Four Winds International Corporation
791 C.R. 15 P.O. Box 1486
Elkhart, IN 46515-1486
Dear Mr. Warlick:
This responds to your fax asking about the meaning of "designated seating position" for purposes of the Federal motor vehicle safety standards. You noted that the RVIA Handbook, dated April 23, 1991, states that "it is the NHTSA's position that, as a minimum, there must be as many [designated seating positions] as there are sleeping accommodations." You asked whether this statement is still in effect, and, if so, where you can find it in the Code of Federal Regulations. You also asked what defined area makes up one sleeping position.
This will confirm that it continues to be NHTSA's position that, as a minimum, there must be as many designated seating positions as there are sleeping accommodations. This position is based on the definition of "designated seating position," which is set forth at 49 CFR 571.3. Under that definition, the question of whether a position in a vehicle constitutes a designated seating position is dependent in part on whether the position "is likely to be used as a seating position while the vehicle is in motion." If a manufacturer designs a vehicle to sleep a particular number of persons, e.g., six persons, it is logical to assume that those six persons will ride in the vehicle to their sleeping destination. Therefore, there must be at least six designated seating positions in the vehicle. A more complete discussion of this issue is presented on p. 23234 of the enclosed Federal Register notice (Final rule amending the definition of "designated seating position," April 19, 1979).
We do not have a definition of what area makes up one sleeping position. NHTSA would consider all available information to determine the number of sleeping positions in a vehicle. This would include the size of the sleeping accommodations, e.g., whether an area is large enough to accommodate more than one person, and advertising by the manufacturer and dealers.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have further questions, please feel free to call Edward Glancy of my staff at (202) 366-2992.
Philip R. Recht Acting Chief Counsel