[Federal Register Volume 59, Number 1 (Monday, January 3, 1994)]
[Unknown Section]
[Page 0]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 93-32022]


[[Page Unknown]]

[Federal Register: January 3, 1994]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
[Docket No. 79-17; Notice 39]

 

New Car Assessment Program; Consideration of a Public Meeting

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

ACTION: Request for comments.

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SUMMARY: This notice requests comments on NHTSA's consideration of a 
public meeting to review and discuss issues concerning, and options 
for, the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) and on the agenda for the 
meeting. In 1972, Congress enacted the ``Motor Vehicle Information and 
Cost Savings Act'' which includes requirements for the development and 
dissemination of comparative information on the crashworthiness of 
motor vehicles. In 1978, NCAP with the primary purpose of partially 
fulfilling this requirement. In NCAP frontal crash tests of 
approximately 35 passenger vehicles are conducted each year and the 
test results are made available to the public. To be responsive to 
Congress and to further benefit the public, NHTSA is considering 
convening a public meeting on the program to review the present NCAP 
and to invite information that could improve the program.

DATES: Written comments on this notice must be submitted no later than 
March 4, 1994.

ADDRESSES: Comments on this notice must refer to the docket and notice 
numbers set forth above and be submitted (preferably in 10 copies) to 
the Docket Section, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 
room 5109, 400 Seventh Street SW., Washington, DC 20590. Submissions 
containing information for which confidential treatment is requested 
should be submitted (3 copies) to Chief Counsel, National Highway 
Traffic Safety Administration, room 5219, 400 Seventh Street SW., 
Washington, DC 20590, and 7 copies from which the purportedly 
confidential information has been deleted should be sent to the Docket 
Section.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Jim Hackney, Office of Market Incentives, NHTSA, 400 Seventh Street, 
SW., Washington, DC 20590 (202-366-1740).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In December 1993, the agency submitted a 
report to Congress on NCAP. This report can be found in this Docket and 
is titled Response to the NCAP FY 1992 Congressional Requirements.
    This report provides:
     The results of an 18-month study to assess consumer and 
media needs and preferences for better understanding and more effective 
use of NCAP data. This included a summary of several consumer focus 
group and media studies. These studies indicated that consumers and the 
media desire comparative safety information on vehicles, a simplified 
NCAP format to better understand and utilize the crash test results, 
and expansion of NCAP to include other crash modes, such as side 
crashes and rollovers. Plans for implementing the findings of these 
studies are included in the report.
     Studies of real-world crashes versus NCAP crash tests. 
These studies tentatively conclude that NCAP test conditions 
approximate real-world crash conditions covering a major segment of the 
frontal crash safety problem. The studies also conclude that there is a 
significant correlation between NCAP results and real-world fatality 
risks for restrained drivers. In high speed frontal crashes, fatality 
risks to restrained drivers of cars that perform well in NCAP may be as 
much as 30 percent lower than fatality risks to restrained drivers of 
cars that do not perform well in NCAP. A more detailed report on this 
subject will soon be published for public comment.
     A study on the efficacy of allowing manufacturers to 
choose between the Hybrid III and the Hybrid II crash test dummy. NCAP 
data were utilized in this study along with an analysis of comments to 
Federal Register notices on the mandatory use of the Hybrid III crash 
test dummy in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 208 and 
in NCAP. After considering data analysis and reviewing the comments to 
the two notices, NHTSA has concluded that exclusive use of the Hybrid 
III in NCAP should begin with MY 1996 vehicles. This is two years 
earlier than required by the recent amendment to FMVSS No. 208. 
Beginning with MY 1994 vehicles, the Hybrid III is being used 
exclusively for all seating positions in which the occupant is 
protected by an air bag.
    The report also includes a review of NCAP historical performance 
and the following future goals for NCAP.
     Reach a larger group of the population with simplified 
data that will assist consumers in their vehicles purchases.
     Expand the collection of safety information by utilizing 
the additional injury-measuring capabilities of the more advance Hybrid 
III dummy.
     Expand NCAP to provide comparative side impact information 
to consumers along with the frontal NCAP information.
     Monitor rollover safety activities to determine the 
potential for providing consumers with comparative information on 
levels of protection in the rollover crash mode and on vehicle roll 
stability.
    In the report, the agency also referred to the possibility of 
convening a public meeting on NCAP. A public meeting could provide an 
open forum for consumer groups, media, foreign governments, national 
and international safety organizations, universities, and motor vehicle 
manufacturers to discuss the above NCAP goals and relevant new 
suggestions. Comments could be solicited on any of the material in the 
Congressional report and opportunities could be given for interested 
parties to suggest alternative or additional NCAP goals and activities. 
If it is determined that such a meeting is desirable, it could be 
scheduled for the late spring of 1994.
    Comments are therefore solicited on:
    (1) The desirability and need for such a public meeting and
    (2) The topics for consideration if a meeting is conducted. These 
topics may include all items discussed above that are included in the 
Congressional report and others such as:
     Additional frontal crash modes and/or higher frontal test 
speeds. Efforts in the U.S. and internationally are exploring the 
applicability of various frontal crash tests in assessing occupant 
protection. Offset and angled frontal tests into deformable and rigid 
barriers are being conducted and assessed. What implications do these 
additional crash modes and/or higher test speeds have for vehicle 
crashworthiness assessment and for vehicle manufacturers?
     Additional injury measures. As discussed in the 
Congressional report, the Hybrid III crash test dummy provides the 
capability to measure additional parameters including neck loads, chest 
compression, lower leg loads, and, potentially, abdominal loads. How 
would these measures be used to enhance consumer information? Should 
such measures be used in consumer information prior to possible 
introduction in regulations?
     Whether crashworthiness assessment programs should precede 
or follow the rulemaking process. For example, the present NCAP 
preceded mandatory dynamic frontal crash requirements of FMVSS No. 208 
by eight years. (Note: The test procedures and test devices for 30 mph 
testing had received prior rulemaking review.) However, in the case of 
side impact, expansion of NCAP has awaited completed rulemaking action 
prior to the possible initiation of a consumer information program. As 
early as May 1984, NHTSA had established the feasibility for improving 
occupant protection in side impacts (SAE Paper No. 840886, presented at 
the Government/Industry Meeting in May 1984). What are the implications 
to consumers and vehicle manufacturers if crashworthiness assessment 
programs precede the rulemaking process?
     Review of the simplified format. In December 1993, NHTSA 
issued the first news release for the model year 1994 vehicles. A 
simplified format that utilized a star classification system was 
introduced in this release. A copy of the news release can be obtained 
by contacting the NHTSA Office of Public and Consumer Affairs. This 
classification system is based on a combined probability of life-
threatening head and chest injury to the driver and passenger in the 
frontal NCAP test. Is this format effective in providing information to 
consumers? Is there agreement on its scientific basis?
     Any other relevant issues that the consumers, consumer 
organizations, vehicle manufacturers, or other interested parties may 
suggest.
    Commenters who favor such a meeting should also indicate whether 
they might be interested in providing a public statement at the meeting 
and on what subjects. If it is decided to conduct a meeting, an 
additional public notice will be provided.

    Issued on December 27, 1993.
Barry Felrice,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 93-32022 Filed 12-30-93; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-M