Page images
[ocr errors]

As to a motor vehicle it is the committee's intention that this certification shall be made in such manner as to be readily identifiable throughout the life of the vehicle.


Section 115 of the bill requires the Secretary to establish in the Department of Commerce a National Traffic Safety Agency and to carry out this act through such Agency. A Traffic Safety Administrator shall head the Agency, shall be appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, and be compensated at level V of the Federal Executive Salary Act of 1964. The Administrator shall not have a pecuniary interest in or own any stocks or bonds of any enterprise involved in manufacturing vehicles or equipment or constructing highways. He is prohibited from engaging in any other business, vocation, or employment. The Administrator shall perform such duties as are delegated to him by the Secretary.

The committee decided that in order to achieve the necessary unification in traffic safety responsibilities that an agency should be created to administer this act, under an identifiable official who, though subordinate to the Secretary, would be primarily responsible for carrying out this Federal traffic safety program. The establishment of a National Traffic Safety Agency should help bring about a solution to what has been a frustrating and confusing problem in the past, that is, the difficult and often impossible problem of getting answers to traffic safety questions, or even accurate statistics related thereto. Although there have been many worthwhile and commendable private and public efforts looking toward improved traffic safety, there has been little or no coordination of these many programs. Now, with this Agency, under the direction of a Presidentially appointed Administrator, the Federal Government can serve as a catalyst and clearing house to bring order to the search for safety and thereby to lead to a marked reduction of highway deaths and injuries.


Section 116 of the reported bill provides that nothing contained herein shall be deemed to exempt from the antitrust laws of the United States any conduct that would otherwise be unlawful under such law's, or to prohibit under the antitrust laws of the United States any conduct that would be lawful under such laws.

This section was included in the reported bill by the committee out of an abudance of caution. It is the committee's intention that nothing in this act is to be deemed to change any antitrust law whether statutory law or case law. The antitrust laws are to remain absolutely unaffected as a result of the enactment of this act.


Section 117 repeals the act of September 5, 1962 (Public Law 87-637) and the act of December 13, 1963 (Public Law 88–201). The former statute relates to standards for hydraulic brake fluid and the latter relates to standards for seat belts in motor vehicles. By operation of subsection (c) of this section all of the existing standards which have been issued under authority of these laws are continued in effect as if they had been effectively issued under section 103 until amended or revoked by the Secretary or a court. The remaining portions of this section are designed to insure that existing administrative proceedings and suits and actions and other judicial proceedings will be continued without change despite the repeal of these provisions, and that prior violations will be punishable in accordance with the laws being repealed.

Since under this bill the Secretary has authority to set standards on the manufacture of all motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment his authority includes full power to establish standards for brake fluids and seat belts. Therefore the continuation of these two specific statutes becomes unnecessary. However, in order that there be no break in continuity of responsibility in these areas, present standards and any legal responsibilities related thereto are continued in being until amended or repealed by the Secretary or a court.

Motor vehicles of carriers subject to safety regulations under part II of the Interstate Commerce Act are exempt from the existing law on seat belt standards. Under this bill such vehicles would be subject to safety standards established by the Secretary. For example, in the case of buses, the Secretary would have full authority to require that they be equipped with seat belts at the time of manufacture, and it is expected that careful and prompt consideration will be given to this question. In this connection the Secretary will have the benefit of the recent study of the Interstate Commerce Commission on this subject.

AVOIDANCE OF DUPLICATION Section 118 of the reported bill requires the Secretary to utilize, to the maximum extent practicable in order to avoid duplication, the services and the research and testing facilities of other Federal departments and agencies.

The committee would make it clear both in the context of this section and of title III of this bill that in using services, carrying out research and planning, and constructing testing facilities, the Secretary is not unnecessarily to duplicate services and facilities which may be available to him in carryirg out his duties under this bill.


Section 119 of the reported bill grants the Secretary the usual authority to issue, amend, and revoke such rules and regulations as he determines necessary to carry out this title.


Section 120 of the reported bill requires the Secretary to make an annual report on the administration of the act on March 1 of each year. The report shall include, but is not restricted to (1) accident and injury statistics; (2) a list of Federal standards; (3) the degree of observance of the standards; (4) a summary of current research grants and contracts; (5) a review of research activities completed and technological progress achieved during the year; and (6) the extent to which technical information was disseminated to the scientific community and consumer-oriented information was made available to the motoring public.

In addition, the report shall contain recommendations on additional legislation to promote cooperation among the States and to strengthen the national traffic safety program.

This legislation establishes an entirely new program and the committee feels that Congress should have a continuing report as to the administration of this program as it proceeds, particularly during its formative years. We have emphasized elsewhere in this report that it is necessary to reduce drastically the deaths and injuries occurring on the Nation's highways. This section should provide Congress with more complete information on the specifics of traffic safety than is presently available. This section also requires that the Secretary submit recommendations for additional legislation. This information and these recommendations will provide the basis for future improvements in various Federal traffic safety programs.

AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS Section 121(a) of the reported bill authorizes the appropriations to carry out this title (other than those related to tire safety). These authorizations are not to exceed $11 million for fiscal year 1967, $ 17 million for fiscal year 1968, and $23 million for the fiscal year 1969.

Section 121(b) of the reported bill authorizes not to exceed $2,900,000 for fiscal year 1967, and $1,450,000 for each of the fiscal years 1968 and 1969 to carry out the tire safety provisions in this title, including the requirements of title II of this bill.

The committee has increased the amounts authorized to carry out this bill over those originally requested in the introduced bill. These increases are necessary in large part because the legislation as reported now requires mandatory standards, covers all motor vehicles rather than exempting trucks, buses, and certain commercial vehicles, and will, in the not too distant future, require uniform Federal standards as to used cars. These amounts are maximum authorizations and the Secretary will have to justify his requests for funds to the appropriation committees. The committee has included a title in the reported bill specifically related to tire standards. Tires are deemed to be a significant element in the total traffic safety problem. Although they are a part of the larger problem, special study and attention will be required.. Therefore the committee provides, at least for the first 3 years of the program, separate authorizations to carry out the provisions of this bill relating to tires.

EFFECTIVE DATE OF CERTIFICATION Section 122 of the reported bill provides that those provisions relating to certification of vehicles and equipment shall take effect on the effective date of the first standard actually issued under section 103.

By reason of subsection (c) of section 117 of this bill the existing standards on seat belts and hydraulic brake fluid will continue in effect as if they had been issued under section 103. Thus the provisions of the bill relating to certification would require immediate issuance of certificates on all vehicles and equipment as to these two aspects of motor vehicle safety. The committee determined that it would be impossible for manufacturers, distributors, and dealers to immediately issue these certificates and, therefore, included this section to insure that requirements of certification would take effect only when the first new standard is actually issued by the Secretary under section 103. The postponement of these certification requirements does not affect the basic requirement that these vehicles and items of equipment conform to safety standards.

Title II—Tire Safety


Section 201 of the reported bill requires the Secretary in establishing his standards for pneumatic tires under title I to require that tires subject thereto be permanently and conspicuously labeled with such safety information as he determines necessary to carry out the purposes of the act. This labeling is to include

(1) Suitable identification of the manufacturer or retreader (unless the tire contains a brand name other than the name of the manufacturer) in which case the tire is required to contain a code mark which would permit the seller of the tire to identify to the purchaser, upon his request, the manufacturer of the tire;

(2) Composition of the material used in the ply;
(3) The actual number of plies;
(4) The maximum permissible load for the tire; and

(5) A recital that the tire conforms to Federal safety standards, except that in lieu thereof the Secretary may prescribe a mark

or symbol to be used indicating such conformance. The section also permits the Secretary to require additional safety information be disclosed to the purchaser of the tire at the time he buys it.

In a number of bills which have been introduced in both Houses as well as in a bill which has passed the Senate (S. 2669) the necessity for standards for tires was considered as an independent problem and without reference to its relationship to the total traffic safety problem. S. 2669 is confined only to the improvement of tires for passenger cars and station wagons. The committee decided that although tires are a highly important part of the total traffic safety problem they are, nevertheless, an integral part of it and should be dealt with in the context of the total problem and not in a piecemeal fashion. Therefore it is neither necessary nor desirable to grant separate authority for the establishment of standards for this one item of motor vehicle equipment when the Secretary has full authority to issue standards as to tires (as well as any other item of motor vehicle equipment) under title I of the reported bill. However the committee did feel that it was necessary to emphasize this aspect of the safety problem, and to establish certain specific requirements which should be contained in the Secretary's standards on tires. These requirements are set forth in section 201, and deal only with information to be given to consumers. The Secretary's authority to establish standards as to tire performance is contained in title I, and in establishing these standards he will have to consider distinctions between new tires and retreads.

TIRES ON NEW VEHICLES Section 202 of the reported bill requires the Secretary to establish standards under title I to require that each motor vehicle be equipped

(either by the manufacturer or the purchaser) at the time of the first purchase for purposes other than resale, with tires which will meet the maximum permissible load standards when the vehicle is fully loaded with the maximum number of passengers it is designed to carry and a reasonable amount of luggage.

The committee was advised that a number of new vehicles, particularly station wagons, have been equipped with tires which were less than adequate to meet the loads which such vehicles are designed and expected to carry. This section prevents that practice. At present, it is possible to purchase vehicles from manufacturers without tires or with the type and size of tire specified by the purchaser. The committee does not intend that the Secretary alter this possibility, except that the standards of the Secretary should insure that tires on a particular vehicle be adequate to safely carry the weight of the vehicle together with the maximum number of passengers that the vehicle is designed to carry, together with a reasonable amount of luggage. Therefore, section 202 requires either the manufacturer or the purchaser to equip the vehicle with tires which at their recommended pressures meet such maximum permissible load standards.


Section 203 of the reported bill requires the Secretary to prescribe a uniform quality grading system for motor vehicle tires within 2 years of the date of enactment of this title. The order establishing this system is to take effect 180 days after the date of its publication. The Secretary is further required to cooperate with industry and the Federal Trade Commission to eliminate deceptive and confusing tire nomenclature and marketing practices.

In the course of the hearings and in discussions in executive session it became clear to the committee that the user's and consumer's confusion as to the quality of tires is a problem of great magnitude. Although some have argued that quality grading is solely an economic problem, the committee is satisfied this is not so and that it has a direct relationship to safety. Standards as to grading are necessary to assure safety. Grading standards, as well as any other tire standards related to safety, are within the scope of the authority of the Secretary under title I of the bill. The Secretary has a maximum of 2 years to establish a uniform quality grading system. With the cooperation of industry it is hoped that the formulation of this grading system will be undertaken immediately and that it will be established promptly.

Title III–Accident and Injury Research and Test Facility Section 301 of the reported bill authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to make a complete investigation and study of the need for a facility or facilities to conduct research, development, and testing in traffic safety, including but not limited to motor vehicle and highway safety, authorized by law, and research, development, and testing relating to the safety of agricultural machinery used on highways or in connection with the maintenance of highways (with particular emphasis on tractor safety) as he deems appropriate and necessary.

« PreviousContinue »