[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 41 (Friday, March 1, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 13853-13854]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-04759]


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 DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 571

[Docket No. NHTSA 2012-0025]


Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Denial of Petition for 
Rulemaking; Vehicle Rollover Resistance

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

ACTION: Denial of petition for rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: This document denies a petition for rulemaking submitted by 
Mr. Michael Schramm requesting that the agency initiate rulemaking to 
establish a Federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) to prevent a 
vehicle from being steered into a rollover at any speed. Mr. Schramm 
has applied to patent a device he believes will enable vehicles to meet 
his requested standard. After review of Mr. Schramm's petition, we 
believe the petition lacks sufficient data to support proposing and 
promulgating a safety standard. Further, it might create conflicts with 
existing standard and consumer information metrics. Therefore, NHTSA is 
denying Mr. Schramm's petition.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For non-legal issues: Mr. John Lee, 
Office of Crash Avoidance Standards, NVS-123, Telephone: (202) 366-
4924; Facsimile: 202-493-2739; Email: john.lee@dot.gov.
    For legal issues: David Jasinski, NHTSA Office of Chief Counsel, 
NCC-112, Telephone: (202) 366-2992; Facsimile: 202-366-3820; Email: 
david.jasinski@dot.gov.
    Both officials can be reached by mail at the National Highway 
Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, 
DC 20590.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On September 30, 2010, Mr. Michael Schramm 
submitted a petition for rulemaking requesting that NHTSA establish a 
Federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) to prevent a vehicle from 
being steered into a rollover at any speed. Mr. Schramm suggested that 
NHTSA number and name this new standard FMVSS No. 140, ``Anti-Roll 
Steering.'' He supplied regulatory text for the requested FMVSS No. 
140, a copy of his application for a patent for his rollover prevention 
apparatus (the apparatus), a copy of FMVSS No. 126, ``Electronic 
stability control systems,'' a copy of the preliminary regulatory 
impact analysis for FMVSS No. 126, and 2002 accident rollover data from 
the NHTSA Web site www.safercar.gov. The requested standard would 
restrict a vehicle's steering wheel from steering a vehicle into a 
rollover.

Agency Response and Decision

    As stated in Mr. Schramm's petition, more than 10,000 people were 
killed in rollover crashes in 2002. However, in 2009, the rollover 
fatalities fell to 8,267, based on NHTSA's early release of annual 
fatality figures.\1\ While there are several reasons for these 
reductions, we believe that the consumer information and rulemaking 
actions that NHTSA has been actively pursuing played a role in reducing 
fatalities and injuries from rollover crashes and will continue to 
reduce these numbers even more.
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    \1\ See Traffic Safety Facts 2009 (Early Edition), Table 23: 
Passenger Car and Light Truck Occupants Killed, by Vehicle Type and 
Rollover Occurrence, 1982-2009.
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    Since 2001, NHTSA's New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) has been 
rating vehicles for rollover resistance and making these ratings 
available to consumers on www.safercar.gov and in other agency 
publications. Initially, rollover resistance ratings were based solely 
on a vehicle's Static Stability Factor (SSF), a calculation that uses a 
vehicle's width and the height of its center of gravity to predict a 
vehicle's chance of rollover in a single vehicle crash.
    In the Transportation, Recall, Enhancement, Accountability and 
Documentation (TREAD) Act of November 2000, Congress directed NHTSA to 
develop a dynamic rollover test and to use information obtained in that 
test to help inform consumers about the rollover properties of 
vehicles. On October 14, 2003, NHTSA published a final policy 
establishing a ``fishhook'' test as the dynamic rollover test for NCAP.
    The fishhook test is an objective and repeatable test capable of 
determining a vehicle's susceptibility to rolling over on-road. The 
fishhook maneuver uses steering inputs that approximate the steering a 
driver might use in a panic situation in an effort to regain lane 
position or to recover having gone off the road. The fishhook test is 
conducted at speeds up to 50 mph and in two symmetric steering inputs 
(left to right and right to left), with the final input of the test 
being approximately 270 degree. When the wheels on the same side of a 
vehicle simultaneously lift two or more inches off the ground, the 
vehicle fails the test.
    The results of this test are noted on www.safercar.gov for every 
vehicle tested. As of 2004, rollover resistance ratings are based on 
both a vehicle's SSF and whether or not the vehicle tipped up in the 
fishhook test. In response to this rating program, as indicated by the 
improvement in ratings and the physical characteristics of the 
vehicles, vehicle manufacturers have made improvements to the rollover 
properties of the vehicle they produce. The agency has been able to 
document that some makes and models of vehicles have become wider, and 
have a centers of gravity that are lower to the ground than previous 
versions of similar makes and models, therefore improving their SSF and 
making them less susceptible to rollover.
    On April 6, 2007, NHTSA established FMVSS No. 126, ``Electronic 
stability control systems,'' (ESC) to help reduce rollover and other 
types of loss of control crashes. ESC systems use automatic computer-
controlled braking of individual wheels to assist the driver in 
maintaining control in critical driving situations where the vehicle is 
beginning to lose directional control at the rear wheels (spin out) or 
directional control at the front wheels (plow out). NHTSA estimates 
that ESC has the potential to prevent 71 percent of passenger vehicle 
rollovers that would otherwise occur in single vehicle crashes. The 
agency further estimates that ESC will save 5,300 to 9,600 lives and 
prevent 156,000 to 238,000 injuries in all types of crashes annually 
once all light vehicles on the road are equipped with ESC systems. Many 
automotive manufacturers equipped their vehicles with ESC prior to the 
September 1, 2011 date for full compliance with FMVSS No. 126.
    On May 12, 2009, NHTSA upgraded FMVSS No. 216, ``Roof crush 
resistance,'' to improve roof strength to reduce the risk of death and 
serious injury in rollover crashes. The amendments double the current 
roof strength requirement for light vehicles weighing up to 6,000 
pounds. It specifies that both the driver and passenger sides of the 
roof must be capable of withstanding a force equal to three times the 
weight of the vehicle applied to one side of the roof, up from the 
current 1.5 times the weight of the

[[Page 13854]]

vehicle. Phase-in of the requirement began in September 2012 and will 
be completed for all affected vehicles by the 2017 model year. It is 
estimated the tougher roof crush requirements will prevent 135 
fatalities and 1,065 non-fatal injuries annually.
    On January 19, 2011, NHTSA published a final rule establishing 
FMVSS No. 226, ``Ejection mitigation,'' to reduce the partial and 
complete ejection of vehicle occupants through side windows in crashes, 
particularly rollover crashes. Under the new rule, vehicle 
manufacturers must develop a countermeasure for light passenger 
vehicles under 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) that prevents an 18 
kilogram (40 pound) linear impactor from moving more than 100 
millimeters (4 inches) past the side window opening. The new standard 
will begin phasing in on September 1, 2013. All newly manufactured 
vehicles will be required to provide this protection by September 1, 
2017. When fully implemented, this standard will, the agency believes, 
prevent on average 373 fatalities and 476 serious injuries every year.
    After carefully reviewing the attachments to Mr. Schramm's 
petition, we noted that the regulatory text for the requested standard 
was not complete and values for the steering rate in the Anti-Roll 
Steering Test were left blank. Determining those values would take 
additional resources to complete. We also note that while data for 
FMVSS No. 126 was supplied in Mr. Schramm's petition, we do not believe 
this data is relevant for promulgating a safety standard for Mr. 
Schramm's apparatus. As such, the petitioner did not provide any data 
that would support the granting of his petition.
    We further note there might be a safety risk due to the lack of 
steering responsiveness of Mr. Schramm's apparatus that may cause 
unintended deaths and injuries as a result of drivers colliding into 
objects they were trying to avoid. It was also noted that the steer-
limiting requirement of the petitioner's requested test procedure might 
prevent the agency from conducting ESC compliance tests. Also, the 
agency might not be able to conduct the fishhook test it developed in 
response to the Congressional call for a dynamic test whose results 
Congress said must be used in developing information for consumers on 
the rollover resistance properties of vehicles. In conclusion, we 
believe Mr. Schramm's petition provides no data to demonstrate that his 
requested standard would result in any safety benefits. Further, 
adoption of the requested standard might create conflicts with existing 
safety standards. Therefore, his petition is denied.

    Issued on: February 19, 2013.
Christopher J. Bonanti,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 2013-04759 Filed 2-28-13; 8:45 am]
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