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    Cesar H. Cozzi Gainza, Esq.
    Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores
    Comercio Internatcional y Culto
    Direccion General de Asuntos Jurisdicos
    Esmeralda 1212. 4 piso (1007)
    Buenos Aires, Argentina

    RE: "Miranda Guillermo Jorge y otros c/Centro Naval y otros s/daos y perjuicios" (expte. No. 13.445/02)

    Dear Seor Gainza:

    This responds to your request for our legal opinion concerning any United States "safety standard or legal, ruling or administrative provisions in force to compel the manufacturers and/or importers of automobiles with manual transmission to include a mechanism to block the ignition and thus avoid accidents".It is our understanding that that there is civil lawsuit before your court resulting from a car crash which is described as follows:

    In Olivos, Province of Buenos Aires, on January first, two thousand, when the automobile of the Plaintiff, occupied by a minor child and a dog fell into the River Plate.The Plaintiff states that the cause of the casualty was due to the fact that the vehicle has no ignition blocking system, activated when the vehicles are in a gear, because the automobile which was involved in the accident was activated when the minor child started the ignition while the vehicle was in gear.The Defendant states that it is not compulsory to provide vehicles with said systems, and the lack thereof implies no design error.

    By way of background information, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is authorized to issue the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSSs), which apply to new motor vehicles and new items of motor vehicle equipment manufactured for sale, sold, offered for sale, introduced or delivered for introduction in interstate commerce or imported into, the United States of America.(See Title 49 of the United States Code Section 30112.)NHTSA does not provide approvals of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment.Instead, manufacturers are required to certify that their vehicles and equipment meet applicable standards.

    There is nothing in the FMVSSs that require new motor vehicles with manual transmissions to have an "ignition blocking system, activated when the vehicles are in a gear".The FMVSS most relevant to your case is FMVSS No. 102, Transmission shift lever sequence, starter interlock, and transmission braking effect, which specifies requirements for the transmission shift lever sequence, a starter interlock, and for a braking effect of automatic transmissions, to reduce the likelihood of shifting errors, starter engagement with vehicle in drive position, and to provide supplemental braking at speeds below 40 kilometers per hour. FMVSS No. 102 applies to passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, and buses. A copy of FMVSS No. 102 is enclosed for your information.

    FMVSS No. 102 has only the following requirement for motor vehicles with manual transmissions:

    S3.2 Manual transmissions.Identification of the shift lever pattern of manual transmissions, except three forward speed manual transmissions having the standard "H" pattern, shall be displayed in view of the driver at all times when a driver is present in the drivers seating position.

    As you can see, S3.2 does not require new motor vehicles with manual transmissions to have an "ignition blocking system, activated when the vehicles are in a gear."

    I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Dorothy Nakama of my staff at this address or by telephone at (202) 366-2992.



    Jacqueline Glassman
    Chief Counsel