[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 29 (Friday, February 12, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 7492-7493]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-02763]



National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 571

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Denial of Petition for 

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

ACTION: Denial of petition for rulemaking.


SUMMARY: Based on the agency's evaluation, NHTSA denies a petition for 
rulemaking from Mr. David K. Aberizk, P.E., of Integrated Consultants 
Incorporated, who requests the development of safety standards for a 
driver-activated vehicle regenerative braking interface with distinct 
rear lighting indication. The petitioner claims that the recommended 
changes to the relevant safety standards would allow vehicle 
manufacturers to better utilize the regenerator technology to increase 
vehicle efficiency. NHTSA finds that some features of the suggested 
concept are not prohibited by existing Federal motor vehicle safety 
standards (FMVSS) and notes that Mr. Aberizk did not demonstrate how 
the other features address a motor vehicle safety need. FMVSS Nos. 108 
and 135 currently specify performance requirements relevant to certain 
permitted technologies identified in the petition.

DATES: February 12, 2016.

Avoidance Standards, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

I. Summary of Petition
II. Agency Analysis
III. Agency Decision

I. Summary of Petition

    On April 14, 2012, David K. Aberizk, P.E., petitioned NHTSA 
requesting development of safety standards for a driver-activated 
vehicle regenerative braking interface with a distinct rear indicator 
lamp.\1\ On July 14, 2013, Mr. Aberizk submitted additional information 
in the format of a petition for rulemaking. The agency considers these 
two submissions as one petition for rulemaking because both pertain to 
the same concept of driver-activated vehicle regenerative braking. 
Specifically, Mr. Aberizk requests that NHTSA define the location and 
geometric parameters for a brake control device and the actions 
required for safe operation. Additionally, Mr. Aberizk requests that 
NHTSA define the parameters for a rear lamp to signal vehicle slowing.

    \1\ Original petition available at http://www.regulations.gov, 
Docket No. NHTSA-2012-0010-0003.

    Mr. Aberizk states that regenerator technology is currently 
integrated as a component of the conventional friction braking system 
in electric or hybrid electric motor vehicles, which limits the 
potential of the device to recover energy. He claims that hybrid and 
electric vehicles with driver-activated regenerative braking systems 
(RBS) increases overall efficiency by 6 percent over existing RBS.\2\

    \2\ Mr. Aberizk does not specify whether Graph 1 in Appendix A-1 
of the additional data collected and reported July 14, 2013 refers 
to the overall efficiency of the vehicle at turning power into 
movement, or to the efficiency of the regenerative braking system in 
particular. As discussed further below, however, it is irrelevant to 
the agency's determination of whether to begin rulemaking to 
establish a new FMVSS.

    Mr. Aberizk recommends that the agency establish a new safety 
standard for regenerator engagement to adopt performance requirements, 
which he believes will interest automakers in embracing increased 
efficiency concepts, such as his operator-initiated slowing design. Mr. 
Aberizk provided graphic illustrations showing potential locations for 
an activation control device on the steering wheel or gear selector, 
and an expanded center high-mounted stop lamp (CHMSL) assembly. In his 
first information submission, Mr. Aberizk refers the reader to the 
Integrated Consultants Incorporated Web site for additional details on 
the driver-activated RBS empirical test findings and his U.S. patent, 
Vehicle Regenerative Deceleration Actuator and Indicator System and 
    In his supplemental submission, Mr. Aberizk states that current RBS 
technologies underutilize the potential of brake regenerators to 
increase vehicle efficiency. With an operator-initiated slowing feature 
added to existing RBSs, Mr. Aberizk claims that overall efficiency 
increases by 6 percent in hybrid and electric vehicles, and by at least 
2.5 percent for mild-hybrid vehicles. As presented, the slowing concept 
relies on the driver to manually engage the regenerator to slow the 
vehicle, independent of the brake pedal application. Finally, Mr. 
Aberizk included a summary of the comment and the attachment he 
submitted to NHTSA's notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to establish 
Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards for model years 2017 
and beyond.\3\

    \3\ Mr. Aberizk's comment to that NPRM can be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket No. NHTSA-2010-0131-0278.

II. Analysis of Petition

    Although the submission met the requirements to be accepted as a 
rulemaking petition, NHTSA does not endorse specific products, designs, 
or equipment, as Mr. Aberizk requests. NHTSA develops and issues 
Federal motor vehicle safety standards in order to reduce crashes, 
deaths and injuries resulting from motor vehicle crashes.\4\ Motor 
vehicle safety standards are primarily performance standards, intended 
to allow manufacturers to choose which products, designs, and equipment 
best satisfy the requirements. That said, in the interest of 
completeness, the agency conducted a technical review of Mr. Aberizk's 
petition. Because the petition involves topics related to multiple 
FMVSSs, the agency's technical review of the slowing device was 
separate from its review of the illumination indicator.

    \4\ See 49 U.S. Code Sec.  30101, Purpose and Policy, section 

Slowing Device

    Mr. Aberizk requests that NHTSA define the location and geometric 
parameters for an operator activated slowing control device with a 
human-machine interface required for safe operation. Mr. Aberizk offers 
anecdotal observations and evaluations, but did not submit quantitative 
data. For vehicles configured with the slowing device, he claims a 
`noticeable' increase in range for test distances of 15 miles or 
greater, as well as a 50 to 75 percent reduction in brake pedal usage. 
The petition does not, however, assess how these factors, if accurate, 
would lead to safety benefits attributable to the driver-activated 
slowing concept. Additionally, NHTSA is not aware of any data that 
establish a correlation between

[[Page 7493]]

enhanced RBS performance and reduced crash rates.
    Perhaps more relevant, however, we note that a manually-enhanced 
feature to increase recovered braking energy is not prohibited by FMVSS 
No. 135, the light vehicle braking standard that includes requirements 
for the service brake system, associated parking brake system, and 
optional regenerative braking systems. FMVSS No. 135 defines RBS as an 
electrical energy system that is installed in an electric vehicle for 
recovering or dissipating kinetic energy and which uses the propulsion 
motor(s) as a retarder for partial braking of the electric vehicle 
while returning electrical energy to the propulsion battery(s) or 
dissipating electrical energy. FMVSS No. 135 expressly states that for 
an electric vehicle equipped with RBS, the RBS is considered to be part 
of the service brake system, if it is automatically activated by an 
application of the service brake control, if there is no means provided 
for the driver to disconnect or otherwise deactivate it, and if it is 
activated in all transmission positions, including neutral. For an 
electric vehicle that is equipped with antilock brake system (ABS) and 
RBS that is part of the service brake system, the ABS must control the 
RBS. A vehicle equipped with or without RBS must meet the stopping 
performance requirements of FMVSS No. 135.
    Information compiled by the Federal government estimates the 
combined city/highway driving energy recovered by regenerative braking 
to be 5 to 9 percent.\5\ Mr. Aberizk claims that vehicles with driver-
activated RBS would incrementally increase the energy recovered by an 
additional 2.5 to 6 percent. Although the amount of energy recovered 
may be considered economically beneficial, it is not a safety concern 
that warrants the adoption of a safety standard. Mr. Aberizk extolled 
the fuel economy benefits of the technology in support of his petition, 
but fuel economy benefits are not relevant to whether a technology will 
improve safety. Moreover, even in the CAFE program, NHTSA does not 
mandate the use of particular technologies. Like the FMVSSs, CAFE 
standards are performance standards. Manufacturers are free to choose 
whatever technologies they wish, and NHTSA does not specify particular 
technologies in that context either.

    \5\ http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/atv-hev.shtml (2% to 4% 
highway driving and 8% to 14% city driving).

Illumination Indicator

    In the petition, Mr. Aberizk also requests that NHTSA define the 
parameters for an additional rear lamp to signal vehicle slowing. 
Because we are denying the petition with respect to braking, we need 
not address the part of the petition related to lighting because 
without a new brake requirement, there is no need for a new lighting 
    In order for NHTSA to consider establishing a new safety standard, 
the agency must determine that a safety need exists and that the 
suggested concept will reduce the crash risk. For example, NHTSA 
completed rulemaking action to require center high mounted stop lamps 
as standard lighting equipment after extensive research that quantified 
the crash problem and estimated the safety impact and the effectiveness 
of the new equipment.\6\ Hence, a petitioner bears the burden of 
providing data to justify the safety need for the recommended 
amendments to the relevant safety standard.\7\

    \6\ See 48 FR 48235, October 18, 1983.
    \7\ See Statement of Policy published in 63 FR 59482, on 
November 4, 1998.

    Finally, Mr Aberizk claims that development of safety standards 
will keep product liability of an operator-initiated slowing system 
neutral to the industry. Because NHTSA regulates motor vehicle safety 
and not tort liability, the agency refrains from drawing legal 
conclusions about Mr. Aberizk's operator-initiated slowing device.

III. Agency Decision

    In accordance with 49 CFR part 552, this completes the agency's 
review of the petition for rulemaking. NHTSA believes that the current 
requirements specified in FMVSS Nos. 108 and 135 do not prohibit 
certain features suggested in the petition. The petitioner did not 
demonstrate a safety need or substantiate claims of reduced crash risk 
associated with the petitioned concept. Therefore, NHTSA denies David 
K. Aberizk's petition.

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

    Issued in Washington, DC, under authority delegated in 49 CFR 
part 1.95.
Raymond R. Posten,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 2016-02763 Filed 2-11-16; 8:45 am]