommended that NHTSA 
amend Standard No. 125 to require the warning triangles be carried in 
and used with motor vehicles. These recommendations are outside the 
scope of the NPRM. Further, as explained in the NPRM, NHTSA has not 
required that vehicles be equipped with Standard No. 125 warning 
triangles because NHTSA has never conclusively determined that the 
warning triangles are effective. Since NHTSA believes obtaining data on 
warning triangle efficacy (necessary to support rulemaking to mandate 
carrying of warning devices) would be expensive and very likely would 
not result in findings that conclusively support a safety benefit in 
using triangles, it has not conducted research on warning triangle 
efficacy. Without such data, the agency is not inclined to require that 
vehicles be equipped with Standard No. 125 warning triangles.
    The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety commented that NHTSA 
should focus more on traffic control functions that Standard No. 125 
warning triangles provide under emergency conditions, rather than on 
design features of the warning triangle. They offered several 
suggestions for how the warning triangles can be improved to better 
serve traffic control functions. The Advocates' comments address issues 
that go beyond the scope of the current rulemaking. Thus, NHTSA has not 
adopted the Advocates' suggestions.
    Finally, TSEI asserts that a regulatory flexibility analysis of the 
effect of this rulemaking on small businesses should have been 
conducted. TSEI objected to NHTSA's proposal to make Standard No. 125 
applicable only to devices designed to be carried in buses and trucks 
that have a GVWR greater than 10,000 lbs. TSEI's point appeared to be 
that it was inequitable for NHTSA to propose not to regulate warning 
devices designed to be carried in passenger cars, after the industry 
(mainly small manufacturers) tried, ``at great cost'' to make its 
devices meet Standard No. 125 specifications. Thus, TSEI requested a 
regulatory flexibility analysis (pursuant to 5 U.S.C. Secs. 603 and 
604) to assess the economic impact of this rulemaking on small 
entities.
    For the following reasons, NHTSA believes this rulemaking may have 
a slight beneficial effect on small warning device manufacturers, but 
will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of 
small entities. First, not regulating warning devices designed to be 
carried in vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less potentially 
creates a market for new types of nonpowered warning devices. Because 
of their expertise in Standard No. 125 devices, warning device 
manufacturers should be able to take advantage of this lessening of 
regulations and manufacture comparable devices that drivers of vehicles 
with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less will buy. However, because use of 
any warning devices for drivers of vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. 
or less is not mandated, NHTSA does not anticipate significant market 
demand for these devices.
    Second, it appears that there is limited potential for significant 
loss of sales. Based on its 1993 road survey, NHTSA believes that the 
current demand for Standard No. 125 devices among drivers of vehicles 
with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less is apparently very small. Further, 
the simple fact that other types of nonpowered warning devices may now 
be manufactured for those vehicles does not mean that sales of those 
devices will come at the expense of the triangular nonpowered warning 
devices. Additionally, although a recent Federal Highway Administration 
final rule (FHWA Docket No. MC-93-19), gives fusees and liquid burning 
flares equal status with triangles for use as emergency warning devices 
(with exceptions), this NHTSA final rule does nothing to change the 
FHWA's requirements for use of bidirectional reflective triangles with 
commercial motor vehicles that have a GVWR greater than 10,000 lbs. 
Thus, there appears to be no significant economic impact on small 
warning device manufacturers as a result of this rulemaking.

Effective Date

    In the NPRM, NHTSA proposed that if the proposed rule were made 
final, the effective date for the final rule would be 30 days after the 
final rule is published. NHTSA received no comments on the proposed 
early effective date. This rule relieves a restriction in Standard No. 
125. The Standard no longer specifies any restriction on warning 
devices designed to be carried in motor vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 
lbs. or less. The lessening of the regulatory restriction will provide 
drivers of vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less with greater 
choices of warning devices to be purchased, and permit manufacturers 
more flexibility in designing and selling warning devices designed for 
vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less. Since this rule relieves a 
regulatory restriction, NHTSA has concluded that the rule should take 
effect sooner than 120 days after the issuance of the rule. The agency 
finds for good cause that this rule should become effective 30 days 
after it is published.
    As earlier noted, this rulemaking responds to a petition for 
rulemaking from P.C.S. Safety Corporation. On the rule's effective 
date, if P.C.S.'s nonpowered warning device is designed to be carried 
in motor vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less, the P.C.S. device 
will be permitted to be manufactured and sold.

Rulemaking Analyses and Notices

Executive Order 12866 and DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures

    This action was not reviewed under E.O. 12866, Regulatory Planning 
and Review. NHTSA has considered the impact of this rulemaking action 
under the Department of Transportation's regulatory policies and 
procedures and determined that it is not ``significant.'' This action 
relieves a regulatory restriction by narrowing the application of the 
safety standard on nonpowered warning devices so that it is applicable 
only to devices designed to be carried in motor vehicles that have a 
GVWR greater than 10,000 lbs. Previously, the standard applied to all 
nonpowered warning devices designed to be carried in motor vehicles. 
The net economic impact of this action on manufacturers of nonpowered 
warning devices designed to be carried in motor vehicles with a GVWR of 
10,000 lbs. or less is expected to be slight. The final rule imposes no 
new or additional requirements. For these reasons, the agency has 
determined that the economic effects of this rule are so minimal that a 
full regulatory evaluation is not required.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The agency has also considered the effects of this rulemaking under 
the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). I certify that 
this final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. The rationale for this 
certification is that by permitting alternative warning devices 
designed to be carried in vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less, 
small warning device manufacturers will have an opportunity to sell 
these alternative devices, as well as the triangular nonpowered warning 
devices, to the owners of those vehicles. At the same time, since 
Standard No. 125 specifies warning devices for buses and trucks that 
have a GVWR greater than 10,000 lbs., and operators of such vehicles 
are required to carry the devices, manufacturers of Standard No. 125 
devices will continue to have a market for their devices. Accordingly, 
the agency has not prepared a regulatory flexibility analysis.

Executive Order 12612 (Federalism)

    This final rule has been analyzed in accordance with the principles 
and criteria contained in Executive Order 12612, and it has been 
determined that the final rule does not have sufficient federalism 
implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism Assessment.

National Environmental Policy Act

    The agency has also considered the environmental implications of 
this final rule in accordance with the National Environmental Policy 
Act of 1969 and has determined that the rule will not significantly 
affect the human environment.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This rule specifies that the warning devices be marked with certain 
information, that are considered to be information collection 
requirements, as that term is defined by the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB) in 5 CFR Part 1320. The information collection 
requirements for 49 CFR Part 571.125 have been submitted to and 
approved by the OMB, pursuant to the requirements of the Paperwork 
Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). This collection of information 
has been assigned OMB Control No. 2127-0506, (Warning Devices 
(Labeling)) and has been approved for use through March 31, 1994. A 
request for an extension of this collection of information is pending 
at OMB.

Executive Order 12866 (Civil Justice Reform)

    This final rule will not have any retroactive effect. Under 49 
U.S.C. section 30103, whenever a Federal motor vehicle safety standard 
is in effect, a state may not adopt or maintain a safety standard 
applicable to the same aspect of performance which is not identical to 
the Federal standard. 49 U.S.C. section 30161 sets forth a procedure 
for judicial review of final rules establishing, amending or revoking 
Federal motor vehicle safety standards. That section does not require 
submission of a petition for reconsideration or other administrative 
proceedings before parties may file suit in court.

List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 571

    Imports, Motor vehicle safety, Motor vehicles, Rubber and rubber 
products, Tires.

    In consideration of the foregoing, 49 CFR part 571 is amended to 
read as follows:

PART 571--[AMENDED]

    1. The authority citation for part 571 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 322, 30111, 30115, 30117, delegation of 
authority at 49 CFR 1.50.

    2. In Sec. 571.125, S3 is revised to read as follows:


Sec. 571.125  Standard No. 125; Warning devices.

* * * * *
    S3. Application. This standard applies to devices, without self-
contained energy sources, that are designed to be carried in buses and 
trucks that have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 
10,000 pounds. These devices are used to warn approaching traffic of 
the presence of a stopped vehicle, except for devices designed to be 
permanently affixed to the vehicle.

    Issued on: September 23, 1994.
Christopher A. Hart,
Deputy Administrator.
[FR Doc. 94-24055 Filed 9-28-94; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P-M

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