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  NHTSA Revises Final Rule, But Concedes Little to Petition

  On February 20, 2014, NHTSA responded to a petition that had requested changes to the LATCH weight limit labeling aspects of the 2012 final rule amending FMVSS 213.  SRN and other advocates had filed the petition in April 2012 due to concern that the labels, as defined, would excessively limit LATCH use, cause confusion, and inadvertently hinder tether use.  

  NHTSA’s response, issued just a week prior to the February 27 compliance deadline for the original rule, denies most points of the petition, but does alter the final rule in a few ways.  Although the rule will continue to state the limit for use of the lower attachment system as a combined child-plus-CR weight of 65 pounds, it will now allow CR manufacturers to round up to the nearest number ending in 0 or 5 for forward-facing CRs.  This might help alleviate confusion, since a wide array of odd-seeming limits might have been on labels if rounding had not been allowed.  (However, limits for convertible CRs in the rear-facing mode, which apply to only a few models that are heavy and/or have a high usage weight, must be rounded down if the manufacturer opts to round.)

  NHTSA also added that the label must appear with the LATCH-installation diagram that is already required by FMVSS 213, and redefined the weights of dummies used for required testing with LATCH.

  Because these slight revisions were announced so close to the compliance deadline of the original final rule, manufacturers will have until February 2015 to comply with the new aspects of the rule (though compliance to the original requirements of the final rule went into effect on February 27, 2014, as scheduled).  Manufacturers require ample lead-time to equip CRs with new labels, so labeling that was compliant with the original rule, as written, was in the pipeline for most manufacturers (if not already on store shelves) by the time this revision was issued.  Because manufacturers did not know about the optional rounding provision in advance of the compliance deadline, it remains to be seen whether they will opt to make future labeling adjustments based on this revision, and whether that will introduce even more consumer confusion.  (NOTE: To alleviate potential problems, remember the mantra to always follow the CR makers’ instructions for the CR unit being used!) 

  Find the response at, Docket No. NHTSA-2014-0026. NHTSA will consider public comments regarding this response if they are posted to this docket by April 11, 2014.
©Safe Ride News November/December 2013

Note: To read more about how to handle this new information during a car seat checkup click here.




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