Mr. Charles Vits
18881 U.S. 31 North
Westfield, IN 46074
Dear Mr. Vits:
This responds to your letter asking whether your “STAR” child restraint system is a “harness” under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 213, “Child restraint systems.” The answer is no.
You describe the STAR as a “hybrid design of both harness and child seat” made exclusively for school bus use. The STAR has a five-point webbing system and also a “lower base booster structure.” In your letter, you state that the STAR uses—
a booster seating structure that is used to tie in the cam wrap for seat back mount and the five point child restraint system. This lower base booster structure enables the STAR to properly position lower belt anchorage points of the five point restraint system to help assure that the lower belts will be properly fitted on the child.
FMVSS No. 213 includes definitions for several types of child restraint systems (CRSs), and includes a definition of “harness” (see S4 of the standard). The definitions in FMVSS No. 213 are used to determine the applicability of the standard’s requirements to a particular CRS. Regardless of how a CRS manufacturer has named or marketed its product, NHTSA will evaluate the compliance of the CRS with the requirements that apply to the CRS as the CRS is defined in FMVSS No. 213.
FMVSS No. 213 (S4) defines “harness” as: “a combination pelvic and upper torso child restraint system that consists primarily of flexible material, such as straps, webbing or similar material, and that does not include a rigid seating structure for the child.”
Based on the information you provide, we conclude the STAR is not a “harness.” First, a harness does not have any kind of seating structure. The STAR has a “seating structure for the child” that you state “properly position[s] lower belt anchorage points” of the CRS. In addition, you indicate that IMMI is considering adding lower anchorage connectors to the booster seating structure that would enable the CRS to attach to a vehicle’s child restraint anchorage system. This information indicates that the booster seating structure is a “rigid seating structure.” Since the STAR has a rigid seating structure, the STAR is not a harness.
Second, the STAR has solid parts. It has a solid seat back and booster seating structure. The STAR does not “consist primarily of flexible material such as straps, webbing or similar material” when it has a seat back consisting of one or more segments of solid material and a booster seating structure. With the seat back and the seat structure, the STAR does not meet the definition of “harness” in FMVSS No. 213.
In your letter, you suggest amending FMVSS No. 213 such that the STAR would be considered a type of child restraint made exclusively for school buses. You believe that, because of its exclusive use on school buses, some of FMVSS No. 213’s requirements that currently apply to the STAR need not apply to the product. NHTSA has a process by which interested persons may petition NHTSA to commence a proceeding regarding amending the FMVSSs. See 49 CFR Part 552, “Petitions for Rulemaking, Defect, and Noncompliance Orders.” A copy of the regulation is enclosed for your information.
If you have further questions, please contact Deirdre Fujita of my staff at (202) 366-2992.
Paul A. Hemmersbaugh
Ref: Standard No. 213