The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently issued a final rule that will require motor vehicle manufacturers to continue to provide lockable lap belts even when the vehicles are equipped with a child restraint anchorage system (LATCH) because “data indicate that motorists are still using lockable belts to install [child restraint systems] even in seating positions with LATCH.” The rule takes effect December 27, 2011; petitions for reconsideration must be filed no later than October 13. The rule amends a motor vehicle safety standard on occupant crash protection by removing the September 1, 2012, sunset on the “lockability” requirement. See Federal Register, August 29, 2011.
NHTSA has also issued a notice of its decision that certain nonconforming motor vehicles are eligible for importation. According to the agency, the safety features for these vehicles “comply with, or are capable of being altered to comply with, all applicable [Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards] based on destructive test data or such other evidence as NHTSA decides to be adequate.” See Federal Register, August 31, 2011.
The agency has denied a petition for rulemaking seeking to “amend the Federal motor vehicle safety standard on seat belt assemblies, to include a requirement that seat belts be releasable without unbuckling.” According to NHTSA, “the petitioner did not demonstrate a safety need for such a requirement or show how such a requirement could be implemented without increasing the inadvertent release of seat belts during normal vehicle operation and certain crash scenarios, resulting in increased risk to vehicle occupants.” See Federal Register, August 29, 2011.