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Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Windshield Zone Intrusion

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Windshield Zone Intrusion

Christopher J. Bonanti
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
November 29, 2012

[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 230 (Thursday, November 29, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 71163-71166]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-28815]



National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 571

[Docket No. NHTSA 2008-0124]
RIN 2127-AK13

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Windshield Zone Intrusion

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 
Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Withdrawal of rulemaking.


SUMMARY: This document withdraws a rulemaking proposal to rescind 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 219, ``Windshield 
zone intrusion.'' The agency has determined that there are two ongoing 
regulatory developments that could influence vehicle designs by putting 
a premium on the use of lighter or less rigid materials. These two 
developments are U.S. fuel economy requirements and a global technical 
regulation aimed at reducing injuries to pedestrians struck by 
vehicles. As a result, the agency believes that vehicle designs with 
regard to the hood and windshield are in a state of change and that the 
implications of these developments should be better understood before 
deciding whether to rescind FMVSS No. 219.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For non-legal issues, you may contact 
Mr. David Sutula, Office of Crashworthiness Standards, NHTSA, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590 (Telephone: 202-366-3273) (Fax: 
    For legal issues, you may contact Ms. Analiese Marchesseault, 
Office of the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., 
Washington, DC 20590 (Telephone: 202-366-1723) (Fax: 202-366-3820).


Table of Contents

I. Background
II. NPRM To Rescind FMVSS No. 219
III. Agency Response to Comments on the NPRM
    A. The Changing Vehicle Fleet
    B. Real World Data
    C. Dummy and Air Bag Performance in Windshield Zone Intrusion
    D. Industry Burden
    E. Possible Effect of FMVSS No. 219 Rescission on State 
IV. Agency Decision To Withdraw the Rulemaking

I. Background

    FMVSS No. 219, ``Windshield zone intrusion,'' provides that a 
vehicle's hood must not enter a defined zone in front of the vehicle's 
windshield during a full frontal crash test at 48 kilometers per hour 
(km/h) (30 miles per hour (mph)). The purpose of the standard is to 
reduce injuries and fatalities that result from occupant contact with 
vehicle components, such as the hood, that are displaced into the 
occupant compartment through the windshield opening or into the zone 
immediately forward of the windshield aperture during a frontal crash.
    FMVSS No. 219 specifies a protected zone at the daylight opening 
(DLO) portion of the vehicle windshield. The protected zone is an area 
encompassing the width of the windshield and that protrudes about 76 mm 
(3 inches) from the outer surface of the windshield. In a 48 km/h (30 
mph) frontal rigid barrier crash test, no part of the vehicle from 
outside the occupant compartment, except windshield molding and other 
components designed to normally be in contact with the windshield, are 
permitted to penetrate the protected zone to a depth of more than 6 mm 
(0.25 inches) and no such part of a vehicle is permitted to penetrate 
the inner surface of that portion of the windshield, within the DLO, 
below the protected zone.
    FMVSS No. 219, which took effect on September 1, 1976, applies to 
passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, and buses with 
a gross vehicle weight rating of 4,536 kilograms (kg) (10,000 pounds) 
or less, except for forward control vehicles, walk-in van-type 
vehicles, or open-body-type vehicles with fold-down or removable 
windshields. NHTSA has maintained this standard without substantive 
revision since 1976.

II. NPRM To Rescind FMVSS No. 219

    As part of a periodic review of existing vehicle safety regulations 
to determine whether a continuing safety need exists for the standard 
under review, NHTSA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) 
that proposed to rescind FMVSS No. 219 on July 7, 2008.\1\ NHTSA 
undertakes periodic reviews of its regulations under, inter alia, the 
Department's 1979 Regulatory Policies and Procedures, under Executive 
Order 12866 ``Regulatory Planning and Review,'' and under section 610 
of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 501 et seq.). In addition, 
NHTSA conducts reviews pursuant to its internal operating procedures. 
During this review process, FMVSS No. 219 was identified as a standard 
that could possibly be removed as unnecessary. The NPRM tentatively 
concluded that the safety need that FMVSS No. 219 addresses was being 
met by FMVSS No. 208, ``Occupant crash protection,'' and FMVSS No. 113, 
``Hood latch system.'' The NPRM cited the improvements made to FMVSS 
No. 208 over the years as well as the secondary latch position required 
by FMVSS No. 113. Based on the performance requirements in FMVSS No. 
208 and FMVSS No. 113, the agency tentatively concluded that FMVSS No. 
219 was no longer necessary.

    \1\ 73 FR 38372.

    Our belief stemmed from the fact that FMVSS No. 219 had succeeded 
in virtually eliminating the intrusion of vehicle components from 
outside the occupant compartment into the windshield. The agency's 
analysis of FMVSS compliance and New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) 
tests indicated there had been no known incidents in which a crash 
tested vehicle failed to meet the performance requirements in FMVSS No. 
219. Furthermore, in a preliminary analysis of crashes in the National 
Automotive Sampling System (NASS) Crashworthiness Data System (CDS), no 
hood intrusions into the areas prescribed by FMVSS No. 219 were found 
among full frontal crashes.

III. Agency Response to Comments on the NPRM

    The following organizations submitted comments on the NPRM: Public 
Citizen and the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) (the two commenters 
submitted joint comments), Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety 
(Advocates), the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and the 
Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Alliance).\2\ The issues raised 
include: changes in the vehicle fleet, real world data, dummy and air 
bag performance in

[[Page 71164]]

windshield zone intrusion, industry burden and possible effects of 
FMVSS No. 219 rescission on State regulation. The consumer advocacy 
organizations and the insurance consortium did not support the NPRM, 
while the vehicle manufacturer organization generally supported the 

    \2\ The members included: BMW Group, Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor 
Company, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi, 
Porsche, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

A. The Changing Vehicle Fleet

    Public Citizen/CAS stated, ``In coming years, there will be an 
influx of new small cars from Europe and Asia, which will not 
necessarily be designed with consideration of FMVSS [No.] 219 if it is 
rescinded.'' Advocates stated that ``both long and short-term changes 
in the vehicle fleet make this an inappropriate action to take at this 
time.'' Advocates stated:

the vehicle manufacturing industry is in a rapidly evolving, dynamic 
state and is developing radically new designs and types of motor 
vehicles. Small, uniquely designed vehicles are being produced in 
Europe and imported into the U.S. Three-wheel vehicles are also 
nearing entry into the U.S. market. In the near future, production 
of vehicles in China will supply many more models for import into 
the U.S. market, and inexpensive passenger vehicles using new 
designs are planned in India and other countries that may eventually 
be sold in the U.S. In addition, alternative fuel vehicles will 
incorporate unknown designs and features that, without the 
performance requirement and safety protection for occupants provided 
by FMVSS No. 219, may present safety threats that neither FMVSS No. 
208 nor FMVSS No. 113 are equipped to prevent.

    IIHS commented that ``NHTSA is underestimating the continuing 
benefits of FMVSS [No.] 219, especially considering a growing global 
market, while simultaneously overestimating the benefits of its 
    Agency Response: The agency agrees that the vehicle fleet is in a 
period of change because of many factors. We agree that the U.S. fleet 
may begin to see new entrants from foreign and domestic manufacturers 
that have less experience with the FMVSS framework, in comparison to 
manufacturers that have long been part of the U.S. market. In addition, 
we also believe a period of change may be initiated by two specific 
influences on vehicle design, the effects of which have not yet been 
fully determined. Those influences are more stringent U.S. Corporate 
Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and a global technical regulation 
requiring changes in vehicle design aimed at minimizing injuries to 
pedestrians that are struck by automobiles.
    We believe manufacturers may begin using lighter materials to meet 
CAFE standards, including materials in and around the hoods of 
vehicles. Hood design could be affected by the use of lighter 
materials. We, therefore, agree with commenters that suggested that 
FMVSS No. 219 should remain in place to assure protection against hood 
intrusion while the vehicle fleet evolves in response to CAFE 
    Additionally, in November 2008, the World Forum for Harmonization 
of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29) adopted Global Technical Regulation 
(GTR) No. 9 (ECE/TRANS/180/Add. 9). GTR No. 9 is aimed at establishing 
vehicle design criteria that will result in vehicles with hoods and 
related hardware that will reduce the severity of injuries to 
pedestrians struck by automobiles. Among the vehicle changes that 
manufacturers are likely to consider as a result of implementation of 
this GTR are softer, more deformable hood structures and alternative 
hood designs that aid in protecting a pedestrian that is struck by a 
vehicle. NHTSA is considering the benefit of adopting this GTR to 
harmonize U.S. regulations with the international community. Canada is 
currently considering adopting GTR No. 9, while Japan and the European 
Commission already have adopted requirements in their domestic 
regulations similar to those of the GTR.
    Several vehicles have already shown up in the U.S. market that both 
comply with FMVSS No. 219 and have incorporated the kinds of changes in 
vehicle design anticipated by the GTR. The agency is concerned that a 
pedestrian safety standard might increase the possibility that some 
manufacturers would use hood hinges that are significantly less stiff, 
to produce low injury values for pedestrian testing. It makes sense 
that FMVSS No. 219 would be needed, at least during the initial 
implementation of a pedestrian standard, to ensure that rearward 
deformation of the vehicle's hood is not excessive in an FMVSS No. 219 
type crash.
    The agency agrees that there are unknowns associated with the 
effect of new pedestrian safety designs on the vehicle fleet as they 
pertain to FMVSS No. 219. Therefore, these unknowns warrant retaining 
FMVSS No. 219, at least until the impact of these circumstances can be 
more fully understood.

B. Real World Data

    The IIHS and Public Citizen/CAS commented that NHTSA did not 
provide sufficient real world data to support the rescission of FMVSS 
No. 219. Public Citizen/CAS suggested that NHTSA should analyze the 
effectiveness of FMVSS No. 219 and the potential consequences of 
rescinding it before deciding whether to rescind the standard.
    The IIHS stated that a review of NASS cases revealed that vehicle 
hood penetration into the occupant compartment still occurs in a small 
number of offset crashes, pole impacts, and severe underride collisions 
with large trucks or tractor trailers. The IIHS said that it identified 
NASS cases from 2002-2006 that involved crashes different from the 48 
km/h (30 mph) flat barrier test required by FMVSS No. 219. The IIHS 
suggested that FMVSS No. 219 be modified to address the types of 
crashes seen in these NASS cases. Public Citizen/CAS also stated that 
an offset frontal crash test should be incorporated into FMVSS No. 219.
    CAS compiled a list of 40 recalls from model year 1980 through 2007 
that related to defective hood latch equipment. The organization said, 
``[T]he presence of FMVSS No. 113 does not protect occupants in the 
face of these defects; therefore, the protection provided by FMVSS No. 
219 ensures that occupants are not injured by an intruding roof [sic] 
in the event of a latch failure.'' \3\

    \3\ NHTSA assumes that Public Citizen and the Center for Auto 
Safety were referring to an intruding hood rather than an intruding 
roof. [Footnote added.]

    Agency Response: NHTSA has analyzed crash data to determine the 
potential safety consequences of a decision to rescind FMVSS No. 219. 
As discussed below, the analysis has shown that the safety need for the 
standard for current vehicles is apparently being met by other 
standards. Nonetheless, for reasons related to future vehicle designs, 
we have decided not to rescind FMVSS No. 219.
    NHTSA analyzed NASS cases of model year 2004-2008 vehicles with 
dual frontal air bags that were coded as having hood intrusion. A total 
of 78 cases were identified. Of these 78 NASS cases, only one case 
involved an injury to a non-ejected occupant due to hood intrusion, and 
the resulting injury was coded as a minor injury to the occupant's 
right hand and arm. Based on nationally weighting this one case, NHTSA 
estimates there are annually 127 minor injuries to non-ejected 
occupants associated with hood intrusion.
    The agency also analyzed more than 900 NASS cases that met the 
following criteria: a 2000 model year vehicle, or newer, with a delta V 
of 35 km/h (22 mph),\4\ or greater, with a primary frontal

[[Page 71165]]

impact and available air bags. The agency found only 12 cases in which 
the hood intruded through the windshield. These cases involved frontal 
offset, pole impact, and underride crashes. None of these crash modes 
are required to be tested in FMVSS No. 219. The single NASS case with a 
minor injury to the occupant's arm and hand, described in the previous 
paragraph, was identified in this analysis as well. There were no other 
occupant injuries resulting from hood intrusion found.

    \4\ This delta V threshold was set in order to limit the number 
of cases to a manageable level and to capture crashes around the 
crash severity of the standard and just below.

    Finally, the agency also reviewed 230 Crash Injury Research 
Engineering Network (CIREN) cases and found 9 cases that were coded 
with hood intrusion, 4 of which had injuries associated with hood 
intrusion. All of these cases involved exceedingly severe crashes under 
conditions that far exceed the FMVSS No. 219 testing requirements, and 
resulted in a significant loss of occupant space. These crashes were so 
severe that they exceeded the parameters of any crash test in common 
use, including offset or pole testing suggested by IIHS and Public 
    Details of the NASS and CIREN crashes discussed above are contained 
in a technical report titled, ``Evaluation of NASS Cases for Windshield 
Zone Intrusion,'' which may be found in Docket No. NHTSA-2008-0124 (the 
docket for the July 7, 2008 NPRM).

C. Dummy and Air Bag Performance in Windshield Zone Intrusion

    The IIHS commented that FMVSS No. 208 does not protect against 
windshield zone intrusion in the same way that FMVSS No. 219 does 
because, under FMVSS No. 208, an intrusion would have to occur and 
strike a test dummy in the vehicle to be considered dangerous. Any 
component intruding through a windshield should be considered a hazard, 
IIHS stated, because when intrusion occurs, even slight changes to the 
crash scenario could result in occupant injury.
    Advocates commented that it is unclear how the dummy performance 
requirements of FMVSS No. 208, which it suggested are intended to 
protect occupants from injuries caused by contact with internal vehicle 
surfaces, will serve to reflect impact injuries due to windshield 
intrusion by external vehicle parts. It stated that the agency cannot 
assure the public that only blunt impact injuries would occur if FMVSS 
No. 219 were rescinded. Advocates also stated that FMVSS No. 208 will 
not necessarily prevent lacerative injuries because it is unknown how 
quickly air bags will deflate once punctured by a sharp object 
protruding through the windshield or because an air bag, once having 
performed its function, could start to deflate before an object 
intrudes through a windshield. It stated that in real world crashes, an 
object can strike an occupant without encountering an inflated air bag.
    Agency Response: We believe that the concerns raised by Advocates 
and IIHS about how well FMVSS No. 208 would protect vehicle occupants 
against injury from objects intruding through a windshield during a 
crash would merit further discussion in the event further steps were 
taken to rescind the standard. The agency is today deciding not to 
proceed with rescinding FMVSS No. 219 based primarily on changes that 
are likely to occur in the vehicle fleet. Should the agency consider 
rescinding FMVSS No. 219 at a future time, we will address all 
appropriate issues then.

D. Industry Burden

    The Alliance supported the agency's tentative assessment in the 
NPRM that FMVSS Nos. 208 and 113 adequately protect against windshield 
intrusion, that FMVSS No. 219 is redundant, and that the standard 
imposes an unnecessary burden on manufacturers. The Alliance commented 
that it ``supports the agency's periodic review of its regulations and 
standards * * * to assure that out of date or ineffective regulations 
or standards are not creating needless compliance burdens.''
    Advocates, IIHS, and Public Citizen/CAS stated that FMVSS No. 219 
testing imposes little burden or cost on vehicle manufacturers. IIHS 
stated that FMVSS No. 219 testing poses little additional compliance 
test burden because this aspect of safety is addressed at the same time 
as other flat barrier dynamic testing. Furthermore, IIHS commented that 
``[M]aintaining the standard creates little additional work for the 
agency or manufacturers.'' Advocates stated that ``any cost savings to 
industry would be extremely small.'' Public Citizen/CAS commented that 
FMVSS No. 219 ``places a minimal burden on the industry.''
    Agency Response: We note that we clearly stated in the NPRM that 
any cost savings resulting from the rescission of FMVSS No. 219 would 
be so minimal that the savings cannot be calculated. We note that the 
requirements of FMVSS No. 219 may be assessed during the FMVSS No. 208 
crash test.\5\

    \5\ The full frontal barrier tests in FMVSS No. 208 are now 
performed at 56 km/m (35 mph), which is a more severe test than that 
specified in FMVSS No. 219.

    In December 2004, NHTSA published a technical report analyzing the 
cost and weight added by different FMVSSs.\6\ This report concluded 
that there was no attributable weight or cost associated with FMVSS No. 
219. This conclusion relied on the results of a NHTSA report \7\ that 
sampled twelve make-models pre-standard and post-standard. The report 
found no measurable or determinable weight or cost per vehicle 
associated with FMVSS No. 219.\8\ Based on the negligible cost to 
industry to maintain and test to the performance requirements in FMVSS 
No. 219, the agency has concluded that FMVSS No. 219 does not place an 
unreasonable burden on industry.

    \6\ Tarbet, M.J., Cost and Weight Added by the Federal Motor 
Vehicle Safety Standards for Model Years 1968-2001 in Passenger Cars 
and Light Trucks. NHTSA Technical Report No. DOT HS 809 834:128 
    \7\ McVetty, T.N., Cross, A.J., and Parr, L.W., Cost Evaluation 
for Two Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards--FMVSS 113 Hood 
Latch--Passenger Cars--FMVSS 219 Windshield Zone Intrusion--
Passenger Cars. NHTSA Technical Report No. DOT HS 806 187:19-36 
    \8\ We note that in that report, the agency stated that ``it is 
conceivable that a more thorough teardown study including vehicles a 
year or two before 1976 could have revealed costs of changes made in 
anticipation of FMVSS No. 219, if there were any.''

E. Possible Effect of FMVSS No. 219 Rescission on State Regulation

    The Alliance said that NHTSA ``should confirm in the notice 
publishing the final rule the conclusion that the safety need addressed 
by FMVSS No. 219 is addressed sufficiently by the current versions of 
FMVSS No. 208 and FMVSS No. 113, leaving no room for State regulation 
of this aspect of vehicle performance.'' The NPRM had stated the 
agency's tentative determination that if FMVSS No. 219 were rescinded, 
States would be free to regulate the aspect of motor vehicle 
performance that was regulated by the standard (73 FR at 38374).
    Agency Response: Our action today to withdraw the July 7, 2008 NPRM 
will not change the current relationship between FMVSS No. 219 and 
State regulation of this aspect of vehicle performance.

IV. Agency Decision To Withdraw the Rulemaking

    The agency has decided to withdraw this rulemaking. There are 
relatively new considerations affecting vehicle design, specifically, 
enhanced corporate average fuel economy standards, and global technical 
regulations for vehicle hoods that will reduce the severity of injuries 
sustained by pedestrians that are struck by vehicles. These

[[Page 71166]]

considerations are likely to stimulate the use of lighter or less stiff 
materials in vehicles. In addition, we may begin to see new entrants 
from foreign and domestic manufacturers that have less experience with 
the FMVSS framework, in comparison to manufacturers that have long been 
part of the U.S. market. Therefore, the agency has concluded that now 
is not an appropriate time to rescind FMVSS No. 219. The agency will 
continue to monitor changes in the vehicle fleet that may occur as a 
result of these new design considerations and will continue its process 
of regularly reviewing the existing safety standards, which will 
include FMVSS No. 219.

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 30162; delegations of authority at 49 CFR 
1.95 and 501.8.

Christopher J. Bonanti,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 2012-28815 Filed 11-28-12; 8:45 am]

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