NHTSA Issues an Advanced Proposal for the Addition of a Seat Belt Use Warning System for Rear Seats
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in the September 27, 2019 Federal Register (FR Vol. 84 No.188; Docket No. NHTSA-2019-0093).
On November 21, 2007, Public Citizen and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety petitioned NHTSA to amend FMVSS 208 to require a seat belt warning system for rear seats on passenger cars and MPVs with a GVWR of 4,536kg (10,000lb) or less. NHTSA has granted Public Citizen and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety's petitions. In accordance with that grant and continuing with the proceeding that Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act of 2012 (MAP–21) required to be initiated, NHTSA is publishing this ANPRM.
While seat belt usage rates for rear seat occupants are consistently lower than for front seat occupants, rear seat belts reduce the risk of fatality by 55% (for passenger cars) and 74% (for light trucks and vans). Currently, FMVSS No. 208 requires a seat belt warning system for the driver's seat, but not for other seating positions.
Euro New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) awards points for front and rear seat belt reminder systems (SBRSs) as part of their Safety Assist Score. Starting in September 2019, Regulation No. 16 Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) will require a rear seat belt warning.
Continuous buzzers and ignition interlocks annoy many consumers to the point of their disabling or circumventing the systems. As a result of the strong negative consumer reaction, Congress adopted a provision, as part of the Motor Vehicle and School Bus Safety Amendments of 1974, prohibiting NHTSA from prescribing a motor vehicle safety standard that required, or permitted as a compliance option, seat belt interlocks or audible seat belt warnings lasting longer than 8seconds. In response, NHTSA amended FMVSS No. 208 in 1974 to require that only the driver seating position be equipped with a seat belt warning system providing a visual and audible warning, with the audible warning not lasting longer than 8 seconds.
In this ANPRM NHTSA is seeking public comments related to rear seat belt warning systems. While all comments are welcome, NHTSA specifically listed the following:
- Should the warning be visual-only, audible-only, or audio-visual
- Triggering conditions
- Alternative warning systems
- Occupant detection technology
- Enhanced warning systems
- Belt use criteria
- Seat occupancy criteria
- Making the system resistant to intentional and inadvertent defeat
- Electrical connection requirements
- Owner's manual/label requirements
- Interaction with other vehicle warnings
- Harmonization with regulatory requirements or new car assessment programs in other markets
- Owner's manual/label requirements
- Visual warning location
- What type of information should the warning convey
- Telltale Characteristics
- Minimum duration (visual)
- Minimum duration (audible)
- Other audible signal characteristics
- Vehicles to which any proposed rear seat belt warning requirements should apply
- Effectiveness of rear seat belt warning systems
- Potential consumer acceptance concerns with a proposed seat belt warning system
- Technological and economic feasibility of alternative rear seat belt warning systems
- Potential benefits and costs of the different types of rear seat belt warning system discussed in this notice
- Meet the requirements and considerations of 49 U.S.C. 30111
- Consider non-regulatory approaches
- Removing driver's seat belt with warning audible signal duration upper limit
Comments are due by November 26, 2019.
This ANPRM is available on InterRegs.NET for our US Federal subscribers and is also available at www.selectregs.com.