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as voluntary SAE standards to determine which may appropriately be used as a basis for interim national standards.
Subsequently, on or before January 31, 1968, and thereafter at least once every 2 years, as Federal safety research and development matures, the Secretary is directed to issue new and revised standards (sec. 103(a)). Unlike the General Services Administration's procurement standards, which are primarily design specifications, both the interim standards and the new and revised standards are expected to be performance standards, specifying the required minimum safe performance of vehicles but not the manner in which the manufacturer is to achieve the specified performance (sec. 101(b)). Manufacturers and parts suppliers will thus be free to compete in developing and selecting devices and structures that can meet or surpass the performance standard.
The Secretary would thus be concerned with the measurable performance of a braking system, but not its design details. Such standards will be analogous to a building code which specifies the minimum load-carrying characteristics of the structural members of a building wall, but leaves the builder free to choose his own materials and design. Such safe performance standards are thus not intended or likely to stifle innovation in automotive design.
In promulgating any standard, the Secretary is required to consider whether such standard is reasonable, practicable and appropriate for the particular type of motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment for which it is prescribed, and consider, also, the extent to which such standard would contribute to carrying out the purposes of the act (secs. 102(c) and 103(c)). The Secretary is not expected to issue a standard covering every component and function of a motor vehicle, but only for those vehicle characteristics that have a significant bearing on safety.
The General Counsel of the Commerce Department stated in a letter to the committee:
The tests of reasonableness of cost, feasibility and adequate lead time should be included among those factors which the
Secretary could consider in making his total judgment. The committee intends that safety shall be the overriding consideration in the issuance of standards under this bill. The committee recognizes, as the Commerce Department letter indicates, that the Secretary will necessarily consider reasonableness of cost, feasibility and adequate leadtime.
In determining whether any proposed standard is “appropriate” for the particular type of motor vehicle equipment or item of motorvehicle equipment for which it is prescribed, the committee intends that the Secretary will consider the desirability of affording consumers continued wide range of choices in the selection of motor vehicles. Thus it is not intended that standards will be set which will eliminate or necessarily be the same for small cars or such widely accepted models as convertibles and sports cars, so long as all motor vehicles meet basic minimum standards. Such differences, of course, would be based on the type of vehicle rather than its place of origin or any special circumstances of its manufacturer.
The bill provides that the new and revised standards shall become effective on a date specified by the Secretary, which shall be no sooner than 180 days nor later than 1 year from the date the standard is
finally issued (secs. 102(b) and 103(b)), except that for good cause shown, the Secretary may specify a later effective date, but must publish his reasons therefor (sec. 103(b)).
The power to specify a later effective date is needed because it may be a practical economic and engineering impossibility, as well as a source of great hardship and unnecessary additional cost, to require that all vehicle changes required by any new safety standard, whatever its scope or subject matter, be accomplished by all manufacturers for all their new vehicles within 1 year. When changes can reasonably be accomplished in 1 year or less, the Secretary can so require. But when manufacturers satisfy the Secretary that a particular change cannot reasonably be accomplished within 1 year, the bill gives him discretion to extend the period, publishing his reasons therefor (sec. 103(b)).
PROCEDURES FOR THE PROMULGATION OF SAFETY STANDARDS
In establishing standards, the Secretary is required to comply with the rulemaking procedures of the Administrative Procedure Act (sec. 103(a)). (The bill contemplates a streamlined rulemaking process for the establishment of interim standards (sec. 102).) The Secretary is not required to comply with sections 7 and 8 of APA requiring formal hearing. The APA (sec. 103(1)), must maintain a record of the evidence and comments on which he bases the standards (sec. 118).
The Secretary is directed to consult with the Vehicle Equipment Safety Commission, and such other State and interstate agencies, including legislative committees, as he deems appropriate (sec. 103(c)), in order to utilize the experience existing in the States and to encourage them to adopt standards which are identical to the Federal ones (sec. 104). The committee is mindful of the contribution which the States have made toward the development of vehicle safety standards over the years and expects this contribution to continue in a consultative role. The Vehicle Equipment Safety Commission is specifically mentioned because 44 States and the District of Columbia are members of this organization, and it is the major existing agency which has authority to propose uniform vehicle safety standards for the member States to consider for adoption. It is, of course, not intended that such consultation should delay or otherwise impede the Secretary's development and promulgation of standards.
The Secretary would be expected to give public notice of any proposed new or revised safety standards and to notify directly the Vehicle Equipment Safety Commission, and such other State or interstate agencies (including legislative committees) as he deems appropriate, and to set a reasonable time for public comment to give the Commission, and other agencies and interested persons opportunity to study and comment on the proposals (sec. 103(c)(2)).
In addition, the bill expressly includes as persons to be afforded an opportunity to participate in the standard-setting process, manufacturers, distributors and dealers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment, public and private organizations, individuals engaged to a significant extent in the promotion or study of motor vehicle safety, and automobile insurance underwriters (sec. 103(e)).
In issuing each standard, the Secretary is expressly required to publish a statement of basis and purpose which provides a non
technical explanation sufficient to enable the public to understand the purpose and, where appropriate, the limitations of the standard's coverage together with a technical statement setting forth the data necessary to an evaluation of the standard by competent technical personnel (sec. 103(d)).
Any person who believes himself to be adversely affected by the promulgation of a standard may obtain judicial review, in accordance with section 10 of the Administrative Procedure Act (sec. 105). The Administrative Procedure Act sets forth the long-established criteria for judicial review of agency action and provides that agency findings shall be upheld if supported by substantial evidence on the record considered as a whole. That act also authorizes the reviewing court to stay the agency action pending review to the extent necessary to prevent irreparable injury.
ACCESS TO INFORMATION In addition to material made available to the public under the Administrative Procedure Act, the Secretary is directed to make publicly available to any interested persons the record compiled in the proceedings for establishment of a motor vehicle safety standard. Such material shall include all testimony, documentary evidence and written submissions of data, views, or arguments and to the extent feasible, any nondocumentary evidence. The Secretary is authorized however, to withhold any data necessary to protect trade secrets (sec. 118.).
Every manufacturer or distributor is required to furnish the person to whom he supplies any vehicles or item of motor vehicle equipment certification that such vehicle or item of equipment "conforms to all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards” (sec. 115).
The committee bill provides that the required certification may be in the form of a label or tag on the vehicle or item of equipment or on the outside of the container. The certification may also take some other form in appropriate cases: for example, those involving small items or small containers not suitable for tagging or labelling (sec. 115). In such cases, the certification could be provided in a seller's invoice or in such other form as the Secretary might by regulation authorize (sec. 122).
NOTIFICATION In order to insure the uniform notification of car owners as to any safety-related defects and to facilitate the prompt curing of such defects, the bill provides that every manufacturer of motor vehicles notify the purchaser of any vehicle which the manufacturer determines, in good faith, contains a safety-related defect (sec. 116).
A “defect” is defined to include any defect in design, construction, components or materials in motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment (sec. 101(1)). The term "defect” is used in the sense of an error or mistake in design, manufacture or assembly.
Such notification must be accomplished within a reasonable time (sec. 116(a)) after the manufacturer has discovered the defect and formulated the corrective procedure (sec. 116(c)) and must be made by certified mail to the first purchaser and by certified mail or more expeditious means to the manufacturer's dealer (sec. 116(b)). Moreover, the notification must contain a clear disclosure of the defect, an evaluation of the risks to traffic safety reasonably related to the defect and a statement of the measures to be taken to repair the defect (sec. 116(c).
In addition, every manufacturer is required to furnish the Secretary copies of all communications with his dealers relating to any defect, whether or not safety-related (sec. 116(d)).
The Secretary is directed to notify the manufacturer of any failure to conform to safety standards or any other safety-related defect which he determines to exist on the basis of evidence that comes to his attention through reports from manufacturers, Government research and testing, complaints or other sources, and to require that the manufacturer furnish the purchaser and dealer appropriate notification (sec. 116(e)).
This process would be in addition to and not in place of, nor a condition upon, taking any other enforcement action under the provisions of the act. The Secretary could elect to impose a civil penalty (sec. 110) for a violation and require notification of defects of noncompliance with a safety standard (sec. 116). The Attorney General could also seek an injunction to stop the sale of a noncomplying vehicle (sec. 111). These and all alternative enforcement techniques should be exercised within the administrative discretion of the responsible officials.
The Secretary is also authorized to make public information concerning safety-related defects or noncompliance with standards where necessary for the public safety (sec. 116(d)).
The committee expects that the Secretary would use this power to publish defect information as a last resport. It is the committee's expectation that the Secretary would promptly review the matter with the manufacturer and give the manufacturer an opportunity to accomplish the required notification and correction through the manufacturer's own procedures. Publicity would be invoked only if the Secretary concluded that the manufacturer's own actions would fail or had failed to provide car owners with adequate and prompt notice on the existence and safety significance of the defect and the procedure for correction.
The committee also expects that the Secretary will act with extreme caution to avoid premature publicity of unevaluated reports as to suspected defects, before the suspicions have been evaluated. Permature publicity of this type, of course, can cause undue public alarm, with a damaging and unwarranted effect on vehicle sales even though the suspicions may ultimately prove to be without foundation.
RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, TESTING, AND EVALUATION The Secretary is given broad authority to initiate and conduct research, testing, development, and evaluation in cooperation with other Federal departments and agencies. The bill expressly authorizes data collection, grants to States, interstate agencies, and nonprofit institutions; authorizes the acquisition of equipment and facilities and the fabrication of motor vehicle equipment for research and development purposes (§ 106(a)).
In particular, the bill authorizes the Secretary to develop, through grant or contract, experimental safety vehicles in limited but sufficient quantities to serve as demonstrations for the testing and development of safety features applicable to commercially manufactured motor vehicles. These demonstration vehicles are not to be limited to traditional methods of automobile design, styling, testing or production (§ 106(b)). Although this authority is discretionary, the committee expects the Secretary to initiate such development and the Department of ('ommerce has indicated that “work on experimental cars of this nature will start as soon as possible, both on a total systems basis as well as on selected systems components."
While the bill reported by the committee authorizes the Secretary to make grants or award contracts for research in certain cases, a principal aim is to encourage the auto industry itself to engage in greater auto safety and safety-related research. In recent years the firms comprising the industry have spent substantial sums for research, but they are capable of doing more. In the area of auto safety, expenditures have been relatively small.
AVOIDANCE OF DUPLICATION
In avoiding duplication among the facilities and services of other Federal departments and agencies, as required in section 121, the Secretary would be expected to use the existing facilities of the National Bureau of Standards and of the Public Health Service, and Bureau of Public Roads in addition to such facilities as he may establish.
COOPERATION AND TRAINING The Secretary is authorized to cooperate with and enter into cooperative agreements with other Federal agencies, State or other public agencies, manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment and other businesses, universities, or other institutions in the planning and development of safety standards, methods for inspecting or testing under safety standards, and methods and equipment for testing motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment ($ 107).
The Secretary is also authorized to establish training programs for Federal, State, and private personnel for testing, inspection, and other purposes (§ 108).
OBLIGATION FOR NONCOMPLYING MOTOR VEHICLES AND MOTOR VEHICLE
If a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment fails to meet the standards prescribed by the Secretary or contains a safety-related defect, the manufacturer must either repurchase from the dealer the defective vehicle or item of equipment, or if the manufacturer chooses, instead promptly deliver corrective parts to the dealer and reimburse the dealer for making corrections (f 119(a)). Dealers may bring court actions to recover damages for the breach of this obligation (8 119(b)).
These obligations apply only between the manufacturer and the dealer or distributor who purchases a vehicle or item of equipment from the manufacturer, and only during the period before such dis