Law & Order

NHTSA Makes Technical Corrections to Rules Covering Lighting Equipment, Electric-Powered Vehicles and Event Data Recorders

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) amended several unrelated rules to address technical issues in response to industry requests.

Lighting Standard (pdf): The NHTSA amended Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 108 to correct technical errors and address concerns that the standard was changed in substance when it was reorganized in 2007. The standard had been amended many times since it was first adopted in 1967 in order to address technological advances and enhance safety. In the process, the old regulation was unnecessarily complex and difficult to understand. The intent of the 2007 revision was to simplify the regulation to the extent possible. The NHTSA is still reviewing the revised standard to confirm there were no other changes of substance. It is scheduled to take effect on December 1, 2012, although voluntary compliance is now permitted.

Electric-Powered Vehicles (pdf): The NHTSA modified FMVSS No. 305 to clarify definitions used in the standard. The agency also addressed technical issues regarding the retention requirements for electric energy storage/conversion systems, electrical isolation requirements, test specifications and requirements for electrical isolation monitoring, state-of-charge of electric energy storage devices prior to the crash tests, a proposed protective barrier compliance option for electrical safety, use of alternative gas to crash test hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles and a proposed low-energy compliance option for electrical safety.

Event Data Recorders (pdf): The NHTSA made minor modifications to the “Part 563” regulation, which establishes uniform requirements for electronic data recorders (EDRs), also known as "black boxes," which are voluntarily installed in light-duty vehicles. EDRs document key events just before and after a car crash. Beginning in September 2012, any EDR installed on a light-duty vehicle must meet the minimum performance criteria. Data to be retrieved includes crash speed, brake, accelerator pedal, safety belt and airbag-deployment information.

For more information, contact Stuart Gosswein at