[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 125 (Wednesday, July 1, 2009)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 31387-31389]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-15523]



National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 571

[Docket No. NHTSA-2009-0108]

Vehicle Safety Rulemaking and Research Priority Plan 2009-2011

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

ACTION: Request for comments.


SUMMARY: The purpose of this request for comments is to solicit and 
acquire public comment on the NHTSA's ``Vehicle Safety Rulemaking and 
Research Priority Plan 2009-2011.'' The plan is not an exhaustive list. 
Only programs and projects that are priorities or will take significant 
agency resources are listed. Furthermore, NHTSA's enforcement, data 
collection, and analysis programs--vital elements in achieving NHTSA's 
goals--have their own set of priorities that are not listed here. Each 
of these programs supports NHTSA's rulemaking and research priorities 
by providing necessary safety data, economic analysis, expertise on 
test procedures, and technical issues gleaned from enforcement 
experience. The plan is an internal management tool as well as a means 
to communicate to the public NHTSA's highest priorities to meet the 
Nation's motor vehicle safety challenges. Among them are programs and 
projects involving rollover crashes, children (both inside as well as 
just near vehicles), motorcoaches and fuel economy that must meet 
Congressional mandates or Secretarial commitments. NHTSA is also 
currently in the process of developing a longer-term motor vehicle 
safety strategic plan that would encompass the period 2012 to 2020., 
and will be announced in a separate Federal Register notice.

DATES: Comments must be received no later than August 31, 2009.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments [identified by Docket No. NHTSA-
2009-0108] by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting 
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., West Building Ground 
Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building Ground Floor, Room 
W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC between 9 a.m. and 
5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. Telephone: 
     Fax: 202-493-2251.
    Instructions: All submissions must include the agency name and 
docket number. Note that all comments received will be posted without 
change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal 
information provided. Please see the Privacy Act heading below.
    Privacy Act: Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all 
comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual 
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf 
of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT's 
complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on 
April 11, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 70; Pages 19477-78) or you may visit 
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the 
online instructions, or visit Docket Management Facility at the street 
address listed above.

Strategic Planning and Integration, National

[[Page 31388]]

Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Room W48-318, 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590. Telephone: 202-366-0361. E-mail: 
[email protected].


I. Introduction

    Motor vehicle crashes killed more than 41,000 people and injured 
nearly 2.5 million others in more than 6 million police-reported 
crashes in 2007. In addition to the terrible personal toll, these 
crashes make a huge economic impact on our society with an estimated 
annual cost of $230 billion,\1\ an average of $750 for every person in 
the United States.

    \1\ These estimates are in year 2000 dollars.

    Motor vehicle crashes can be viewed through several different 
     Vehicle type;
     Crash avoidance;
     Crash partners;
     Body region injured; and
     Societal costs.
    Passenger vehicles still account for the majority of fatalities 
(70% or 28,933 fatalities), but also account for 92 percent of the 
vehicle miles traveled (VMT).
    From the crashworthiness perspective, NHTSA looks at occupant 
fatalities or crash types by what part of the vehicle was struck first. 
Typically for passenger vehicles the initial impact point in fatal 
crashes would be frontal in 55 percent of fatalities, side impacts in 
28 percent, non-collision (rollovers) in 8 percent, rear impacts in 5 
percent, and others in 4 percent. However, rollovers can be examined as 
the initial impact, or as any event in the crash. If rollovers are 
examined as any event in the crash, almost 10,200 fatalities occur per 
year in rollovers, or about one-third of the passenger vehicle total.
    From the crash avoidance perspective, NHTSA looks at types of 
crashes that might be mitigated by new technologies. Based on the 
General Estimates System (GES) and the Fatality Analysis Reporting 
System (FARS), four types of crashes total 85 percent of all crashes. 
These include Run-Off-Road (23%), Rear-End (28%), Lane Change (9%), and 
Crossing Path (25%). Those same four types of crashes also equal 75 
percent of all road fatalities. These include Run-Off-Road (41%), Rear-
End (5%), Lane Change (4%), and Crossing Path (14%).
    The fourth perspective of looking at motor vehicle crashes is crash 
type with respect to what the vehicle impacted, if anything. For both 
passenger cars and light trucks, frontal crashes with other motor 
vehicles account for the highest percentage of crash fatalities, 32 
percent and 37 percent respectively. For passenger cars, side impacts 
with other motor vehicles and impact with fixed objects both account 
for 18 percent of fatalities. In fatal crashes involving light trucks, 
non-collisions (rollovers) remain an issue, accounting for 23 percent 
of crash fatalities.
    A fifth and a sixth perspectives are those of body region injured 
and societal costs. Brain injuries and ankle and knee injuries that 
have long-term disability associated with them have very high societal 
    NHTSA looks at crashes from all these different perspectives in 
determining the priorities for the agency. Countermeasures affect 
different types of crashes in different ways and have to be examined 
individually and compared to the applicable target population.
    Programs and projects that warrant priority consideration fall into 
the following four categories: (1) large safety benefits; (2) 
vulnerable populations; (3) high-occupancy vehicles; and (4) other 
    Programs and projects that are in Category 1, large benefits, have 
the potential for large safety benefits based upon factors such as:
     The size of the target population;
     The effectiveness of countermeasures and their potential 
to save lives and prevent injuries;
     The availability and practicability of these 
countermeasures; and
     The potential that countermeasures could be developed in 
the future that could be reasonably effective against a large target 
    It should be noted that some projects require additional research 
before specific countermeasures and their benefits can be identified 
and therefore the priority designation is based on the agency's 
judgment of potential safety impacts.
    Programs and projects in Category 2, vulnerable populations, affect 
children, older people, the vision-impaired, or other populations that 
are considered vulnerable.
    Category 3, high-occupancy vehicles, involves buses or motorcoaches 
and other high-occupancy vehicles.
    Category 4, other considerations, includes priority projects that 
may not be captured in the other categories, but either reduce the 
impact of motor vehicles on energy security or address other specific 
    The plan also includes a list of other significant programs and 
projects that the agency believes it will work on in the 2009-2011 
timeframe. This area is fluid, because the agency receives petitions 
that require action, Congress may request that the agency address other 
areas, the Administration may set additional and/or different 
priorities, or some event may influence NHTSA's priority agenda.
    Some programs and projects described in the plan require additional 
research before any rulemaking action can be taken. These programs may 
not be priorities now because NHTSA is not confident that an effective 
countermeasure can be found. However, with research going on, there is 
the possibility that countermeasures may be discovered that have the 
significant death and injury reduction benefits.
    Since these are expected to consume a significant portion of the 
agency's rulemaking resources, they affect the schedules of the 
agency's other priorities listed in this plan. The concept of this 
plan, in terms of timing, is a little different than the 5-year 
priority plans that the agency has issued in the past. This plan lists 
the programs and projects the agency anticipates working on even though 
there may not be a rulemaking planned to be issued by 2011, and in 
several cases, the agency doesn't anticipate that the research will be 
done by the end of 2011. Thus, in some cases the next step would be an 
agency decision in 2012 or 2013.
    The projects listed in the plan have been divided into the 
following program areas: Light-vehicle crash avoidance and mitigation 
advanced technologies, motorcycles, rollovers, front-impact occupant 
protection, side-impact occupant protection, rear-seat occupant 
protection, children, older people, global technical regulations 
(international harmonization), heavy vehicles, CAFE, and others (a 
catchall category for projects that don't fit in the listed program 
    Crash avoidance projects and programs are listed first because 
their focus is on the first opportunity to save lives and reduce 
injuries by preventing crashes in the first place. In addition they 
serve to reduce property damage and traffic congestion that are the 
inevitable result of most crashes.
    NHTSA seeks public review and comment on the planning document. 
Comments received will be evaluated and incorporated, as appropriate, 
into the planned agency activities. Interested persons may obtain a 
copy of the plan, ``Vehicle Safety Rulemaking and Research Priority 
Plan 2009-2011,'' by downloading a copy of the document. To download a 
copy of the document, go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the 
online instructions, or visit Docket Management Facility at the street 
address listed above under

[[Page 31389]]

ADDRESSES and reference Docket No. NHTSA-2009-0108.

II. Submission of Comments

How Do I Prepare and Submit Comments?

    Your comments must be written and in English. To ensure that your 
comments are correctly filed in the Docket, please include the Docket 
number of this document in your comments. Please submit two copies of 
your comments, including attachments, to Docket Management at the 
address given above under ADDRESSES. Comments may also be submitted to 
the docket electronically by logging onto http://www.regulations.gov. 
Click on ``How to Use This Site'' and then ``User Tips'' to obtain 
instructions for filing the document electronically.

How Can I Be Sure That My Comments Were Received?

    If you wish Docket Management to notify you upon its receipt of 
your comments, enclose a self-addressed, stamped postcard in the 
envelope containing your comments. Upon receiving your comments, Docket 
Management will return the postcard by mail.

How Do I Submit Confidential Business Information?

    If you wish to submit any information under a claim of 
confidentiality, you should submit three copies of your complete 
submission, including the information you claim to be confidential 
business information, to the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, at the address given 
above under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. In addition, you should 
submit a copy from which you have deleted the claimed confidential 
business information to the docket. When you send a comment containing 
information claimed to be confidential business information, you should 
include a cover letter setting forth the information specified in our 
confidential business information regulation. (49 CFR part 512).

Will the Agency Consider Late Comments?

    We will consider all comments that Docket Management receives 
before the close of business on the comment closing date indicated 
above under DATES. To the extent possible, we will also consider 
comments that Docket Management receives after that date. If a comment 
is received too late for us to consider it in developing a final plan, 
we will consider that comment as an informal suggestion for future 
revisions of the plan.

How Can I Read the Comments Submitted by Other People?

    You may read the comments received by Docket Management at the 
address given above under ADDRESSES. The hours of the Docket are 
indicated above in the same location. You may also see the comments on 
the Internet. To read the comments on the Internet, take the following 
    1. Go to http://www.regulations.gov.
    2. On that page, in the field marked ``search,'' type in the docket 
number provided at the top of this document.
    3. The next page will contain results for that docket number; it 
may help you to sort by ``Date Posted: Oldest to Recent.''
    4. On the results page, click on the desired comments. You may 
download the comments. However, since the comments are imaged 
documents, instead of word processing documents, the downloaded 
comments may not be word searchable.

    Please note that even after the comment closing date, we will 
continue to file relevant information in the Docket as it becomes 
available. Accordingly, we recommend that you periodically check the 
Docket for new material.
    Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all comments 
received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual 
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf 
of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT's 
complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on 
April 11, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 70; Pages 19477-78) or you may visit 

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30111, 30117, 30168; delegation of 
authority at 49 CFR 1.50 and 501.8.

    Issued on: June 25, 2009.
Ronald L. Medford,
Senior Associate Administrator for Vehicle Safety.
[FR Doc. E9-15523 Filed 6-30-09; 8:45 am]