Manager, Regulatory Compliance
and Environmental Affairs
Volvo Cars of North America
Rockleigh, NJ 07647-0913
Dear Mr. Shapiro:
This responds to your May 6, 1996, letter asking about Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 111, Rearview mirrors (49 CFR 571.111). You asked what position should be used to determine the driver's field of view for purposes of the standard's outside rearview mirror requirements, the rearmost seating position or the seating reference point. Your question arose from an inconsistency that you have identified in our standards. As discussed below, we plan to resolve this inconsistency in rulemaking. In the meantime, we will consider vehicles as being in compliance with the standard's outside rearview mirror requirements if they meet those requirements with the field of view determined at either the rearmost seating position or the seating reference point.
S5.2.1 of Standard No. 111 states that the driver=s side rearview mirror shall provide the required view Awith the seat in the rearmost position.@ (Emphasis added.) That section goes on to state that "the location of the driver's eye reference points shall be those established in Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 104 ('571.104) or a nominal location appropriate for any 95th percentile male driver." As you noted in your letter, Standard No. 104 specifies use of the seating reference point to establish the driver's eye reference points. The seating reference point establishes the "rearmost normal design driving or riding position," and not necessarily the absolute rearmost position. Since the rearmost seating position and the seating reference points may differ, fields of view based on these positions may differ.
As noted by your letter, this inconsistency was created as a result of recent rulemakings amending the definition of seating reference point and Standard No. 104. As a result of those rulemakings, the eye reference points in Standard No. 104 are no longer necessarily determined with the seat in the rearmost position. These rulemakings inadvertently created an inconsistency in Standard No. 111, since that standard retains the reference to rearmost position.
We plan to resolve this inconsistency in rulemaking. In the meantime, we will consider vehicles as being in compliance with the requirements of S5.2.1 of Standard No. 111 if they meet the performance requirements of that section with the field of view determined at either the rearmost seating position or the seating reference point.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Paul Atelsek of my staff at this address or by telephone at (202) 366-2992.
Samuel J. Dubbin Chief Counsel
The definition of seating reference point was amended by a final rule published on August 12, 1991 (56 FR 38084). Standard No. 104 was amended by a final rule published on March 9, 1993 (58 FR 13021). 2