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00372Villeneuvedsp

    Mr. Pierre Villeneuve
    A. Girardin Inc.
    Trans Canada Highway
    Drummondville (Qubec) J2B 6V4


    Dear Mr. Villeneuve:

    This responds to your January 6, 2003, e-mail and subsequent telephone conversation with Deirdre Fujita of my staff, asking about Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 225, "Child Restraint Anchorage Systems" (49 CFR 571.225). You ask several questions about a bus that has wheelchair securement devices and only one 34-inch wide forward-facing bench seat in the passenger compartment. You stated in your February 27, 2003 telephone call that the bench seat has two designated seating positions.

    Number of Anchorage Systems

    Your first question asks how many child restraint anchorage systems must be installed in the vehicle. Assuming the vehicle is subject to FMVSS No. 225 [1] , the answer is two if there are two forward-facing rear designated seating positions on your vehicle. S4.4(b) of FMVSS No. 225 specifies that, in vehicles with not more than two forward-facing rear designated seating positions, a child restraint anchorage system must be installed at each position. Accordingly, an anchorage system must be installed at each of the two forward-facing rear designated seating positions on your vehicle.

    Location in Vehicle

    Your second question asks whether the bench seat with the anchorage system must be positioned immediately behind the driver, or whether it can be installed in the rear of the bus. FMVSS No. 225 does not specify where a seating position must be located. Instead, the standard specifies locations for child restraint anchorage systems and tether anchorages based on the seating configuration of a particular vehicle. In the case of the subject vehicle, regardless of whether the seat is located directly behind the drivers seat or located at the rear of the vehicle, the seat is the "second row of seating" and therefore two child restraint anchorage systems must be installed on this two-person seat.

    If the vehicle were installed with three or more forward-facing rear designated seating positions, then the requirements of S4.4(a) would apply. The requirements for location of child restraint anchorage systems and tether anchorages are determined by considering the number of designated seating positions, the seating row number (e.g., second, third, etc.) and the outboard or non-outboard location of forward-facing designated seating positions. The proximity of seating positions to the drivers seat is not a determining factor apart from the above criteria.

    Flip Seat

    Your final question asks whether FMVSS No. 225 requires the installation of a child restraint anchorage system in a "flip seat." The key to answering this question is whether the seat contains designated seating positions. "Designated seating position" is defined in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations regulations at 49 CFR 571.3 as:

    Any plan view location capable of accommodating a person at least as large as a 5th percentile adult female, if the overall seat configuration and design and vehicle design is such that the position is likely to be used as a seating position while the vehicle is in motion, except for auxiliary seating accommodations such as temporary or folding jump seats. (Emphasis added.)

    The agency does not define auxiliary seating accommodations, but has addressed the issue in a number of interpretation letters. The agency has stated that the term "folding jump seat" applies "solely to the type of seat that is used from time to time in such vehicles as taxi cabs and limousines to accommodate, for short periods of time, an excess number of passengers. The usual form of jump seat is a seat that folds down from the rear of the front passenger seat."See April 28, 1971 letter to Mr. Keitaro Nakajima.

    The fact that the seat is a flip seat is not determinative as to whether it is excluded from being a designated seating position. We understand that Girardin would installing either a Freedman Feather Weight AM or BV Foldaway. This seat is available from the manufacturer as a one- or two-passenger seat. That is, it does not appear that the seat is

    just an auxiliary position. Without information indicating that the flip seats are not designated seating positions, we cannot concur that they would be excluded from having child restraint anchorage systems.

    If you have further questions, please contact Dee Fujita at (202) 366-2992.

    Sincerely,

    Jacqueline Glassman
    Chief Counsel

    ref:225
    d.4/29/03



    [1] Note that a vehicle is subject to the standard depending in part on its classification. In determining a vehicles classification, a wheelchair restraint position counts as either one or four designated seating positions depending on whether the vehicle is intended to be used for pupil transportation. See definition of "designated seating position" in 49 CFR 571.3.