[Federal Register Volume 61, Number 142 (Tuesday, July 23, 1996)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Page 38135]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 96-18697]


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
49 CFR Part 571

Denial of Petition for Rulemaking; Federal Motor Vehicle Safety 
AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 
Department of Transportation.
ACTION: Denial of petition for rulemaking.

SUMMARY: This document denies the petition by Mr. John Chevedden for 
the issuance of a mandatory Federal regulation that would require all 
new cars, light trucks and sport utility vehicles to be equipped with 
reflectors or reflective tape on the open driver side door or door 
jamb. An analysis of the petition revealed no information to support 
the petitioner's contention that there is a safety problem with the 
current situation and that his proposed solution will address the 
problem and improve safety in a cost-effective way.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kenneth O. Hardie, Safety Performance 
Standards, NHTSA, 400 Seventh Street, SW, Washington, D.C. 20590. Mr. 
Hardie's telephone number is (202) 366-6987.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: By letter dated March 29, 1996, Mr. John 
Chevedden of Redondo Beach, California, petitioned NHTSA to issue a new 
rule that would mandate the equipping of all new cars, light trucks and 
sport utility vehicles with reflectors or reflective tape on the open 
driver side door or door jamb. The petitioner stated that this will 
avoid collisions with drivers and their car doors as they exit the 
vehicle at night near traffic because the door will be reflective to 
oncoming traffic when the driver door is opened.

Analysis of Petition:

    To establish a new vehicle safety requirement, the agency must 
present data or analysis showing that there is a significant safety 
problem and that the problem would likely be reduced by adopting that 
requirement. The petitioner did not provide any information showing 
that a safety problem presently exists. He did not submit any 
information showing the frequency with which drivers or driver's doors 
are struck by passing traffic. Further, he did not provide information 
showing the extent to which such incidents are the result of 
insufficient conspicuity of the door or the result of the suddenness 
with which the driver opens his or her door into the path of an 
oncoming vehicle. Finally, he did not provide any information showing 
whether the incidents were more likely to involve a solitary parked 
vehicle or a parked vehicle whose rear end was obscured by another 
parked vehicle. The agency also lacks any such information.
    In the absence of this information, the agency cannot assess 
whether the problem is of sufficient magnitude to warrant rulemaking. 
It also can only very roughly assess whether the suggested requirement 
has the potential for reducing the problem.
    NHTSA has already established requirements that make parked 
vehicles, particularly solitary parked vehicles, more conspicuous to 
following traffic. FMVSS 108 requires that vehicles be equipped with 
rear taillamps, stoplamps, high mounted center stoplamps, license plate 
lamps, and parking lamps. These lamps add to a vehicle's conspicuity 
when its lights are turned on. The agency recognizes that to the extent 
that drivers exit from their vehicles at night only after turning off 
the vehicle lights, these lamps will not be of any assistance in making 
the stopped vehicle conspicuous.
    However, FMVSS 108 also contains a requirement that enhances the 
conspicuity of vehicles whose lights are turned off. The Standard 
requires that the rear of all cars, and multipurpose passenger vehicles 
and trucks less than 80 inches overall width, be equipped with two red 
reflex reflectors, on each side of the vehicle centerline. These 
reflectors are required to be as far apart as possible. The intent of 
requiring these reflectors is to make these vehicles more visible, 
especially at times of reduced lighting, so that oncoming drivers will 
ensure that there is sufficient separation to allow them to pass the 
vehicles safely. Further, although not required by FMVSS 108, vehicles 
have an interior light that is activated when the door is opened, even 
if the external vehicle lights are turned off.
    While NHTSA is interested in any suggestion that might reduce 
deaths, injuries or crashes, the agency must ensure that all new 
requirements are likely to enhance safety, are reasonable, practicable 
and cost-effective and that the safety problem is significant enough to 
warrant Federal intervention. Since there is no information available 
to assess either the alleged safety problem or the potential of the 
suggested requirement for solving the problem, NHTSA must decide if it 
should spend limited agency resources to perform the research and 
conduct the studies necessary to assess these matters. There could by 
many other measures whose contribution to the safety of motor vehicles 
could be more easily and certainly established.
    In accordance with 49 CFR Part 552, this completes the agency's 
technical review of the petition. The agency has concluded that there 
is no reasonable possibility that the amendment requested by the 
petitioner would be issued at the conclusion of a rulemaking 
proceeding. After considering all relevant factors, including the need 
to allocate and prioritize limited agency resources to best accomplish 
the agency's safety mission, the agency has decided to deny the 

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30103, 30111, 30162; delegations of 
authority at 49 CFR 1.50 and 501.8.

    Issued on: July 17, 1996.
Barry Felrice.
Associate Administrator for Safety Performance Standards.
[FR Doc. 96-18697 Filed 7-22-96; 8:45 am]