[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 242 (Thursday, December 17, 2015)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 78664-78670]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-31353]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR PART 571

[Docket No. NHTSA-2015-0057]
RIN 2127-AL41


Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Lamps, Reflective Devices, 
and Associated Equipment

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

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This final rule amends the rear license plate holder 
requirements contained in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 
No. 108; ``Lamps, reflective devices, and associated equipment.'' The 
final rule expands upon the proposal in the NPRM and allows license 
plates on all motor vehicles to be mounted on a plane up to 30 degrees 
upward from vertical if the upper edge of the license plate is not more 
than 1.2 meters (47.25 inches) from the ground. Previously, the maximum 
allowable upward mounting angle was 15 degrees beyond vertical. This 
final rule increases harmonization with existing requirements in 
European regulations. Additionally, this final rule increases a 
manufacturer's design flexibility while providing opportunity to 
decrease cost without compromising safety.

DATES: Effective June 14, 2016, with optional early compliance as 
discussed below.
    Petitions for Reconsideration: Petitions for reconsideration of 
this final rule must be received not later than February 1, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Petitions for reconsideration of this final rule must refer 
to the docket and notice number set forth above and be submitted to the 
Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For technical issues: Mr. David Beck, 
Office of Crash Avoidance Standards, Telephone: 202-366-6813, 
Facsimile: 202-366-7002.
    For legal issues: Mr. John Piazza, Office of the Chief Counsel, 
Telephone: 202-366-2992, Facsimile: 202-366-3820.
    The mailing address for these officials is: National Highway 
Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, 
DC 20590.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Table of Contents

I. Background

[[Page 78665]]

II. Summary of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)
III. Summary of Public Comments and NHTSA's Response
IV. Final Rule
V. Effective Date
VI. Regulatory Analyses and Notices

I. Background

    The agency reorganized FMVSS No. 108, ``Lamps, reflective devices, 
and associated equipment,'' in a 2007 final rule by streamlining the 
regulatory text and clarifying the standard's requirements.\1\ The 
final rule, among other things, incorporated important agency 
interpretations and reduced reliance on third-party documents 
incorporated by reference. Regulated parties provided feedback to the 
agency that documents, incorporated by reference before the 2007 
reorganization, made it difficult to determine all of the applicable 
requirements. For example, the standard incorporated some older 
versions of SAE standards, not the most current versions; not only were 
the older SAE standards sometimes difficult to obtain, but some 
regulated parties may have mistakenly believed that FMVSS No. 108 
incorporated the most recent SAE standards. The reorganization was 
intended to fix these problems. The agency stated in the final rule 
that the reorganization of FMVSS No. 108 was administrative and not 
intended to change the standard's substantive requirements.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ 72 FR 68234, Dec. 4, 2007.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    SAE \2\ International Recommended Practice, SAE J587 OCT81, License 
Plate Lamps (Rear Registration Plate Lamps) was one of the third-party 
documents whose requirements were transferred to the regulatory text of 
the standard. Among other requirements derived from SAE J587 OCT81, 
S6.6.3 of the final rule required that the rear license plate holder be 
mounted within an angle  15 degrees of a plane 
perpendicular to that on which the vehicle stands. This requirement was 
not expressly stated in the text of the standard previously. Instead, 
FMVSS No. 108 contained two tables indicating the lighting requirements 
for different types of vehicles, and these tables indicated that ``SAE 
J587, October 1981'' was an ``Applicable SAE standard'' for a ``license 
plate lamp.'' \3\ Even though the 2007 final rule explicitly stated the 
SAE J587 requirements for the first time, these requirements were not 
new, since FMVSS No. 108 had previously incorporated them by reference.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ Previously named Society of Automotive Engineers.
    \3\ See 49 CFR 571.108, Table I (Required Motor Vehicle Lighting 
Equipment Other Than Headlamps, Multipurpose Passenger Vehicles, 
Trucks, Trailers, and Buses, of 80 or More Inches in Overall Width) 
(2006); see also Table III (Required Motor Vehicle Lighting 
Equipment, Passenger Cars and Motorcycles, and Multipurpose 
Passenger Vehicles, Trucks, Buses and Trailers of Less than 80 
Inches in Overall Width).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In response to the December 2007 final rule, the agency received 
petitions for reconsideration from Harley-Davidson Motor Company \4\ 
(Harley-Davidson) and Ford Motor Company (Ford).\5\ Ford requested that 
the agency delete S6.6.3 because, Ford concluded, NHTSA had stated that 
not all requirements of referenced SAE standards were intended to be 
incorporated into FMVSS No. 108. Harley-Davidson petitioned NHTSA to 
either withdraw or amend the license plate mounting angle requirements 
because, Harley-Davidson stated, FMVSS No. 108 regulated license plate 
lamps, not holders. After the 2007 final rule was published, the 
Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) submitted a petition for 
reconsideration requesting that the agency amend the license plate 
angle mounting requirement for motorcycles.\6\ Because the petition for 
reconsideration was received on March 19, 2009, well after the allowed 
time for such petitions, NHTSA treated it as a petition for 
rulemaking.\7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ Docket No. NHTSA 2011-0052.
    \5\ Docket No. NHTSA 2007-28322.
    \6\ MIC had also submitted a petition for rulemaking before the 
2007 final rule (on March 14, 2005) requesting that the agency 
modify the license mounting angle requirement to allow license 
plates to be mounted between 30 degrees upward and 15 degrees 
downward of a plane perpendicular to that on which the vehicle 
stands. NHTSA did not grant this request before or during the 
administrative re-write of FMVSS No. 108 because the agency's intent 
was to streamline and clarify the standard, not to make substantive 
changes.
    \7\ See 49 CFR 553.35.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In two separate notices, both issued on April 26, 2011, NHTSA 
granted MIC's petition for rulemaking \8\ and denied, in part, the 
petitions for reconsideration of the 2007 final rule on the same 
issue.\9\ Because of confusion among regulated entities over whether 
the license plate mounting angle requirements in SAE J587 OCT81 were 
incorporated into FMVSS No. 108, the agency announced that it would not 
enforce the 15 degree mounting angle requirement while it is completing 
the rulemaking that was the subject of the petition.\10\ That 
enforcement policy will end as of the effective date of this final 
rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ See 76 FR 23254, Apr. 26, 2011 (granting petition for 
rulemaking).
    \9\ See 76 FR 23255, Apr. 26, 2011 (denying, in part, petitions 
for reconsideration).
    \10\ See id. at 23256.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

II. Summary of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)

    On September 3, 2013, the agency published an NPRM proposing to 
amend FMVSS No. 108 to allow manufacturers greater flexibility in the 
design of the license plate mounting surface on motorcycles.\11\ The 
proposal stated that the maximum downward angle at which a motorcycle 
license plate could be mounted (i.e., the plate faces below the 
horizon) would remain 15 degrees, as would the maximum upward angle for 
license plates on motorcycles on which the upper edge of the license 
plate is more than 1.2 m (47.25 inches) from the ground. If the upper 
edge of the license plate is not more than 1.2 m (47.25 inches) above 
the ground, however, NHTSA proposed to amend the motorcycle license 
plate mounting angle requirements to allow mounting angles of up to 30 
degrees upward from the vertical (i.e., the plate faces above the 
horizon).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \11\ 78 FR 54210, Sept. 3, 2013.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NHTSA anticipated that this change would reduce costs for 
manufacturers by allowing them to use the same mounting hardware for 
the license plate in both the U.S. and Europe. The agency also stated 
that it did not believe that the proposal would compromise safety 
because the proposed changes to the license plate mounting angle 
requirement would not affect the ability of law enforcement personnel 
or the general public to view the license plate. The NPRM also 
requested comment on the following issues: Amending the license plate 
mounting angle requirements to allow the license plate to be mounted at 
an angle of 30 degrees upward of vertical on all vehicles, or, 
alternatively, on vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 
pounds and less; adopting the maximum height requirement of 1.5 m 
specified in the analogous European Economic Community (EEC) 
regulations; and whether the proposed amendments would negatively 
affect the ability of license plate recognition technology to read 
license plate characters.\12\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \12\ Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

III. Summary of Public Comments and NHTSA's Response

    In response to the NPRM, the agency received comments from trade 
associations, a non-profit association, manufacturers, and an 
individual. The trade associations that submitted comments were the 
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (the Alliance) and MIC. The 
voluntary non-profit association of state and provincial motor vehicle 
administrations--the

[[Page 78666]]

American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA)--submitted 
a comment. Volkswagen Group of America (Volkswagen) and Harley-Davidson 
Motor Company (Harley-Davidson) also submitted comments. The agency 
also received a comment from an individual commenter. Comments are 
summarized below by topic, along with the agency's responses.

Harmonization and Cost Saving Benefits of the Proposal

Comments
    MIC and Harley-Davidson supported the proposal to increase the 
maximum mounting angle to 30 degrees beyond vertical if the upper edge 
of the license plate is not more than 1.2 m (47.25 inches) above the 
ground. (MIC and Harley-Davidson also suggested, as discussed below, 
adopting the EEC height requirement.) Each commented that the proposal 
would align FMVSS No. 108 more closely with the EEC mounting angle 
requirements.\13\ Each also stated that this change would increase 
manufacturer design flexibility and decrease manufacturers' costs 
without decreasing safety.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \13\ See EEC Council Directive 2009/62/EC, 1990 O.J. (L 198/20).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Agency Response
    The agency agrees with MIC's and Harley-Davidson's comments 
supporting the agency's proposal. Regarding MIC's comment that the 
proposal would align FMVSS No. 108 more closely with the EEC license 
plate mounting angle requirement, the agency verified that today's 
final rule is generally consistent with the inclination provisions of 
EEC Council Directive 2009/62/EC.\14\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \14\ 3. INCLINATION
     3.1. The rear registration plate:
     3.1.1. must be at right angles to the median longitudinal plane 
of the vehicle;
     3.1.2. may be inclined from the vertical by not more than 
30[deg], with the vehicle unladen, when the backing plate for the 
registration number faces upwards;
     3.1.3. may be inclined by not more than 15[deg] from the 
vertical, with the vehicle unladen, when the backing plate for the 
registration number faces downwards.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Legibility

Comments
    MIC agreed with the agency's tentative conclusion that the proposed 
maximum mounting angle would not adversely affect the ability of 
license plate recognition technology to read license plates. MIC also 
stated that optics and software could be readily modified, and that the 
technology is more sensitive to downward than upward angles. A former 
law enforcement officer stated that license plates mounted at an angle 
are often more difficult to read in low light. He stated that the 
proposed rule would interfere with the ability of witnesses, police 
officers, and the public to identify vehicles.
Agency Response
    In response to the commenter that expressed concern that the 
proposed rule would decrease the legibility of the license plate in low 
light conditions, the agency considered the potential impact of 
increasing the allowable mounting plate angle in the context of the 
totality of factors that influence the legibility of the plate in low 
light conditions. FMVSS No. 108 contains various photometric and 
geometric requirements aimed at assuring legibility of the license 
plate. While this final rule expands the allowable license plate 
mounting plane angle, other lamp photometric requirements and geometric 
requirements remain unchanged. The plate illumination restriction 
continues to require that the test station targets be illuminated at a 
value of no less than 8 lux by the license plate lamp. Additionally, 
the highest to lowest illumination ratio requirements, which protect 
against shadowing across the plate, remain unchanged. Also unchanged is 
a requirement that the incident light from the license plate lamp never 
be less than 8 degrees. These factors all influence the legibility of 
the license plate in low light conditions more than the mounting angle 
within the range of allowable angles and heights of this final rule.
    Finally, the final rule's adoption of the proposed maximum plate 
height for which this expanded angle range applies of 1.2 m (measured 
from the top of the plate) limits the range of likely vertical viewing 
angles. Considering the sales-weighted average driver's eye height for 
a car is 1.1 m and 1.42 m for light trucks and vans, the agency 
anticipates that occurrences of an observer reading plate at large 
vertical visual angles will remain rare.\15\ A driver, whose eye height 
is at the sales-weighted average height in a sedan, will view the 
center of a license plate (approximately 1.15 m to 1.125 m from the 
ground), if mounted at the maximum height of 1.2 m (at the top of the 
plate), nearly parallel to the horizon. This means that the maximum 
vertical viewing angle for a license plate mounted at the maximum 
height and at the maximum angle, when viewed by the average driver's 
eye height (worst-case situation) will be no greater than 30[deg] from 
perpendicular to the plate. Considering all these factors, the agency 
concludes that the legibility of a license plate in low light 
situations for drivers will not be negatively impacted by today's final 
rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \15\ UMTRI-2002-8, ``The Location of Headlamps and Driver Eye 
Positions In Vehicles Sold in The U.S.A.'' (2002) Schoettle, B., 
Sivak, M., and Nakata, Y.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For automated license plate readers, the agency estimates that they 
are often mounted similar to, or higher than a driver's eye height. As 
such, the agency believes that the geometric and photometric factors 
outlined above apply similarly to machine license plate readers as they 
do to human viewers. As such, the agency agrees with MIC that today's 
final rule will not have a negative impact on automated plate readers.

License Plate Height

Comments
    Harley-Davidson and MIC commented that the agency should adopt the 
EEC maximum height allowance of 1.5 m above the ground, as measured 
from the upper edge of the license plate when the vehicle is unladen. 
Harley-Davidson stated that this more liberal height requirement would 
provide greater design flexibility and potential harmonization-related 
cost savings. MIC stated that, in addition to benefits from 
harmonization, the 1.2 m and 1.5 m values are arbitrary and there is no 
material advantage or disadvantage to either.
Agency Response
    The agency has decided not to adopt the EEC maximum height 
allowance. Neither MIC nor Harley-Davidson submitted data or specific 
information to support their comments. The agency disagrees with MIC 
that the 1.2 m maximum plate height for which the expanded angle 
applies is arbitrary. As outlined above, this restriction limits the 
vertical visual angle for which a driver is likely to view a license 
plate. While a 1.2 m maximum plate height, for which the plate may be 
angled at 30[deg] upward, produces a maximum vertical viewing angle of 
30[deg] beyond perpendicular, a value of 1.5 m will not provide such an 
assurance. If the agency chose the value of 1.5 m as suggested by MIC 
and Harley-Davidson, and as allowed in the EEC regulation, a viewer 
located at the average, sales-weighted eye height would need to look up 
beyond horizontal for a plate mounted at the upper height limit. Such 
an arrangement would cause the vertical

[[Page 78667]]

viewing angle to increase beyond 30[deg] depending on the viewing 
distance. As such, we have chosen to adapt the proposed limit of 1.2 m 
as the maximum mounting height for a plate mounted on a plane more than 
15 degrees (but less than 30 degrees) upward from vertical. The agency 
has chosen, however, not to adopt the ECE maximum height of 1.5 m 
because we are concerned that higher mounting locations could create a 
situation where the legibility of the plate becomes compromised.

Vehicles to Which the Proposed Changes Should Apply

Comments
    In the NPRM, the agency solicited comment on amending the mounting 
angle requirement not just for motorcycles but for other types of 
vehicles as well. We stated that after receiving public comment the 
agency may decide to allow license plates to be mounted at an angle of 
up to 30 degrees upward of vertical on all vehicles, or on all vehicles 
with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds and less.
    The agency received two comments regarding the issue of what 
vehicles to which the proposed rule should apply. Both Volkswagen and 
the Alliance stated that the proposed change in mounting angle should 
apply not just to motorcycles but to all classes of vehicles. 
Volkswagen and the Alliance stated that making the rule generally 
applicable would harmonize the FMVSS No. 108 provision with the 
comparable ECE regulations and, (as Volkswagen stated) with SAEJ587, 
both of which apply the maximum 30 degree upward mounting angle to all 
classes of vehicles.\16\ The Alliance also indicated that the 
permissible upward mounting angle should not depend on vehicle weight 
because license plate visibility and legibility do not depend on 
vehicle weight.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \16\ SAE J587 SEP2003, 6.5.2. ``The design shall be such that, 
when the plate is mounted on a vehicle as intended and the upper 
edge of the license plate is more than 1.2 m from the ground, the 
angle between the plane of the license plate and a vertical plane 
perpendicular to the plane of the ground on which the vehicle stands 
shall be 15 degrees. If the upper edge of the license 
plate is not more than 1.2 m from the ground, the plate surface 
bearing the license numbers shall face between 30 degrees upward and 
15 degrees downward from the vertical plane.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Agency Response
    The agency anticipates that this final rule can yield design and 
manufacturing benefits to all motor vehicles, not just motorcycles, 
without compromising safety. As such, the agency has applied this final 
rule to all motor vehicles regardless of vehicle type or weight. In the 
NPRM, the agency considered applying the relaxed requirement to 
vehicles that are rated at 10,000 pound or less vehicles. After 
considering the Alliance's comment, the agency agrees that there is no 
logical connection between the weight rating of the vehicle and the 
legibility of the plate based on the mounting angle considering the 
size of the plate and other photometric and geometric requirement are 
the same for heavy and light vehicles. Applying this final rule to all 
motor vehicles will allow manufacturers of these additional vehicle 
types the flexibility to use an expanded mounting angle without 
compromising safety.

Orientation of the License Plate as Either Vertical or Horizontal

Comments
    The AAMVA commented that the proposed rule would continue to allow 
license plates to be mounted vertically (i.e., displayed so that the 
characters on the plate are read from top to bottom rather than left to 
right). AAMVA stated that vertically-mounted plates are difficult to 
read and that it ``supports the horizontal display of a front and rear 
plate and the uniform manufacture and design of plates, to increase the 
effective and efficient identification of license plates. The use of 
common characteristics and predictable designs on license plates will 
enhance readability, usability, and a connection to vehicle 
registration records.''
Agency Response
    While the agency appreciates AAMVA's comment, this rulemaking is 
limited to the mounting angle of the plate and does not address whether 
the license plate is horizontally or vertically displayed. Accordingly, 
the AAMVA's proposed requirement is outside the scope of this 
rulemaking.

IV. Final Rule

    The agency is amending FMVSS No. 108 to allow license plate 
mounting angles of up to 30 degrees upward from vertical (an installed 
plate will face above the horizon) if the upper edge of the license 
plate is not more than 1.2 m (47.25 inches) from the ground. The agency 
is also expanding the application of this change beyond that proposed 
in the NPRM (motorcycles) to include all motor vehicles. The maximum 
downward angle (an installed plate will face below the horizon) at 
which a license plate can be mounted remains 15 degrees, as does the 
maximum upward angle on vehicles for which the upper edge of the 
license plate is more than 1.2 m (47.25 inches) above the ground. The 
agency believes that these changes to the license plate mounting angle 
requirements will reduce costs for manufacturers by allowing them to 
use the same mounting hardware for the license plate in both the United 
States and Europe without compromising safety because, as described 
above, we do not believe that plate legibility will be compromised.
    As of the effective date of the final rule we are terminating the 
policy, in effect since our denial of the petitions for reconsideration 
of the 2007 final rule, of not enforcing the license plate holder 
mounting requirement.

V. Effective Date

    In the NPRM we proposed an effective date of 60 days after 
publication of the final rule. Under the Safety Act, a FMVSS typically 
is not effective before the 180th day after the standard is 
published.\17\ We did not receive any comments concerning the proposed 
effective date. In keeping with typical practice, this final rule will 
be effective June 14, 2016, with optional early compliance. We believe 
that specifying a later effective date for this final rule will not 
have any adverse effects or prejudice any regulated parties. This final 
rule expands the range of compliance options available to 
manufacturers; it does not enact any new duties or restrictions. 
Moreover, providing for optional early compliance will allow 
manufacturers to immediately benefit from the flexibility afforded by 
the expanded mounting angle requirements the same as if the effective 
date were earlier.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \17\ See 49 U.S.C. 30111(d).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

VI. Regulatory Notices and Analyses

A. Executive Order (E.O.) 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review), E.O. 
13563, and DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures

    NHTSA has considered the impact of this rulemaking action under 
Executive Order 12866, Executive Order 13563, and the Department of 
Transportation's regulatory policies and procedures. This final rule 
does not result in any increased costs or significant benefits. 
Therefore, it is not considered to be significant under E.O. 12866 or 
the Department's regulatory policies and procedures. The Office of 
Management and Budget has designated this rule as non-significant.

B. Executive Order 13609: Promoting International Regulatory 
Cooperation

    The policy statement in section 1 of Executive Order 13609 
provides, in part:


[[Page 78668]]


    The regulatory approaches taken by foreign governments may 
differ from those taken by U.S. regulatory agencies to address 
similar issues. In some cases, the differences between the 
regulatory approaches of U.S. agencies and those of their foreign 
counterparts might not be necessary and might impair the ability of 
American businesses to export and compete internationally. In 
meeting shared challenges involving health, safety, labor, security, 
environmental, and other issues, international regulatory 
cooperation can identify approaches that are at least as protective 
as those that are or would be adopted in the absence of such 
cooperation. International regulatory cooperation can also reduce, 
eliminate, or prevent unnecessary differences in regulatory 
requirements.

This rule more closely aligns the U.S. regulatory requirements for 
mounting motor vehicle license plates with those of European countries. 
Permitting an upward mounting angle of up to 30 degrees for all 
vehicles harmonizes with the ECE Council Directive 2009/62/EC, 1990 
O.J. (L 198/20). These changes will increase manufacturer design 
flexibility without decreasing safety. The agency has chosen, however, 
not to adopt the ECE maximum height of 1.5 m because we are concerned 
that the higher mounting locations could create a situation where the 
legibility of the plate becomes compromised.

C. National Environmental Policy Act

    We have reviewed this final rule for the purposes of the National 
Environmental Policy Act and determined that it would not have a 
significant impact on the quality of the human environment.

D. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., 
as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act 
(SBREFA) of 1996), whenever an agency is required to publish a notice 
of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must prepare and make 
available for public comment a regulatory flexibility analysis that 
describes the effect of the rule on small entities (i.e., small 
businesses, small organizations, and small governmental jurisdictions). 
The Small Business Administration's regulations at 13 CFR part 121 
define a small business, in part, as a business entity ``which operates 
primarily within the United States.'' \18\ No regulatory flexibility 
analysis is required if the head of an agency certifies the rule will 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \18\ 13 CFR 121.105(a).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NHTSA has considered the effects of this rule under the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act. I certify that this rule will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. This rule 
expands the range of permissible mounting angles for license plates on 
motor vehicles. We do not anticipate that there will be any increased 
costs as a result of this rulemaking action. Accordingly, we do not 
anticipate that this rule will have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities.

E. Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

    NHTSA has examined today's final rule pursuant to Executive Order 
13132 \19\ and concluded that no additional consultation with States, 
local governments or their representatives is mandated beyond the 
rulemaking process. The agency has concluded that the rule will not 
have sufficient federalism implications to warrant consultation with 
State and local officials or the preparation of a federalism summary 
impact statement. The rule will not have ``substantial direct effects 
on the States, on the relationship between the national government and 
the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among 
the various levels of government.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \19\ 64 FR 43255, Aug. 10, 1999.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NHTSA rules can preempt in two ways. First, the National Traffic 
and Motor Vehicle Safety Act contains an express preemption provision: 
When a motor vehicle safety standard is in effect under this chapter, a 
State or a political subdivision of a State may prescribe or continue 
in effect a standard applicable to the same aspect of performance of a 
motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment only if the standard is 
identical to the standard prescribed under this chapter.\20\ It is this 
statutory command by Congress that preempts any non-identical State 
legislative and administrative law addressing the same aspect of 
performance.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \20\ 49 U.S.C. 30103(b)(1).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The express preemption provision described above is subject to a 
savings clause under which ``[c]ompliance with a motor vehicle safety 
standard prescribed under this chapter does not exempt a person from 
liability at common law.'' \21\ Pursuant to this provision, State 
common law tort causes of action against motor vehicle manufacturers 
that might otherwise be preempted by the express preemption provision 
are generally preserved. However, the Supreme Court has recognized the 
possibility, in some instances, of implied preemption of such State 
common law tort causes of action by virtue of NHTSA's rules, even if 
not expressly preempted. This second way that NHTSA rules can preempt 
is dependent upon there being an actual conflict between an FMVSS and 
the higher standard that would effectively be imposed on motor vehicle 
manufacturers if someone obtained a State common law tort judgment 
against the manufacturer, notwithstanding the manufacturer's compliance 
with the NHTSA standard. Because most NHTSA standards established by an 
FMVSS are minimum standards, a State common law tort cause of action 
that seeks to impose a higher standard on motor vehicle manufacturers 
will generally not be preempted. However, if and when such a conflict 
does exist--for example, when the standard at issue is both a minimum 
and a maximum standard--the State common law tort cause of action is 
impliedly preempted.\22\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \21\ 49 U.S.C. 30103(e).
    \22\ See Geier v. American Honda Motor Co., 529 U.S. 861 (2000).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Pursuant to Executive Order 13132, NHTSA has considered whether 
this rule could or should preempt State common law causes of action. 
The agency's ability to announce its conclusion regarding the 
preemptive effect of one of its rules reduces the likelihood that 
preemption will be an issue in any subsequent tort litigation.
    To this end, the agency has examined the nature (e.g., the language 
and structure of the regulatory text) and objectives of today's rule 
and finds that the rule, like many NHTSA rules, would prescribe only a 
minimum safety standard. As such, NHTSA does not intend that this final 
rule would preempt state tort law that would effectively impose a 
higher standard on motor vehicle manufacturers than that established by 
today's proposed rule. Establishment of a higher standard by means of 
State tort law would not conflict with the minimum standard established 
here. Without any conflict, there could not be any implied preemption 
of a State common law tort cause of action.

F. Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform)

    Pursuant to Executive Order 12988, ``Civil Justice Reform,'' \23\ 
NHTSA has considered whether this rule would have any retroactive 
effect. This rule does not have any retroactive effect.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \23\ 61 FR 4729, Feb. 7, 1996.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 78669]]

G. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    Section 202 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) 
requires Federal agencies to prepare a written assessment of the costs, 
benefits, and other effects of a proposed or final rule that includes a 
Federal mandate likely to result in the expenditure by State, local, or 
tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of more 
than $100 million in any one year (adjusted for inflation with a base 
year of 1995).
    Before promulgating a rule for which a written statement is needed, 
section 205 of the UMRA generally requires NHTSA to identify and 
consider a reasonable number of regulatory alternatives and adopts the 
least costly, most cost-effective, or least burdensome alternative that 
achieves the objectives of the rule. The provisions of section 205 do 
not apply when they are inconsistent with applicable law. Moreover, 
section 205 allows NHTSA to adopt an alternative other than the least 
costly, most cost-effective, or least burdensome alternative if the 
agency publishes with the final rule an explanation why that 
alternative was not adopted.
    This rule, by harmonizing this provision of FMVSS No. 108 with the 
comparable EEC standard will likely reduce the manufacturing and design 
costs of manufacturers by allowing a greater degree of commonality 
between vehicles manufactured for sale in the United States and for 
sale in Europe, and possibly other markets. The rule is not anticipated 
to result in the expenditure by state, local, or tribal governments, in 
the aggregate, or by the private sector in excess, of $100 million 
annually. Therefore, the agency has not prepared an economic assessment 
pursuant to the Unfunded Mandate Reform Act.

H. Paperwork Reduction Act

    Under the procedures established by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 
1995 (PRA), a person is not required to respond to a collection of 
information by a Federal agency unless the collection displays a valid 
OMB control number. This rule does not contain any collection of 
information requirements requiring review under the PRA.

I. Executive Order 13045

    Executive Order 13045 \24\ applies to any rule that: (1) Is 
determined to be economically significant as defined under E.O. 12866, 
and (2) concerns an environmental, health or safety risk that NHTSA has 
reason to believe may have a disproportionate effect on children. If 
the regulatory action meets both criteria, we must evaluate the 
environmental health or safety effects of the proposed rule on 
children, and explain why the proposed regulation is preferable to 
other potentially effective and reasonably feasible alternatives 
considered by us.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \24\ 62 FR 19885, Apr. 23, 1997.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Today's rule does not pose such a risk for children. The primary 
effect of this rule is to amend the license plate mounting angle for 
motor vehicles.

J. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act

    Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement 
Act (NTTAA) requires NHTSA to evaluate and use existing voluntary 
consensus standards in its regulatory activities unless doing so would 
be inconsistent with applicable law (e.g., the statutory provisions 
regarding NHTSA's vehicle safety authority) or otherwise impractical.
    Voluntary consensus standards are technical standards developed or 
adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies. Technical standards 
are defined by the NTTAA as ``performance-based or design-specific 
technical specification and related management systems practices.'' 
They pertain to ``products and processes, such as size, strength, or 
technical performance of a product, process or material.''
    Examples of organizations generally regarded as voluntary consensus 
standards bodies include the American Society for Testing and Materials 
(ASTM), the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and the American 
National Standards Institute (ANSI). If NHTSA does not use available 
and potentially applicable voluntary consensus standards, we are 
required by the Act to provide Congress, through OMB, an explanation of 
the reasons for not using such standards.
    While SAE J587 SEP 2003, License Plate Lamps (Rear Registration 
Plate Lamps) contains a mounting angle requirement for motor vehicles 
similar to the agency's proposal, the agency did not believe that it 
would be appropriate to adopt J587 SEP 2003 in its entirety. FMVSS No. 
108 currently requires that when a single lamp is used to illuminate 
the plate, the lamp and license plate holder must bear such relation to 
each other that at no point on the plate must the incident light make 
an angle of less than 8 degrees to the plane of the plate.\25\ SAE J587 
SEP 2003 does not contain this requirement. While the agency considered 
incorporating SAE J587 SEP 2003 in its entirety, we concluded that the 
deletion of the test requirement to maintain an 8 degree relationship 
between the lamp and the license plate holder might negatively impact 
the direction toward which the plate reflects the light provided by the 
license plate lamp. For this reason the agency has decided not to use a 
voluntary consensus standard in its entirety in this regulatory 
activity.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \25\ FMVSS 108, S7.7.15.4.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

K. Executive Order 13211

    Executive Order 13211 \26\ applies to any rule that: (1) Is 
determined to be economically significant as defined under E.O. 12866, 
and is likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, 
distribution, or use of energy; or (2) that is designated by the 
Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs as a 
significant energy action. If the regulatory action meets either 
criterion, we must evaluate the adverse energy effects of the rule and 
explain why it is preferable to other potentially effective and 
reasonably feasible alternatives considered by NHTSA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \26\ 66 FR 28355, May 18, 2001.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This rule amends the license plate mounting angle for motor 
vehicles. Therefore, this rule will not have any adverse energy 
effects. Accordingly, this rulemaking action is not designated as a 
significant energy action.

L. Regulation Identifier Number (RIN)

    The Department of Transportation assigns a regulation identifier 
number (RIN) to each regulatory action listed in the Unified Agenda of 
Federal Regulations. The Regulatory Information Service Center 
publishes the Unified Agenda in April and October of each year. You may 
use the RIN contained in the heading at the beginning of this document 
to find this action in the Unified Agenda.

Regulatory Text

List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 571

    Motor vehicle safety, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA is amending 49 CFR part 
571 as set forth below.

PART 571--FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARDS

0
1. The authority citation for Part 571 of Title 49 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 322, 30111, 30115, 30117, 30166; delegation 
of authority at 49 CFR 1.95.


[[Page 78670]]



0
2. Amend Sec.  571.108 by revising paragraph S6.6.3 to read as follows:


Sec.  571.108  Standard No. 108; Lamps, reflective devices, and 
associated equipment.

* * * * *
    S6.6.3 License plate holder. Each rear license plate holder must be 
designed and constructed to provide a substantial plane surface on 
which to mount the plate.
    S6.6.3.1 For motor vehicles on which the license plate is designed 
to be mounted on the vehicle such that the upper edge of the license 
plate is 1.2 m or less from the ground, the plane of the license plate 
mounting surface and the plane on which the vehicle stands must be 
perpendicular within 30[deg] upward (an installed plate will face above 
the horizon) and 15[deg] downward (an installed plate will face below 
the horizon).
    S6.6.3.2 For motor vehicles on which the license plate is designed 
to be mounted on the vehicle such that the upper edge of the license 
plate is more than 1.2m from the ground, the plane of the license plate 
mounting surface and the plane on which the vehicle stands must be 
perpendicular within  15[deg].
* * * * *

    Issued on: December 8, 2015.
Mark R. Rosekind,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2015-31353 Filed 12-16-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P