Mr. Leo M. Cyr
Vice President, NGA Auto Glass Division
National Glass Association
8200 Greensboro Drive, Suite 302
McLean, VA 22102-3881
Dear Mr. Cyr:
This responds to your letter to Dr. Jeffrey Runge, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in which you asked a number of questions regarding NHTSA’s regulations and other issues of concern to the automotive glass industry. Your letter was referred to my office for reply. In order to simplify our reply, we repeat each of the questions presented in your letter below, followed by our response.
(1) We understand the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) do apply to factory installation of auto glass on vehicles destined for sale in interstate commerce. Do these same FMVSS regulations (specifically FMVSS 212, 216 and ) apply:
a.) Once the new vehicle is purchased by a consumer?
b.) When auto glass is damaged in the aftermarket?
c.) To the individual states being required to enforce the FMVSS and, if so, how are the regulations enforced?
By way of background, we note that NHTSA has authority under 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301 to promulgate Federal motor vehicle safety standards that apply to new motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment. Most safety standards issued by the agency apply only to new vehicles. However, certain "equipment standards" apply to new parts and equipment, whether they are installed in new vehicles or sold in the aftermarket. A manufacturer must certify that its motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment meets the requirements of all applicable FMVSS before being sold to a consumer for the first time.
The primary standard related to automotive glass is FMVSS No. 205, Glazing Materials. As an equipment standard, a manufacturer of glazing intended for use in a motor vehicle must certify that its products meet the requirements of FMVSS No. 205. However, as your question suggests, other FMVSS also relate to glazing materials, including FMVSS No. 212, Windshield Mounting, FMVSS No. 216, Roof Crush Resistance, and FMVSS No. 219, Windshield Zone Intrusion, which are vehicle standards.
To address the first part of your question, the Federal motor vehicle safety standards do not apply to vehicles and motor vehicle equipment after their first sale to a consumer. However, once a vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment has been sold to a first purchaser for purposes other than resale, a manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or motor vehicle repair business may not "knowingly make inoperative any part of a device or element of design installed on or in a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in compliance with an applicable motor vehicle safety standard." 49 U.S.C. § 30122(b). In general, this "make inoperative" prohibition requires businesses that modify motor vehicles to ensure that they do not remove, disconnect, or degrade the performance of safety features installed in compliance with applicable standards.
In those cases where an item of glazing is damaged and replaced, the replacement glazing must meet the requirements of Standard No. 205. This is because all replacement glazing must meet, and be certified by its manufacturer as meeting, the requirements of FMVSS No. 205, which is an equipment standard. Failure of a repair business to install replacement glazing that complies with this standard would be a violation of the prohibition on selling motor vehicle equipment that does not comply with applicable FMVSSs (see 49 U.S.C. § 30112).
However, the vehicle with the new replacement glazing would not have to comply with the vehicle standard requirements of FMVSS Nos. 212, 216, or 219. A manufacturer is not required to assure that a vehicle remains in compliance after it has been sold for purposes other than resale. Moreover, a repair business that replaced the damaged glazing would not violate the "make inoperative" prohibition, because the object or event that damaged the windshield in the first place had already rendered the glazing "inoperative" with respect to these standards. Repair businesses are not required to restore a damaged vehicle to its original level of performance.
Finally, responsibility for enforcing the federal motor vehicle safety standards resides with this agency. NHTSA randomly purchases products and tests them in accordance with our regulations. A test failure may lead to an investigation and a recall of noncompliant equipment. States may only enact provisions relating to the same aspect of performance covered by a federal motor vehicle safety standard if the provision is identical to the federal standard.
(2) What is NHTSA’s specific position, if any, on the repair (as opposed to replacement) of ‘rock chip’ damaged windshields? If such a position exists, does it include or, in some way limit, the repair of long cracks?
NHTSA is responsible for the promulgation and enforcement of performance standards to ensure the safety of motor vehicles and items of motor vehicle equipment. We do not specify when or how repairs are conducted on a vehicle.
(3) Has the NHTSA reviewed the auto glass industry’s voluntary Auto Glass Replacement Standard (www.AGRSS.com) and, if so, does the NHTSA have a position on that standard?
We are aware of the automotive glass industry’s voluntary Auto Glass Replacement Standard, which provides detailed procedures for the proper installation of glazing. By invitation of the National Glass Association, NHTSA participated as an observer in a related Industry Code Practices/Standard meeting on September 18, 1998. However, we have not taken a position with regard to that standard, because as discussed above, we do not specify when or how repairs are conducted on a vehicle.
(4) Can the NHTSA provide a citation for their internal study that stated 82 people per day were injured or killed as a result of being ejected from their motor vehicles during crashes, and, if data available through your office that quantifies the number of individuals who were ejected through the windshield; through a side glass; or, through a door that opened during the crash? And, further, can your office advise (if such detail is not available in the current study) whether such detail is being considered for future studies?
We are not aware of the "internal study" to which this question refers. However, the statistics cited appear to approximate the number of serious injuries and fatalities that result from rollover crashes (not necessarily due to ejection). Using 1995-1999 data from the National Automotive Sampling System (NASS), we estimate that, on average, 253,000 light vehicles were involved in a tow-away, rollover crash each year, and that 27,000 occupants of these vehicles were seriously injured, equating to about 74 serious injuries per day (see Federal Register notice on Consumer Information Regulations; Rollover Resistance, 66 FR 3388 (Jan. 12, 2001) (Docket No. NHTSA-2000-8298)).
Focusing more specifically on the issue of ejection, in August of 2001, NHTSA published a final report entitled, "Ejection Mitigation Using Advanced Glazing," which presented research conducted by the agency. That report again studied crashes in the 1995-1999 NASS database. The report estimated that approximately 7,800 people are killed and 7,100 people are seriously injured each year because of partial or complete occupant ejections through glazing. This document can be found on NHTSA’s website at: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/PDF/nrd-11/glazingreport.pdf. Specifically, Table 1.3 of the report provides statistics for ejection routes. NHTSA will continue to consider and update this information as part of our door lock and ejection mitigation research programs.
(5) Does the Bush Administration have plans to encourage states that have repealed all or part of their periodic motor vehicle inspection (PMVI) programs to reinstate PMVI?
a.) During the 1970s and 1980s, anti-PMVI forces argued effectively that no one could prove PMVI saved lives. Has the NHTSA conducted any studies that compare accident or personal injury rates before and after PMVI’s repeal?
While we recognize the importance of owners maintaining the safety systems in their vehicles, NHTSA currently has no plans to encourage States to implement PMVI programs, as the data do not indicate that PMVI should be an agency priority. The agency’s current priorities include: impaired driving, safety belts, rollover, crash compatibility, and traffic records and data. NHTSA has not conducted, nor are there plans to conduct, research on the effectiveness of PMVI programs.
(6) Does NHTSA have any plans to revise the FMVSS regulations to more clearly reflect the materials and designs used in today’s vehicles?
NHTSA periodically reviews our Federal motor vehicle safety standards on a 7-year cycle. As part of that review, we consider advancements in materials and designs used in current vehicles. FMVSS No. 205 is part of this periodic reassessment process.
The following provides one recent example of our efforts to improve the safety of glazing used in motor vehicles. On July 25, 2003, NHTSA published a final rule amending FMVSS No. 205 to incorporate the 1996 American National Standards Institute standard that deals with the safety performance of safety glass and safety glazing.
(7) Does the NHTSA receive and compile consumer requests for improved auto glass performance? If so, would that information be available to the National Glass Association?
On occasion, NHTSA receives petitions for rulemaking to improve automotive glass performance. These petitions are made available to the public through the Department of Transportation’s Docket Management System (DMS), which can be accessed at http://dms.dot.gov. For example, all petitions submitted to the agency in calendar year 2004 are posted in Docket No. NHTSA-2004-16856 for public review. However, NHTSA has not received any glazing-related petitions to date in 2004.
NHTSA also sometimes receives information related to automotive glass performance through consumer complaints submitted to NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI). Such information is compiled in ODI’s complaint database, which includes reports concerning glazing materials. These reports can be obtained from NHTSA’s website at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/ by entering relevant search terms.
Enclosed is a copy of a reference document entitled, "Information for New Manufacturers of Motor Vehicles and Motor Vehicle Equipment," which you may find useful. If you have any further questions, please contact Eric Stas of my staff at this address or by telephone at (202) 366-2992.