[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 66 (Friday, April 5, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 20597-20604]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-07766]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 575

[Docket No. NHTSA-2012-0180]


New Car Assessment Program (NCAP)

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

ACTION: Request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) provides 
comparative information on the safety of new vehicles to assist 
consumers with vehicle purchasing decisions and encourage motor vehicle 
manufacturers to make safety improvements. To maintain the relevance 
and effectiveness of NCAP, NHTSA has periodically updated the program, 
most recently in model year 2011.
    In response to the rapid development of vehicle safety 
technologies, especially in the area of crash avoidance, the agency is 
once again requesting public comments in order to help identify the 
potential areas for improvement to the program that have the greatest 
potential for producing safety benefits. This notice lists and 
describes potential areas of study for improving NCAP. The agency will 
use the comments it receives to aid it in developing a notice proposing 
near term upgrades to NCAP. The agency will also use the comments 
received in response to this notice to help it in developing a draft 5-
year plan for the NCAP program outlining research that the agency plans 
to conduct as well as longer term upgrades it intends to pursue making 
to NCAP.

DATES: You should submit your comments early enough to ensure that 
Docket Management receives them no later than July 5, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Comments should refer to the docket number above and be 
submitted by one of the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery: 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Building 
Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. 
ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays.
     Instructions: For detailed instructions on submitting 
comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the 
Public Participation heading of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section 
of this document. Note that all comments received will be posted 
without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal 
information provided.
     Privacy Act: Anyone is able to search the electronic form 
of all comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the 
individual submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted 
on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may 
review DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register 
published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477-78). For access to the docket 
to read background documents or comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov or the street address listed above. Follow the 
online instructions for accessing the dockets.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For crashworthiness issues, you may 
contact Ms. Jennifer N. Dang, Division Chief, New Car Assessment 
Program, Office of Crashworthiness Standards (Telephone: 202-493-0598). 
For crash avoidance and advanced technology issues, you may contact, 
Mr. Clarke Harper, Crash Avoidance NCAP Coordinator (Telephone: 202-
366-1810). For legal issues, you may contact Mr. Steve Wood, Office of 
Chief Counsel (Telephone: 202-366-2992). You may send mail to any of 
these officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., NVS-100, West Building, Washington, DC 
20590-0001.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Table of Contents

I. Executive Summary
II. Background
III. Comments Requested
IV. Subject Areas Under Consideration for Possible Inclusion or 
Refinement
    a. Crash Avoidance and Post-Crash Technology Areas Under 
Consideration
    i. Warning Technologies
    1. Blind Spot Detection
    2. Advanced Lighting
    ii. Intervention Technologies
    1. Lane Departure Prevention
    2. Crash Imminent Braking (CIB) and Dynamic Brake Support (DBS)
    3. Automatic Pedestrian Detection and Braking (Frontal and 
Rearward)
    iii. Crash Notification Technologies
    b. Crashworthiness Areas Under Consideration
    i. Rear Seat Occupants
    ii. Silver Car Rating System for Older Occupants
    iii. Pedestrian Protection

[[Page 20598]]

    iv. Improved Test Dummies and Injury Criteria
    1. New Test Dummies: WorldSID, THOR, Hybrid III 95th Percentile 
Male
    2. New Injury Criteria: BRIC, SID-IIs Thoracic and Abdomen, 
Lower Leg
    3. Refined Injury Criteria: Nij
    v. New Test Protocols for Electric Vehicles
    vi. Other Strategies
    1. Comparative Barrier Testing for Frontal Rating
    2. Advanced Child Dummies, Family Star Rating
    c. Potential Changes to the Rating System
    i. Adjustment of Baseline Injury Risk
    ii. Update of the Rollover Risk Curve
    iii. Carry Back Ratings
V. Ideas Under Consideration for Providing Better Consumer 
Information
    a. Focus Group Testing on Advanced Technologies
    b. Comprehensive Consumer Research on the Monroney Label
    c. Vehicle-CRS Fit Program
    d. Child Seat Ease of Use Rating Program Upgrade
VI. Public Participation

I. Executive Summary

    The NHTSA's New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) provides vehicle 
safety information that enables consumers to compare the safety 
performance and features of new vehicles. This helps consumers in 
making their new vehicle purchasing decisions and encourages 
manufacturers to improve the safety aspects of existing vehicle designs 
and include new or better safety technologies in future vehicle 
designs. As recently as the 2011 model year (MY), NHTSA upgraded NCAP 
to increase the stringency of the criteria that must be met to achieve 
high safety ratings and to provide consumers with more vehicle safety 
information. These program enhancements created additional market 
forces to improve vehicle safety. In recognition that technology and 
manufacturers will catch up with the safety performance criteria in 
even the enhanced version of NCAP, the agency seeks to take additional 
steps to encourage even more vehicle safety improvements.
    This notice discusses the various subject areas on which NHTSA is 
seeking comments and information with respect to their future potential 
as an enhancement to NCAP. Some of the areas are supported by current 
research; others, if pursued, would require time and additional work by 
the agency. The agency seeks information and public comment about each 
area. Additionally, we seek suggestions regarding other program 
improvements not listed in this notice. We are seeking this information 
to help us plan future enhancements to the NCAP program that will 
create additional incentives for manufacturers to continually improve 
vehicle safety. We request information on such matters as safety 
benefits, field experience, test procedures, and progress in the 
development of crash avoidance technologies as well as crashworthiness 
activities. All of this information will be helpful in guiding us to 
develop future plans for NCAP improvements. At that time, we will again 
seek additional public comment.
    The agency presents each area of interest in very brief and simple 
form (without going into details about benefits, tests, costs, or 
design concerns) in order to begin the process of identifying and 
prioritizing the potential areas for improving NCAP. The subjects 
discussed are also not listed in any particular priority order, nor 
should the list be construed as a final list of items for 
consideration. The agency welcomes comments on areas that are not 
listed in this notice, but are areas that commenters believe we should 
consider for future study and inclusion into NCAP.
    This notice is the first step in a multi-step process of planning 
the next improvements to NCAP. After we receive comments, we will 
evaluate the status of all areas listed in this notice, plus any new 
areas that were provided by public comments. We will then use this 
information to develop a draft research plan and future proposals. 
Specifically, we plan to publish in the Federal Register a draft 5-year 
plan that may also include a draft proposal for near term upgrades to 
the NCAP program. This will be followed by a final 5-year plan and 
final decision notice on the near term upgrades, if appropriate.

II. Background

    The NHTSA's NCAP provides comparative information on the safety 
performance and features of new vehicles to assist consumers with their 
vehicle purchasing decisions, to encourage manufacturers to improve the 
current safety performance and features of new vehicles, and to 
stimulate the addition of new safety features. NHTSA established NCAP 
in 1978 in response to Title II of the Motor Vehicle Information and 
Cost Savings Act of 1972. Beginning in MY 1979, NHTSA began rating 
passenger vehicles for frontal impact safety based on injury readings 
from dummies during crash tests. The agency added crash tests and 
ratings for side impact safety beginning in MY 1997. A rating system 
for rollover resistance was added in MY 2001 based on a vehicle's 
measured static properties as reflected in a calculation known as the 
Static Stability Factor (SSF). Beginning in MY 2004, rollover 
resistance ratings were amended to present the rating, based on not 
only the SSF but also the results of a dynamic vehicle test.
    On January 25, 2007, NHTSA published a Federal Register notice 
announcing a public hearing and requesting comments on an agency report 
titled, ``The New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) Suggested Approaches 
for Future Enhancements.'' \1\ Following the receipt of written 
comments and testimony at a March 7, 2007 public hearing, NHTSA 
published a notice on July 11, 2008, announcing specific changes to 
NCAP.\2\ The agency made frontal and side crash ratings criteria more 
stringent by upgrading test dummies, establishing new injury criteria, 
adding a new side pole crash test, and creating a single overall 
vehicle score that reflects a vehicle's combined frontal crash, side 
crash, and rollover ratings.
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    \1\ 72 FR 3473 (January 25, 2007) (Docket No. NHTSA-2006-26555-
0006).
    \2\ 73 FR 40016 (July 11, 2008) (Docket No. NHTSA-2006-26555-
0114).
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    In addition, the agency added information about the presence of 
advanced crash avoidance technologies in vehicles to NCAP. Technologies 
shown to have a safety benefit and that meet NHTSA's performance 
criteria are recommended to consumers on www.safercar.gov where all 
NCAP ratings are posted. The agency implemented these NCAP enhancements 
beginning with MY 2011.
    At the time of these upgrades, various technologies began to 
develop in the field of automotive safety, some of which have become 
concurrent programs that may affect the same target crashes as advanced 
crash avoidance technologies. For example, researchers are making 
progress on two approaches to detecting and avoiding various potential 
crashes that may result in long-term crash and injury reductions: 
vehicle-to-vehicle communications (V2V) and advanced vehicle automation 
that may lead to various forms of self-driving vehicles. At this time, 
it is too soon to know how quickly these various advances in crash 
avoidance will develop and whether they will complement each other or 
progress independently. If either or both of these streams of 
innovation come to fruition, they could complement each other and 
increase the crash avoidance potential. NHTSA will decide in 2013 what 
its next steps will be with regard to light vehicle V2V technology. The 
agency is also monitoring closely developments that could lead to self-
driving cars. So,

[[Page 20599]]

the agency has been carefully monitoring the progress of research 
programs that are on the horizon.
    Motor vehicle manufacturers have made improvements to existing 
safety technologies since the notice upgrading the NCAP program was 
published in 2008. Since that time, new areas of innovation have 
emerged. Some of these technological innovations in vehicle safety have 
the potential to offer substantial safety benefits. The agency is 
issuing this notice to solicit comment on which emerging safety 
technologies offer the greatest promise in terms of agency research and 
inclusion in NCAP. We are also soliciting feedback on possible ways for 
NCAP to provide better consumer information. Our next steps are to use 
information gathered from the public in response to this notice and 
data from our research efforts to develop a draft 5-year plan and 
potentially propose near-term enhancements to the program.

III. Comments Requested

    A brief summary of each of the safety and consumer information 
program areas under consideration is provided in the next section. We 
recognize that some of the following areas of study are better 
positioned to yield enhancements into NCAP sooner than others. Thus, 
depending on the amount of additional research that must be performed 
for some of the following areas of studies, we note that some areas 
could be considered for NCAP over the near term, and others would be 
need to be revisited as the research progresses. If there are areas 
that are not included in the list of areas from which enhancements to 
the NCAP could be possible, please identify those areas in your 
comments.
    In general, there are four prerequisites for considering an area 
for adoption as a new NCAP enhancement. First, a safety need must be 
known or be capable of being estimated based on what is known. Next, 
vehicle and equipment designs must exist or at least be anticipated in 
prototype designs that are capable of mitigating the safety need. 
Third, a safety benefit must be estimated, based on the anticipated 
performance of the existing or prototype design. Finally, it must be 
feasible to develop a performance-based objective test procedure to 
measure the ability of the vehicle technology to mitigate the safety 
issue.\3\
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    \3\ The agency's July 11, 2008 notice announcing enhancements to 
NCAP discussed how the agency applied these three factors to 
particular technologies when we decided to promote electronic 
stability control (ESC), lane departure warning (LDW), and forward 
collision warning (FCW) to consumers through NCAP. 73 FR 40016 (July 
11, 2008).
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    Below is a list of general questions that the agency requests 
commenters to answer for each of the subject areas summarized in this 
notice. Commenters are encouraged to use these questions as the basis 
for shaping their comments on each of the areas. Information provided 
by commenters will assist the agency in deciding which areas should be 
included in the agency's draft 5-year plan or possibly proposed as one 
of a number of near term enhancements to NCAP. The agency has the 
following general questions for each area of study described in the 
next section:
     Is there a safety benefit that could be obtained and that 
can be demonstrated in the form of projected lives saved and/or 
injuries prevented and crashes reduced?
     Are there objective test procedures or industry standards 
that would measure performance differences?
     Are the relevant vehicle safety improvements or 
technologies that would be encouraged sufficiently mature for mass 
production (i.e., product repeatability and reliability)?
     Is there research to support incorporating the area into 
NCAP?
    [cir] Can a test procedure be developed that would enable the 
agency to comparatively rate the improvements or technologies 
encouraged by a suggested improvement to NCAP?
    [cir] Are there data to support a robust estimate of the potential 
safety benefits (in terms of crashes prevented and lives saved/injuries 
prevented)?
     Would the suggested areas of study be ones for which NCAP 
could create the market forces necessary to encourage the adoption of 
particular vehicle safety improvements or technology?
    [cir] In what manner should the consumer information about the 
suggested areas of study be presented so as to create the market forces 
necessary to encourage the relevant safety improvements or 
technologies?
     Would the potential change or addition to NCAP result in 
consumers getting timely and meaningful information?
    We note that there are three areas on which the agency has already 
separately sought public comment or is engaged in research: Crash 
Imminent Braking (CIB) and Dynamic Brake Support (DBS),\4\ the Vehicle-
Child Restraint System (CRS) Fit Program,\5\ and the Monroney label 
consumer research. In the case of both CIB/DBS and the Vehicle-CRS Fit 
Program, the agency has already separately sought comment, and the 
deadline for the receipt of comments has passed. The agency is now 
reviewing the comments. The agency is currently conducting consumer 
research on the Monroney label. A Federal Register notice seeking 
public comment on possible future changes to the Monroney label will be 
published when that research is complete. Given these ongoing efforts, 
the agency is not seeking through this notice to obtain additional 
comments on these three areas. The agency urges commenters to address 
areas other than the three areas mentioned above.
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    \4\ 77 FR 39561 (July 3, 2012) (Docket No. NHTSA-2012-0057-
0002).
    \5\ 76 FR 10637 (February 25, 2011) (Docket No. NHTSA-2010-
00062-0001) and 76 FR 16472 (March 23, 2011) (Docket No. NHTSA-2010-
00062-0003) correcting comment period deadline.
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    The next two sections discuss potential areas of study for 
improving safety and providing better consumer information.

IV. Subject Areas Under Consideration for Possible Inclusion or 
Refinement

a. Crash Avoidance and Post-Crash Technology Areas Under Consideration

    In this section, the agency has included the advanced crash 
avoidance or advanced driver assistance technologies that we believe 
are the most common crash avoidance approaches being discussed today by 
either the automotive industry or the agency. We have also included 
post-crash technology.
i. Warning Technologies
1. Blind Spot Detection
    The agency has been studying blind spot detection (BSD) 
technology.\6\ Blind spots are areas toward the rear and the side of 
the vehicle that are not visible to the driver in any mirror or that 
are not within the peripheral vision of the driver. BSD systems warn 
drivers of the presence of vehicles that are in adjacent lanes, but 
cannot be seen because those vehicles are in their vehicle's blind 
spots. The usual circumstance in which warnings are provided is when a 
driver is steering into an adjacent parallel lane and cannot see that 
there is a moving vehicle, such as another car or a motorcycle, in that 
lane moving at approximately the same speed and slightly behind the 
driver's vehicle.
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    \6\ Swenson, et al., ``Safety Evaluation Of Lane Change 
Collision Avoidance Systems Using The National Advanced Driving 
Simulator,'' 19th International Technical Conference on the Enhanced 
Safety of Vehicles, 2005, Paper 05-0249.
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    Typically, radar sensors in a BSD system detect vehicles, including 
motorcycles, in adjacent lanes. When a driver starts to make an 
intentional or unintentional lane change, an alert is

[[Page 20600]]

activated to warn the driver of the presence of a vehicle or vehicles 
that are in adjacent lanes and in the vehicle's side blind spot. The 
driver is warned using audio, visual or haptic warnings. As currently 
designed, BSD systems only warn the driver; they do not initiate 
automatic evasive maneuvers.
    Blind spot detection systems are already being installed in some 
vehicle models as optional equipment. These systems are not regulated, 
nor are the warning systems standardized. The degree of sensitivity as 
to when to warn the driver is at the discretion of each vehicle 
manufacturer. We are not aware of any performance tests that exist for 
this technology. If commenters suggest blind spot detection as an area 
for incorporation in NCAP, the agency would be particularly interested 
in comments regarding methods of comparatively evaluating BSD systems 
(e.g., the detection reliability, the driver interface, etc.) and 
estimation of safety benefits.
2. Advanced Lighting
    The subject of adding advanced frontal lighting to NCAP has been 
discussed for almost a decade.\7\ Advanced frontal lighting can provide 
enhanced nighttime visibility. For example, advanced headlights 
currently available in production vehicles can aid drivers who are 
turning their vehicles by swiveling and providing more light in the 
direction in which the vehicle is turning.
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    \7\ ``Summary Report of NHTSA's Forward Lighting Research 
Program,'' DOT HS 811 007, July 2008.
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    We note that some advanced lighting technologies in production in 
other parts of the world are not currently permitted in the U.S. It is 
not the intention of this notice to promote or solicit comments on 
lighting systems that do not meet the current applicable Federal motor 
vehicle safety standards (FMVSSs). However, comments are requested on 
potential advanced frontal lighting systems that would meet FMVSS 
No.108, ``Lamps, reflective devices, and associated equipment.'' What 
are the potential systems and are there data that quantify the 
potential safety benefits?
ii. Intervention Technologies
1. Lane Departure Prevention
    Lane departure prevention, or automatic lane-keeping, builds upon 
(or expands the safety potential of) lane departure warning systems by 
providing steering and/or braking input to the vehicle to correct 
unintentional drifting across lane markers. If commenters suggest lane 
departure prevention as an area for incorporation in NCAP, the agency 
would be particularly interested in comments regarding methods of 
comparatively evaluating such systems. In addition, comments are 
requested on the comparative benefits of lane departure systems that 
automatically intervene versus systems that issue warnings only.
2. Crash Imminent Braking (CIB) and Dynamic Brake Support (DBS)
    The agency has been studying forward collision advanced braking 
technologies that provide various types of automatic braking in 
response to an impending crash. Such technologies show promise for 
enhancing the safety of vehicles by helping drivers to avoid crashes or 
by reducing the effects of crashes. Forward collision advanced braking 
technologies, in particular Crash Imminent Braking (CIB) and Dynamic 
Brake Support (DBS), are designed to address the most prevalent type of 
two-vehicle collision: front-to-rear collisions.
    In a July 3, 2012 request for comments notice,\8\ NHTSA 
preliminarily estimated the annual number of lives saved for DBS alone 
would be 3 to 19 lives and CIB alone would be 38 to 63 lives, upon full 
market penetration of these technologies.\9\ As indicated earlier, 
today's notice is not asking for a repeat of comments submitted in 
response to the July 3, 2012 notice.
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    \8\ 77 FR 37951 (July 3, 2012) (Docket No. NHTSA-2012-0057-
0002).
    \9\ ``Forward Looking Advanced Braking Technologies Research 
Report,'' (Docket No. NHTSA 2012-0057-0001).
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3. Automatic Pedestrian Detection and Braking (Frontal and Rearward)
    Pedestrian detection and automatic braking are systems that are 
aimed to avoid or minimize pedestrian impacts and injuries. Such 
systems can provide both frontal and rearward pedestrian detection and 
automatic braking. Systems are already in production for low speed 
front and rear pedestrian impact prevention in some vehicle models.
    These technologies use sensing systems similar to that are used for 
vehicle and lane marker detection. Different technologies are currently 
being implemented and different test procedures are being developed 
worldwide, although some test procedure complexities still exist. One 
example of a test procedure complexity is the need for a crash 
avoidance test dummy that would provide a radar and/or camera 
recognition signature that approximates that of a human and is durable 
enough to withstand any testing impacts. Comments are requested on 
methods of addressing and resolving these complexities.
iii. Crash Notification Technologies
    Automatic Collision Notification (ACN) is a vehicle system that 
detects severe crashes and their location and automatically notifies a 
public safety answering point (PSAP) or a 9-1-1 call center either 
directly or through a third party. Crashes are detected by various 
vehicle sensors, and an ACN system notification typically occurs in 
crashes severe enough to result in air bag or seat belt pretensioner 
deployment. The location of the crash is transmitted using a global 
positioning system (GPS) technology. The notification that ACN systems 
can provide allows for earlier arrival of emergency personnel.
    Advanced Automatic Collision Notification (AACN) systems evolved 
from ACN systems. The additional data elements AACN systems can 
transmit include, but are not limited to, prediction of injury 
severity, crash delta-V (velocity change during the crash), direction 
of impact, safety belt status, air bag deployment status, number of 
impact events, and the occurrence of a rollover. The Centers for 
Disease Control (CDC) convened a series of meetings of the National 
Expert Panel on Field Triage to consider the potential contributions of 
AACN. The panel concluded that AACN shows promise in improving health 
outcomes for severely injured crash patients by: predicting the 
likelihood of serious injury in vehicle occupants; decreasing response 
times by emergency medical personnel; assisting with field triage 
destination and transportation decisions; and decreasing time to 
definitive trauma care.
    However, the data elements and the algorithms for predicting injury 
are not currently standardized. NHTSA and the CDC are currently 
exploring a wide range of issues relating to AACN and evaluations of 
potential standards for data transmission and injury severity 
prediction and considerations for system specifications and 
evaluations. An agency decision regarding next steps for AACN is 
planned for 2013.\10\
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    \10\ ``NHTSA Vehicle Safety and Fuel Economy Rulemaking and 
Research Priority Plan 2011-2013,'' 76 FR 17808 (March 31, 2011) 
(Docket No. NHTSA-2009-0108).
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b. Crashworthiness Areas Under Consideration

i. Rear Seat Occupants
    In recent years, improvements that have been made to the front seat 
crash environment have significantly decreased the risk of injuries and

[[Page 20601]]

fatalities for front seat occupants involved in frontal crashes. While 
exposure and injury rates for rear seat occupants overall are still 
relatively low, there is an emerging need to further understand the 
rear seat environment in recent model year vehicles, particularly in 
consideration of lighter and more compact vehicle designs. Comments are 
requested on the availability of any data that illustrate whether 
safety benefits can be realized through encouraging additional safety 
improvements and/or technologies including rear seat belt reminders 
targeted at protecting the rear seat environment.
    One possibility is to dynamically test rear seats and seat belts in 
our frontal crash tests to evaluate their safety performance. 
Initially, this could be pursued with the 5th percentile adult female 
Hybrid III dummy. The agency plans to begin exploring the feasibility 
of testing with a 5th percentile Hybrid III dummy in the rear seat of 
frontal NCAP tests and the feasibility of developing an associated 
rating system. Comments are requested as to other potential approaches.
ii. Silver Car Rating System for Older Occupants
    As the U.S. population shifts in coming years, more vehicle drivers 
and passengers will be 65 and older. Typically, older vehicle occupants 
are less able than younger occupants to withstand crash forces when 
they are involved in a crash. Therefore, the agency is conducting 
workshops and developing comprehensive vehicle and behavioral 
strategies to improve older driver crash protection.
    A ``silver car'' rating system in NCAP could be developed as a tool 
for providing crash safety information for older consumers. Such a 
rating system could be presented in addition to the primary five-star 
NCAP rating system. Ultimately, older consumers could use NCAP silver 
car rating information to help them select and purchase vehicles that 
would be potentially safer for them. For example, inflatable seat belts 
or technologies that help prevent low speed pedal misapplication may 
have potential benefits for older occupants. Comments are requested as 
to what types of modifications to the current test procedures or test 
thresholds would enable the program to specifically measure the crash 
forces that would be imparted to elderly vehicle occupants. Are there 
aspects of vehicle performance, currently not evaluated by NCAP that 
would particularly address the needs of older vehicle occupants?
iii. Pedestrian Protection
    Pedestrian fatalities and injuries from motor vehicle crashes 
remain a relatively high number in the United States. In fact, 
pedestrian deaths (4,280) accounted for 13 percent of all traffic 
fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2010.\11\ This is a 4 
percent increase from the number reported in 2009.\12\ The agency is 
developing a rulemaking proposal based on Global Technical Regulation 
(GTR) No. 9, ``Pedestrian Safety.'' We are testing and evaluating the 
headform hood impact procedure. We are also evaluating the Flex-PLI 
legform in support of a decision on its incorporation into GTR No. 9. 
Comments are requested as to (1) whether the agency should consider 
incorporating future pedestrian crashworthiness requirements into NCAP, 
(2) what areas of light vehicles (e.g., bumpers, hoods, etc.) the 
agency should focus its efforts, and (3) how the agency should consider 
the crashworthiness requirements on vehicles with automatic pedestrian 
and braking systems. The agency is not requesting comments from this 
notice for the regulation process. As mentioned previously, the agency 
will use comments it receives from this notice to develop a notice 
proposing near term upgrades to NCAP and a draft 5-year plan for the 
NCAP program outlining research that the agency plans to conduct as 
well as longer term upgrades it intends to pursue making to NCAP.
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    \11\ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Traffic 
Safety Facts--2010 Data (DOT HS 811 625).
    \12\ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Traffic 
Safety Facts--2009 Data (DOT HS 811 394).
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iv. Improved Test Dummies and Injury Criteria
1. New Test Dummies: WorldSID, THOR, Hybrid III 95th Percentile Male
    As part of its international harmonization efforts under the 
auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe World 
Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29), the agency has 
been working with the Informal Working Group on Side Impact Dummies 
under Working Party on Passive Safety (GRSP) to develop a new family of 
side impact crash test dummies (known as the WorldSID dummies). These 
test devices are representative of the 50th percentile male and 5th 
percentile female. The goal in developing these dummies is to create 
worldwide harmonized test devices for side impact with enhanced injury 
assessment capabilities and improved durability, repeatability, and 
reproducibility.
    Over the past several years, NHTSA has conducted an evaluation of 
the WorldSID 50th percentile male dummy. This evaluation has included, 
among other things, an assessment of the dummy's biofidelic response, 
its long-term durability, and the repeatability and reproducibility of 
test results. NHTSA is working with the international biomechanics 
community in a cooperative research effort to complete the development 
and evaluation of the WorldSID 5th percentile female dummy. Upon 
completion, responses from the WorldSID 50th male and 5th percentile 
female dummies under comparable conditions will be compared to those 
from the ES-2re and SID-IIs dummies, respectively, which are currently 
specified for use in FMVSS No. 214, ``Side impact protection,'' as well 
as in NCAP side impact tests.
    In addition, the agency has been working on completing the 
development of the THOR 50th percentile male and 5th percentile female 
advanced frontal crash test dummies. Recent enhancements to the 50th 
percentile male dummy included modification to the head, neck, thorax, 
abdomen, pelvis, femur and knee. Injury risk curves and injury criteria 
for the dummy are under development. Work is planned to adapt updates 
made for the 50th percentile male dummy into the THOR 5th percentile 
female dummy. Agency decisions are planned in 2013 and 2014 for the 
THOR 50th percentile male and 5th percentile female dummies, 
respectively.
    Finally, the agency is considering testing vehicles with a frontal 
test dummy that represents a large male as part of the NCAP effort to 
provide consumers with a broad spectrum of vehicle evaluation data. 
This dummy, referred to as the 95th percentile adult male Hybrid III 
dummy, represents a six foot two inch (6'2'') tall male weighing 223 
pounds. Although this dummy is not currently specified in NHTSA's 
regulations, this dummy has been used for research studies and 
developmental testing for decades. Inclusion of the 95th percentile 
adult male dummy and its corresponding injury criteria in a consumer 
information program could provide larger consumers with information 
more applicable to their protection while riding in a vehicle. This 
would also encourage vehicle manufacturers to expand their crash 
protection envelopes to cover a broader range of occupant sizes.
    Comments are requested on the suitability of incorporating the

[[Page 20602]]

aforementioned test dummies into NCAP. What effect would the 
incorporation of a particular test dummy have on the vehicle ratings? 
What other test dummy designs should the agency consider?
2. New injury criteria: BRIC, SID-IIs Thoracic and Abdomen, Lower Leg
    The agency has been researching a new brain injury measure known as 
the Brain Injury Criteria (BRIC),\13\ to protect vehicle occupants 
against brain injury with an emphasis on injuries that are 
rotationally-induced. BRIC utilizes instrumentation in the dummy 
headform to collect head rotational data that is ultimately used to 
predict injury risk. NHTSA is currently collecting headform rotational 
data in NCAP tests to gain an understanding of the new vehicle fleet 
performance. Predicted injury risk in the fleet testing will then be 
compared to real-world injury risk based on available field data. Such 
a criterion could be applied to the various NCAP crash testing programs 
(i.e., frontal, side pole, side moving deformable barrier).
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    \13\ Takhounts et al., ``Kinematic Rotational Brain Injury 
Criterion (BRIC),'' 22nd International Technical Conference on the 
Enhanced Safety of Vehicles, 2011, Paper 11-0263.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The agency is also considering the merits of including thoracic and 
abdominal rib deflection injury criteria for the small female side 
impact dummy (i.e., the SID-IIs). Incorporating such criteria could 
encourage safety improvements that would mitigate injuries to body 
regions not currently regulated by safety standards or evaluated by the 
side NCAP rating scheme. The current SID-IIs crash test dummies are 
equipped for measuring these data and the agency collects and monitors 
them for all side NCAP crash tests. However, at the present time, NCAP 
simply adds footnotes to the vehicle safety rating information to 
inform consumers when excessive values are recorded.
    The agency may also consider the merit of adding a lower leg injury 
criterion for the 50th percentile male Hybrid III dummy in the frontal 
NCAP rating scheme to drive vehicle countermeasures that would mitigate 
driver lower leg injuries and the associated societal cost. The THOR-Lx 
and THOR-FLx lower leg retrofit kits for use on the 50th percentile 
male and 5th percentile female adult Hybrid III dummies, respectively, 
are instrumentation tools under agency evaluation that would be used to 
measure the lower leg injury criterion.
    Comments are requested as to whether there are other injury 
criteria that the agency should consider. Would the existing test 
dummies be sufficient for the suggested injury criteria? How should the 
agency incorporate ratings based on the new injury criteria in the 
manner that is useful to the consumer?
3. Refined Injury Criteria: Nij
    Since the introduction of the frontal neck injury criterion, Nij, 
over a decade ago, the agency has been monitoring the correlation 
between Nij and real-world crash data. Specifically, we are looking at 
relevant neck injury field risk in frontal NCAP-type crashes using 
National Automotive Sampling System--Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-
CDS) data. Furthermore, the agency has been analyzing existing 
biomechanical data and various neck injury risk curve alternatives. We 
are also assessing the role of these neck injury risk curves on recent 
NCAP test data (model years 2011-2012).\14\
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    \14\ This activity is related to comments raised during the 
previous NCAP upgrade (i.e., regarding the non-zero offset in the 
Nij curve used to calculate injury risk for the purposes of 
computing star ratings).
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v. New Test Protocols for Electric Vehicles
    A growing number of electric vehicles that are or will be available 
in the market use lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries for propulsion power. 
Because Li-ion battery technology is relatively new to the automotive 
industry, safety standards specific to the use of this technology in 
automotive applications are still under development. Although NHTSA is 
unaware of any real-world crashes involving Li-ion battery-powered 
vehicles that have resulted in a safety concern, the agency is focused 
on understanding the potential safety risks stemming from crashes 
involving these vehicles.
    In the near term, the agency plans to research additional test 
protocols that will be run in addition to the existing FMVSS No. 305, 
``Electric-powered vehicles: Electrolyte spillage and electrical shock 
protection,'' and NCAP test procedures of electric vehicles using Li-
ion-battery propulsion systems.\15\ The agency plans to examine the 
potential safety hazards associated with the health, stability, and 
functionality of the battery system after a vehicle is involved in a 
crash. Specifically, the protocol will examine the vehicle's ability to 
structurally protect the battery in a crash and the health of the 
battery and associated components. The information gathered from this 
evaluation will build on the agency's ongoing electric vehicle safety 
efforts and will help lay the groundwork for future research and/or 
regulation.
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    \15\ This effort is to improve our current post-crash laboratory 
test procedures for batteries to ensure that our test labs have the 
most current and complete safety protocols.
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vi. Other Strategies
1. Comparative Barrier Testing for Frontal Rating
    Star ratings for vehicles of widely differing masses and type 
cannot be directly compared using the full frontal rigid barrier crash 
test. The full frontal rigid barrier crash test represents a crash 
between two vehicles of similar weight and geometry. Thus, frontal 
crash test ratings of two vehicles cannot be compared unless those 
vehicles are in the same class and within 250 pounds of one another. 
Similarly, since the Overall Vehicle Score encompasses the frontal 
rating, the Overall Vehicle Scores of two vehicles cannot be compared 
unless the two vehicles have similar mass. Thus, there is a desire to 
provide consumers with a more useful tool for their vehicle purchasing 
decisions, (i.e., one that consumers can use to compare directly the 
safety of vehicles of widely varying weights and types). Potential 
changes may include changing the frontal barrier test configuration to 
provide a better safety comparison given the weight disparity among 
vehicles in the U.S. fleet.
2. Advanced Child Dummies, Family Star Rating
    The agency is aware that consumers often wish to know which 
vehicles are the safest for their children. Thus, providing a 
crashworthiness rating for vehicles based on the protection they offer 
to both front seat adult occupants and rear seat child occupants would 
support consumer interests. Earlier this notice discussed adding a 5th 
percentile adult female Hybrid III dummy to the rear seat of frontal 
NCAP tests. An expansion of this concept would be to explore the 
potential for adding advanced child dummies to one or more of its 
crashworthiness test modes and explore the feasibility of providing 
consumers with a ``family star rating.'' NHTSA plans to use data 
obtained from the agency's biomechanics research to support the 
development and evaluation of an advanced 6-year-old child frontal 
impact dummy, followed by the 3- and 10-year-old child frontal impact 
dummies.\16\
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    \16\ NHTSA's Biomechanics Research Plan, 2011-2015 (DOT HS 811 
474).

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[[Page 20603]]

c. Potential Changes to the Rating System

i. Adjustment of Baseline Injury Risk
    Safety ratings under the enhanced NCAP that went into effect for MY 
2011 are based on how a vehicle's risk of injury reflected in NCAP 
tests compares to a baseline injury risk of approximately 15 percent 
for all crash types. The baseline injury risk was derived from agency 
crash data for MY 2007 and 2008 vehicles. In the July 11, 2008 Federal 
Register notice announcing the NCAP enhancements, the agency indicated 
that it would periodically review the crash performance of the vehicle 
fleet, as reflected by NCAP test data. Now is an appropriate time for 
such a review.
    In the short time since the enhanced NCAP was implemented, the 
frontal and side crash test ratings of NCAP tested vehicles have 
improved. Crash data from newer model year vehicles could be used to 
reassess the baseline injury risk that is currently used to determine 
the respective crashworthiness safety ratings for the frontal and side 
crash test programs. Additionally, the rollover contribution to the 
baseline injury risk has changed due to the introduction of ESC in all 
new vehicles as of September 1, 2011. Rollover risk could be 
recalculated in the near future based on new data and a vehicle fleet 
equipped with ESC. (This is discussed further in the next section.)
ii. Update of the Rollover Risk Curve
    The agency established a criterion in 2001 that reflected the risk 
of a rollover in a single-vehicle crash based primarily on two vehicle 
characteristics: The vehicle width at the tires and the height of the 
vehicle's center of gravity. The rollover risk derived from these 
measurements, known as a vehicle's Static Stability Factor (SSF), was 
based on 226,117 real-world crashes.\17\ In 2003, the agency added a 
dynamic test to the rollover evaluation and updated the risk curve for 
the SSF model. This 2003 rollover risk was based on 293,000 single-
vehicle crashes.\18\ The SSF and the dynamic test created a slightly 
modified rollover risk rating for MY 2004 and newer vehicles. 
Subsequent to the creation of the SSF and dynamic test evaluations, 
manufacturers began a progressive conversion of the light vehicle fleet 
from a fleet with no anti-rollover technology to one equipped with ESC. 
Since September 1, 2011, all new light vehicles sold in the United 
States have been required to be equipped with ESC.\19\
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    \17\ 68 FR 59290 (October 14, 2003) (Docket No. NHTSA-2001-9663; 
Notice 3).
    \18\ 68 FR 59258 (October 14, 2003) (Docket No. NHTSA-2001-9663; 
Notice 3).
    \19\ Multi-stage manufacturers and alterers were permitted to 
delay complying with the ESC requirement until September 1, 2012.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In the 2008 NCAP upgrade notice, the agency stated that it would 
recalculate the risk of rollover and reformulate the rollover rating 
system to reflect the vehicle fleet change. However, since the 
accumulation of crash data for ESC-equipped vehicles has been 
progressing slowly, we have delayed the reformulation of the rollover 
rating system until a time when more crash data are available.
iii. Carry Back Ratings
    Under the existing NCAP protocols, new model year vehicles that 
have no design changes from the previous model year can have their NCAP 
ratings carried over to the new model year. Every year, after reviewing 
annual submissions from the vehicle manufacturers, NHTSA determines 
which vehicle ratings should be carried over to the new model year 
without retesting. The issue of whether a particular rating should be 
carried over is considered independently for each aspect of performance 
tested under the NCAP program. For example, it is possible that, 
between model years, a model was changed in such a way as to make it 
appropriate for the model to have its frontal crash ratings carried 
over, but not its side crash ratings carried over. NHTSA uses carry 
over ratings to avoid the time and expense of unnecessary re-testing 
and to increase the percentage of new vehicles that have NCAP ratings 
each year. We are also considering a similar approach for advanced 
crash avoidance technologies. In other words, if the previous model 
year vehicle is equipped with an identical advanced technology system 
that received credit for meeting NHTSA's performance criteria, the 
current model year would also be given similar credit.
    NHTSA is considering whether it would be appropriate to carry back 
ratings, i.e., apply the ratings of test vehicles produced in the new 
model year to similar vehicles produced in previous model year(s), but 
that were not rated. In other words, vehicle models that were tested in 
the new model year, but were not changed from and rated in the previous 
model year could have the new model year ratings applied to previous 
model year(s). Doing this would depend on whether the new model year 
design is identical \20\ to the previous model year design. Similar to 
the carry over ratings policy, the carry back policy would provide 
increased consumer information.
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    \20\ Identical vehicle models are those that have not been 
redesigned with structural changes and are equipped with similar 
safety equipment (i.e., restraint systems, air bags, crash avoidance 
sensors, algorithms, etc.) from one model year to the next.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

V. Ideas Under Consideration for Providing Better Consumer Information

a. Focus Group Testing on Advanced Technologies

    As part of the 2008 upgrade of NCAP, the agency performed focus 
group testing on the desire for advanced crash avoidance technology 
information. At that time, consumers indicated that they wanted to know 
if specific beneficial advanced technologies were provided on specific 
vehicle models. To that end, the agency identified three beneficial 
advanced technologies: Electronic stability control, lane departure 
warning, and forward collision warning and placed a description of and 
recommendation for each of them on the agency's Web site 
www.safercar.gov. For each of these technologies, the agency specified 
minimum performance criteria. If a vehicle model is equipped with one 
of the technologies and if the manufacturer self-certifies that the 
model meets the minimum performance criteria for that technology, the 
agency places a symbol illustrating that technology next to the entry 
for that model on www.safercar.gov.
    Given the passage of time and rapid pace of electronic 
communications, the agency is planning to revisit how consumers would 
like advanced technology information presented to them. In 2013, we 
plan to conduct focus group testing to determine if consumers would 
like alternative methods of having advanced technology information 
communicated and if ratings of advanced technologies, rather than the 
current approach of recommending advanced technologies, are preferred.

b. Comprehensive Consumer Research on the Monroney Label

    NHTSA plans to conduct comprehensive consumer research on the 
design and use of the NCAP safety ratings portion of the Monroney 
label.\21\ Through this research, the agency will explore where 
consumers look for safety information and how consumers use the 
Monroney label when making their vehicle purchasing decisions. It will

[[Page 20604]]

also evaluate the Monroney label content comprehension and identify 
potential tradeoffs involved in alternative approaches. The results of 
this research will help guide effective changes to the safety ratings 
section of the Monroney label, and identify potential communication 
approaches to use in a consumer education program.
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    \21\ Information Collection Request for the Consumer Research 
Program on the Monroney label (ICR Number 201112-2127-001), 
www.reginfo.gov.
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c. Vehicle-CRS Fit Program

    As indicated in Section III of this notice, the agency has already 
separately sought public comment regarding the Vehicle-CRS Fit program 
in a Federal Register ``Request for comments'' notice published on 
February 25, 2011.\22\ Thus, the agency is not seeking through this 
notice to obtain additional comments on this program. This proposed 
voluntary program is intended to have vehicle manufacturers evaluate 
CRSs for compatibility with a specific vehicle model based on a set of 
objective criteria. Vehicle manufacturers would provide NHTSA with a 
list of recommended CRSs that they have determined fit in their 
vehicles, and NHTSA would in turn publish that information. The agency 
plans to spot-check the CRS-vehicle combinations to ensure they 
actually comply with the requirements of the new voluntary Vehicle-CRS 
Fit program. A final decision notice for this program is currently 
being developed.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \22\ 76 FR 10637 (February 25, 2011) (Docket No. NHTSA-2010-
00062-0001).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

d. Child Seat Ease of Use Rating Program Upgrade

    In response to Section 14(g) of the Transportation Recall 
Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act, NHTSA 
established a yearly Ease of Use assessment program for add-on child 
restraints. Since the program was established, the most notable 
improvements are ones that have been made to child restraint harness 
designs, labels and manuals. On February 1, 2008, the agency enhanced 
the program by including new rating features and criteria, adjusting 
the scoring systems, and using stars to display the Ease of Use 
ratings.
    The agency is now considering additional improvements to the Ease 
of Use Program to address added CRS features that are not currently 
assessed, but may have an effect on usability. Additionally, it may be 
necessary to strengthen the current rating criteria since manufacturers 
continually make improvements to their products. Comments are requested 
on what additional CRS features should be addressed and what aspects of 
the current rating criteria should be strengthened.

VI. Public Participation

How do I prepare and submit comments?

    Your comments must be written and in English. To ensure that your 
comments are filed correctly in the docket, please include the docket 
number of this document in your comments.
    Your comments must not be more than 15 pages long (49 CFR 553.21). 
NHTSA established this limit to encourage you to write your primary 
comments in a concise fashion. However, you may attach necessary 
additional documents to your comments. There is no limit on the length 
of the attachments.
    Please submit one copy (two copies if submitting by mail or hand 
delivery) of your comments, including the attachments, to the docket 
following the instructions given above under ADDRESSES. Please note, if 
you are submitting comments electronically as a PDF (Adobe) file, we 
ask that the documents submitted be scanned using an Optical Character 
Recognition (OCR) process, thus allowing the agency to search and copy 
certain portions of your submissions.

How do I submit confidential business information?

    If you wish to submit any information under a claim of 
confidentiality, you should submit three copies of your complete 
submission, including the information you claim to be confidential 
business information, to the Office of the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, at the 
address given above under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. In addition, 
you may submit a copy (two copies if submitting by mail or hand 
delivery), from which you have deleted the claimed confidential 
business information, to the docket by one of the methods given above 
under ADDRESSES. When you send a comment containing information claimed 
to be confidential business information, you should include a cover 
letter setting forth the information specified in NHTSA's confidential 
business information regulation (49 CFR Part 512).

Will the agency consider late comments?

    NHTSA will consider all comments received before the close of 
business on the comment closing date indicated above under DATES. To 
the extent possible, the agency will also consider comments received 
after that date.
    You may read the comments received at the address given above under 
ADDRESSES. The hours of the docket are indicated above in the same 
location. You may also see the comments on the Internet, identified by 
the docket number at the heading of this notice, at http://www.regulations.gov.
    Please note that, even after the comment closing date, NHTSA will 
continue to file relevant information in the docket as it becomes 
available. Further, some people may submit late comments. Accordingly, 
the agency recommends that you periodically check the docket for new 
material.
    Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all comments 
received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual 
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf 
of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT's 
complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on 
April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477-78) or you may visit http://www.dot.gov/privacy.html.

    Issued on: March 28, 2013.
Christopher J. Bonanti,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 2013-07766 Filed 4-4-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P