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Daimler Trucks North America, LLC, Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Trucking Topics:  Freightliner

Daimler Trucks North America, LLC, Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Jeffrey M. Giuseppe
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
20 July 2017


[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 138 (Thursday, July 20, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 33551-33554]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-15256]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2017-0011; Notice 2]


Daimler Trucks North America, LLC, Grant of Petition for Decision 
of Inconsequential Noncompliance

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

ACTION: Grant of petition.

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SUMMARY: Daimler Trucks North America, LLC (DTNA), has determined that 
certain model year (MY) 2016-2017 Freightliner trucks do not fully 
comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 101, 
Controls and Displays. DTNA filed a noncompliance report dated January 
19, 2017, and amended it on January 25, 2017. DTNA also petitioned 
NHTSA on January 20, 2017, for a decision that the subject 
noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety.

ADDRESSES: For further information on this decision contact Stu Seigel, 
Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, the National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration (NHTSA), telephone (202) 366-5287, facsimile 
(202) 366-3081.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    I. Overview: Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), has determined 
that certain model year (MY) 2016-2017 Freightliner trucks do not fully 
comply with Table 2 of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 
No. 101, Controls and Displays. DTNA filed a noncompliance report dated 
January 19, 2017, and amended it on January 25, 2017, pursuant to 49 
CFR part 573, Defect and Noncompliance Responsibility and Reports. DTNA 
also petitioned NHTSA on January 20, 2017, pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 
30118(d) and 30120(h) and 49 CFR part 556, for an exemption from the 
notification and remedy requirements of 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301 on the 
basis that this noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor 
vehicle safety.
    Notice of receipt of the petition was published with a 30-day 
public comment period, on April 7, 2017, in the Federal Register (82 FR 
17069). No comments were received. To view the petition and all 
supporting documents log onto the Federal Docket Management System 
(FDMS) Web site at: https://www.regulations.gov/. Then follow the 
online search instructions to locate docket number ``NHTSA-2017-0011.''
    II. Vehicles Involved: Affected are approximately 81,641 MY 2016-
2017 versions of the following trucks, manufactured between March 2, 
2015 and September 8, 2016:

 Freightliner 108SD
 Freightliner Business Class M2
 Freightliner Cascadia
 Freightliner 114SD

    III. Noncompliance: DTNA explains that the noncompliance is that 
the Low Brake Air Pressure telltale for air brake systems displays the 
word ``BRAKE'' and a message on an adjacent display screen says ``LOW 
AIR'', rather than the words ``BRAKE AIR,'' as specified in Table 2 of 
FMVSS No. 101. DTNA states

[[Page 33552]]

that the telltale is accompanied by an audible alert and pressure 
gauges.
    IV. Rule Text: Paragraph S5 of FMVSS No. 101 provides: ``Each 
passenger car, multipurpose passenger vehicle, truck and bus that is 
fitted with a control, a telltale, or an indicator listed in Table 1 or 
Table 2 must meet the requirements of this standard for the location, 
identification, color, and illumination of that control, telltale or 
indicator.''
    Paragraph S5.2.1 of FMVSS No. 101 provides, in pertinent part: ``. 
. . each control, telltale and indicator that is listed in column 1 of 
Table 1 or Table 2 must be identified by the symbol specified for it in 
column 2 or the word or abbreviation specified for it in column 3 of 
Table 1 or Table 2.''
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TN20JY17.000

BILLING CODE 4910-59-C
    V. Summary of DTNA's Petition: DTNA described the subject 
noncompliance and stated its belief that the noncompliance is 
inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety.
    In support of its petition, DTNA submitted the following reasoning:
    (a) DTNA notes that the purpose of the low brake air pressure 
telltale is to alert the driver to a low air condition, consistent with 
the requirements of FMVSS No. 121, S5.1.5 (warning signal). The word 
``BRAKE'' instead of ``BRAKE AIR,'' together with a message on the 
display screen saying ``LOW AIR!'' and an audible alert that occurs in 
the subject vehicles would alert the driver to an air issue with the 
brake system. Once alerted, the driver can check the actual air 
pressure by reading the primary and secondary air gauges and seeing the 
contrasting color on the gauges indicating low pressure.
    (b) NHTSA stated in a 2005 FMVSS No. 101 rulemaking that the reason 
for including vehicles over 10,000 pounds in the requirements of FMVSS 
No. 101 is that there is a need for drivers of heavier vehicles to see 
and identify their displays, just as there is for drivers of lighter 
vehicles. See 70 FR 48295, 48298 (Aug. 17, 2005). The telltale in the 
subject vehicles saying ``BRAKE'' and the message on the display screen 
that says ``LOW AIR!'' would allow the driver to see and identify the 
improper functioning system as was the intent of the rule, thus serving 
the purpose of the FMVSS No. 101 requirement.
    (c) Drivers of commercial vehicles would conduct daily pre-trip

[[Page 33553]]

inspections of their vehicles paying particular attention to the 
warning signs and gauges to ensure correct functionality of their 
vehicles braking system, before driving the vehicle. Drivers therefore 
would be very familiar with the telltales and other warnings, and their 
meaning, in the event a low air warning was to occur while the vehicle 
was driven.
    (d) There are two scenarios when a low brake air pressure condition 
would exist: A parked vehicle and a moving vehicle. Each of these are 
discussed separately below; in each scenario, there is ample warning 
provided to the driver of low brake air pressure.

1. Parked Vehicle

    The driver of an air-braked vehicle must ensure that the vehicle 
has enough brake air pressure to operate safely. At startup, the 
vehicle will likely be in a low air condition. When in a low air 
condition the following warnings would occur, conditioning the driver 
over time as to the purpose of the telltale, message and audible alerts 
and under what conditions they are activated.

 Red contrasting color of the telltale saying ``BRAKE''
 Message on the display screen that says ``LOW AIR!''
 Audible alert to the driver as long as the vehicle has low air
 Air gauges for the primary and secondary air tanks clearly 
showing the air pressure in the system
 Red contrasting color on the air gauges indicating when the 
pressure is low
 Difficulty/inability of releasing the parking brakes with low 
air
 Reduced drivability if the driver attempts to drive with the 
parking brakes applied

2. Moving Vehicle

    If a low brake air pressure situation occurs while driving, the 
function of the service brakes may be reduced or lost and, eventually 
if the pressure gets low enough, the parking brakes will engage. The 
driver must pull to the side of the road and apply the parking brakes 
as soon as possible. A loss of brake air pressure while driving 
represents a malfunctioning brake system and requires immediate action 
from the driver. Drivers recognize that a telltale illuminated in red 
represents a malfunction which needs to be remedied.
    The following warning would occur if a low air condition occurred 
while driving.

 Red contrasting color of the telltale saying ``BRAKE''
 Message on the display screen that says ``LOW AIR!''
 Audible alert to the driver as long as the vehicle has low air
 Air gauges for the primary and secondary air tanks clearly 
showing the air pressure in the system
 Red contrasting color on the air gauges indicating when the 
pressure is low.

    (e) The functionality of both the parking brake system and the 
service brake system remains unaffected by the ``BRAKE'' telltale used 
in the subject vehicles.
    (f) NHTSA Precedents--DTNA notes that NHTSA has previously granted 
petitions for decisions of inconsequential noncompliance for similar 
brake telltale issues. See Docket No. NHTSA-2012-0004, 78 FR 69931 
(November 21, 2013) (grant of petition for Ford Motor Company) and 
Docket No. NHTSA-2014-0046, 79 FR 78559 (December 30, 2014) (grant of 
petition for Chrysler Group, LLC). In both of these instances, the 
vehicles at issue did not have the exact wording as required under 
FMVSS No. 101. The available warnings were deemed sufficient to provide 
the necessary driver warning. DTNA respectfully suggest that the same 
is true for the subject vehicles: The red ``BRAKE'' telltale and the 
``LOW AIR!'' pop-up message, together with other warnings and alerts, 
are fully sufficient to warn the driver of a low brake air pressure 
situation.
    DTNA concluded by expressing the belief that the subject 
noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety, 
and that its petition to be exempted from providing notification of the 
noncompliance, as required by 49 U.S.C. 30118, and a remedy for the 
noncompliance, as required by 49 U.S.C. 30120, should be granted.

NHTSA'S Decision

    NHTSA's Analysis: NHTSA has reviewed DTNA's analyses that the 
subject noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. 
Specifically, the telltale marking for low brake air pressure says 
``Brake'' instead of ``Brake Air'' as required in table 2 of FMVSS No. 
101 and FMVSS No. 121. We believe that this incomplete labeling poses 
no risk to motor vehicle safety because multiple sources of 
information, as discussed below, are simultaneously activated to 
properly warn the driver of the low air condition.
    1. When a low air pressure situation exists, for both a parked or 
moving vehicle, the ``Brake'' telltale will activate in red letters 
with a black background. There are no requirements in FMVSS No. 101 or 
121 for the color of the telltale, but DTNA's use of red, which is an 
accepted color representing an urgent condition, provides a definitive 
indication of a situation that needs attention.
    2. Activation of the ``Brake'' telltale is accompanied by 
illumination on the instrument cluster message display screen with the 
words ``LOW AIR!'' in white, upper case lettering with a green 
background. The height of the lettering appears greater than that of 
the surrounding telltales and is followed by an exclamation point for 
increased importance. In a follow-up telephone conversation with DTNA 
after notice of receipt of petition was published, DTNA confirmed that 
the lettering height was one quarter inch. Although there is no 
lettering height requirement for ``Brake Air,'' and the specification 
is only that the warning be visible, for reference, a common minimum 
height for many FMVSS visual indicators is one-eighth inch. This 
combined with the green rectangular background, which also is 
comparatively large, is readily visible to the operator and is unlikely 
to be overlooked. Both the ``BRAKE'' telltale and the ``LOW AIR!'' 
message are in clear view of the driver and when activated will alert 
the driver of a brake system malfunction.
    3. Simultaneous to illumination of both the ``Brake'' telltale and 
``LOW AIR!'' in the message center, is activation of an audible alert, 
further notifying the operator that a malfunction exists requiring 
corrective action. Although the alert would not in and of itself 
identify the problem, a driver would be prompted by the warning tone to 
heed the telltales and warning messages activated in the instrument 
cluster (i.e., ``Brake'' and ``LOW AIR!'').
    4. In a low pressure situation, the operator is provided additional 
feedback by the primary and secondary instrument cluster air gauges 
which are marked with PSI numerical values along with red-delineated 
ranges where the needle pointers would be positioned during a low 
pressure condition.
    5. NHTSA agrees with DTNA that for a vehicle that is parked, if a 
low air condition were present, along with the operator feedback 
described above, there would be difficulty or an inability to release 
the parking brake and/or reduced drivability, as sufficient air in the 
system is required to release the parking brake.
    6. Further, NHTSA agrees with DTNA's contention that the 
functionality of the parking brake system and the braking performance 
of the service brake system remains unaffected by use of the telltale 
word

[[Page 33554]]

``Brake'' instead of ``Brake Air'' on the subject vehicles.
    7. Lastly, NHTSA believes that, as these affected trucks are 
predominately used as commercial vehicles with professional drivers, 
operators will monitor their vehicle's condition and take note of any 
warning signs and gauge readings to ensure proper functionality of all 
systems. As DTNA states, and we agree, drivers will be familiar with 
the meaning of telltales and other warnings and the feedback provided 
to the driver in these vehicles if a low brake pressure condition 
exists would be well understood.
    NHTSA concludes that simultaneous activation of red ``Brake'' 
telltale with a black contrasting background, message center wording 
``LOW AIR!'' in large white letters on a substantially sized green 
contrasting background, and an audible alert for a low air pressure 
condition, along with the primary and secondary air gauge indicators, 
and the reduced drivability of the vehicles under a low air pressure 
condition, provides adequate notification to the operator that a brake 
malfunction exists. NHTSA further concludes that the discrepancy with 
the labeling requirement is unlikely to lead to any misunderstanding 
since other sources of correct information beyond the ``Brake'' 
telltale, are always provided.
    NHTSA's Decision: In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA finds 
that DTNA has met its burden of persuasion that the FMVSS No. 101 
noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety. 
Accordingly, DTNA's petition is hereby granted and DTNA is consequently 
exempted from the obligation to provide notification of, and remedy 
for, the subject noncompliance in the affected vehicles under 49 U.S.C. 
30118 and 30120.
    NHTSA notes that the statutory provisions (49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 
30120(h)) that permit manufacturers to file petitions for a 
determination of inconsequentiality allow NHTSA to exempt manufacturers 
only from the duties found in sections 30118 and 30120, respectively, 
to notify owners, purchasers, and dealers of a defect or noncompliance 
and to remedy the defect or noncompliance. Therefore, this decision 
only applies to the subject vehicles that DTNA no longer controlled at 
the time it determined that the noncompliance existed. However, the 
granting of this petition does not relieve vehicle distributors and 
dealers of the prohibitions on the sale, offer for sale, or 
introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of 
the noncompliant vehicles under their control after DTNA notified them 
that the subject noncompliance existed.

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 30118, 30120: delegations of authority at 
49 CFR 1.95 and 501.8.

Jeffrey M. Giuseppe,
Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.
[FR Doc. 2017-15256 Filed 7-19-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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