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001112cm EZOn

    Ms. Lori Crouzillat
    Safety Advisor
    E-Z-ON Products, Inc.
    605 Commerce Way West
    Jupiter, FL 33458

    Dear Ms. Crouzillat:

    This is in response to your letter of February 24, 2003, in which you ask for a clarification of the labeling requirement for child safety harnesses that mount to school bus seat backs.

    Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 213 requires child safety harnesses [1] manufactured on or after February 1, 2003, that attach to school bus seat backs to be labeled with the warning specified in FMVSS No. 213. In your letter, you state that several states and members of the school bus industry believe that "seatmount products" in use, that were manufactured before February 1, 2003, are not in compliance with FMVSS No. 213 because they are not labeled with a warning. You ask whether the agency requires all harnesses, irrespective of manufacture date, to be labeled with the warning contained in FMVSS No. 213 in order to be in compliance with that standard. The answer is no.

    By way of background, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the authority to issue safety standards for new motor vehicles and new items of motor vehicle equipment. 49 U.S.C. 30111. NHTSA has used its authority to issue FMVSS No. 213, regulating child restraint systems, in order to reduce the number of children killed or injured in motor vehicles. Each new child restraint system, including harnesses, must be certified as complying with the requirements of Standard No. 213.

    FMVSS No. 213 generally prohibits a child restraint system from having any means designed for attaching the system to a vehicle seat back. (See S5.3.1.) However, to facilitate the safe transportation of preschool and special needs children, the agency amended FMVSS No. 213 on an interim basis to exclude from this prohibition harnesses manufactured for use on school bus seats. (67 Federal Register 64818; October 22, 2002.) The interim rule went into effect October 22, 2002, and NHTSA has decided in the exercise of its enforcement discretion, not to take enforcement action with respect to harnesses manufactured before that date. [2] For seat-mount restraints manufactured on or after February 1, 2003, the interim rule requires them to be labeled with the following warning:

    Warning! This restraint must only be used on school bus seats. Entire seat directly behind must be unoccupied or have restrained occupants. (67 FR at 64820)

    The labeling requirement applies only to the restraints manufactured on or after the specified date (February 1, 2003). Furthermore, the labeling requirement applies to manufacturers of the seat-mount harnesses and does not impose any requirement on the end user to obtain labels for those harnesses manufactured before February 1, 2003.

    I hope you find this information helpful. If you have any further questions please contact Chris Calamita of my staff at (202) 366-2992.


    Jacqueline Glassman
    Chief Counsel


    [1] Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 213, Child restraint systems, uses the term "harness." Some manufacturers use the term "vest." We consider the terms "harness" and "vest" to be interchangeable.

    [2] The interim rule expires December 1, 2003. The agency is currently reviewing the interim rule to determine if it should be made permanent. (67 FR 64818.)