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NHTSA grants NTEA petition, will save industry millions

On June 18, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued an interim final rule requested by the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) that delays the date on which manufacturers of vehicles built in two or more stages must produce vehicles meeting the upper interior head protection performance requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 201 from Sept. 1, 2002 until Sept. 1, 2003. During the interim period, NHTSA will conduct rulemaking to investigate appropriate permanent relief for multi-stage vehicle manufacturers. This interim final rule and the likely permanent relief will save the industry millions of dollars in compliance costs. FMVSS 201u, which was to have taken effect in September 2002 for NTEA member produced vehicles, was intended by NHTSA to provide passenger vehicles and light trucks (10,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight rating or less) with additional protection to interior pillars, side rails, headers and roof. Compliance to the Standard is demonstrated via a series of very precise in-vehicle, instrumented headform impacts with multiple interior components.The NTEA determined that testing would need to be done on well over 300 vehicle chassis, body and equipment configurations. Costs for such testing would run over $160 million for the industry. Further, due to the capacity limitations of the companies that provide such testing, it would take over 60 years to complete the tests to cover one model year of production by our industry.The NTEA held a series of meetings with affected NTEA members as well as with NHTSA officials. Based on the information gathered from NTEA members the Association officially petitioned NHTSA for relief.NHTSA's issuance of this delay on the effective date is designed to allow the agency adequate time to craft permanent relief for multi-stage vehicle manufacturers from this regulation. NHTSA's plan is to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking detailing the permanent changes to the regulation in time such that a final rule can be published in advance of the expiration of the newly delayed effective date.

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