1627 S. Ironton St.
Aurora, CO 80012
Dear Ms. Thomas:
This responds to your letter asking about safety regulations for a device you call a "CarMobile." The CarMobile is a type of strap to which three rings are sewn. The CarMobile attaches by "velcro" straps to the handrails located at the top of the interior rear car doors. You state that "Toys would be hung from the rings, so that babies and toddlers can play with them as they dangle in front of their carseats."
By way of background information, 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. NHTSA does not, however, approve or certify any vehicles or items of equipment. Instead, each manufacturer is responsible for "self-certifying" that its products meet all applicable safety standards. The agency periodically tests vehicles and items of equipment for compliance with the standards.
In response to your question, there is currently no Federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) that directly applies to the product you wish to manufacture. However, your product is considered to be an item of motor vehicle equipment. As a manufacturer of motor vehicle equipment, you are subject to the requirements of 49 U.S.C. ''30118-30121 concerning the recall and remedy of products with safety related defects. I have enclosed an information sheet that briefly describes those responsibilities. In the event you or NHTSA determines that your product contains a safety-related defect, you would be responsible for notifying purchasers of the defective equipment and remedying the problem free of charge.
In addition, while it is unlikely that the CarMobile would be installed by a motor vehicle manufacturer, distributor, dealer or repair business, 49 U.S.C. '30122 prohibits those businesses from installing the device if the installation "makes inoperative" compliance with any safety standard. NHTSA's safety standard for built-in child restraint systems (Standard 213) specifies requirements that ensure that the area surrounding a child in a built-in restraint is free from objects that could injure a child's head in a crash. If the CarMobile's cord and rings cause the vehicle with the built-in restraint to no longer comply with Standard 213, any of the aforementioned parties installing the CarMobile may have violated '30122.
The prohibition of '30122 does not apply to individual owners who install equipment in their own vehicles. Thus, individual owners may install any item of motor vehicle equipment regardless of its effect on compliance with Federal motor vehicle safety standards. However, NHTSA encourages vehicle owners not to degrade the safety of their vehicles, and would discourage them from hanging toys or other objects in front of a seated child that could injure the child in a crash. We also wish to point out that any kind of ribbon or line that can wrap around the neck of a child in a crash poses a potential risk of strangulation in a crash. You should consider these and any other relevant safety concerns when designing the CarMobile and when instructing consumers how to use the device.
I hope this is helpful. If you have any other questions, please contact Deirdre Fujita of my staff at this address or by phone at (202) 366-2992.
John Womack Acting Chief Counsel
ref:213 d:8/26/94 Please note that the "National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act" and the "Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act" to which the information sheet refers have recently been recodified in Title 49 of the United States Code. This means that the citations used in the information sheet are outdated; however, the substantive requirements described in the sheet have not changed.