NHTSA Issues Final Rule to Standardize Lighting and Marking Requirements for Agricultural Equipment in US
On June 22, 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published in the Federal Register (Vol. 81, Number 120; Docket No. NHTSA-2016-0064) a Final Rule establishing Part 562 Lighting and Marking on Agricultural Equipment. The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) issued July 6, 2012 contains a non-discretionary mandate concerning daytime and night-time visibility of agricultural equipment that may be operated on public roads. It requires NHTSA to establish standards equivalent to an existing industry standard. The new Final Rule implements the MAP-21 mandate by adopting the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) Standard 279.14, a voluntary industry consensus standard, for originally manufactured agricultural equipment.
Given the clear and direct language contained in MAP-21 section 31601 NHTSA must:
- Base its requirements on and not differ from ASABE Standard 279.14 or equivalent
- Promulgate the rule within two years of MAP-21 enactment
- Review and update every five years to stay consistent with ASABE
- Not prohibit the operation on public roads of subject vehicles with lighting and marking materials and equipment in addition to that required by the Final Rule
- Not prohibit the operation on public roads of subject vehicles with lighting and marking materials and equipment that comply with revisions of ASABE Standard 279 that are later than the one reflected in the Final Rule
- Not require retrofitting of agricultural equipment manufactured before the Final Rule effective date
- Compliance to be required one year after the new Final Rule is promulgated
- Consult with appropriate Federal agencies, industry representatives and other appropriate persons on this rulemaking
Generally, NHTSA may promulgate Final Rules only after issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and providing an opportunity for public comment under procedures required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). However, an exception to these requirements exists when notice and public comment procedures are "impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest". NHTSA finds that notice and comment is unnecessary prior to adoption of this Final Rule, because Congress statutorily mandated that NHTSA adopt specific existing lighting and agricultural marking standards. By incorporating these standards into federal regulation, NHTSA is performing a non-discretionary act. For this reason, a notice and comment period is unnecessary for this rulemaking and NHTSA may adopt this Final Rule without issuing an NPRM and receiving public comment.
States have been the primary sources of regulations for agricultural equipment lighting and marking. The result has been a varied landscape of regulations. NHTSA understands that this has created difficulties for manufacturers seeking to sell and market agricultural equipment that will meet all state on-road use requirements in multiple states. A national requirement for lighting and marking on agricultural equipment may reduce costs and increase efficiency for manufacturers selling agricultural equipment in multiple states.
NHTSA is incorporating ASABE Standard 279.14 in Part 562 in its entirety (the incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in the Final Rule is approved by the Director of the Federal Register as of June 22, 2016) and believes that it can provide a limited amount of compliance flexibility by incorporating this version rather than the most current version of ASABE Standard 279. MAP-21 does not allow NHTSA to prevent operation on public roads of equipment meeting later versions of the standard. The ASABE standards are reasonably available to the public. A copy can be obtained from ASABE through their website and by mail at ASABE, 2950 Niles Road, St. Joseph, Michigan 49085-9659. Additionally, a copy can be inspected at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE. Washington, DC 20590 or at the National Archives and Records Administration.
The effective date for the Final Rule is June 22, 2016 and compliance is required by June 22, 2017.