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Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Lamps, Reflective Devices and Associated Equipment

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

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

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Lamps, Reflective Devices and Associated Equipment

Barry Felrice
Federal Register
November 2, 1994

[Federal Register: November 2, 1994]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 571

[Docket No. 94-37; Notice 1]
RIN 2127-AF 22

 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Lamps, Reflective Devices 
and Associated Equipment

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

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: This notice proposes amendments to the Federal motor vehicle 
standard on lighting to substitute SAE J576 JUL91 for the currently 
incorporated J576c as the referenced standard on plastics materials, to 
substitute ASTM D 1003-92 for ASTM D 1003-61 in the test procedures, to 
allow alternative processing techniques, sample sizes and thickness 
tolerances to those presently specified. Alternatively, the notice 
proposes amendments to the existing requirements that would accomplish 
the same ends. This action is taken pursuant to a grant of a petition 
for rulemaking submitted by Heraeus DSET Laboratories, Inc.

DATES: The due date for comments is January 3, 1995. The amendments 
would be effective 180 days after publication of the final rule in the 
Federal Register, or November 1, 1995, whichever is later.

ADDRESSES: Comments must refer to the docket and notice numbers set 
forth above and be submitted (preferably in 10 copies) to Docket 
Section, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Room 5109, 400 
Seventh Street SW., Washington, DC 20590. The Docket is open 9:30 a.m. 
to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Submissions containing information 
for which confidential treatment is requested should be submitted (in 
three copies) to Chief Counsel, National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration, Room 5219, 400 Seventh Street SW., Washington, DC 
20590, and seven additional copies from which the purportedly 
confidential information has been deleted should be sent to the Docket 
section.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kenneth O. Hardie, Office of 
Rulemaking, NHTSA (202-366-6987).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Heraeus DSET Laboratories, Inc. (``DSET''), 
of Phoenix, Arizona, petitioned NHTSA for rulemaking to amend Federal 
Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108, Lamps, Reflective Devices, and 
Associated Equipment. Specifically, DSET asked that paragraph S5.1.2 be 
amended ``to update the weathering and heat testing requirements of 
plastic material used for optical parts such as lenses and 
reflectors.'' Currently, these materials are required to conform to SAE 
Recommended Practice J576c, May 1970. DSET wants NHTSA ``to allow 
alternative processing techniques besides injection molding to produce 
test specimens, to allow test specimen sizes other than a 3 inch 
diameter disc and to change the specimen thickness tolerances from 
0.005 inch to .010 inch.'' Those requirements 
for injection molding and for the diameter and thickness of the test 
specimen are set forth in J576c, May 1970.
    The petition set forth five reasons in support. The first is that 
the requirement in Standard No. 108 (SAE J576c) that test samples be 
injection molded is ``technology limiting'' and other methods of test 
specimen fabrication exist and should be allowed. SAE J576 JUL91 allows 
alternative processing techniques to produce test specimens.
    Secondly, SAE J576 JUL91 contains no sample shape or diameter 
requirement, in contrast to Standard No. 108's present restriction to a 
round sample of 3-inch diameter. DSET submits that there is no 
technical reason to continue the limit for the test specimen.
    Third, DSET stated that no technical reason exists to limit the 
test specimen thickness tolerance to 0.005 inch (or 0.13 mm as NHTSA 
expresses it). Accordingly, the petitioner recommends 0.010 
inch (0.25 mm), ``since this appears to be a more reasonable tolerance 
that almost all plastic lens materials manufacturers can meet.'' The 
petitioner said that many manufacturers currently have trouble meeting 
the 0.005 inch tolerance.
    Fourth, DSET believes that States impose a burden on manufacturers 
to test according to Standard No. 108. Although 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301 
and Standard No. 108 do not require a manufacturer to conduct testing 
in producing and certifying a vehicle or item of equipment (the 
requirement is that the product meet all applicable Federal motor 
vehicle safety standards when tested according to the procedures 
specified), DSET says that many State laws require proof of testing 
according to Standard No. 108. This means that even if there are 
alternative processing techniques for plastics that have been developed 
as a result of advancing technology, the manufacturer is obliged to 
follow the test procedures of Standard No. 108.
    Finally, DSET said that SAE J576c has been out of print for many 
years. Its unavailability has resulted in manufacturers routinely 
submitting ``test specimens that do not meet the 0.005 inch 
thickness tolerance or the 3 [inch] diameter size requirement.''
    The agency has reviewed DSET's petition and has found that there is 
a reasonable possibility that the amendments asked for would occur at 
the conclusion of a rulemaking proceeding. Accordingly, the agency has 
granted DSET's petition. The requested changes would appear to simplify 
the test requirements of Standard No. 108 without degrading safety. 
These changes would also allow more flexibility in the preparation of 
test specimens.
    However, NHTSA is concerned that simple substitution of the 1991 
version of SAE J576 for the 1970 one might result in an unintended 
burden upon industry, as the updated version contains some requirements 
that are different from and in addition to those of the 1970 version. 
In addition, the ASTM D-1003 requirements currently referenced in 
S5.1.2 of Standard No. 108 are those of 1961. NHTSA is proposing to 
amend S5.1.2 to replace the reference to the 1961 version of ASTM D-
1003 with a 1992 version and seeks comment on this change. The 
differences between the two versions include subtle changes to the text 
in virtually every section and the agency is unable to judge whether 
these changes would result in an increased burden to industry. Because 
of this uncertainty, the agency is proposing as an alternative a means 
of implementing DSET's request that does not include a reference to the 
revised standards. NHTSA welcomes informed comment on this issue. As a 
consequence of its age, a 33-year-old ASTM specification may be 
technologically limiting, as well as difficult to obtain. As noted 
above, strict adherence to older procedures which States may require 
means that manufacturers could not avail themselves of newer, less 
restrictive processing techniques if such exist.
    As noted, NHTSA is proposing alternative amendments of S5.1.2 as a 
means of implementing its grant of DSET's petition. The agency asks 
commenters for their views on each of the alternatives.

Alternative 1

    This alternative would substitute SAE J576 JUL91 for SAE J576c, May 
1970, and make conforming amendments in the text of S5.1.2. This 
alternative would also replace ASTM D-1003-61 with ASTM D-1003-92 with 
respect to measurement of haze (which, as proposed at 58 FR 13042, 
would not exceed 7 percent). A specimen thickness tolerance of 
0.25 mm (0.010 in.) would also be allowed as there is no 
technical reason to limit the test specimen thickness tolerance to 
0.005 in., and the value proposed by NHTSA as recommended 
by DSET appears to be a more reasonable tolerance for test specimens.
    Two new paragraphs would be added, maintaining the performance 
requirements required of plastic materials by SAE J576c for the heat 
test, and specifying positioning of test samples during the test. These 
have been omitted from J576 JUL91. NHTSA believes the J576c heat test 
should be retained because the test is the only heat resistance 
requirement in Standard No. 108. The test acts to eliminate flagrantly 
inferior material for reflex reflectors. (Use of material with 
insufficient high temperature performance can result in reflectors that 
lose color and reflectivity.) The positioning of test samples will 
allow the sample to droop if its strength is adversely affected by the 
test.

Alternative 2

    This alternative would retain the current SAE and ASTM 
specifications but would allow processing techniques other than 
injection molding to produce equivalent test specimens, test specimens 
other than a disc of 3-inch diameter, and a test specimen thickness 
tolerance of 0.010 inch.

Request for Comments

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on the proposal. 
It is requested but not required that 10 copies be submitted.
    All comments must not exceed 15 pages in length. (49 CFR 553.21). 
Necessary attachments may be appended to these submissions without 
regard to the 15-page limit. This limitation is intended to encourage 
commenters to detail their primary arguments in a concise fashion.
    If a commenter wishes to submit certain information under a claim 
of confidentiality, three copies of the complete submission, including 
purportedly confidential business information, should be submitted to 
the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, at the street address given above, and seven 
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 the agency's confidential business 
information regulation. 49 CFR Part 512.
    All comments received before the close of business on the comment 
closing date indicated above for the proposal will be considered, and 
will be available for examination in the docket at the above address 
both before and after that date. To the extent possible, comments filed 
after the closing date will also 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 inspection in the docket. The NHTSA will continue 
to file relevant information as it becomes available in the docket 
after the closing date, and it is recommended that interested persons 
continue to examine 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.
Effective Date

    The effective date of the final rule would be 180 days after its 
publication in the Federal Register.

Rulemaking Analyses and Notices

Executive Order 12866 and DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures

    The Office of Management and Budget has determined that it will not 
review this rulemaking action under Executive Order 12866. It has been 
determined that the rulemaking action is not significant under 
Department of Transportation regulatory policies and procedures. The 
purpose of the rulemaking action is to update testing procedures. Since 
it is not anticipated that the final rule will have any significant 
cost or other impacts, preparation of a full regulatory evaluation is 
not warranted.

National Environmental Policy Act

    NHTSA has analyzed this rulemaking action for the purposes of the 
National Environmental Policy Act. It is not anticipated that a final 
rule based on this proposal would have a significant effect upon the 
environment. The composition of plastic materials used in optical parts 
would not change from those presently in production.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The agency has also considered the impacts of this rulemaking 
action in relation to the Regulatory Flexibility Act. I certify that 
this rulemaking action would not have a significant economic impact 
upon a substantial number of small entities. Accordingly, no regulatory 
flexibility analysis has been prepared. Manufacturers of motor vehicles 
and motor vehicle equipment, those affected by the rulemaking action, 
are generally not small businesses within the meaning of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act. Further, small organizations and governmental 
jurisdictions would not be significantly affected because the price of 
new vehicles and vehicle equipment would not be impacted.

Executive Order 12612 (Federalism)

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

Civil Justice

    A final rule based on this proposal would not have any retroactive 
effect. Under 49 U.S.C. Sec. 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. Sec. 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.

PART 571--FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARDS

    In consideration of the foregoing, 49 CFR Part 571 would be amended 
as follows:
    1. The authority citation for Part 571 would continue to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 322, 30111, 30115, 30117 and 30166; 
delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.50.

    2. Section 571.108 would be amended by revising paragraph S5.1.2, 
in one of the two manners proposed below, as follows:


Sec. 571.108   Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108 Lamps, Reflective 
Devices, and Associated Equipment.

Option 1

* * * * *
    S5.1.2  Plastic materials used for optical parts such as lenses and 
reflectors shall conform to SAE Recommended Practice J576 JUL91, except 
that:
    (a) Plastic lenses (other than those incorporating reflex 
reflectors) used for inner lenses or those covered by another material 
and not exposed directly to sunlight shall meet the requirements of 
paragraphs 3.3 and 4.2 of SAE J576 JUL91 when covered by the outer lens 
or other material;
    (b) After the outdoor exposure test, the haze and loss of surface 
luster of plastic materials used for lamp lenses shall not be greater 
than 30 percent haze as measured by ASTM D 1003-92, Haze and Luminous 
Transmittance of Transparent Plastic;
    (c) After the outdoor exposure test, plastic materials used for 
reflex reflectors and for lenses used in front of reflex reflectors 
shall not show surface deterioration, crazing, dimensional changes, 
color bleeding, delamination, loss of surface luster, or haze that 
exceeds 7 percent as measured under ASTM D 1003-92.
    (d) The tolerance of the thickness of the test specimens specified 
in paragraph 3.2.2 of SAE J576 JUL91 may vary by as much as 
0.25 mm.
    (e) After exposure to the heat test as specified in paragraph (f) 
of this section, and after cooling to room ambient temperature, a test 
specimen shall show no discernable change in shape and general 
appearance when compared with an unexposed specimen. The trichromatic 
coefficients of the samples shall conform to the requirements of SAE 
J578a, ``Color Specification for Electric Signal Lighting Devices'', 
October 1966.
    (f) Two samples of each thickness of each plastic material are used 
in the heat test. Each sample is supported at the bottom, with at least 
51 mm. of the sample above the support, in the vertical position in 
such a manner that, on each side, the minimum uninterrupted area of 
exposed surface is not less than 3225 sq. mm. The samples are placed 
for two hours in a circulating air oven at 79 3 degrees C.

Option 2

    S5.1.2   Plastic materials used for optical parts such as lenses 
and reflectors shall conform to SAE Recommended Practice J576c, May 
1970, except that:
    (a) Plastic lenses (other than those incorporating reflex 
reflectors) used for inner lenses or those covered by another material 
and not exposed directly to sunlight shall meet the requirements of 
paragraphs 3.4 and 4.2 of SAE J576c, when covered by the outer lens or 
other material;
    (b) After the outdoor exposure test, the haze and loss of surface 
luster of plastic materials used for lamp lenses shall not be greater 
than 30 percent haze as measured by ASTM D 1003-61, Haze and Luminous 
Transmittance of Transparent Plastic;
    (c) After the outdoor exposure test, plastic materials used for 
reflex reflectors and for lenses used in front of reflex reflectors 
shall not show surface deterioration, crazing, dimensional changes, 
color bleeding, delamination, loss of surface luster, or haze that 
exceeds 7 percent as measured under ASTM D 1003-61;
    (d) Samples of plastic to be tested need not be injection molded as 
specified in paragraph 3.3.1 of SAE J576c, nor discs of a diameter of 
76 mm.; and
    (e) The tolerance specified in paragraph 3.3.2 of SAE J576c shall 
be 0.25 mm.

    Issued on October 27, 1994.
Barry Felrice,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 94-27151 Filed 11-1-94; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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