NiMi Manufacturing, Inc.
1044 Main St.
Mosheim, TN 37818
Dear Ms. Jones:
This responds to your letter to Ms. Deirdre Fujita of my staff asking about safety regulations, particularly for flammability resistance, for a device you call a "Toddler Traveler pillow." According to promotional literature you sent with your letter, the Toddler Traveler pillow is used with a child booster seat to provide "padded comfort and support" to a child sleeping in the booster. The pillow provides a surface the child could lean on while sleeping.
By way of background information, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the authority to issue Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSSs) 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, Congress has established a "self-certification" process under which each manufacturer is responsible for certifying that its products meet all applicable safety standards. The following represents our opinion based on the information set forth in your letter and promotional literature.
Currently there are no Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSSs) that directly apply to the Toddler Traveler pillow. Our standard for "child restraint systems," FMVSS 213, applies to "any device except Type I or Type II seat belts, designed for use in a motor vehicle or aircraft to restrain, seat, or position children who weigh 50 pounds or less." The standard does not apply to accessory items, such as a pillow that is used with a child booster seat. Our standard for flammability resistance, FMVSS 302, applies to new motor vehicles and to new child restraint systems. It does not apply to child restraint accessory items.
While no FMVSS applies to the Toddler Traveler pillow, 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 a copy of those defect provisions, as well as an information sheet that briefly describes those and other manufacturer 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 Toddler Traveler pillow 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. No commercial business listed in '30122 can install a Toddler Traveler pillow if the product undermines the vehicle's compliance with a safety standard, including Standard 302 for flammability resistance.
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.
Before closing, we would like to comment on a further issue, one that you and Ms. Fujita discussed on the telephone. The advertising literature you enclosed with your letter described the Toddler Traveler pillow as being suitable for use with children ages "18 months to 4 years." We believe this description is potentially confusing concerning the use of booster seats by young children. Booster seats are intended to be used as a transition to safety belts by older children who have outgrown convertible seats (ideally, over 40 pounds and 4 years). A booster seat is not designed to restrain young children, and under a requirement we recently adopted, cannot now be recommended for children under 30 pounds. Stating "18 months to 4 years" may be mistaken to imply that, with your pillow, a booster seat could be used to restrain a child as young as 18 months. To avoid any possible misunderstanding, we suggest that the phrase on recommended use of the pillow should refer to older children, such as those "over 4 years."
One further note in closing. You said that a year ago, Ms. Fujita told you "there are no codes to govern" your product. Ms. Fujita is concerned that you might believe you were given an oral interpretation of how our requirements apply to your product. Please note that we cannot give oral interpretations. Ms. Fujita provided you a copy of an interpretation we'd issued in the past on a child seat pillow accessory, while indicating that an interpretation of which requirements apply to your product must be from us in writing. (This letter comprises that interpretation.) We regret any confusion on this issue.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact Ms. Fujita at (202) 366-2992.
John Womack Acting Chief Counsel
Enclosures ref:213 d:6/30/95