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Daimler Coaches North America, LLC, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Buses Topics:  Daimler AG

Daimler Coaches North America, LLC, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Otto G. Matheke III
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
9 November 2020


[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 217 (Monday, November 9, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 71392-71394]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-24822]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2020-0084; Notice 1]


Daimler Coaches North America, LLC, Receipt of Petition for 
Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

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

ACTION: Receipt of petition.

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SUMMARY: Daimler Coaches North America, LLC (DCNA), a subsidiary of 
Daimler AG, has determined that certain model year (MY) 2012-2019 Setra 
S407 and MY 2009-2020 Setra S417 buses do not fully comply with Federal 
Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 101, Controls and Displays. 
DCNA filed a noncompliance report dated July 16, 2020. DCNA 
subsequently petitioned NHTSA on August 4, 2020, and later amended it 
on October 1, 2020, for a decision that the subject noncompliance is 
inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety. This notice 
announces receipt of DCNA's petition.

DATES: Send comments on or before December 9, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written data, 
views, and arguments on this petition. Comments must refer to the 
docket and notice number cited in the title of this notice and 
submitted by any of the following methods:
     Mail: Send comments by mail addressed to the U.S. 
Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building 
Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 
20590.
     Hand Delivery: Deliver comments by hand to the U.S. 
Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building 
Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 
20590. The Docket Section is open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
except for Federal holidays.
     Electronically: Submit comments electronically by logging 
onto the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) website at https://www.regulations.gov/. Follow the online instructions for submitting 
comments.
     Comments may also be faxed to (202) 493-2251.
    Comments must be written in the English language, and be no greater 
than 15 pages in length, although there is no limit to the length of 
necessary attachments to the comments. If comments are submitted in 
hard copy form, please ensure that two copies are provided. If you wish 
to receive confirmation that comments you have submitted by mail were 
received, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard with the 
comments. Note that all comments received will be posted without change 
to https://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information 
provided.
    All comments and supporting materials received before the close of 
business on the closing date indicated above will be filed in the 
docket and will be considered. All comments and supporting materials 
received after the closing date will also be filed and will be 
considered to the fullest extent possible.
    When the petition is granted or denied, notice of the decision will 
also be published in the Federal Register pursuant to the authority 
indicated at the end of this notice.
    All comments, background documentation, and supporting materials 
submitted to the docket may be viewed by anyone at the address and 
times given above. The documents may also be viewed on the internet at 
https://www.regulations.gov by following the online instructions for 
accessing the docket. The docket ID number for this petition is shown 
in the heading of this notice.
    DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement is available for review in a 
Federal Register notice published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477-78).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Overview

    DCNA has determined that certain MY 2012-2019 S407 and 2009-2020 
Setra S417 buses do not fully comply with the requirements of 
paragraphs S.5.3.2.1 and S5.3.2.2 of Table 1 of FMVSS No. 101, Controls 
and Displays (49 CFR 571.101). DCNA filed a noncompliance report dated 
July 16, 2020, pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, Defect and Noncompliance 
Responsibility and Reports. DCNA subsequently petitioned NHTSA on 
August 4, 2020, and later amended it petition on October 1, 2020, 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, pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 
30120(h) and 49 CFR part 556, Exemption for Inconsequential Defect or 
Noncompliance.
    This notice of receipt of DCNA's petition is published under 49 
U.S.C. 30118 and 30120 and does not represent

[[Page 71393]]

any Agency decision or other exercise of judgment concerning the merits 
of the petition.

II. Buses Involved

    Approximately 538 MY 2012-2019 Setra S407 and MY 2009-2020 Setra 
S417 motorcoach buses manufactured between May 19, 2009, and December 
18, 2019, are potentially involved.

III. Noncompliance

    DCNA explains that the noncompliance is that the windshield 
defogging/defrosting and the hazard warning signal indicators in the 
subject buses do not meet the brightness of illumination requirements 
provided in paragraphs S5.3.2.1 and S5.3.2.2(a) of FMVSS No. 101. 
Specifically, the brightness of the windshield defogging/defrosting 
indicator cannot be adjusted and the hazard warning signal indicator 
does not illuminate.

IV. Rule Requirements

    Paragraphs S.5.3.2.1 and S.5.3.2.2(a) of FMVSS No. 101 include the 
requirements relevant to this petition. Means must be provided for 
illuminating the indicators, identification of indicators, and 
identifications of controls listed in Table 1 to make them visible to 
the driver under daylight and nighttime driving conditions. The means 
of providing the visibility required by paragraph S5.3.2.1 must be 
adjustable to provide at least two levels of brightness.

V. Summary of DCNA's Petition

    The following views and arguments presented in this section, ``V. 
Summary of DCNA's Petition,'' are the views and arguments provided by 
DCNA. They have not been evaluated by the Agency and do not reflect the 
views of the Agency. DCNA described the subject noncompliance and 
contended that the noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to 
motor vehicle safety.
    In support of its petition, which is attached in full to the 
docket, DCNA submitted the following reasoning:
    1. DCNA explained its understanding of FMVSS No. 101 and described 
its opinion that the specified noncompliance does not increase risk to 
motor vehicle safety: FMVSS No. 101, Controls and Displays, is premised 
on ensuring the various controls, telltales, and indicators can easily 
be recognized in order to facilitate the driver's selection under day 
and nighttime conditions, to prevent the mistaken selection of controls 
and to reduce potential safety hazards when the driver's attention is 
diverted from the driving task. FMVSS No. 101 sets requirements for the 
location (S5.1), identification (S5.2), and illumination (S5.3) of 
various controls and displays, and Table 1 of the standard sets out 
those controls, telltales, and indicators with illumination and color 
requirements. At S5.3.1(b), the controls 1isted in Table 1 of the 
standard, including those for the hazard and windshield defrost/defog 
control, are required to be illuminated whenever the headlamps are 
activated, and the brightness of the control is to be adjustable to at 
least two levels.
    DCNA believes that the lack of illumination on the hazard warning 
lamp symbol included on the control and inability to adjust the 
brightness of the defrost/defog control does not present an increased 
risk to motor vehicle safety. DCNA states that each of the controls is 
fully operable, and their function is not affected by the lack of 
illumination or ability to adjust the brightness of the individual 
control or identifier.
    2. DCNA described the operation and design of the hazard warning 
lamp control for the subject vehicle and DCNA's assessment of risk: The 
hazard warning lamp is controlled by a large red plastic toggle switch 
that is 19 mm across by 40 mm high. The switch is activated by pressing 
the bottom half of the switch downward with one finger until a clicking 
noise occurs. When the hazard warning lamp is activated, even without 
illumination the operation of the hazard function is confirmed because 
the hazard lamp itself will flash on and off and both the right and 
left turn signal indicators in the instrument cluster will flash on and 
off and in unison with the hazard warning lamps on the exterior of the 
vehicle. Thus, there is no question that the driver would not be able 
to confirm that the hazard warning lamp is operational.
    The vehicle operator can readily identify and locate the hazard 
warning lamp switch under nighttime conditions, even without the 
illumination of the hazard warning lamp symbol on the switch. The 
hazard warning lamp control is located at the immediate right of the 
driver. The switch is located at the driver's eye level and remains in 
plain view of the driver when the driver is belted. The hazard warning 
lamp switch is bright red and is the only switch or control on the 
immediate right side of the driver that is not black or grey and, thus, 
easily contrasts with the remainder of the interior and background of 
the driver's compartment area. The characteristics and placement of the 
hazard warning lamp switch make it readily apparent under all operating 
conditions.
    3. DCNA described the operation and design of the windshield 
defrost/defog control for the subject vehicle and DCNA's assessment of 
risk: The windshield defrost/defog symbol is located adjacent to the 
control knob. The turn-style control knob that activates the windshield 
defrost/defog function and the adjacent symbol are automatically 
illuminated when the vehicle's headlamps are activated but cannot be 
dimmed in accordance with paragraph S5.3.2.1. However, each of the 
functions surrounding the windshield defrost/defog symbol, many of 
which are not regulated by FMVSS No. 101, Table 1, are illuminated. 
There is a master switch for adjusting the brightness of the area 
surrounding the driver. Dimming is controlled within the meter assembly 
menu for the dashboard lights and is adjustable to more than two 
different levels of brightness. Further, the windshield defog/defrost 
control is located within a group of controls that are responsible for 
the heating, cooling, and temperature operations of the driver's 
compartment of the vehicle. Therefore, the driver would be well aware 
of the location of the defrost/defog control because it is located 
within a cluster of controls that operate similar functions. Thus, 
there is little to no risk that the driver's vision would otherwise be 
impaired if the display was too bright or too dim.
    Further, any driver of a motorcoach such as the vehicles that are 
the subject of this petition would be a professionally trained driver. 
As such, the driver would likely have experience in operating the 
particular vehicle and would be knowledgeable about the location and 
function of all of the controls and devices within the vehicle. More 
so, the interior cabin of the motorcoach in the area forward of the 
driver's seat is sufficiently lit by roadway lighting, other 
illuminated controls, telltales, and the light emitted from the display 
of the instrument cluster. As described above, the dashboard lamps are 
illuminated when the vehicle is operated with the headlamps on. This 
would also brighten the area in the vicinity of the driver and would 
assist in illuminating the hazard warning lamp and other controls and 
indicators.
    The Agency has previously considered conditions where certain 
controls, telltales, and indicators listed in Table 1 were not visible 
to the driver under all day and night driving conditions and has 
concluded that the noncompliance is inconsequential. In particular, an 
electrical condition which could cause the headlamp upper beam 
indicator telltale to extinguish for

[[Page 71394]]

various periods of time and under certain conditions was deemed to be 
inconsequential. In granting the petition, the Agency relied on the 
fact that the upper beam telltale would only need to be illuminated 
under nighttime driving conditions and found at that time that ``a 
comparatively small portion of driving occurs at night, the time of 
headlamp activation.'' See Grant of Petition for Determination of 
Inconsequential Noncompliance, General Motors Corp., 56 FR 33323 (July 
19, 1991).
    The buses that are the subject of this petition are motor coaches 
largely used in commercial activity. As such, the drivers operating 
these vehicles are trained drivers that should be familiar with the 
layout, placement, and operation of the hazard warning lamp and defog/
defrost controls. NHTSA has previously found that when trained drivers 
operate vehicles, this diminishes the potential safety consequence of 
an FMVSS No.101 noncompliance because it is expected that the drivers 
will not only monitor their vehicles' condition closely to ensure the 
systems are properly operating but that ``professional drivers will 
become familiar with the meaning of the telltales and other warnings 
and the feedback provided to the driver in these vehicles.'' See Mack 
Trucks, Inc., and Volvo Trucks North America, Grant of Petitions for 
Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance, 84 FR 67766 (December 11, 
2019); Autocar Industries, LLC, and Hino Motors Sales U.S.A., Inc., 
Grant of Petitions for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance, 84 FR 
11162 (March 25, 2019); Daimler Trucks North America, LLC, Grant of 
Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance, 82 FR 33551 
(July 20, 2017).
    4. DCNA summarized corrections taken and its lack of complaints or 
reports related to the condition described in the petition: Evo Bus and 
DCNA have corrected this issue in production by including a mechanism 
to adjust the brightness of the vehicle's defrost/defog control and to 
illuminate the hazard warning lamp control. DCNA is not aware of any 
complaints or reports related to the condition described in this 
petition. In the majority of cases, the vehicles have been in use for 
many years and without incident.
    DCNA concluded by again contending that the subject noncompliances 
are inconsequential as they relate 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.
    DCNA's complete petition and all supporting documents are available 
by logging onto the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) website at: 
https://www.regulations.gov and following the online search 
instructions to locate the docket number listed in the title of this 
notice.
    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, any decision on 
this petition only applies to the subject buses that DCNA no longer 
controlled at the time it determined that the noncompliance existed. 
However, any decision on 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 buses under their control after DCNA 
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)

Otto G. Matheke III,
Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.
[FR Doc. 2020-24822 Filed 11-6-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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