Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and Occupant Crash Protection

OGC-97-33: Published: Apr 2, 1997. Publicly Released: Apr 2, 1997.


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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) new rule on federal motor vehicle safety standards and occupant crash protection. GAO found that: (1) the rule would amend the NHTSA's occupant crash protection standard to ensure that vehicle manufacturers can quickly depower all air bags so that they inflate less aggressively; (2) NHTSA states that the rule presents an interim solution to the problem of the fatalities and injuries that current air bag designs are causing in relatively low speed crashes to children, and occasionally adult occupants; (3) in establishing the effective date of the rule, NHTSA, in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, requested comments on whether the rule should become effective on the date of publication because of the urgent safety problem; (4) commenters were in favor of an immediate effective date and no opposing comments were received; (5) therefore, NHTSA has determined that it has good cause for making the rule effective without waiting the 60 days required by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996; and (6) with the exception of the effective date, NHTSA complied with the applicable requirements in promulgating the rule.

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