Mr. Scott Willard
Seating Systems Division
21557 Telegraph Road
Southfield, MI 48034
Dear Mr. Willard:
This responds to your letter concerning the lower anchorage marking requirements in S9.5(b) of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 225, "Child Restraint Anchorage Systems" (49 CFR 571.225).
FMVSS No. 225 requires vehicle manufacturers to install child restraint anchorage systems in vehicles, consisting of two lower bars and a tether anchorage. The standard contains "marking and conspicuity" requirements for the lower bars to increase the likelihood that consumers will know that a child restraint anchorage system is present in their vehicle and that they will use it. The standard requires manufacturers to mark the vehicle seat back with a small circle where the bars are located (S9.5(a)), or to install a child restraint anchorage system such that the bars are visible (S9.5(b)). S9.5(b) includes a provision that: "The bars may be covered by a removable cap or cover, provided that the cap or cover is permanently marked with words, symbols or pictograms whose meaning is explained [in] the owners manual."
You ask whether S9.5(b) permits the bars to be covered by "a small fabric flap"; that is, whether such a flap could constitute a permissible "removable cover" over the lower anchorage bar. You state that, to use the lower anchorages, "the flap(s) would need to be folded out of the way, thus exposing the lower anchorages (otherwise visible per section 9.5(b))." You also state that the flaps would be permanently attached to the vehicle seat. They would be marked with words, symbols or pictograms, as required by S9.5(b), the meaning of which would be explained in writing in the vehicle owners manual.
Our answer is the marked fabric flaps you describe would be permitted by S9.5(b) of FMVSS No. 225. We also note that the standard does not require the marked covers for otherwise visible lower anchorages to be permanently attached to the vehicle.
In an April 19, 2004, telephone conversation with Ms. Deirdre Fujita of my staff, you asked whether a strap or other means must be provided with the flaps to hold them out of the way of the anchorage bars when a consumer wants to use the bars to attach a child restraint. The answer is there is no requirement in the standard that a means must be provided to hold the covers out of the way of the bars.
I hope this information is helpful. Please contact us if you have further questions.