December 10, 2019

On May 29, NHTSA Published in the Federal Register its Denial of a Motor Vehicle Defect Petition Regarding the Rollover Performance of 2010 Chevrolet Tahoes and All Similar Vehicles

DATES:  This Decision of NHTSA does not require any period for comments.  The Petition was filed on August 6, 2014.

SUMMARY OF CLAIM:  The Petitioner claimed there were several defects in 2010 Chevrolet Tahoes including:

  • “Safety” belts
  • Roof Strength
  • Containment/Glazing
  • The Rollover Side Curtain Air Bags (RSCABs) Lacked Tethers

NHTSA RATIONALE FOR DENIAL:

Although the petitioner claims the fatal occupant was wearing her 3-point seat belt based on forensic and other evidence, the police accident report and GM’s analysis indicate she and the two other ejected occupants were not restrained at the time of the crash.  Based upon all the evidence available, ODI could not reasonably determine whether or not the fatal occupant was wearing her seat belt and that any potential defect in the seat belt system exists.

No data was submitted in support of roof strength allegation.

The petition alleged that the side window design was defective because the glazing fractured during the crash and the window opening provided an exit path through which occupants could leave the vehicle during a rollover. However, no data was provided in support of this conclusory allegation, and ODI was unable to determine how this material supports the commencement of a defect investigation by NHTSA.

NHTSA believes that the RSCABs were designed to the state of the art at the time the vehicle was manufactured.  Although the 2010 Tahoe was not required to meet FMVSS 226-Rollover Protection, NHTSA had conducted tests on the Tahoes in the development of that standard.  NHTSA did not believe that the performance of the side curtain air bags in the Tahoes did not stand out from the performance of side curtain air bags in other similar model year vehicles. 

ODI also examined complaint, claim, and crash data relating to the petitioner’s claims.  Again the Tahoes had similar performance to other peer vehicles.

NHTSA CONCLUSION

“Based on the information available at the present time, NHTSA does not believe that a safety-related defect currently exists in the design of the rollover side curtain air bags in the MY 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe and other similarly designed Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon vehicles. Therefore, the petition is denied. However, the agency will take further action if warranted by changing future circumstances.”

On May 28, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Requesting Comments on the Safe Integration of Automated Driving Systems-Equipped Commercial Motor Vehicles

DATES: : Comments on this document must be received on or before August 26, 2019

BACKGROUND:

On April 24, 2017, FMCSA held a public listening session to solicit information on issues relating to the design, development, testing, and integration of ADS-equipped CMVs. The listening session provided interested parties an opportunity to share their views and any data or analysis on this topic with Agency representatives. The Agency also invited interested parties to submit written comments by July 17, 2017. For further information on this see public docket FMCSA–2017–0114, at www.regulations.gov.

FMCSA also commissioned the Department’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe) to conduct a preliminary review of the FMCSRs to identify regulations that relate to the development and safe introduction of ADS. Volpe’s final report is titled ‘‘Review of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for Automated Commercial Vehicles: Preliminary Assessment of Interpretation and Enforcement Challenges, Questions, and Gaps,’’ report number MCSA–RRT–17–013, August 2017 is available in public docket, FMCSA– 2017–0114, at www.regulations.gov.

On March 26, 2018, FMCSA published ‘‘Request for Comments [RFC] Concerning Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) Which May Be a Barrier to the Safe Testing and Deployment of Automated Driving Systems-Equipped Commercial Motor Vehicles on Public Roads’’ (83 FR 12933). The document solicited public comments on existing FMCSRs that may need to be updated, modified, or eliminated to facilitate the safe introduction of ADS-equipped CMVs. Further, FMCSA requested comments on certain FMCSRs likely to be affected as ADS- equipped CMVs appear on our roadways.

ANPRM

The Agency requested responses to the following issues and questions:

1. Do the FMCSRs require a human driver?

1.1. How should FMCSA ensure that an ADS-equipped CMV only operates consistent with the ODD for the ADS equipped on the vehicle?

1.2. What are manufacturers’ and motor carriers’ plans for when and how Levels 4 and 5 ADS-equipped CMVs will become commercially available?

1.3. Should FMCSA consider amending or augmenting the definition of ‘‘driver’’ and/or ‘‘operator’’ in 49 CFR 390.5 or define a term such as ‘‘ADS driver’’ to reduce the potential for misinterpretation of the requirements? 

2. CDL Endorsements?

2.1. Should a CDL endorsement be required of individuals operating an ADS-equipped CMV?

2.2. If so, what should be covered in the knowledge and/or skills test associated with an ADS endorsement?

2.3. What would be the impacts on SDLAs?

2.4. Should a driver be required to have specialized training for ADS-equipped CMVs? 2.5. In an operational model that has an individual remotely monitoring multiple CMVs, should the Agency impose limitations on the number of vehicles a remote driver monitors?

2.6. Is there any reason why a dedicated or stand-by remote operator should not be subject to existing driver qualifications?

3. Drivers’ Hours of Service (HOS) Rules

3.1. Should HOS rule changes be considered if ADS technology performs all the driving tasks while a human is on-duty, not driving; off-duty or in the sleeper berth; or physically remote from the CMV?

3.2. Should the HOS requirements apply to both onboard and remote operators?

3.3. If so, how should HOS be recorded when an individual is not physically in control of the vehicle?

4. Medical Qualifications for Human Operators

4.1. Should some of the physical qualification rules be eliminated or made less stringent for humans remotely monitoring or potentially controlling ADS-equipped CMVs?

4.2. If so, which of the requirements should be less restrictive for human operators who would take control of an ADS-equipped CMV remotely?

4.3. Should the Agency consider less restrictive rules for humans who have the benefit of ADS technology to assist them in controlling the vehicle (e.g., technologies that would enable individuals with limb impairments to operate at a level comparable to individuals without such impairments)?

5. Distracted Driving and Monitoring

5.1. How should the prohibition against distracted driving (i.e., texting, hand-held cell phone) apply to onboard operators responsible for taking control of the CMV under certain situations, and to remote operators with similar responsibilities?

6. Safe Driving and Drug and Alcohol Testing

6.1. Should FMCSA consider revising its rules to ensure that (1) any human exercising control of an ADS-equipped vehicle must continue to comply with all the rules under Part 392, and (2) a CMV under the control of a Level 4 or Level 5 ADS must satisfy the operational rules?

6.2. For example, should FMCSA require that the ADS be capable of identifying highway-rail grade crossings and stopping the CMV prior to crossing railroad tracks to avoid collisions with trains, or going onto a highway-rail grade crossing without having sufficient space to travel completely through the crossing without stopping?

6.3. For scenarios in which the control of the ADS-equipped CMV alternates, or may alternate, between a human and the technology, should FMCSA require that both the human operator and ADS comply with the applicable operational rules?

7. Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance

7.1. What qualifications should be required of the individual performing the pre-trip inspection?

7.2. What kind of routine or scheduled inspections should be performed and what types of ADS-related maintenance records should be required?

7.3. Should the inspection period be more or less frequent than annual for an ADS- equipped CMV?

7.4. Should inspections be mileage-based or time-based (e.g., 1,000 miles, 3 months or 1,000 hours of operation)?

7.5. Should FMCSA impose general requirements for motor carrier personnel responsible for ADS-related inspection, repair, and maintenance tasks similar to the Agency’s brake inspector qualification requirements?

7.6. How could FMCSA ensure that motor carriers apply safety-critical software updates?

8. Roadside Inspections

8.1. Should motor carriers be required to notify FMCSA that they are operating Level 4 or 5 ADS- equipped CMVs?

8.2. If so, how should the carrier notify FMCSA?

8.3. Should FMCSA require markings identifying the ADS Level of a vehicle?

8.4. Should the Agency require motor carriers to utilize ADS-equipped CMVs that have a malfunction indicator?

8.5. Should the Agency require that motor carriers deploying ADS-equipped CMVs ensure the vehicle can pull over in response to Federal and State officials or move out of the way of first-responders?

8.6. How might that be achieved, and at what cost?

8.7. How would roadside enforcement personnel know that a vehicle can no longer operate safely?

8.8. Absent an FMVSS, how could standard indications be provided to enforcement personnel?

9. Cybersecurity

9.1. What types of safety and cargo security risks may be introduced with the integration of ADS- equipped CMVs?

9.2. What types of rules should FMCSA consider to ensure that motor carriers’ safety management practices adequately address cybersecurity?

10. Confidentiality of Shared Information

10.1. As the development of ADS technology continues, the Agency believes there is a need to learn about the performance limitations of these systems. FMCSA draws a distinction between information about performance limitations (e.g., how well does the ADS keep the vehicle in its lane and under what environmental conditions, etc.) and details about the system design (e.g., the specific types of sensors, or the arrays of sensors and cameras used for input to the central processing unit for the ADS). To what extent do ADS developers believe performance data should be considered proprietary and withheld from the public?

10.2. Are the Agency’s current processes under 49 CFR 389.9 for submission and protection of confidential business information in the context of a rulemaking sufficient to allow ADS developers and motor carriers to communicate essential information to the Agency regarding the operation of ADS?

10.3. If not, how should those processes be modified?

FMCSA would like to build upon best practices from the private sector in providing guidance to motor carriers on safe practices for the integration of ADS-equipped CMVs. The Agency would consider use of private sector standards to ensure cost-effective, performance-based safety requirements

On May 15, NHTSA Published a Notice of Propose Rulemaking to Extend the Time Period for Retention of Documents, (49 CFR 576)

DATES: Comments should be submitted by July 15, 2019. 

BACKGROUND:

This rulemaking is in response to Congressional Direction in Section 24403 of the Fix America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which directs the Secretary of Transportation to issue a rule increasing the time of record retention to a period not less than ten years, instead of five years as presently required under the regulatory provisions.

Based on NHTSA’s experience investigating potential defects and overseeing recalls, it has determined that a ten-year records retention requirement would ensure that the agency’s investigative needs are meet without unnecessarily burdening manufacturers of motor vehicles and equipment. In this NPRM, NHTSA proposes to extend the record retention requirement for records required to be maintained under 49 CFR 576.6 to ten years.

On April 4th, NHTSA Withdrew Its Proposed Rulemaking from 2012 That Would Have Harmonized FMVSS 205 (49 CFR 571.205) with the Global Technical Regulation Number 6

DATES:  The June 21, 2012 NPRM on Glazing material was withdrawn as of April 4, 2019.

RATIONALE:  NHTSA determined that it did not have sufficient data to evaluate the safety implications of harmonizing FMVSS No. 205 with GTR No. 6, and therefore, withdrew the 2012 NPRM.

On February 8th, NHTSA Withdrew Its Proposed Rulemaking from 2012 That Would Have Mandated Event Data Recorders With the Characteristics Required by FMVSR 563 For Optional Event Data Recorders (49 CFR 563)

DATES: The NPRM ‘‘Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Event Data Recorders,’’ RIN 2127–AK86, published December 13, 2012 (77 FR 74144), is withdrawn as of February 8, 2019

RATIONALE:  At the time the NPRM was published, there were a large number of light vehicles that did not have event data recorders, and NHTSA was proposing to mandate them.  As of the date of withdrawal, almost all light vehicles contain event data recorders, making mandating them unnecessary.