By Kathleen Bianco, J.D.
The agency seeks public comment on current testing procedures that may need to be replaced, repealed, or modified to further regulatory reform efforts.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requests public comment on whether any testing procedures for any Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) should be replaced, repealed, or modified, for reasons other than for considerations relevant only to automated driving systems (ADS). Based on testing-related input submitted during a 2017 Department of Transportation’s (DOT) regulatory review, the agency issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) soliciting further comments on matters relating to testing procedures affecting federal vehicle standards. Comments on the ANPRM are due by February 8, 2021 (NHTSA Proposed Rule, 85 FR 79456, December 10, 2020).
On October 2, 2017, DOT issued a notice requesting public input on existing rules and other agency actions that are candidates for repeal, replacement, suspension, or modification. A few trade associations submitted comments for consideration addressing potential test procedures changes. In addition to the specific concerns raised in the comments from the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (relating to FMVSS No. 121), the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (relating to FMVSS Nos. 208 and 209), and the Association of Global Automakers (relating to FMVSS No. 208), the agency has identified additional test procedures that might need to be replaced, repealed, or updated, including the testing requirements of FMVSS Nos. 103, 104, 105, 126, and 135.
NHTSA seeks input on the specific test procedure issues discussed in the ANPRM, other issues related to those test procedures, and issues related to the test procedures for any other FMVSS. For example, a test procedure may specify testing that is no longer necessary, or may not be clear about how to test vehicles with newer technology, or may even have the effect of prohibiting the introduction of such vehicles. Commenters should consider the following when considering potential test procedure improvements:
- Do any test procedures specify the use of equipment that is obsolete or no longer available at a reasonable cost? If so, what options are available as replacements?
- Do any test procedures specify the use of equipment in a manner that is more specific than necessary to ensure that the test procedure be repeatable and reproducible?
- Are there test procedures in regulations from standards organizations or other countries that evaluate compliance with the same requirement as one in an FMVSS? If so, what evidence is there that the test procedure provides an evaluation of compliance with the requirement in a manner and to an extent equivalent to the current test procedure in the FMVSS?
- What specific problems and challenges have testing laboratories, researchers, or other entities encountered when trying to follow existing test procedures in an FMVSS? For each problem or challenge, commenters are asked to explain how it is currently addressed and any suggested solutions for how it should be addressed in the future.
- Are there any test procedures that do not accurately reflect real-world scenarios? If so, what evidence is there to show that a test procedure needs to be updated to reflect real-world scenarios being tested more accurately? Similarly, how can test procedures be updated to represent a real-world scenario more accurately?
- Are there any loopholes in test procedures that could lead to a passing test result without meeting the intent of a standard or regulation? If so, how can such loopholes be closed by updating the test procedure?
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