Mr. Todd Mitchell
    Business Unit Manager - Automotive
    ITW Meyercord CTG
    365 E. North Avenue
    Carol Stream, IL 60188


    Dear Mr. Mitchell:

    This letter responds to your request for an interpretation of the labeling requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection. Specifically, you have asked whether the required labels, illustrated in figures 6a, 6b, 6c and figure 8 (for vehicles with advanced air bags) of the standard, must be framed by a black border. You have also sought clarification of the requirement that these labels be permanently affixed to the vehicle sun visor.

    S4.5.1(b)(2) of the regulatory text states that, except as provided, each vehicle manufactured on or after February 25, 1997, "shall have a label permanently affixed to either side of the sun visor, at the manufacturer's option, at each front outboard seating position that is equipped with an inflatable restraint. The label shall conform in content to the label shown in either Figure 6a or 6b of this standard, as appropriate, and shall comply with the requirements of S4.5.1(b)(2)(i) through S4.5.1(b)(2)(v)." These labels are referred to as "air bag warning" labels. The figure 6(c) label must be affixed to the sun visor only if the label specified by S4.5.1(b)(2) is not visible when the sun visor is in the stowed position. (See S4.5.1(2)(c).) This label is referred to as the "air bag alert" label. Vehicles certified to the advanced air bag requirements of our

    May 12, 2000, final rule (65 FR 30680) must have labels that meet the requirements of figure 8.

    Figures 6(a), 6(b), 6(c), and 8 specify both label content and format. Figures 6(a), 6(b), and 8 each specify that the label has a black outline, consisting of horizontal and vertical lines. Figure 6(c) does not specify that the label have any outline, although the label depicted in the figure is outlined in black. Accordingly, FMVSS No. 208 requires the air bag warning labels be framed by black vertical and horizontal lines, while the air bag alert label need not be so framed.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has never defined "permanently affixed" as part of a regulation, and has specifically refused to set forth parameters that would so define the term in FMVSS No. 208. (1) Rather, we have dealt with questions on whether a label is permanently affixed through legal interpretations like this one. (2) Specifically, NHTSA has said that a label is permanent if it cannot be removed without destroying or defacing it and that the label should remain legible for the expected life of the product under normal conditions. Depending on where the label is affixed, various methods of attachment, such as sewing or heat transfer graphics, may meet these criteria.

    I hope this information is helpful to you. Should you require any additional information or assistance, please contact Rebecca MacPherson of my staff at this address or at (202)366-2992.

    Sincerely,

    John Womack
    Acting Chief Counsel

    ref:208
    d.3/19/01



    1. See the agency's response to petitions for reconsideration of the November 27, 1996 air bag warning label final rule, 63 FR 34330, June 24, 1998.

    2. Cf., letter to R. Mark Willingham, April 1, 1994 (FMVSS No. 105); letter to Strawn Cathcart, June 26, 1997 (FMVSS No. 213).