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Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Door Locks and Door Retention Components

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

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

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Door Locks and Door Retention Components

Barry Felrice
Federal Register
August 30, 1994

[Federal Register: August 30, 1994]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 571

[Docket No. 94-70; Notice 1]
RIN 2127-AF35

 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Door Locks and Door 
Retention Components

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

ACTION: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: This document proposes to amend Federal Motor Vehicle Safety 
Standard No. 206, Door Locks and Door Retention Components, by 
extending and expanding the standard's existing side door requirements 
to the back doors of passenger cars and multipurpose passenger vehicles 
with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 4,536 kilograms (kg) 
(10,000 pounds (lb)) or less, including hatchbacks, station wagons, 
sport utility vehicles, and passenger vans. The purpose of the 
standard's requirements, which currently apply only to side doors, is 
to reduce the likelihood of occupants being ejected from vehicles in 
real-world crashes. A recent agency study indicates that each year 
there are nearly 150 fatalities in which an occupant is ejected through 
rear hatches, tailgates, and other back doors of these vehicles. This 
proposal seeks to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries 
resulting from such ejections by extending and expanding Standard No. 
206's requirements for door locks and door retention components to back 
doors. Given the differences between side doors and back doors, the 
agency is proposing minor modifications in the performance requirements 
and test procedures to make them appropriate for back doors.

DATES: Comment closing date: Comments on this notice must be received 
by NHTSA not later than October 31, 1994.
    Proposed effective date: The agency is considering an effective 
date of the first September 1 that occurs following a two year period 
beginning with the publication of a final rule in the Federal Register.

ADDRESSES: Comments should refer to the docket and notice numbers set 
forth above and be submitted to: Docket Section, National Highway 
Traffic Safety Administration, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Room 5109, 
Washington, DC 20590. Docket room hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 
p.m., Monday through Friday.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Joseph Kanianthra, Chief, Side and 
Rollover Crash Protection Division, Office of Vehicle Safety Standards, 
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 400 Seventh Street, 
SW., Washington, DC 20590, (202) 366-4924.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background
    A. The Existing Standard
    B. April 1990 Report
    C. June 1990 Petition for Rulemaking
    D. Events Since 1990
II. Proposal
    A. Overall Proposal and Rationale
    B. Door Latches
    1. Requirements for Secondary Latch Position
    2. Load Requirements
    C. Door Hinges
    D. Door Locks
    E. Leadtime
    F. Additional Considerations/Questions
III. Costs
IV. Rulemaking Analyses and Notices
    A. E.O. 12866 and DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures
    B. Regulatory Flexibility Act
    C. National Environmental Policy Act
    D. E.O. 12612, Federalism
    E. Civil Justice Reform
V. Comments

I. Background

A. The Existing Standard

    Standard No. 206, Door Locks and Door Retention Components, 
specifies performance requirements for side door locks and side door 
retention components, including latches, hinges, and other supporting 
means. The requirements are intended to minimize the likelihood of 
occupant ejections from the vehicle in the event of a crash.
    The standard's full requirements apply to side doors other than 
cargo-type doors and sliding doors; more abbreviated requirements apply 
to the latter two types of doors. The standard's full requirements can 
be summarized as follows.
    First, each door latch and striker assembly must have a fully 
latched position and a secondary latch position. The secondary position 
serves as a backup to the primary latched position in the event the 
primary latch is not properly engaged and adds an additional level of 
protection in case the primary latch position fails.
    Second, latches and hinges must withstand specified load 
requirements. A door latch and striker assembly of a side door, when in 
the fully latched position, must not separate when a longitudinal load 
of 11,000 Newtons (2,500 pounds), or a transverse load of 8,900 Newtons 
(2,000 pounds), is applied to the latch (``Longitudinal'' loads are 
parallel to the vehicle's longitudinal centerline and are applied 
perpendicular to the face of the latch. ``Transverse'' loads are 
perpendicular to the vehicle centerline and are applied in the 
direction in which the door opens). Reduced load requirements are 
specified for the secondary latched position. Also, a door latch must 
not disengage from the fully latched position when specified inertia 
loads are applied to the door latch system (Inertia is the property of 
matter that requires that a load be exerted on a body to accelerate it. 
An inertial load is calculated by multiplying the mass of a body by its 
acceleration). Door hinges must not separate when specified 
longitudinal and transverse loads are applied to the hinge system.
    Third, side doors must be equipped with a locking mechanism with an 
operating means in the interior of the vehicle. For side front door 
locks, the outside door handle must be inoperative when the locking 
mechanism is engaged. For side rear door locks, both the outside and 
inside door handles must be inoperative when the locking mechanism is 
engaged.
    Standard No. 206 specifies test procedures for many of its 
performance requirements. The standard incorporates test procedures set 
forth in two Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recommended 
practices: SAE J839b, Passenger Car Side Door Latch Systems, and SAE 
J934, Vehicle Passenger Door Hinge Systems.

B. April 1990 Report

    As part of its review of potential back door safety problems, NHTSA 
conducted an in-depth accident analysis using 1982-1986 and 1988 (no 
national data file for 1987) National Accident Sampling System (NASS) 
data relating to door openings and ejections in passenger vehicles 
involved in crashes that required towing from the scene (hereinafter 
referred to as towaway crashes). In addition, the 1988 Fatal Accident 
Reporting System (FARS) data were used to assess the magnitude of the 
safety problem. The results of these analyses were published on April 
5, 1990 in a report entitled ``Hatchback, Tailgate, and Back Door 
Opening in Crashes and Occupant Ejection through the Back Area'' (1990 
Report). A copy of this report is available in NHTSA Docket 90-08-GR-
001.
    The report concluded that back doors of vehicles so equipped open 
in 5-6 percent of towaway crashes, compared to 1-2 percent of side 
doors in such crashes. Further, a hatchback or tailgate was about 3 
times as likely to open as one of the front side doors and about 7-8 
times as likely to open as one of the rear side doors. Of passenger 
vehicles so equipped, an estimated 36,244 hatchbacks and tailgates 
opened in towaway crashes in 1988. More specifically, an estimated 
4,986 passenger van back doors opened in towaway crashes, representing 
about 4 times the rate of front side door openings and about double the 
rate of right rear side door openings (very few passenger vans have 
left side rear doors).
    Finally, the data showed that 53 percent of the back door openings 
occurred in accidents involving vehicle rollovers, as opposed to 23 
percent of left front door openings and 40 percent of right front door 
openings.
    Despite the frequency of back door openings, however, occupant 
ejection through the back door occurred in only 1 percent of the 
towaway crashes involving back door openings. This compares with 8 to 
13 percent of occupant ejections through front door openings.
    FARS data indicated that there were 8,343 passenger car and MPV 
occupant ejection fatalities in 1988, 2,190 of which were from vehicles 
with back doors. NHTSA's report set forth two methodologies, both using 
NASS data, to estimate the number of these fatalities that represented 
occupant ejections through back doors. One methodology resulted in an 
estimate that 93 of the fatally injured persons were ejected through 
back doors. The other methodology estimated the number to be 130.
    Also on April 5, 1990, NHTSA wrote to nine manufacturers (Chrysler, 
Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen, and 
Volvo) asking their thoughts on how to address the problem of back door 
openings and requesting information on design specifications used for 
the production of back door latch/lock systems. Eight of the nine 
responded, indicating that none of their back door latch assemblies, 
except certain Mazda vehicles, met the requirements of Standard No. 
206.
    They stated that they did not consider back door openings to be a 
significant safety problem, however, and indicated that they had 
certain design guidelines and requirements that are followed in 
designing their back door latch assemblies. Finally, they stated that 
proper use of seat belts is the most effective method of ejection 
reduction.

C. June 1990 Petition for Rulemaking

    On June 19, 1990, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 
petitioned the agency to, among other things, extend the requirements 
of Standard 206 to back doors. NHTSA denied this petition in a document 
published in the Federal Register (55 FR 48261) on November 20, 1990, 
citing the 1990 Report in its denial. NHTSA concluded that increased 
use of seat belts would be a more effective means of reducing back door 
ejections than extending the requirements of Standard 206 to back 
doors, and that there was not a safety need significant enough to 
justify the recommended rulemaking.

D. Events Since 1990

    NHTSA continued to evaluate the issue of preventing back door 
ejections and on January 21, 1994, issued an update to the 1990 Report. 
The updated report is entitled ``Door Opening and Occupant Ejection 
through Rear Hatches, Tailgates, and Other Back Doors'' (1994 Report). 
The agency published a notice in the Federal Register (59 FR 3925) on 
January 27, 1994, requesting public review and comment on this report. 
This report is available in Docket No. 90-06-No.3-001.
    NASS and FARS data from 1988-1992 were utilized for this report. 
Based on an analysis of those data, the report estimated that each year 
there are 147 fatalities in which occupants are ejected through rear 
hatches, tailgates and other back doors. The data also showed that 
approximately 95 percent of the victims were not secured by seat belts 
and that approximately 10 percent of those victims were children under 
10 years of age.
    In towaway crashes, rollovers accounted for 35 percent of left 
front door openings, 40 percent of right front door openings, and 42 
percent of back door openings. Also, the data showed that the most 
common damage associated with door openings was damage to the latch and 
striker assemblies. This was true for 60 percent of opened left front 
doors, 50 percent of opened right front doors, and 71 percent of opened 
back doors.
    Three comments were received in response to NHTSA's January 1994 
notice. The American Automobile Manufacturers Association (AAMA) stated 
that the report showed a low rate of passenger ejection through back 
doors, and contended that the data again demonstrate that the most 
effective means of preventing back door ejections is through the proper 
use of safety belts. AAMA encouraged NHTSA's efforts in promoting the 
use of safety belts.
    Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) agreed that a 
high percentage of vehicle ejections occur because of lack of use or 
improper use of safety belts. Nevertheless, Advocates believes that 
back doors are opening at an unacceptable rate. To address this 
problem, Advocates suggested that NHTSA should take multiple actions. 
That organization stated that NHTSA should look at the fundamental 
character of latch/striker designs in addition to increasing latch/
striker strength. Further, Advocates stated that NHTSA should address 
the current roof strength and side impact standards as they relate to 
latch/striker integrity. Finally, Advocates stated that because rear 
seat belts in some vehicles are insufficient to assure ready 
availability to occupants, NHTSA should address that issue as well as 
evaluate how rear seats themselves are attached in MPVs.
    A comment was also submitted by Mr. Nicholas Perrone of Perrone 
Forensic Consulting, Inc., and Mssrs. Clarence Ditlow and Ray Gold of 
the Center for Auto Safety. They stated that the sum of injuries and 
fatalities from back door ejections would approach 1,000 per year. They 
attached two case studies of back door ejections. These commenters 
suggested that the Standard No. 206 test be changed, that the standard 
be extended to back doors, that laminated glass should be used for all 
fixed windows, that side and roof strength for vehicles with high 
centers of gravity should be improved, and that back door structures 
have dynamic integrity.

II. Proposal

A. Overall Proposal and Rationale

    In light of the number of fatalities that are occurring as a result 
of back door ejections, NHTSA has decided to propose extending and 
expanding Standard No. 206's side door requirements to the back doors 
of passenger cars and multipurpose passenger vehicles (MPVs) with a 
GVWR of 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) or less, including hatchbacks, station 
wagons, sport utility vehicles, and passenger vans. Given the 
differences between side doors and back doors in the orientation of 
their hinges and latches in relation to the vehicle, the agency is 
proposing modifications to the test requirements/procedures to make 
them appropriate for back doors.
    NHTSA has previously concluded that Standard No. 206's requirements 
have been effective in reducing side door ejections. In November 1989, 
the agency published ``An Evaluation of Door Locks and Roof Crush 
Resistance of Passenger Cars--Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards 
206 and 216 (DOT HS 806 489).'' The study concluded that door latch 
improvements in passenger cars implemented during 1963-68 save an 
estimated 400 lives per year, reducing the risk of ejection in rollover 
crashes by 15 percent.
    NHTSA believes that extending the existing requirements of Standard 
No. 206 to back doors would make an additional contribution toward 
reducing injuries and perhaps fatalities caused by back door ejections. 
The agency recognizes that the increased use of seat belts is also an 
effective means of addressing this problem. However, despite continuing 
efforts by NHTSA, state and local governments, safety organizations, 
manufacturers and others to promote safety belt use, fatalities 
resulting from the ejection of unbelted occupants remain a serious 
safety problem. Therefore, while the agency recognizes the importance 
of continuing efforts to increase safety belt use, it now believes that 
an extension and expansion of Standard No. 206's requirements to back 
doors is appropriate as well. The agency also believes that, given the 
increasing popularity of vehicles with back doors, especially vans, 
this safety problem may become more serious unless action is taken.
    NHTSA also notes that the agency is in the process of conducting 
additional research examining the potential for improving vehicle latch 
performance. While that research may lead to a future upgrade of 
Standard No. 206, the agency does not believe it should delay the 
application of the standard's existing and/or modified requirements to 
back doors in the interim. The agency believes that the back door 
ejection problem warrants immediate attention. Compliance should not 
present any significant problems since the manufacturers are familiar 
with the design changes needed, as they apply to back door latches to 
meet Standard No. 206's current requirements.
    Given the differences between side doors and back doors, NHTSA 
believes that some minor modifications in Standard No. 206's test 
requirements and procedures are needed for back doors. Of particular 
note are the differences in the orientation of hinges and latches in 
relation to the vehicle and in the variety of designs.
    The difference in orientation is significant because the 
requirements and procedures specified for longitudinal loading of 
latches and hinges differ from those specified for transverse loading 
of those components. If all back doors were just like side doors except 
for their location on the back of the vehicle, the longitudinal and 
transverse directions of the loading would simply be reversed with 
respect to the latches and hinges of back doors. However, all back 
doors are not just like side doors, thus the establishment of 
appropriate test requirements and procedures for these doors is 
somewhat more complicated.
    There is considerably greater variety in the design of rear doors 
than side doors. Side doors almost always open to the side and most 
have hinges on their front edges and latches on their rear edges. Rear 
doors may open upward, downward or sideways, and have latches and 
hinges on the top, bottom or side. Moreover, while side doors are 
generally vertical, when viewed in a front or back view, rear doors may 
be vertical or sloped (as in the case of many hatchbacks), when viewed 
in a side view.
    The agency notes that there are a number of different designs for 
rear doors and for their installation. Four typical back doors used in 
production vehicles are:
    (1) Door opens upward, with latch (or striker) at the bottom center 
of the door with a single striker (or latch) on the back floor panel or 
door sill;
    (2) Door opens sideways, with striker located at the center of the 
back side frame and latch located at the side edge of the door (for 
example, back doors of large station wagons);
    (3) Split doors with top, usually glass, opening upward and bottom 
tailgate opening downward, with striker at the bottom of the top glass 
door and latches or rod/pin connectors at top and sides of the tailgate 
(for example, back doors of sport utility vehicles); and
    (4) Double cargo-type doors, a two-part door that latches to itself 
with one latch located at the center between the doors (for example, 
back doors of some passenger vans).
    It is possible that other door designs, such as sliding back doors, 
may be used in future production vehicles. Therefore, the agency must 
also include the sliding back door in this rulemaking.
    Given the wide variety of back door designs and latch and hinge 
orientations, NHTSA believes it is desirable to specify back door load 
test requirements in terms of the latch and hinge rather than in terms 
of longitudinal and transverse vehicle orientation. In addition, given 
the nature of the loading that back door latches and hinges are likely 
to experience in the event of a side impact to the rear quarter panel 
of a vehicle, NHTSA believes it is appropriate to require latches and 
hinges on doors that open upward to meet load requirements in three 
rather than two directions.

B. Door Latches

1. Requirements for Secondary Latch Position
    Standard No. 206 requires, for hinged side doors other than cargo-
type doors, that each door latch and striker assembly must be provided 
with a fully latched position and a secondary latched position. Load 
tests are specified for each position. As previously indicated, the 
secondary position serves as a backup to the primary latched position 
in the event the primary is not properly engaged and adds an additional 
level of protection in case the primary latch position fails. The 
requirement for a secondary latch position does not apply to hinged 
cargo-type doors or sliding doors.
    As part of proposing to extend Standard No. 206 to back doors, 
NHTSA is considering applying the requirement for a secondary latch 
position to some or all back doors. The agency requests comments on 
which types of back doors should be included/excluded from this 
requirement and why.
2. Load Requirements
    Standard No. 206 specifies three load requirements for hinged side 
doors: longitudinal load, transverse load, and inertia load. The 
standard specifies differing load requirements for the fully latched 
and secondary latched positions.
    a. Load Test One. SAE J839 indicates that the purpose of the 
longitudinal load test for side doors is to determine the ability of 
the vehicle latch and striker to withstand a test load perpendicular to 
the face of the latch. The test procedure states that the specified 
load (11,000 Newtons (2,500 pounds) when in the fully latched position 
and 4,450 Newtons (1,000 pounds) when in the secondary latched 
position) is applied perpendicular to the face of the latch. NHTSA is 
proposing to apply the same basic test requirement and procedure to 
back doors. For back doors, however, the agency is proposing to use the 
term ``Load Test One'' for this requirement, instead of ``longitudinal 
load,'' since the latter term would be inappropriate given the 
orientation of most back door latches.
    b. Load Test Two. SAE J839 indicates that the purpose of the 
transverse load test for side doors is to determine the ability of the 
vehicle latch and striker to withstand the test load in the direction 
of door opening. The test procedure states that the specified load 
(8,900 Newtons (2,000 pounds) when in the fully latched position and 
4,450 Newtons (1,000 pounds) when in the secondary latched position) is 
applied in the direction of the door opening.
    The agency is proposing to apply a corresponding test requirement/
procedure to back doors. To ensure that this second load test 
requirement is not redundant and that latches can meet load 
requirements in various directions (as may occur in real world 
crashes), the agency is specifying that the load for this test is 
applied in the direction of the fork-bolt opening and parallel to the 
plane of the latch face. A depiction of the fork-bolt and the loading 
direction is given in Figure 1. For most latches, this will be in the 
same direction as the door opening. The agency is proposing to specify 
the term ``Load Test Two'' for this test requirement.
    c. Load Test Three. As indicated above, given the nature of the 
loading that back door latches and hinges are likely to experience in 
the event of a side impact to the rear quarter panel of a vehicle, 
NHTSA believes it is appropriate to require latches on doors that open 
upward to meet load requirements in three rather than two directions, 
i.e., directions that correspond to the longitudinal and transverse 
directions for side doors, and a third direction that is orthogonal to 
the other two directions. The agency is therefore proposing a third 
load test requirement in which a load would be applied in a direction 
orthogonal to the directions specified in Load Tests One and Two (i.e., 
perpendicular to both of those directions). The test set-up for Load 
Tests Two and Three is identical. However, the latch in Load Test Three 
is mounted in a position perpendicular to that in Load Tests One and 
Two.
    NHTSA notes that, as indicated above, Standard No. 206 specifies, 
for the fully latched position, an 11,000 Newton (2,500 pound) load for 
the longitudinal load test and an 8,900 Newton (2,000 pound) load for 
the transverse load test. In proposing to extend the requirements to 
back doors, the agency is proposing the same loads as for the 
corresponding Load Tests One and Two. The agency is considering whether 
an 11,000 Newton (2,500 pound) load or an 8,900 Newton (2,000 pound) 
load should apply to Load Test Three and requests comments on this 
issue.
    d. Inertia Load. Standard No. 206 requires that a side door latch 
not disengage from the fully latched position when a longitudinal or 
transverse inertia load of 30g is applied to the door latch system. 
While the standard's procedures for the other load requirements specify 
actual loading of a door latch in a test, mathematical analysis is 
specified for the inertia load requirement. The agency notes that while 
Standard No. 206 only specifies that the inertia load requirement must 
be met for longitudinal and transverse loads, SAE 839b recommends that 
the 30g requirement be met ``in any direction.'' The agency believes 
that this requirement should be met by back doors in any direction, 
since many latch orientations are possible for back doors. NHTSA 
believes that this would best ensure adequate latch performance in the 
many loading conditions experienced during real world crashes. The 
agency specifically requests comments on the appropriateness of 
requiring latches to meet the inertia load requirement in any 
direction, as opposed to a limited number of directions, such as those 
specified for Load Tests One, Two and Three.

C. Door Hinges

    Standard No. 206 specifies that door hinges must support the door 
and may not separate when a longitudinal load of 11,000 Newtons (2,500 
pounds), or a transverse load of 8,900 Newtons (2,000 pounds), is 
applied. The same considerations concerning longitudinal and transverse 
loads discussed above with respect to latches apply to rear door 
hinges. Therefore, the agency is proposing to specify the following 
three load tests: Load Test One--load is applied in the direction 
perpendicular to the hinge face plate; Load Test Two--load is applied 
in the direction perpendicular to the axis of the hinge pin and 
parallel to the hinge face plate; Load Test Three--load is applied in 
the direction of the axis of the hinge pin. The third test is proposed 
for hinges on doors that open upward. The agency is considering whether 
an 11,000 Newton (2,500 pound) load or an 8,900 Newton (2,000 pound) 
load should be specified for these three tests and requests comments on 
this issue.

D. Door Locks

    Standard No. 206 specifies that side doors must be equipped with a 
locking mechanism with an operating means in the interior of the 
vehicle. For locks in side front doors, the outside door handle must be 
inoperative when the locking mechanism is engaged. For side rear door 
locks, both the outside and inside door handles must be inoperative 
when the locking mechanism is engaged.
    The agency recognizes that many production vehicles do not have a 
true ``locking mechanism'' on their back doors and provide no inside 
door handles. In many cases, unlatching can not be performed by 
occupants seated near such doors. As part of proposing to extend 
Standard No. 206 to back doors, NHTSA is considering applying door lock 
requirements to some or all back doors. The agency requests comments on 
whether the requirements for side front door locks or side rear door 
locks should be extended to back doors, which types of back doors 
should be included/excluded from this requirement, and why.

E. Leadtime

    The agency is proposing an effective date of the first September 1 
that occurs following a two year period beginning with publication of a 
final rule. NHTSA believes that a leadtime of about two years is 
needed, since manufacturers will need to make design and tooling 
changes for many of their passenger cars and MPVs. The agency believes 
that a longer leadtime would be unnecessary, since manufacturers are 
already familiar with the kinds of designs needed to comply with the 
requirements of Standard No. 206.

F. Additional Considerations and Questions

    Given the wide variety of passenger car and MPV designs, both with 
respect to the back door latch itself and with respect to passenger 
access to the back door, NHTSA recognizes that there may be a number of 
issues concerning whether some of the proposed requirements should 
apply to only certain back doors and whether any additional 
modifications need to be made in the test requirements and procedures 
to make them appropriate for all covered vehicles. The agency 
specifically requests comments on the following questions:
    1. As discussed above, the full requirements of Standard No. 206 
apply only to hinged side doors other than cargo-type doors; 
abbreviated requirements apply to hinged cargo-type doors and to 
sliding doors. To what extent should full versus abbreviated 
requirements apply to back doors? Are there any back doors, such as 
split back doors, to which the requirements should not apply at all?
    2. Are the proposed test requirements adequately clear and 
appropriate for all back doors? For example, are latch faces and hinge 
faces designed so that the direction perpendicular to these components 
can readily be determined? Commenters who believe that some of proposed 
requirements are not adequately clear are encouraged to suggest 
specific changes to clarify the procedures. Depending on the comments, 
the agency may make changes in the procedures in a final rule.
    3. Identify which and how many of your current passenger car 
hatchbacks, station wagons, sport utility vehicles, and vans would need 
to be upgraded to meet the proposed requirements for: (a) latching 
mechanisms; (b) hinges, and (c) locks? Please indicate the consumer 
cost to upgrade and the relative increase in strength or other benefit 
for each upgrade.
    4. Identify which and how many of your current passenger car 
hatchbacks, station wagons, sport utility vehicles, and vans would pass 
the proposed requirements for: (a) latching mechanisms, (b) hinges, and 
(c) locks?
    5. Please identify and/or provide any studies or data that might 
assist the agency in quantifying the safety or other benefits of this 
proposed rulemaking action.

III. Costs and Benefits

    The proposed amendments to Standard No. 206 would affect back door 
locks and door retention components on passenger car hatchbacks, 
station wagons, utility vehicles, and vans. About 1.5 million 
hatchbacks, 0.4 million station wagons, 1.6 million utility vehicles, 
and 1.8 million vans are expected to be produced in the 1997 model 
year, for a total of about 5.3 million vehicles that would potentially 
be affected by the proposed amendments in this notice, if they are 
required on a proposed effective date before September 1, 1997.
    In an evaluation of back door latches in minivans (docket No. 94-
70-N01), the agency conducted repeat tests of 8 latches from different 
minivans in accordance with the testing procedures of Standard No. 206. 
Those 8 latches represented vehicle sales of about 1 million vehicles 
in 1993. One of the tested latches failed the proposed Load Test Two 
requirement and another failed the proposed Load Test One requirement. 
All the others exceeded those load requirements, some passing by a 
margin of 125 percent in the Load Test Two direction and 90 percent in 
the Load Test One direction. The 6 complying latches represent about 50 
percent (0.5 million) of the 1993 minivan sales. It is reasonable to 
conclude, therefore, that approximately half of the minivan fleet 
already meets or exceeds the requirements proposed in this notice. 
NHTSA has not tested the back door latch mechanisms of hatchbacks, 
station wagons and utility vehicles. Given the data obtained from the 
minivan tests, however, and considering that most of the 1.6 million 
sport utility vehicles have back door latch systems that are similar to 
those on minivans, the agency believes that about 50 percent (0.8 
million) of sport utility vehicles would also meet the requirements 
proposed in this notice. Although many additional vehicles may also 
comply, the agency has conservatively assumed that all of the vehicles 
other than half the minivan and half the sport utility vehicle fleets 
may require some modification to meet the proposed requirements. That 
leaves the total number of affected vehicles at approximately 4.0 
million. Although those vehicles could require some upgrading of their 
current back door locks and door retention components, these proposed 
amendments are expected to require not more than 1 or 2 minor to 
moderate changes in either latching, hinge, or locking mechanisms.
    In evaluating the costs of the 8 minivan latches tested, the agency 
compared the production costs of a failing latch and a passing latch, 
which were $3.87 and $2.81 respectively. Thus, the cost of the superior 
latch was about $1.00 less than that of the failing latch. The agency 
also examined the retail costs of the 8 latches tested, which ranged 
from $22.03 to $81.74. The costs of the 2 failing latches were $23.52 
and $63.19. The tests demonstrated, therefore, that a latch that meets 
the requirements of Standard No. 206 need not be more expensive than 
one that does not. Other factors, such as design features and materials 
used, could significantly affect the costs of latches. Given the 
assumption that no more than 4.0 million vehicles may require upgrades 
because of the proposed requirements of this notice, and that the cost 
of an upgrade is not necessarily higher than the cost of current 
designs, NHTSA has concluded that the cost of extending the current 
requirements of Standard No. 206 to back doors would be minimal.
    Proposed compliance tests for back door locks and door retention 
components typically would be conducted with similar but at times 
slightly modified test equipment of the type that is currently used to 
evaluate side door locks and retention components. Thus, no significant 
test equipment costs should be incurred by manufacturers. Compliance 
testing costs should also be similar to that for side doors, about 
$110.
    Currently, about 147 deaths and 740 injuries occur each year that 
involve occupant ejection through back doors. The amendments proposed 
in this notice should provide some benefits in reducing these deaths 
and injuries since over 80 percent of these ejection accidents involve 
hinge or latch damage and these components would be upgraded. However, 
at this time, the agency is not able to quantify these benefits or 
costs with sufficient precision to determine the cost effectiveness of 
this proposed rulemaking action. In this notice, the agency is seeking 
data and comments that should allow more precise estimates to be made.

IV. Rulemaking Analyses and Notices

A. E.O. 12866 and DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures

    This notice has not been reviewed under EO 12866, ``Regulatory 
Planning and Review.'' The agency has considered the impact of this 
rulemaking action and has concluded that it is not ``significant'' 
under the DOT's Regulatory Policies and Procedures. Since the 
amendments in this notice are primarily an extension of the present 
passenger vehicle side door latch, hinge, and lock requirements to 
include the back doors of passenger motor vehicles with a GVWR of 4,536 
kg (10,000 lb) or less, the agency believes that any necessary minor to 
moderate hardware changes can be readily incorporated into back door 
designs within the leadtime provided, with very little or no economic 
impact. Given the lack of significant industry impact and minor 
economic significance of this rulemaking, a Preliminary Regulator 
Evaluation is not considered necessary and has not been prepared.

B. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    NHTSA has considered the impacts of this rulemaking action under 
the Regulatory Flexibility Act. I hereby certify that the proposed 
amendments would not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. Accordingly, the agency has not 
prepared a preliminary regulatory flexibility analysis.
    The agency believes that few, if any, motor vehicle manufacturers 
qualify as small businesses. Therefore, small businesses, small 
organizations, and small governmental units would be affected by this 
rulemaking only to the extent that they may pay very slightly more for 
the vehicles that they purchase with the qualifying back door latches 
and hinges.

C. National Environmental Policy Act

    NHTSA has analyzed this rulemaking action for purposes of the 
National Environmental Policy Act and has determined that 
implementation of this action would have no significant impact on the 
quality of the human environment.

D. E.O. 12612, Federalism

    NHTSA has analyzed this proposal in accordance with the principles 
and criteria contained in E.O. 12612 and has determined that the 
proposals in this notice do not have sufficient federalism implications 
to warrant preparation of a Federalism Assessment. No state laws would 
be affected.

E. Civil Justice Reform

    These proposed amendments would not have any retroactive effect. 
Under 49 U.S.C. 30103(b), whenever a Federal motor vehicle safety 
standard is in effect, a state or political subdivision of a state may 
prescribe or continue in effect a standard applicable to the same 
aspect of performance of a motor vehicle only if the standard is 
identical to the Federal standard. However, the United States 
Government, a state or political subdivision of a state may prescribe a 
standard for a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment obtained for 
its own use that imposes a higher performance requirement than that 
required by the Federal standard. 49 U.S.C. 30161 sets forth a 
procedure for judicial review of final rules establishing, amending or 
revoking Federal motor vehicle safety standards. A petition for 
reconsideration or other administrative proceedings is not required 
before parties may file suit in court.

V. Comments

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on the amendments 
proposed in this rulemaking action. It is requested but not required 
that any comments be submitted in 10 copies each.
    Comments must not exceed 15 pages in length (49 CFR 553.21). This 
limitation is intended to encourage commenters to detail their primary 
arguments in concise fashion. Necessary attachments, however, may be 
appended to those comments without regard to the 15-page limit.
    If a commenter wishes to submit certain information under a claim 
of confidentiality, 3 copies of the complete submission including the 
purportedly confidential business information, should be submitted to 
the Chief Counsel, NHTSA at the street address shown above, and 7 
copies from which the purportedly confidential information has been 
deleted should be submitted to the Docket Section. A request for 
confidentiality should be accompanied by a cover letter setting forth 
the information specified in 49 CFR 512, the agency's confidential 
business information regulation.
    All comments received on or before the close of business on the 
comment closing date indicated above for the proposal will be 
considered, and will be available to the public for examination in the 
docket at the above address both before and after the closing date. To 
the extent possible, comments received after the closing date will be 
considered. Comments received too late for consideration in regard to 
the final rule will be considered as suggestions for further rulemaking 
action. Comments on the proposal will be available for public 
inspection in the docket. NHTSA will continue to file relevant 
information in the docket after the closing date, and it is recommended 
that interested persons continue to monitor the docket for new 
material.
    Those persons desiring to be notified upon receipt of their 
comments in the rules docket should enclose a self-addressed stamped 
postcard in the envelope with their comments. Upon receiving the 
comments the docket supervisor will return the postcard by mail.

List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 571

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

    In consideration of the foregoing, 49 CFR part 571 would be amended 
as follows:

PART 571--FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARDS

    1. The authority citation for Part 571 would read as follows:

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30111, 30115, 30117, and 30166; delegation 
of authority at 49 CFR 1.50.

    2. Section 571.206 would be amended by revising S1 and S2, adding 3 
definitions to S3 in alphabetical order, revising S4 and the headings 
of S4.1, S4.2, and S4.3, adding S4.4 through S4.5, revising the 
headings of S5.1, S5.2 and S5.3, and adding S5.4 through S5.5 and 
Figure 1, to read as follows:


Sec. 571.206  Standard No. 206; Door locks and door retention 
components.

    S1. Purpose and Scope. This standard specifies requirements for 
door locks and door retention components including latches, hinges, and 
other supporting means, to minimize the likelihood of occupants being 
thrown from the vehicle as a result of impact.
    S2. Application. This standard applies to passenger cars, 
multipurpose passenger vehicles, and trucks.
    S3. Definitions. Back door means a door or door system on the back 
end of a vehicle through which passengers can enter or depart the 
vehicle, or cargo can be loaded or unloaded.
    Fork-bolt means the part of the door latch that engages the striker 
when in a latched position.
    Fork-bolt opening means the direction opposite to that in which the 
striker enters to engage the fork-bolt.
* * * * *
    S4. Requirements. Components on any side door leading directly into 
a compartment that contains one or more seating accommodations, and 
components on any back door of a passenger car or multipurpose 
passenger vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 4,536 
kilograms (10,000 pounds), shall conform to this standard. However, 
components on folding doors, roll-up doors, doors that are designed to 
be easily attached to or removed from motor vehicles manufactured for 
operation without doors, and doors which are equipped with wheelchair 
lifts and which are linked to an alarm system consisting of either a 
flashing visible signal located in the driver's compartment or an alarm 
audible to the driver which is activated when the door is open, need 
not conform to this standard.
    S4.1. Hinged Side Doors, Except Cargo-Type Doors.
* * * * *
    S4.2. Hinged Cargo-Type Side Doors.
* * * * *
    S4.3. Sliding Side Doors.
* * * * *
    S4.4. Hinged Back Doors.
    S4.4.1. Door Latches. Each door latch and striker assembly shall be 
provided with two positions consisting of--
    (a) A fully latched position; and
    (b) A secondary latched position.
    S4.4.1.1 Load Test One. The door latch and striker assembly, when 
in the fully latched position, shall not separate when a load of 11,000 
Newtons (2,500 pounds) is applied in the direction perpendicular to the 
face of the latch such that the latch and the striker anchorage are not 
compressed against each other. When in the secondary locked position, 
the door latch and striker assembly shall not separate when a load of 
4,450 Newtons (1,000 pounds) is applied in the same direction.
    S4.4.1.2 Load Test Two. The door latch and striker assembly, when 
in the fully latched position, shall not separate when a load of 8,900 
Newtons (2,000 pounds) is applied in the direction of the fork-bolt 
opening and parallel to the face of the latch. Figure 1 depicts the 
loading direction for this test. When in the secondary latched 
position, the door latch and striker assembly shall not separate when a 
load of 4,450 Newtons (1,000 pounds) is applied in the same direction.
    S4.4.1.3 Load Test Three. The door latch on doors that open upward 
shall not disengage from the fully latched position when a load of 
8,900 Newtons (2,000 pounds) is applied in a direction orthogonal to 
the directions specified in S4.4.1.1 and S4.4.1.2 above.
    S4.4.1.4 Inertia load. The door latch shall not disengage from the 
fully latched position when an inertia load of 30g is applied to the 
door latch system (including the latch and its actuating mechanism with 
the locking mechanism disengaged) in any direction.
    S4.4.2 Door Locks. Each door shall be equipped with a locking 
mechanism with an operating means in the interior of the vehicle. When 
the locking mechanism is engaged, both the outside and inside door 
handles or other latch release controls shall be inoperative.
    S4.4.3 Door Hinges.
    S4.4.3.1 Load Test One. Each door hinge system shall support the 
door and shall not separate when a load of 11,000 Newtons (2,500 
pounds) is applied perpendicular to the hinge face plate such that the 
hinge plates are not compressed against each other.
    S4.4.3.2 Load Test Two. Each door hinge system shall not separate 
when a load of 8,900 Newtons (2,000 pounds) is applied perpendicular to 
the axis of the hinge pin and parallel to the hinge face plate such 
that the hinge plates are not compressed against each other.
    S4.4.3.3 Load Test Three. Each door hinge on doors that open upward 
shall not separate when a load of 8,900 Newtons (2,000 pounds) is 
applied in the direction of the axis of the hinge pin.
    S4.5 Sliding Back Doors. The track and slide combination or other 
supporting means for each sliding door shall not separate when a total 
longitudinal load of 17,800 Newtons (4,000 pounds) is applied, with the 
door in the closed position.
* * * * *
    S5.1 Hinged Side Doors, Except Cargo-Type Doors.
* * * * *
    S5.2 Hinged Side Cargo-Type Doors.
* * * * *
    S5.3 Sliding Side Doors.
* * * * *
    S5.4 Hinged Back Doors.
    S5.4.1 Door Latches.
    S5.4.1.1 Load Tests One, Two and Three. Compliance with S4.4.1.1, 
S4.4.1.2, and S4.4.1.3 shall be demonstrated in the same manner as 
specified in S5.1.1.1, except that the loads shall be in the directions 
specified in S4.4.1.1, S4.4.1.2, and S4.4.1.3.
    S5.4.1.2 Inertia Load. Compliance with S4.4.1.4 shall be 
demonstrated in the same manner as specified in S5.1.1.2.
    S5.4.2 Door Hinges. Compliance with S4.4.3.1, S4.4.3.2 and S4.4.3.3 
shall be demonstrated in the same manner as specified in S5.1.2, except 
that the loads shall be in the directions specified in S4.4.3.1, 
S4.4.3.2, and S4.4.3.3.
    S5.5 Sliding Back Doors. Compliance with S4.5 shall be demonstrated 
by applying an outward longitudinal load of 8,900 Newtons (2,000 
pounds) to the load bearing members at the opposite edges of the door 
(17,800 Newtons (4,000 pounds) total). The demonstration may be 
performed either in the vehicle or with the door retention components 
in a bench test fixture.

BILLING CODE 4910-59-P
      



Barry Felrice,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
BILLING CODE 4910-59-C
[FR Doc. 94-21384 Filed 8-29-94; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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