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Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Exemption Renewal for Ford Motor Company

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Buses Topics:  Ford Transit

Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Exemption Renewal for Ford Motor Company

Larry W. Minor
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
16 November 2017


[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 220 (Thursday, November 16, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 53556-53558]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-24826]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2015-0111]


Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Exemption 
Renewal for Ford Motor Company

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of renewal of exemption, request for comments.

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SUMMARY: FMCSA announces its decision to renew for a period of 5 years 
Ford Motor Company's (Ford) current exemption allowing motor carriers 
to operate Ford's Transit-based commercial motor vehicles (CMV) that do 
not meet the exhaust system location requirements in the Federal Motor 
Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). The FMCSRs require (1) the exhaust 
system of a bus powered by a gasoline engine to discharge to the 
atmosphere at or within 6 inches forward of the rearmost part of the 
bus and (2) the exhaust system of every truck and truck tractor to 
discharge to the atmosphere at a location to the rear of the cab or, if 
the exhaust projects above the cab, at a location near the rear of the 
cab. Although the Ford Transit does not meet these requirements, it has 
undergone performance-based testing that demonstrates that the exhaust 
system achieves a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the 
level of safety that would be obtained by complying with the 
regulation. Ford performed carbon monoxide (CO) concentration tests, 
which used CO monitors at various locations within the vehicle to 
measure the concentration of CO ingress into the occupant compartment 
(from the vehicles' own powertrain and exhaust system), under various 
driving conditions including idle and top speed. The tests showed that 
the resulting CO concentration is below every threshold used by Federal 
Agencies. The Agency has concluded that granting this exemption renewal 
will maintain a level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the 
level of safety provided by the rule restricting the location of 
exhaust systems on CMVs to ensure that exhaust fumes will not affect 
the driver's alertness or health or the health of passengers.

DATES: The renewal outlined in this notice extends the exemption from 
August 15, 2017, through August 15, 2022. Comments on the decision must 
be received on or before December 18, 2017.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments bearing the Federal Docket 
Management System (FDMS) Docket ID FMCSA-2015-0111 using any of the 
following methods:
     Web site: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
instructions for submitting comments on the Federal electronic docket 
site.
     Fax: 1-202-493-2251.
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, 
DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery: Ground Floor, Room W12-140, DOT Building, 
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. 
e.t., Monday-Friday, except Federal holidays.
    Instructions: All submissions must include the Agency name and 
docket number for this notice. For detailed instructions on submitting 
comments and additional information on the exemption process, see the 
``Public Participation'' heading below. Note that all comments received 
will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including 
any personal information provided. Please see the ``Privacy Act'' 
heading for further information.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov or to Room W12-140, 
DOT Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 
a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
    Privacy Act: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits 
comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT 
posts these comments, without edit, including any personal information 
the commenter provides, to www.regulations.gov, as described in the 
system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at 
www.dot.gov/privacy.
    Public participation: The http://www.regulations.gov Web site is 
generally available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. You may find 
electronic submission and retrieval help and guidelines under the 
``help'' section of the http://www.regulations.gov Web site as well as 
the DOT's http://docketsinfo.dot.gov Web site. If you would like 
notification that we received your comments, please include a self-
addressed, stamped envelope or postcard or print the acknowledgment 
page that appears after submitting comments online.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Luke Loy, Vehicle and Roadside 
Operations Division, Office of Carrier, Driver, and Vehicle Safety, MC-
PSV, (202) 366-0676, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 1200 
New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Section 4007 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century 
(TEA- 21) [Pub. L. 105-178, June 9, 1998, 112 Stat. 401] amended 49 
U.S.C. 31315 and

[[Page 53557]]

31136(e) to provide authority to grant exemptions from certain portions 
of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). On August 20, 
2004, FMCSA published a final rule (69 FR 51589) implementing section 
4007. Under this rule, FMCSA must publish a notice of each exemption 
request in the Federal Register (49 CFR 381.315(a)). The Agency must 
provide the public with an opportunity to inspect the information 
relevant to the application, including any safety analyses that have 
been conducted. The Agency must also provide an opportunity for public 
comment on the request.
    The Agency reviews the safety analyses and the public comments and 
determines whether granting the exemption would likely achieve a level 
of safety equivalent to or greater than the level that would be 
achieved by the current regulation (49 CFR 381.305).
    The decision of the Agency must be published in the Federal 
Register (49 CFR 381.315(b)). If the Agency denies the request, it must 
state the reason for doing so. If the decision is to grant the 
exemption, the notice must specify the person or class of persons 
receiving the exemption and the regulatory provision or provisions from 
which an exemption is granted. The notice must specify the effective 
period of the exemption (up to 5 years) and explain the terms and 
conditions of the exemption. The exemption may be renewed (49 CFR 
381.315(c) and 49 CFR 381.300(b)).

Ford's Application for Exemption

    On December 1, 2014, Ford applied for an exemption from 49 CFR 
393.83 to allow motor carriers to operate Ford-manufactured Transit-
based CMVs that do not comply with the exhaust system location 
requirements. Section 393.83, ``Exhaust systems,'' includes 
requirements regarding the location of exhaust systems on CMVS to 
ensure that exhaust fumes will not affect the driver's alertness or 
health or the health of passengers. Specifically, Sec.  393.83(c) 
states that ``[t]he exhaust system of a bus powered by a gasoline 
engine shall discharge to the atmosphere at or within 6 inches forward 
of the rearmost part of the bus''; and Sec.  393.83(e) states that 
``[t]he exhaust system of every truck and truck tractor shall discharge 
to the atmosphere at a location to the rear of the cab or, if the 
exhaust projects above the cab, at a location near the rear of the 
cab.'' According to the 2014 exemption application:

    Although Ford Transit vehicles may not satisfy the exhaust 
system location requirements of Sec.  393.83, Ford has several 
internal requirements applicable to the design of the tailpipe 
system that ensure the system will provide high levels of safety for 
its customers. Ford's requirements address passenger compartment 
exhaust gas intrusion and management of high temperature components. 
These requirements include testing of the system and basic design 
requirements for the location of the tailpipe in relation to 
underbody components like the brake lines and fuel lines. Most 
significantly Ford uses internal performance based tests that 
demonstrate the system achieves a level of safety equivalent to or 
greater than, the level of safety that would be obtained by 
complying with the regulation. The main test of interest is the 
Carbon Monoxide Concentration test. This performance based test uses 
CO monitors at various locations in the vehicle to measure the 
concentration of CO ingress into the occupant compartment (from 
vehicles' own powertrain and exhaust system) under various driving 
conditions including idle and top speed.

    Ford tested the 2015 model year Transit in accordance with ``Ford 
global common engineering test procedures,'' which limits CO levels to 
27 parts-per-million (ppm) for a 30 minute Time Weighted Average (TWA) 
during continuous driving. Ford stated that the 27 ppm limit is based 
on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Acute Exposure Guideline 
Level limits for CO exposure for 8 hour TWA, which is more severe than 
both the Occupational Safety & Health Administration's (OSHA) 
permissible exposure limit of 50 ppm for an 8 hour TWA and the National 
Institute of Occupational Safety and Health's (NIOSH) permissible 
exposure limit of 35 ppm for a 10 hour TWA. Under ``worst-case 
conditions,'' Ford measured the CO level to be 17 ppm for the model 
year 2015 Transit, well below the EPA, OSHA, and NIOSH limits.
    Additionally, Ford stated that it has internal requirements to 
establish the appropriate clearance required between a vehicle and the 
ground to meet a minimum level of on-road functionality. Ford has 
specific departure angle requirements for the vehicle to reduce 
tailpipe contact with the ground, curbs, ramps, etc., during various 
driving modes, thus avoiding damage to the exhaust system that may 
adversely affect the exhaust function.
    FMCSA published a notice of the application in the Federal Register 
on April 17, 2015, and asked for public comment (80 FR 21294). FMCSA 
granted the exemption on August 12, 2015 (80 FR 48408). The Agency 
concluded that granting the temporary exemption to allow the operation 
of model year 2015 Ford Transit-based gas bus models (of all gross 
vehicle weight ratings), vans over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight 
rating, and corresponding future Transit-based models of the same 
design produced during the effective period of the exemption will 
provide a level of safety that is equivalent to, or greater than, the 
level of safety achieved without the exemption. Ford conducted 
performance-based testing that demonstrates that the design of the 
exhaust system for the model year 2015 and later Fort Transit CMVs (1) 
results in CO exposure limits that are well below EPA, OSHA, and NIOSH 
established thresholds, and (2) will maintain a level of safety that is 
equivalent to the level of safety achieved without the exemption. The 
exemption was granted for a 2-year period, beginning August 12, 2015 
and ending August 14, 2017.

Ford's Request To Renew the Exemption

    At the time the exemption was granted, the term of temporary 
exemptions was limited by statute to a maximum of 2 years. However, on 
December 4, 2015, President Obama signed the Fixing America's Surface 
Transportation (FAST) Act, which now allows an exemption to be granted 
for a period of 5 years (49 U.S.C. 31315(b)(2)) if FMCSA finds ``such 
exemption would likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, 
or greater than, the level that would be achieved absent such 
exemption'' (31315(b)(1)). Ford has requested a 5-year extension for 
the exemption from 49 CFR 393.83 to allow motor carriers to operate 
model year 2015 Ford-manufactured Transit-based CMVs, and later model 
year Transit-based models that do not comply with the exhaust system 
location requirements.

Basis for Renewing Exemption

    FMCSA is not aware of any evidence showing that the operation of 
model year 2015, 2016, or 2017 Ford Transit-based gas bus models (all 
gross vehicle weight ratings), vans over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle 
weight rating, and Transit-based models of the same design produced 
during the current exemption has resulted in any degradation of safety. 
The Agency believes that extending the exemption for a period of 5 
years will likely achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to, or 
greater than, the level of safety achieved without the exemption. 
Performance-based testing conducted by Ford has demonstrated that the 
design of the exhaust system for the model year 2015 and later Ford 
Transit CMVs (1) results in CO exposure limits that are well below EPA, 
OSHA, and NIOSH established thresholds, and (2) will maintain a level 
of safety that is

[[Page 53558]]

equivalent to the level of safety achieved without the exemption.
    The renewal outlined in this notice extends the exemption from 
August 12, 2017 through August 12, 2022, and requests public comment. 
The exemption will be valid for 5 years unless rescinded earlier by 
FMCSA. The exemption will be rescinded if: (1) Motor carriers and/or 
commercial motor vehicles fail to comply with the terms and conditions 
of the exemption; (2) the exemption has resulted in a lower level of 
safety than was maintained before it was granted; or (3) continuation 
of the exemption would not be consistent with the goals and objectives 
of 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315.

Preemption

    In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31313(d), as implemented by 49 CFR 
381.600, during the period this exemption is in effect, no State shall 
enforce any law or regulation applicable to interstate commerce that 
conflicts with or is inconsistent with this exemption with respect to a 
firm or person operating under the exemption. States may, but are not 
required to, adopt the same exemption with respect to operations in 
intrastate commerce.

Request for Comments

    FMCSA requests comments from parties with data concerning the 
safety record of motor carriers operating Model Year 2015 Ford-
manufactured Transit based CMVs, and corresponding future Transit-based 
models of the same design in accordance with the conditions of the 
exemption. The Agency will evaluate adverse evidence submitted during 
the comment period and at any time during the 5-year period of the 
exemption. If safety is being compromised or if continuation of the 
exemption would not be consistent with the goals and objectives of 49 
U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315(b)(1), FMCSA will take immediate steps to 
revoke the Ford exemption.

    Issued on: November 8, 2017.
Larry W. Minor,
Associate Administrator for Policy.
[FR Doc. 2017-24826 Filed 11-15-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P

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