National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, Child Restraint Systems, and Child Restraint Anchorage Systems

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-03-17.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

      United States
GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20548

      Office of the General Counsel


      March 17, 1999

      The Honorable John McCain
      The Honorable Ernest F. Hollings
      Ranking Minority Member
      Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
      United States Senate

      The Honorable Bud Shuster
      The Honorable James L. Oberstar
      Ranking Minority Member
      Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
      House of Representatives

      Subject:   Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety
                 Administration: Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Child Restraint
                 Systems; Child Restraint Anchorage Systems

      Pursuant to section 801(a)(2)(A) of title 5, United States Code, this is our report on
      a major rule promulgated by the Department of Transportation, National Highway
      Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), entitled "Federal Motor Vehicle Safety
      Standards; Child Restraint Systems; Child Restraint Anchorage Systems" (RIN: 2127-
      AG50). We received the rule on March 4, 1999. It was published in the Federal
      Register as a final rule on March 5, 1999. 64 Fed. Reg. 10786.

      The final rule establishes a new federal standard that requires motor vehicle
      manufacturers to provide motorists with a new way of installing child restraints.
      Vehicles will be equipped with child restraint anchorage systems that are
      standardized and independent of the vehicle's seat belts.

      Enclosed is our assessment of NHTSA's compliance with the procedural steps
      required by section 801(a)(1)(B)(i) through (iv) of title 5 with respect to the rule.
      Our review indicates that NHTSA complied with the applicable requirements.

If you have any questions about this report, please contact James Vickers, Assistant
General Counsel, at (202) 512-8210. The official responsible for GAO evaluation
work relating to the Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration, is John Anderson, Director, Transportation Issues. Mr. Anderson
can be reached at (202) 512-2834.

Robert P. Murphy
General Counsel


cc: Ricardo Martinez, M.D.
    Administrator, National Highway
     Traffic Safety Administration
    Department of Transportation

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       ANALYSIS UNDER 5 U.S.C. § 801(a)(1)(B)(i)-(iv) OF A MAJOR RULE
                                ISSUED BY
                            (RIN: 2127-AG50)

(i) Cost-benefit analysis

NHTSA has prepared a final economic assessment of the costs and benefits of the
final rule. The estimated average total cost of the rule is $152 million annually.

The cost of the rule for vehicles is estimated to be $85 million annually with the
costs ranging from $2.82 to $6.62 per vehicle. The annual cost of compliance to
child restraint manufacturers is estimated to be $67 million or an additional average
amount of $17.19 to produce a marketable and compliant child restraint.

The benefits of the rule are that an estimated 36 to 50 lives will be saved per year
and 1,231 to 2,929 injuries will be prevented per year. Based on the average annual
cost of $152 million, the cost per equivalent life saved for the rule is estimated to be
$2.1 to $3.7 million.

(ii) Agency actions relevant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 603-605,
607, and 609

NHTSA prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis which is in the preamble to
the final rule. The analysis contains the information required by the act, including
the reasons for the regulatory action, the legal basis, a description and estimate of
the small entities affected, and alternatives considered.

NHTSA has determined that there are no acceptable alternatives to the final rule
which will accomplish its objectives and reduce the burden on small entities. The
small entities affected by the rule would be four or five of the ten child restraint

(iii) Agency actions relevant to sections 202-205 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform
Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. §§ 1532-1535

NHTSA has determined that the final rule may impose a federal mandate resulting
in expenditures of $100 million or more for the private sector in any one year.

Therefore, in compliance with section 202 of the act, NHTSA prepared a written
statement, including a cost-benefit analysis, assessing the impact of the rule.

Section 205 of the act requires agencies to identify and consider a reasonable
number of regulatory alternatives and to adopt the least costly, most effective, or
least burdensome alternative that achieves the objectives of the rule. The preamble
discusses the alternatives considered and why NHTSA believes that the alternative
selected is the least costly and least burdensome consistent with the objectives of
the rule.

(iv) Other relevant information or requirements under acts and executive orders

Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.

The final rule was issued using the notice and comment procedures contained at
5 U.S.C. § 553. On February 20, 1997, NHTSA issued a notice of proposed
rulemaking, 62 Fed. Reg. 7858, and received over 70 comments in response to the
notice. In the preamble to the final rule, NHTSA discusses the comments received
and the actions it took in response.

Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. §§ 3501-3520

The final rule contains an information collection which is subject to review by the
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act.

The information collection is the phase-in production reporting requirement for
manufacturers to submit concerning the number of vehicles that meet the user-
ready tether anchorage and child restraint anchorage system requirements of
Standard 225. The first will be due within 60 days after the end of the production
year ending August 31, 2000.

NHTSA, in the preamble to the final rule, states that it will be submitting the
collection to OMB for approval in the near future.

Statutory authorization for the rule

The final rule was issued under the authority of 49 U.S.C. §§ 322, 30111, 30115,
30166, and 30177.

Executive Order No. 12866

The final rule was determined to be an "economically significant" regulatory action
under the order and was reviewed and approved by the Office of Management and
Budget as complying with the requirements of the order.

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