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Conference Report

House Report 1919, Page 17

INITIAL FEDERAL STANDARDS

Section 103(h) of the House amendment requires the Secretary to issue initial Federal safety standards based upon existing public safety standards on or before January 31, 1967. On or before January 31, 1968, the Secretary is required to issue new and revised standards.

Section 103(h) of the proposed conference substitute is the same as the House provisions with the exception of the deletion of the word "public", thus requiring the initial standards to be based upon existing safety standards.

The House managers agreed to this deletion in order to permit the Secretary to consider all existing safety standards, not just public standards.

House Passed Act

Congressional Record-House
August 17, 1966, 19670

(h) The Secretary shall issue initial Federal motor vehicle safety standards based upon existing public safety standards on or before January 31, 1967. On or before January 31, 1968, The Secretary shall issue new and revised Federal motor vehicle safety standards under this title.

House Debate

Contains nothing helpful.

House Committee Report

House Report 1776, Page 19

Initial standards.-Section 103(h) of the reported bill requires the Secretary to issue initial Federal safety standards based upon existing public safety standards on or before January 31, 1967. It further requires that on or before January 31, 1968, that the Secretary shall issue new and revised safety standards.

The committee considers that prompt issuance of safety standards is necessary in the public interest. Therefore, the Secretary is required to issue safety standards based on existing public standards no later than January 31, 1967. The existing public safety standards on which the Secretary would base these standards would necessarily include those that have been promulgated by the General Services Administrator as well as those of other Federal departments and agencies and those of States and other public bodies. No later than January 31, 1968, the Secretary is required to issue new and revised standards to extend the initial standards as well as to cover aspects of performance not theretofore dealt with by previous standards.

Senate Passed Act
Congressional Record-Senate
June 24, 1966, 14256

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The bill, as amended by the committee, assigns responsibility for the administration of safety standards and research to the Secretary of Commerce (sec. 101(j)). In order that the congressional mandate be made unequivocal and certain and that safety standards be established at the earliest practicable time, the bill directs the Secretary of Commerce to prescribe interim motor vehicle safety standards by January 31, 1967 (sec. 102). These standards are to be effective within 6 months to 1 year thereafter. Such interim standards, which will be promulgated before the Secretary is able to derive substantial benefit from the new research and development activities also author

ized by the act, will necessarily be based upon existing public and private -standards, evaluated in the light of available technical information.

Thus it is anticipated that in selecting interim standards, the Secretary will consider and evaluate the current GSA safety standards for Government-purchased vehicles (a copy of the current standards is included in the appendix to this report). The Secretary will also be expected to review existing State motor vehicle standards as well as voluntary SAE standards to determine which may appropriately 6. 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: (June 3, 1966)

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 z 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)).

Executive Communications Contains nothing helpful.

As Introduced

As H.R. 13228 in the House and S. 3005 in the Senate

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SEC. 102. (a) The Secretary shall, from time to time,

20 review existing public and private motor vehicle safety 21 standards and the degree of effective coinpliance existing 22 with respect to such standards. If, at any time after two

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years from the date of the enactment of this Act, he deter

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