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Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Child Restraint Systems

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

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

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Child Restraint Systems

Christopher A. Hart
Federal Register
April 5, 1994

[Federal Register: April 5, 1994]


=======================================================================
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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 571

[Docket No. 74-09; Notice 36]
RIN 2127-AE60

 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Child Restraint Systems

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This rule amends Standard No. 213, Child Restraint Systems, to 
create an exception to the requirement that a restraint must not change 
its adjustment position during dynamic compliance testing. A change in 
adjustment positions of a rear-facing restraint, i.e., infant 
restraint, is permitted subject to a requirement intended to ensure 
that the design allowing such movement will not injure the infant.
    The amendment will permit the production of restraints specially 
designed for infants with apnea or other breathing problems. To 
facilitate breathing by these infants, these restraints allow infants 
to ride in the reclined position under normal driving conditions. 
However, when the restraint is subjected to the forces of a frontal 
vehicle crash, a portion of the restraint adjusts so that the infants 
move into an upright, rear-facing position. In this position, the crash 
forces are spread over the full torso and the back of the infant's head 
is supported, thus reducing the chance of injury.

DATES: This rule is effective on May 5, 1994.
    Petitions for reconsideration of the rule must be received by May 
5, 1994.

ADDRESSES: Petitions for reconsideration should refer to the docket and 
number of this document and be submitted to: Administrator, room 5220, 
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 400 Seventh Street SW., 
Washington, DC 20590.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. George Mouchahoir, Office of 
Vehicle Safety Standards, National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration, 400 Seventh Street SW., Washington, DC 20590 (telephone 
202-366-4919).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This document amends the requirement in 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 213, ``Child Restraint 
Systems,'' that a child restraint with adjustable (reclinable) 
positions must not change its adjustment position during dynamic 
testing (S5.1.1(b)). The purpose of the requirement is to prevent a 
child's fingers or limbs from being caught between the shifting parts 
of the restraint. Today's rule permits a change in adjustment positions 
of a rear-facing restraint system, i.e., infant restraint, provided 
that the restraint meets a requirement intended to ensure such movement 
will not injure the child. The amendments made by this document were 
proposed in a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) published on May 26, 
1993 (58 FR 30134). NHTSA commenced this rulemaking action in response 
to a petition for rulemaking from Century Products Company.
    The provisions adopted in today's document are substantially 
similar to those NHTSA proposed in the May 1993 NPRM. This rule permits 
an infant restraint to have a means for repositioning the seating 
surface of the restraint that allows an infant to move from a reclined 
position to an upright position during a frontal crash. To protect the 
infant during that change in adjustment position, the rule regulates 
exposed openings in the restraint structure. No opening that is exposed 
and is larger than 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) before the testing is permitted 
to become smaller during the movement of the seating surface relative 
to the restraint system as a whole. This rule also requires that the 
printed instructions accompanying each rear-facing child restraint 
system that has a means for repositioning the seating surface of the 
system include a warning against impeding the ability of the restraint 
to change adjustment position.

Infant Restraints

    An infant restraint is a child restraint system, except a car bed, 
that positions a child so that the child faces toward the rear of the 
motor vehicle. Most infant restraints are conventional rear-facing 
seats which are designed for infants only, and are intended to be 
installed so that the infant faces the rear of the vehicle. There are 
other child restraints that are convertible into two different modes. 
In one mode, these restraints are rear-facing so that they can be used 
by infants. In the other mode, these restraints are forward-facing so 
that they can be used by toddlers. (When the term ``infant restraint'' 
is used below, it refers both to infant seats which are exclusively for 
infants and to the infant mode of convertible child restraints.)
    Infant restraints are designed to meet infants' particular physical 
needs. An infant cannot be seated in a completely upright position 
since its neck muscles are not strong enough to enable the infant to 
hold its head upright. An infant restraint must be designed, therefore, 
so that it supports the infant's spine and head in a partially inclined 
position. At the same time, an infant must be positioned sufficiently 
upright and rear-facing so that in a crash, the forces are spread 
evenly across the infant's back and shoulders, the strongest part of an 
infant's body. Further, an infant restraint positions the back of the 
child's head against the restraint's seating surface in a crash. This 
helps to prevent severe neck injuries.

Century's Petition

    Century submitted its petition because it wishes to produce an 
infant restraint that, under normal driving conditions, would allow the 
infant to lie on its back in a more reclined position than is possible 
in current infant restraints, with the infant's head nearest the front 
of the vehicle and its feet nearest the rear of the vehicle. To provide 
proper protection in a frontal crash, a portion of the infant seat, 
including the surface on which the infant is resting, would change 
position by rotating upwards and toward the front of the vehicle so 
that the child would be rear-facing and almost upright. As a result, 
the crash forces would be applied to and spread across the infant's 
neck and shoulders. In the almost upright mode, the restraint would 
provide occupant protection similar to that provided by infant seats 
lacking the capability of dynamic readjustment.
    The petitioner described three ways in which safety could be 
improved if infant seats were allowed to change adjustment positions in 
a crash. First, the petitioner believes designing an infant seat so 
that it changes adjustment positions during a frontal crash could 
reduce the crash forces imposed on the child. The movement due to the 
change in position could help dissipate the stored kinetic energy 
during the initial stage of a frontal crash (i.e., when the momentum of 
the child and rear-facing seat are causing them to attempt to move 
toward the front of the vehicle).
    The second improvement in safety relates to what Century stated was 
the primary advantage of the new seat. The petitioner believed the seat 
would enable a child to travel in a more reclined position than is 
possible with current infant seats. The petitioner said that this would 
benefit premature, apnea-prone infants, and infants with other 
breathing problems. Included in Century's petition was the petitioner's 
public service message on ``positional apnea.'' It explains the 
problems that infants with positional apnea have when riding in current 
infant restraints:

    Positional Apnea is a breathing difficulty that could occur when 
very small infants are positioned in an upright angle in infant 
products such as car seats, car beds, strollers, carriers, swings, 
etc. Because of their tiny bodies and weak necks, small infants are 
in danger of Positional Apnea. If the angle of the child in the 
infant product is too steep, the infant's head may fall forward far 
enough to choke off his/her air supply. Depending on the positioning 
of the child in an infant product, the risk to the child may be 
increased.
* * * * *
    To explain its reasons for believing a change to S5.1.1(b) would 
help children with apnea, Century submitted articles and statements 
from members of the medical community on positional apnea. These 
materials are fully discussed in the NPRM. They include a July 1990 
policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics on the safe 
transportation of premature infants, which states that some infants, 
particularly premature, low-weight infants, may be subject to oxygen 
desaturation when placed in an upright position in infant restraints. 
Century argued that the articles indicate a need for new infant 
restraint designs that are specially designed, such as the infant seat 
the petitioner wishes to produce.
    The third advantage of the seat relates to improved positioning of 
all infants in infant restraints. Infant restraints are tested by NHTSA 
for compliance with FMVSS No. 213 on a ``standard seat assembly,'' 
which is an essentially horizontal vehicle seat cushion. The ``standard 
seat assembly'' is specified in S7.3 of the standard. If the vehicle 
seat cushions actually being installed in vehicles are not horizontal, 
but slant downward to the rear, as they do in some newer model cars, an 
infant restraint placed on that vehicle seat cushion would be tilted 
rearward. Thus, an infant riding in the infant restraint would likely 
sit more upright than if the infant restraint were placed on a 
horizontal vehicle seat cushion. A restraint's back support surface 
that is too upright might not be able to provide adequate support to 
the infant's head and neck. Century said that its new infant restraint 
would compensate for the effect that a slanting vehicle seat cushion 
may have on infant restraints.

The NPRM

    The NPRM proposed amending S5.1.1 to permit infant restraints to 
have a means for enabling the seating surface of the system to adjust 
during testing so that the restraint's occupant would move from a 
reclined position to an upright position. Under the NPRM, the movement 
of the seating surface during testing, relative to the restraint as a 
whole, had to be unidirectional rotation or translation. The NPRM also 
proposed that no opening in the restraint structure that is exposed and 
is larger than \1/4\ inch (6.35 mm) before the testing shall become 
smaller during the testing as a result of the movement of the seating 
surface relative to the restraint as a whole.
    Comments were expressly sought on the following issues. First, 
whether movement of the seating surface during dynamic testing should 
be permitted for child restraints other than infant restraints. Second, 
whether movement during dynamic testing must occur only 
unidirectionally in a rotational or translational motion. Third, 
whether there should be greater leeway in how exposed openings may 
close. In addition, the NPRM sought comments on whether a change in 
infant restraint adjustment position during a sudden deceleration 
should be permitted as a potential way of protecting children from 
injury that might otherwise result from an air bag impacting the child 
restraint during a crash.1
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    \1\For a discussion of potential dangers of an air bag to an 
infant in a rear-facing child restraint, see 59 FR 7643, February 
16, 1994.
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Comments

    NHTSA received eight comments on the NPRM. Commenters were Century, 
Ford, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Advocates for Highway and 
Auto Safety, Congressman Thomas C. Sawyer of Ohio, and three private 
individuals interested in child seat safety (Messrs. Jerome Koziatek, 
Donald Friedman and Jonathan Sebring).
    All the commenters, except Mr. Sebring, generally believed motion 
in a restraint system will benefit safety. Mr. Koziatek believed that 
changes in vehicle interiors (e.g., air bags, three-point belts, more 
restricted occupant space) have made it more difficult for child 
restraints to protect the child occupant, and that permitting motion 
will help attenuate the deceleration forces in a crash in a manner that 
is more beneficial than other means. (He did not specify those other 
means.) Century emphasized its belief that permitting motion will 
enable the manufacture of restraints that can transport children with 
positional apnea.

    In the more medically correct position. That is, by transporting 
the child in a more horizontal position, those seven percent of 
children born that are considered low birth weight will be at a 
lower risk.

    Some commenters expressed qualified support. Advocates for Highway 
and Auto Safety believed the idea of movement in a rear-facing child 
restraint ``has much to recommend it.'' However, the commenter was 
concerned about possible adverse side effects resulting from the change 
in adjustment position, such as from abrupt movement of the restraint, 
and movement that can cause injury to fingers. Similarly, Ford said it 
``supports the concept that allowing controlled change of adjusted 
position during dynamic testing may reap safety benefits, but suggests 
that further evaluation of the concept be conducted.'' Ford expressed 
concern about the effect of an abrupt cessation of the movement of the 
child restraint, such as if the restraint were to rotate into the 
instrument panel. ``An abrupt stop to the rotation of the restraint, 
for example, could result in significant dummy neck tension.'' The 
American Academy of Pediatrics stated that it supports NHTSA's efforts 
to amend Standard 213 to allow for the development of rear-facing 
restraints that can safely transport premature and low-weight infants 
in a less upright position. However, that commenter said there should 
be restrictions on the amount and type of movement that is allowed, 
because sudden movement from a horizontal to an upright position can be 
difficult for a medically fragile child. The Academy was also concerned 
about protecting the fingers and hands of both the child occupant and 
adjacent children from injury from exposed openings.
    Mr. Sebring commented on the NPRM after reviewing what he said was 
a video animation of Century's new restraint exhibited at a juvenile 
products show. Mr. Sebring was concerned that a child in a restraint 
that changes adjustment position can experience acceleration levels on 
its chest cavity that are not experienced with current restraints. The 
commenter suggested NHTSA adopt a rule that permits motion only after 
analyzing data from a test dummy that measures G forces, and specify 
limits on the G forces that are imposed on a dummy placed in the 
restraint.

Agency Decision

    NHTSA is amending S5.1.1(b) of Standard 213 to remove the 
restriction against an infant restraint's changing adjustment position 
during testing. The agency believes safety will not be degraded by this 
amendment, since a provision has been adopted to minimize possible 
safety risks resulting from a restraint's changing adjustment positions 
in a crash. That provision relates to the closing of exposed openings. 
The agency will examine infant restraint accident data and consider 
appropriate action if changing the position of an infant restraint's 
seating surface has any adverse effect on safety. At present, NHTSA 
does not know of any information indicating the possibility of a 
negative safety impact. In fact, NHTSA believes there are several 
potential positive impacts.
    Those positive impacts were discussed in the NPRM as reasons why 
the agency was reexamining the prohibition against change of adjustment 
position during testing. Since the 1970's, when the prohibition was 
adopted, more has been learned about the proper positioning of apnea-
prone children in car seats. Century documented the need for infant 
restraints that position apnea-prone infants in a more horizontal 
position. The agency concludes S5.1.1(b) should be amended so that it 
does not impede the development of new child seat designs for apnea-
prone infants. NHTSA recognizes that the market for infant restraints 
that change adjustment positions may extend beyond the parents of 
apnea-prone children, and that this may result in a greater number of 
infants being exposed to the effects of the new type of infant 
restraint with its changing adjustment position. However, the agency is 
unable to estimate the extent of the possible appeal to the greater 
population of parents.
    Advocates requested information about ``the number of premature and 
low-birth weight infants who are at risk because they are being 
transported in currently marketed child restraints.'' According to the 
Vital and Health Statistics Report of the U.S. Department of Health and 
Human Services, 6.9 percent of the 3,910,000 births in 1988 were of low 
birth weight (``low birth weight'' is defined as a birth weight of less 
than 2,500 grams (5 pounds, 8 ounces)). That is a total of 267,790 
babies. In 1989, the low birth rate increased to 7 percent, resulting 
in 282,868 low-birth weight babies out of 4,040,972 babies.2
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    \2\NHTSA submitted this information to Docket No. PRM-213-022-01 
on September 4, 1992 as an addendum to Century's rulemaking 
petition.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Another factor that changed since the 1970's is the change in 
vehicle seat designs that have occurred in recent years. As explained 
above and in the NPRM, vehicle seat designs have changed such that 
infants typically are positioned more upright in infant restraints 
placed in current model vehicles than in vehicles of the late 1970's 
and early 1980's. A restraint that enables the child to ride in a more 
reclined position than a conventional infant restraint could enhance 
the transportation of infants generally, and could benefit apnea-prone 
children in particular.
    The agency also considered the interaction of infant restraints 
with air bags in deciding to issue this rule. Ford stated that it is 
possible that an infant restraint could be developed that would reduce 
the risk of interaction with an air bag, if the restraint could keep 
the infant in a supine position below the level of air bag inflation, 
prior to movement to a more vertical position. However, Ford also noted 
it is possible that an air bag would likely begin to inflate before or 
shortly after a movable rear-facing infant restraint would begin to 
move into a more vertical position. ``Movement of the infant seat to a 
vertical position would likely be somewhat limited by the inflating air 
bag.* * *'' The American Academy of Pediatrics expressed its desire to 
see an infant restraint that can be safely used with an air bag. ``If 
the opportunity to develop a child restraint that utilizes movement 
proves to improve this serious incompatibility problem, we certainly 
would be in favor of such a device.''
    While at present there is no infant restraint that can be safely 
used with an air bag, vehicle and child restraint manufacturers have 
undertaken research to develop compatible restraint systems. Ford's 
comment illustrates that an amendment to permit motion in infant 
restraints could provide some of the needed flexibility to vehicle and 
infant seat manufacturers to improve present vehicle and infant seat 
designs to achieve compatibility. While Ford did not seem to believe 
motion in an infant seat such as that provided for by this rule would 
in itself achieve compatibility, NHTSA hopes that air bag-compatible 
infant restraints will be developed in the near future. Century has 
demonstrated the practicability of a design that can meet both the need 
of an infant to be upright in a crash and the need to be supine while 
under normal driving circumstances. NHTSA believes today's amendment 
might act as a catalyst for the development of infant seat designs that 
use motion to manage crash forces.
    With regard to Mr. Sebring's concerns that a child in an infant 
restraint that changes adjustment positions during a test can 
experience acceleration levels on its chest cavity that are not 
experienced with current restraints, no information was submitted to 
support this assertion. Further, given that there is no information 
showing there will be potential safety problems with restraints that 
change adjustment position, NHTSA does not agree that this rulemaking 
should be delayed pending research on a test dummy that measures G 
forces experienced by occupants of these restraints.

Forward-Facing Restraints

    Several commenters wanted the prohibition against changing 
adjustment positions during testing to be removed for all types of 
child restraints. Century, Ford, and Mr. Koziatek suggested removing 
the prohibition for forward-facing toddler restraints.
    NHTSA has decided not to permit change in adjustment position for 
other types of restraints. Today's amendment permits such change for 
rear-facing child seats only. In the case of convertible seats with an 
infant mode, change would be permitted in the infant mode only.
    The agency's reasons for adopting the amendment, discussed in the 
preceding section, are relevant to infant restraints, but not other 
child restraints. This amendment does not eliminate the prohibition for 
forward-facing child seats because there is insufficient reason for 
doing so. In addition to preventing a child's fingers or limbs from 
being caught between the shifting parts of the restraint, the 
prohibition serves to prevent a child seated in a forward-facing child 
restraint from submarining (i.e., sliding too far forward and downward, 
legs first) during the crash. The prohibition has been an effective and 
simple approach to accomplishing those purposes. There is no 
information that weighs in favor of removing the prohibition for 
forward-facing restraints, such as information indicating that a change 
in adjustment position could protect forward-facing children from 
injury from an inflating air bag.
    Mr. Friedman suggested removing the prohibition for car beds. He 
also suggested S5.1.1 of Standard 213 be amended to permit ``permanent 
deformation'' of the interior surface of a restraint as a means of 
providing crash protection for the occupant. Mr. Friedman's suggestions 
are outside the scope of the rulemaking, and have not been adopted by 
this rule.

Limits on Motion

    This rule does not adopt the proposal that movement of the 
restraint's seating surface relative to the system as a whole during 
testing must be unidirectional rotation or translation. Several 
commenters addressed this issue. Century requested that the rule permit 
the child seat to reverse its direction during the dynamic test of 
Standard 213. According to the petitioner:

    If NHTSA does not permit the restraint to return to its more 
horizontal position after the crash, we believe that you have 
continued to maintain the risk for the [apnea-prone] child that this 
change was intended to eliminate.

    Ford said NHTSA should ``evaluate the risks involved in abrupt 
cessation of the movement of the child restraint.'' (NHTSA assumes the 
reference to ``abrupt cessation'' relates to what Ford believed would 
result from the proposed requirement that the movement must be 
unidirectional rotation or translation.) In contrast, Mr. Sebring 
believed the motion must be only unidirectional rotation or 
translation. The commenter believed ``there are obvious bending moments 
produced in the occupant's neck as a result of whiplash action which 
occurs when the restraint returns post-impact to its original 
horizontal position.''
    After reviewing the comments, NHTSA has decided not to adopt the 
unidirectional requirement. The agency agrees with Century that it 
would make sense for the infant restraint to return to its original 
horizontal position after a crash. If the restraint did not return to 
the original position, an apnea-prone infant restrained in the seat 
would remain in the upright position, which is the position the child 
should not be in for any prolonged period of time. Also, having the 
restraint return to the supine position may be beneficial in a multiple 
impact crash if the restraint rotated upright in the second or 
subsequent impact. The movement from a supine to a nearly upright 
position could help dissipate the stored kinetic energy during the 
crash because part of the energy of the crash may be consumed by the 
motion of the restraint (in changing adjustment position). Part of the 
energy of the crash may also be consumed by frictional forces of the 
restraint's moving parts, e.g., springs and other mechanisms, that may 
be used to engage the movement of the child seating surface.
    Mr. Sebring's comment in support of a unidirectional requirement 
accorded with NHTSA's tentative determination in the NPRM that a 
unidirectional requirement could minimize possible stresses on the neck 
of the infant. However, NHTSA has concluded there is insufficient 
information on this issue justifying a unidirectional requirement, 
particularly in view of the potential benefits (discussed in the 
preceding paragraph) of permitting an infant restraint to return to the 
original horizontal position.
    Mr. Sebring believed that the return of the restraint to the 
original horizontal position will result in ``obvious bending moments'' 
in the occupant's neck ``as a result of whiplash action.'' Information 
supporting this assertion is unavailable. To evaluate the claims of Mr. 
Sebring, NHTSA requested that Century provide a copy of the videotape 
that Century presented at the juvenile products show that Mr. Sebring 
attended. (NHTSA has placed the video Century provided in NHTSA Docket 
Number 74-09; Notice 30.) Contrary to the commenter's description about 
what he allegedly saw happening to a dummy restrained in Century's 
restraint, the video did not show any dummy occupying the displayed 
child restraint. NHTSA was unable to clarify Mr. Sebring's comment. The 
agency repeatedly attempted to contact Mr. Sebring for information 
clarifying the references to the videotape and to the ``obvious bending 
moments'' it appeared he saw, but NHTSA could not reach Mr. Sebring at 
his given telephone number, and there was no listing for him in the 
given area code.
    In any event, the agency's evaluation of the film provided by 
Century did not reveal movement in the child restraint that would cause 
``obvious bending moments'' in the neck of a child occupant. 
Nevertheless, while there is no information at this time indicating a 
safety need to adopt a unidirectional requirement for the motion of the 
restraint, NHTSA will monitor accident data to evaluate whether neck 
injuries are occurring in infant seats that change adjustment position 
in a crash.
    The American Academy of Pediatrics suggested that there should be 
some restrictions on the amount and type of movement allowed.

    It is important that moveable parts should not be able to move 
too easily and should move only upon impact. Sudden movement from a 
horizontal to an upright position can be difficult for a medically 
fragile child and should only occur when absolutely necessary.

    NHTSA is not specifying limits on the ease with which an infant 
restraint can change adjustment position. The agency believes such 
limits are unnecessary because as a practical matter, a restraint that 
too easily changes adjustment position from the supine to the upright 
position negates the benefits the restraint is designed to provide to 
apnea-prone infants. NHTSA believes that manufacturers who wish to 
market restraints for apnea-prone infants will not design a restraint 
that ends up transporting the infants in a position that is too upright 
for their breathing condition. Also, NHTSA believes that manufacturers 
have a commercial incentive to design a suitable threshold force into 
the restraint to trigger the release mechanism, since a restraint that 
too easily changes adjustment positions could appear unsafe, 
uncomfortable and thus unattractive to consumers. In any event, NHTSA 
will also evaluate the performance of these restraints and monitor 
accident data on this issue, to see whether a safety need emerges to 
limit how easily an infant restraint can change adjustment position.

Openings

    Several commenters addressed the proposal to prohibit openings that 
are exposed and are at least \1/4\ inch in diameter before the testing 
from becoming smaller during testing due to the movement of the seating 
surface relative to the restraint system as a whole. Most of these 
commenters supported the proposal. Century requested that openings 
greater than \1/4\ inch in diameter should be permitted to become 
smaller if the opening is no smaller than 1\1/2\ inches at the 
conclusion of testing. The commenter did not provide information on why 
that value would be more appropriate than the proposed value. Since a 
child or adult seated next to a rotating infant seat can be injured if 
a hand were caught in an opening whose diameter were reduced to 1\1/2\ 
inches, Century's request is denied.
    On a related matter, the agency wishes to clarify a statement in 
the NPRM. NHTSA indicated a belief in the NPRM that changes in child 
seat designs (from exposed tubular steel frames to molded plastic ones) 
might have obviated the safety need for a prohibition against a change 
in adjustment position. Two commenters did not agree with that 
statement. The American Academy of Pediatrics said it was not convinced 
that the risk of injury to a child's fingers has been removed because 
of the type of material from which restraints are presently made. Mr. 
Sebring said a return to tubular steel frames could occur in the 
future, especially since future designs could be patterned after the 
``ISO-FIX,'' a child restraint system that the European community is 
developing with standardized features for installation in vehicles. Mr. 
Sebring believes features of the ISO-FIX design could necessitate a 
return to tubular steel frames, if the design were eventually used in 
this country. (He did not specify the features to which he referred.)
    To clarify the agency's statement, the agency believed that the 
type of child restraint design made possible through the use of plastic 
molded frames might have obviated the need for the requirement in 
question. However, NHTSA has reconsidered this issue. The agency 
concludes that a requirement protecting against injury to fingers and 
hands due to shifting child restraint parts is needed to ensure present 
and future child seat designs do not have dangerous parts that can trap 
and injure hands and fingers.

Printed Instructions

    Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety suggested that NHTSA require 
that the printed instructions accompanying a rear-facing restraint 
designed for children with apnea or other breathing problems include 
information on how these children should be positioned while being 
transported in a motor vehicle. That suggestion is beyond the scope of 
the NPRM and has not been adopted. Advocates also suggested that NHTSA 
require that the printed instructions include information telling the 
consumer not to impede the ability of the restraint to change 
adjustment position. The agency concludes that requiring this 
information for infant restraints that are designed to change 
adjustment position is within the scope of the rulemaking. The 
information relates to the real-world operation of the restraint in a 
crash. This rulemaking, which permits the manufacture of a new type of 
infant restraint system, rests on NHTSA's conclusion that the new 
system can afford adequate crash protection provided that the restraint 
changes adjustment position in a crash. If the movement of the 
restraint's seating surface were to be impeded by the consumer in some 
manner, the primary means of crash protection provided by the restraint 
would be negated. It is crucial that the consumer not impede the 
movement of the restraint, and be instructed on the matter. Therefore, 
such instructions will be required.

Effective Date

    This rule is effective 30 days after its publication date. The 
shorter than usual effective date is based on the effect of the 
amendment to relieve design restrictions and facilitate the manufacture 
of a new type of infant seat. Because the rule relieves a restriction, 
there is good cause for making it effective in 30 days.

Rulemaking Analyses and Notices

Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review) and DOT 
Regulatory Policies and Procedures

    This rulemaking document was not reviewed under E.O. 12866, 
``Regulatory Planning and Review.'' The agency has considered the 
impacts of this rulemaking action and has determined that this action 
is not ``significant'' within the meaning of the Department of 
Transportation's regulatory policies and procedures. NHTSA has further 
determined that the effects of this rulemaking are so minimal that 
preparation of a full preliminary regulatory evaluation is not 
warranted. The agency believes that manufacturers will be minimally 
affected by this rulemaking because it simply permits new designs in 
infant restraints and does not require any design change or impose 
additional costs on manufacturers. Manufacturers that do not want to 
manufacture an infant restraint that can change adjustment positions 
will not be affected.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    NHTSA has considered the effects of this rulemaking action under 
the Regulatory Flexibility Act. I hereby certify that it will not have 
a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. The agency knows of fourteen manufacturers of child 
restraints, seven of which NHTSA considers to be small businesses 
(including Kolcraft, which with an estimated 500 employees, is on the 
borderline of being a small business). These businesses do not comprise 
a substantial number of small entities that are affected by this rule.
    Regardless of the number of small businesses, this rule will not 
have a significant economic impact on these entities. The rule will 
affect manufacturers only if they choose to manufacture an infant 
restraint that can change adjustment positions in Standard 213's 
dynamic test. The amendment may benefit manufacturers by allowing them 
to manufacture and sell a new product. However, based on manufacturers' 
responses to the NPRM, it does not appear that manufacturers other than 
Century will manufacture and sell such a product. The amendment may 
provide benefits to apnea-prone children by allowing manufacturers to 
produce an infant restraint that can position these children in a 
manner more appropriate for their condition. However, the agency does 
not have information to estimate those possible benefits.
    Small organizations and governmental jurisdictions procure infant 
restraints for programs such as loaner programs. NHTSA does not believe 
the costs of infant restraints will be increased by this rule. Thus, 
these entities will not be significantly affected by this rule.

Executive Order 12612 (Federalism)

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

National Environmental Policy Act

    NHTSA has analyzed this rulemaking action for the purposes of the 
National Environmental Policy Act. The agency has determined that 
implementation of this action will not have any significant impact on 
the quality of the human environment.

Executive Order 12778 (Civil Justice Reform)

    This rule does not have any retroactive effect. Under section 
103(d) of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Safety 
Act; 15 U.S.C. 1392(d)), 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, except to the extent that the state 
requirement imposes a higher level of performance and applies only to 
vehicles procured for the State's use. Section 105 of the Safety Act 
(15 U.S.C. 1394) 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.

PART 571--[AMENDED]

    In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA amends 49 CFR part 571 as 
set forth below.
    1. The authority citation for part 571 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 15 U.S.C. 1392, 1401, 1403, 1407; delegation of 
authority at 49 CFR 1.50.


Sec. 571.213  [Amended]

    2. In Sec. 571.213, S4 is amended by adding in alphabetical order 
the following definition:


S4.  Definitions.

* * * * *
    Rear-facing child restraint system means a child restraint system, 
except a car bed, that positions a child to face in the direction 
opposite to the normal direction of travel of the motor vehicle.
* * * * *
    3. In Sec. 571.213, S5.1.1 is revised, and S5.6.1.8 and S5.6.1.9 
are added, to read as follows:
    S5.1.1  Child restraint system integrity. When tested in accordance 
with S6.1, each child restraint system shall meet the requirements of 
paragraphs (a) through (c) of this section.
    (a) Exhibit no complete separation of any load bearing structural 
element and no partial separation exposing either surfaces with a 
radius of less than \1/4\ inch or surfaces with protrusions greater 
than \3/8\ inch above the immediate adjacent surrounding contactable 
surface of any structural element of the system.
    (b)(1) If adjustable to different positions, remain in the same 
adjustment position during the testing that it was in immediately 
before the testing, except as otherwise specified in paragraph (b)(2).
    (2)(i) Subject to paragraph (b)(2)(ii), a rear-facing child 
restraint system may have a means for repositioning the seating surface 
of the system that allows the system's occupant to move from a reclined 
position to an upright position and back to a reclined position during 
testing.
    (ii) No opening that is exposed and is larger than \1/4\ inch 
before the testing shall become smaller during the testing as a result 
of the movement of the seating surface relative to the restraint system 
as a whole.
    (c) If a front facing child restraint system, not allow the angle 
between the system's back support surfaces for the child and the 
system's seating surface to be less than 45 degrees at the completion 
of the test.
* * * * *
    S5.6.1.8  [Reserved]
    S5.6.1.9  In the case of each rear-facing child restraint system 
that has a means for repositioning the seating surface of the system 
that allows the system's occupant to move from a reclined position to 
an upright position during testing, the instructions shall include a 
warning against impeding the ability of the restraint to change 
adjustment position.
* * * * *
    Issued on March 30, 1994.
Christopher A. Hart,
Deputy Administrator.
[FR Doc. 94-8033 Filed 4-4-94; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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