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10-01396_Bruno_drn.doc

Richard Keller, Senior Project Leader
Bruno Independent Living Aids, Inc.
1780 Executive Drive
P.O. Box 84
Oconomowoc, WI  53066

Dear Mr. Keller:

This responds to your letter of January 13, 2010, concerning the application of the make inoperative prohibition with respect to the new head restraint requirements included in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 202a and vehicles modified to accommodate persons with disabilities.  As explained below, until we complete action on our proposal to amend Part 595 to update existing exemptions concerning head restraint requirements and vehicles modified to accommodate persons with disabilities, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will exercise its enforcement discretion and refrain from taking action in situations where the modifications would have been permitted either under the earlier version of the head restraint standard (FMVSS No. 202), or under the earlier version of the standard coupled with the existing exemptions established for that standard.

By way of background, on December 14, 2004, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a final rule upgrading our head restraint standard.  See 69 FR 7484.  The upgraded standard (which has been subsequently amended) is designated FMVSS No. 202a.  The earlier standard was designated FMVSS No. 202.  As a result of leadtime and a phase-in, manufacturers have been permitted to certify some vehicles to FMVSS No. 202, rather than FMVSS No. 202a, through August 31, 2010.

In response to a petition from your company, on December 18, 2009 (74 FR 67156) NHTSA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend Part 595 to update the exemptions concerning head restraint requirements and vehicles modified to accommodate persons with disabilities.[1]  You submitted your petition in light of a product you produce called

the "Turning Automotive Seat" (TAS). The TAS is designed to swivel in order to allow easier egress/ingress for mobility impaired persons.  You indicated that vehicles equipped with TAS meet the requirements of FMVSS No. 202, but not the requirements of FMVSS No. 202a. 

In order to accommodate people with disabilities and after considering the specific facts related to your request, until this rulemaking is completed, the agency will use its enforcement discretion and refrain from taking action with respect to the make inoperative prohibition and our head restraint standard in the limited instance of situations where the modifications would have been permitted either under the earlier version of the head restraint standard (FMVSS No. 202), or under the earlier version of the standard coupled with the existing exemptions established for that standard.  For purposes of the label and documentation requirements of 595.7(b), vehicle modifiers should, in such instances, take the same steps as if FMVSS No. 202 continued to be in effect.

If you require any additional information or assistance, please contact Dorothy Nakama of my staff at (202) 366-2992 or at the address given above.

Sincerely,

O. Kevin Vincent
Chief Counsel

8/25/2010



[1] In establishing Part 595, NHTSA recognized that it is appropriate to permit some modifications that could cause a vehicle to no longer comply with an FMVSS in order to accommodate people with disabilities. 49 CFR Part 595 Subpart C, Vehicle Modifications to Accommodate People with Disabilities, lists modifications of certain portions of specific FMVSSs that are exempt from the "make inoperative" provision in order to accommodate people with disabilities.