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Federal Register / Vol. 71, No.

19 / Monday, January 30, 2006 / Notices 4961

navigation; hazardous materials; I. Background II. Description of the New Motor

cultural and historic resources; visual MBUSA petitioned the agency on Vehicle Safety Feature
and aesthetic resources; and other topics behalf of its parent corporation, The petitioner states that its flashing
associated with the proposed action. DaimlerChrysler AG.1 The petition brake signaling system provides two
The FONSI is based on the analysis seeks a temporary exemption from innovative safety-enhancing features.
presented in the Cherry Hill Material S5.5.10 of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety First, three stop lamps required by
Extraction and Transport EA. Standard (FMVSS) No. 108. In short, FMVSS No. 108 flash at a frequency of
The FONSI and the EA are available 5 Hz in the event of strong deceleration.
S5.5.10 specifies that with certain
for review at Loussac Library in This occurs if the velocity is >50 km/h
exceptions not applicable to this
Anchorage or online at http:// (31 mph) and at least one of the
petition, all lamps, including stop lamps and http:// following conditions is met:
must be wired to be steady-burning.2 In 1. Deceleration is >7 m/s2; or
order to develop and evaluate an
Authority: 49 CFR 1.66. innovative flashing brake signaling 2. The brake assist function is active;
system in the United States, MBUSA or
By Order of the Maritime Administrator.
3. The Electronic Stability Program
Dated: January 24, 2006. sought a temporary exemption from the
(ESP) control unit detects a panic
Joel C. Richard, ‘‘steady-burning’’ requirement as it
braking operation.
Secretary, Maritime Administration. applies to stop lamps. This system is The petitioner states that the
[FR Doc. E6–1077 Filed 1–27–06; 8:45 am]
currently available in Europe on the S- activation criteria ensures that the
class, CL-class, and SL-class Mercedes flashing brake signaling system is only
vehicles. activated when truly needed. Thus, the
MBUSA stated that the system brake lights will flash only in severe
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION enhances the emergency braking signal braking situations, and will flash at a
by flashing three stop lamps required by relatively high frequency that allows for
National Highway Traffic Safety FMVSS No. 108 during strong fast recognition. Further, using the
Administration deceleration. In addition, after panic brake signal from the ESP control
emergency braking, the flashing brake unit as a trigger would activate the
[Docket No. NHTSA–2005–22653, Notice 2]
signaling system automatically activates system only when the achievable
Mercedes-Benz, U.S.A. LLC; Grant of the hazard warning lights of the stopped deceleration is substantially smaller
Application for a Temporary vehicle until it starts to move again or than the demanded one. Thus, the stop
Exemption From Federal Motor Vehicle the lights are manually switched off. lamps would not flash in routine
Safety Standard No. 108 The petitioner stated that this signaling situations.
system reduces the following drivers’ Second, after emergency braking, the
AGENCY: National Highway Traffic reaction time by attracting their system automatically activates the
Safety Administration (NHTSA), DOT. attention, and also enhances visibility of hazard warning lights of the stopped
ACTION: Grant of Application for a the stopped vehicle, thus helping to vehicle until it starts to move again, or
Temporary Exemption from S5.5.10 of reduce the incidence and severity of the lights are manually switched off.
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard rear end collisions.
No. 108. NHTSA previously denied III. Potential Benefits of the New Motor
petitioner’s request to amend FMVSS Vehicle Safety Feature
SUMMARY: This notice grants the
No. 108 to allow flashing brake The petitioner states that the flashing
Mercedes-Benz, U.S.A. LLC (‘‘MBUSA’’) signaling systems. Among the reasons brake signaling system provides
application for a temporary exemption for the denial was the need for important safety enhancements not
from the requirements of S5.5.10 of additional data on safety benefits of found in a vehicle equipped with a
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard flashing brake lamps. The petitioner traditional brake signaling system. First,
(FMVSS) No. 108, Lamps, Reflective argued that granting this temporary the flashing system reduces the
Devices, and Associated Equipment. In exemption would allow them to provide following driver’s reaction time and
accordance with 49 CFR Part § 555.6(b), the information NHTSA found lacking. encourages maximum deceleration of
the basis for the grant is to facilitate the MBUSA requested a two-year following vehicles. The petitioner
development and field evaluation of exemption period. In accordance with expects especially strong benefits during
new motor vehicle safety feature the requirements of 49 CFR adverse weather conditions and for
providing a level of safety at least equal § 555.6(b)(5), MBUSA will not sell more inattentive drivers. Second, the
to that of the standard. Pursuant to than 2,500 exempted vehicles in any activation of hazard warning lamps on
§ 555.6(b)(5), MBUSA is permitted to twelve-month period within the two- the stopped vehicle also enhances
sell not more than 2,500 exempted year exemption period. For additional vehicle recognition after it comes to a
vehicles in any twelve-month period of details, please see the MBUSA petition complete stop. The petitioner believes
the exemption. Because the exemption at that together, these features will help to
period is 24 months, this grant affects searchFormSimple.cfm, Docket No. reduce rear end collisions and improve
up to a total of 5,000 vehicles. NHTSA–2005–22653. The following safety.
DATES: The exemption from S5.5.10 of (Parts II–VI) summarizes MBUSA’s The petitioner acknowledged the
FMVSS No. 108 is effective from petition in relevant part. agency’s longstanding restriction on
January 23, 2006 until January 23, 2008. flashing stop lamps, in the interest of
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: standardized, instantly recognizable
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1 For more information on MBUSA, go to

George Feygin in the Office of Chief lighting functions. However, MBUSA
Counsel, NCC–112 Room 5215, 400 7th 2 See S5.5.10 of 49 CFR 571.108. Turn signal indicated that its system will be easily
Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590 lamps, hazard warning signal lamps, school bus recognizable, and would not interfere
warning lamps must be wired to flash. Headlamps
(Phone: 202–366–2992; Fax: 202–366– and side marker lamps may be wired to flash for
with NHTSA’s objectives since
3820; E-Mail: signaling purposes. Motorcycle headlamps may be activation of the flashing brake signaling wired to modulate. system would be infrequent.

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4962 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 19 / Monday, January 30, 2006 / Notices

IV. The Petitioner’s Research and of distraction. The study also showed areas, and an important cause of rear
Testing positive effects from the flashing brake end collisions is a following driver’s
The petitioner stated that the light signal under adverse weather failure to detect that a leading vehicle
development of the flashing brake conditions and in distraction situations. has performed an emergency braking
signaling system is based on careful Finally, the test subjects expressed a action. MBUSA believes that an
research and testing. The activation preference for flashing brake lights enhanced braking signal that alerts
criteria for the flashing brake lights were when compared to other brake light following drivers to urgent braking
established with the help of a driver signals. situations has the potential to
behavior study. The petitioner further The petitioner states that the Japanese significantly enhance safety.
states that field studies have Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and
VII. Comments Regarding the MBUSA
demonstrated that the brake light system Transportation conducted a study to
can significantly reduce driver reaction evaluate the validity and operating
times. conditions of two types of emergency NHTSA published a notice of receipt
MBUSA used a driver braking brake light displays, one that flashes of the application on October 7, 2005,
behavior study to understand how often upon sudden braking, and one that and afforded an opportunity for
rapid deceleration braking occurs in the enlarges the lighting area of the brake comment.6 The agency received two
United States. The study followed 96 lamps. The study found that flashing comments, from Candlepower, Inc.7 and
subjects using 15 Mercedes-Benz brake lamps reduced following drivers’ Richard L. Van Iderstine.8
vehicles equipped with a driver response time in the drivers’ peripheral In his comments, Mr. Van Iderstine
behavior and vehicle dynamics fields of vision. The study also showed argued that NHTSA only recently
recorder. The study indicated that one that shorter flashing intervals are more denied a petition to amend S5.5.10 of
emergency braking maneuver occurred effective. Finally, the study indicated FMVSS No. 108 in order to allow
for every 2,291 miles driven. The study that an emergency brake light display flashing brake signaling systems being
also suggested that, based on the criteria that enlarges the lighting area is not as considered in this document. In short,
described in the previous section, only effective as a flashing brake lamp. Mr. Van Iderstine asked what has
23 out of 100,000 braking maneuvers changed since the denial of that
V. How Will a Temporary Exemption petition.
would activate the flashing stop lamps. Facilitate the Development and Field
The petitioner concludes that the In its comments, Candlepower argued
Evaluation of a New Motor Vehicle that temporary exemptions should be
flashing brake light will occur rarely, Safety Feature?
which will help to avoid ‘‘optical granted ‘‘only in extreme and unusual
pollution’’ and enhance the The petitioner stated that it intends to circumstances, e.g., evidenced,
effectiveness of the brake light system.3 monitor the exempted vehicles and demonstrable manufacturer hardship.’’
MBUSA sponsored additional field study the effectiveness of the flashing It also argued that MBUSA’s petition is
and driving simulator studies, which brake signaling system. First, MBUSA ‘‘tantamount to requesting permission to
showed that ‘‘appropriately designed will gather information about rear-end use American roads as a research
flashing brake lights significantly reduce collisions of vehicles equipped with the laboratory, possibly because European
drivers’’ reaction times and thus can system. This information will be regulations in force in most of the rest
reduce the incidence and severity of combined with the parallel results from of the world are more restrictive
rear-end collisions.’’ 4 Specifically, the the European fleet and, according to the regarding nonstandard lighting
study compared reaction times in petitioner, should prove to be valuable functions.’’ Further, it argued that a
emergency braking situations among in evaluating the anticipated safety novel, nonstandard signal, such as
conventional brake lights, conventional benefits of the new brake light system. flashing stop lamp, would cause the
brake lights combined with hazard Second, the test fleet should enable observing driver involuntarily to pause
warning lights, flashing brake lights MBUSA to evaluate acceptance of the and attempt to comprehend the signal.
with a flashing frequency of 4 Hz, and flashing stop lamps among the It also argued that unlike Europe where
flashing brake lights with a flashing American public. turn signals must be amber and not red,
frequency of 7 Hz. VI. Why Granting the Petition for in U.S., a flashing stop signal could be
The petitioner states that the study Exemption Is in the Public Interest mistaken for a turn signal. Finally,
showed that flashing brake lights reduce Candlepower cautioned that new
driver reaction time by an average of 0.2 As indicated above, the petitioner lighting devices tend to spawn ‘‘poor-
seconds, which is a reduction sufficient argued that granting the requested quality, noncompliant, unsafe copies in
to reduce meaningfully the number and/ exemption from FMVSS No. 108 would the aftermarket.’’
or severity of rear-end collisions. enable them to continue developing and
evaluating its innovative flashing brake VIII. The Agency’s Decision and
MBUSA argues that even greater Response to Public Comments
reduction in reaction time would occur signaling system, thus contributing
under real-world driving conditions, substantially to ongoing efforts to The petitioner has met the burden of
where drivers are less focused on the consider the effectiveness of enhanced showing that an exemption would make
driving task and subject to more sources lighting systems in reducing rear-end easier the field evaluation of a new
crashes. MBUSA believes that the motor vehicle safety feature providing,
3 MBUSA submitted supporting documentation, system will help to reduce significantly within the context of 49 CFR part 555,
including the driver behavior study, under the following driver reaction times, thus ‘‘a safety level at least equal to that of
claim of confidentiality. NHTSA granted the reducing rear end collisions. the standard.’’ This new safety device is
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confidentiality request in part and denied it in part. The petitioner also noted that rear end the same as current stop lamps, except
The time for MBUSA to seek reconosideration of
our confidentiality determination has not elapsed.
collisions are a significant traffic safety
In accordance with our regular procedures, the concern,5 particularly in dense traffic Tables 42 and 44 at:
supporting documentation has not been placed in pdf/nrd-30/NCSA/TSFAnn/TSF2004EE.pdf).
6 See 70 FR 58786.
the public docket. 5 NCSA 2004 Traffic Safety Facts show 1,334,000
4 The study was conducted by Dr. Joerg Breuer 7 See Docket Nos. NHTSA–2005–22653–4.
rear collisions involvoing passenger cars and
and Thomas Unselt. 1,060,000 rear collisions involving light trucks (see 8 See Docket Nos. NHTSA–2005–22653–3.

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Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 19 / Monday, January 30, 2006 / Notices 4963

that it flashes during emergency through this temporary exemption will remain in effect until January 23,
braking. We note, however, that some of would enable the agency to make more 2008.
the benefits associated with signal informed decisions regarding the effect (49 U.S.C. 30113; delegations of authority at
lamps relate to standardization. We of flashing brake signaling systems on 49 CFR 1.50. and 501.8)
have not made any determination as to motor vehicle safety. We also believe Issued on: January 23, 2006.
whether it would be appropriate to that more recent data on the Jacqueline Glassman,
permit flashing stop lamps more effectiveness of flashing stop lamps
Deputy Administrator.
generally. Instead, the granting of this (compared to NHTSA’s 1981 large scale
petition will help the agency gather field study) would be beneficial. [FR Doc. E6–1079 Filed 1–27–06; 8:45 am]
additional information necessary to With respect to Candlepower BILLING CODE 4910–59–P

evaluate more fully the effects of comments, we first note that the
flashing brake signaling systems on statutory temporary exemption
provisions found in 49 U.S.C. 30113
As required by § 555.6(b), MBUSA provide for more than one basis for National Highway Traffic Safety
described the flashing brake signaling granting a temporary exemption and Administration
system and provided research, specifically contemplate limited
development, and testing temporary exemptions for the purposes Petition To Modify an Exemption of a
documentation. This information of field evaluation of new motor vehicle Previously Approved Antitheft Device;
included a detailed description of how safety features.9 We also note that General Motors Corporation
a vehicle equipped with the MBUSA vehicles equipped with this safety
flashing brake signaling system differs feature are already being sold in Europe. AGENCY: National Highway Traffic
from one that complies with the Therefore, this petition is not an attempt Safety Administration,Department of
standard. MBUSA also explained how to circumvent more restrictive European Transportation (DOT).
an exemption would facilitate their regulations, as suggested by ACTION: Grant of a petition to modify an
safety research efforts. Specifically, Candlepower. Finally, we note that the exemption from the Parts Marking
MBUSA will gather information about statute authorizing the agency to grant Requirements of a previously approved
rear-end collisions of vehicles equipped temporary exemptions for the purposes antitheft device.
with the system. This information will of field evaluation of new motor vehicle
be combined with the parallel results SUMMARY: On July 12, 2005, the National
safety features specifically contemplates
from the European fleet in order to Highway Traffic Safety Administration
their use on U.S. roads. As the
provide data upon which the agency (NHTSA) granted in full General Motors
petitioner indicated, considerable
may base its evaluation of potential Corporation’s (GM) petition to exempt
research has already been performed.
safety benefits of flashing brake signals. the Chevrolet Cobalt vehicle line from
However, to aid the agency in
Based on the petitioner’s driver the parts-marking requirements of the
evaluating the potential safety benefits
behavior study and other supporting vehicle theft prevention standard (See
of brake lights that flash during extreme
research, we tentatively conclude that 70 FR 40102). The exemption was
deceleration, it would be beneficial to
the flashing brake signaling system granted because the agency determined
obtain field data from a discreet group
provides the level of safety that is at that the antitheft device proposed to be
of motor vehicles. This temporary
least equal to that of systems that placed on the line as standard
comply with FMVSS No. 108. exemption, which would apply to up to
equipment was likely to be as effective
Finally, we believe that an exemption 5,000 vehicles, affords the agency this
in reducing and deterring motor vehicle
is in the public interest because the new opportunity.
theft as compliance with the parts-
field data obtained through this Candlepower raised certain concerns
marking requirements of the Theft
temporary exemption would enable the regarding potential negative safety
Prevention Standard. On August 24,
agency to make more informed consequences of the brake flashing
2005, GM petitioned the agency to
decisions regarding the effect of flashing signaling system contemplated by the
amend the exemption currently granted
brake signaling systems on motor petitioner. However, Candlepower has
for the Chevrolet Cobalt vehicle line.
vehicle safety. not provided any data in support of
NHTSA is granting in full GM’s petition
With respect to Mr. Van Iderstine’s their position.
to modify the exemption because it has
comments, we note that the agency In consideration of the foregoing, the determined that the modified antitheft
decision is fully consistent with our agency is granting the MBUSA petition device to be placed on the Chevrolet
previous decision not to amend FMVSS for a temporary exemption from the Cobalt line as standard equipment will
No. 108. Instead of a broad and requirements of S5.5.10 of Federal also likely be as effective in reducing
permanent change in the long-standing Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) and deterring motor vehicle theft as
policy regarding flashing stop lamps, No. 108, Lamps, Reflective Devices, and compliance with the parts-marking
this document grants a narrow Associated Equipment in order to requirements.
temporary exemption to a discreet group facilitate the development and field
of (at most) 5,000 vehicles. In denying evaluation of new motor vehicle safety DATES: The exemption granted by this
the petition to amend FMVSS No. 108, feature providing a level of safety at notice is effective beginning with model
we indicated that NHTSA has been least equal to that of the standard. year (MY) 2006.
conducting research related to signal In accordance with 49 U.S.C. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms.
enhancements at the Virginia Tech 30113(b)(3)(B)(ii), MBUSA is granted Deborah Mazyck, Office of International
Transportation Institute, and also NHTSA Temporary Exemption No. EX Policy, Fuel Economy and Consumer
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analyzing crash and ‘‘close call’’ data 05–6, from Paragraph S5.5.10 of Federal Programs, NHTSA, 400 Seventh Street,
from a 100-car naturalistic driving study Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) SW., Washington, DC 20590. Ms.
to determine the potential of enhanced No. 108, Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Mazyck’s phone number is (202) 366–
rear signaling as a means to reduce rear Associated Equipment. The exemption 0846. Her fax number is (202) 493–2290.
crashes. Together with that information, SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On July
we believe that the field data obtained 9 See 49 U.S.C. § 30113(b)(3)(B)(ii). 12, 2005, NHTSA published in the

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