The Department of Transportation’s January 2013 Significant Rulemaking Report provides an update on the status of rulemaking for side-impact CR performance requirements, as well as all other significant projects of NHTSA and other agencies.
The update cites the reason for delay of the next action, a public Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), as “additional coordination necessary.” It now indicates a projected NPRM date of February 15, 2013 (after this issue of SRN goes to press). The NPRM will open a public comment period, which is typically 60 to 90 days from the date of posting.
The eventual side-impact rule is expected to include performance requirements, a side-impact test procedure, and the introduction of a new child dummy made specifically for measuring the effects of side impacts.
The CR side-impact performance rule has been under consideration for a number of years. In 2002, the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act directed NHTSA to consider whether to require testing that replicated side-impact crashes. That year, NHTSA issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to help it determine child injury mechanisms in side impacts and develop test procedures and a suitable test dummy. The agency later determined that the injury data was inadequate, countermeasures had not been developed, and there was no consensus on the dummy or what it would measure. Therefore, instead of proposing rulemaking, NHTSA continued research on side-impact protection and worked toward development of a suitable dummy. In July 2012, MAP-21, the new transportation act, required NHTSA to amend FMVSS 213 to improve the protection of children in CRs during side-impact crashes. As mandated by this act, the legal deadline for the final rule is now July 5, 2014.
The NHTSA status report is updated monthly. In addition to the side-impact CR performance requirements project, it provides updates for 15 other projects. Projects include required seat belt and rollover structural integrity for motorcoaches (NPRMs expected soon), incentive grants for state graduated drivers’ licensing (in final stages), and sound requirements for hybrid/electric vehicles (NPRM posted with a comment period that closes March 15, 2013; go to docket # NHTSA-2011-0148).