5553 Ravenswood Rd., Suite 103-104
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33312
Dear Ms. Brunson:
This responds to your May 13, 1996, letter and May 14 telephone call to Deirdre Fujita of my staff, asking about the labeling requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 213, AChild Restraint Systems.@
Your letter is one of several we recently received concerning your company=s plan to sell imported child seats. In previous correspondence between your company (formerly Baby Comfort Inc.) and this office, it became apparent that certain child seats Baby Comfort wished to sell could not meet the requirements of Standard 213 and thus could not be certified to the standard or sold to the public. (April 16, 1996, letter to David Baret, President of Baby Comfort; April 29 letter to Lawrence Feder, counsel to Mr. Baret.) You told Ms. Fujita that the seats you now ask about are different from the nonconforming seats and that you believe these can meet the standard.
You ask a series of 14 questions about Standard 213. Your questions are restated below, followed by our answers.
Question 1: Can the specified labels in the standards be incorporated together? Are there any requirements or restrictions on which statements can be combined? (As long as the wording and placement of labels is according to standards.)
Answer: The information that S5.5.1 of Standard 213 requires to be permanently labeled on each child restraint can appear on one label. The standard has no restriction on which statements can
be combined. Note, however, that S5.5.3 requires some of the required statements to be visible when the system is installed. All the information on the restraint should be presented clearly.
2. Does the wording on the labels have to [appear] exactly as in the standards? Or can we add something to emphasize a point?
Generally, the wording must be as specified. However, manufacturers may present information in addition to the required information, if the additional information is presented in a manner that is not likely to obscure or confuse the meaning of the required information. See, e.g., April 17, 1989 letter to Robert Craig (labeling child seats with metric units), copy enclosed.
3. Can the instruction booklet be anywhere on the seat, possibly under the base?
You ask about S188.8.131.52 of Standard 213, which requires each add-on (portable) child restraint system to have a location on the restraint for storing the manufacturer=s instructions. The storage location may be under the base.
4. Can labels be sewn onto the seat cover? (Made out of a different material than the stickers, of course, and permanently affixed by sewing.)
The child seat cover (pad) may be labeled with the specified information. Under S5.5.1, the information must be permanent. Also, S5.7 of Standard 213 requires Aeach material used in a child restraint system@ to conform to the flammability resistance requirements of Standard 302. Labels affixed to a child restraint must comply with Standard 302, including sewn labels.
5. The label specified in S5.5(i) [sic] with regards to the use of the vehicle=s belt system does not apply to our seats as written in the standards. Can this be modified to suit our particular seat?
The statement specified in S5.5.2(i) is required only for booster seats, which we understand your seat is not. Thus, your seat need not have this statement.
While you are not required to label your seats with the S5.5.2(i) statement, you asked in a telephone call whether you may voluntarily add a statement similar to that of S5.5.2(i), because your seat can be used with both a vehicle=s lap belt or a lap and shoulder belt system. Your statement would direct users Ato install the seat using the vehicle=s belt system as specified in the manufacturer=s instructions.@ Our answer is the statement may be on the label. It would not obscure or confuse labeling required by Standard 213. In fact, it might help ensure that the seat is properly used.
6. Our seats are not belt positioning and no inversion tests were performed to determine aircraft compatibility. Do they require the label - NOT CERTIFIED FOR AIRCRAFT USE?
If the seat is not a belt-positioning seat (defined in S4 of the standard), it is excluded from the requirement of S5.5.2(n) that it must be labeled AThis Restraint is Not Certified for Use in Aircraft.@ Belt- positioning seats must be so labeled because the Federal Aviation Administration and NHTSA determined they are not suitable for aircraft use. The agencies have also recently determined that harnesses and backless booster seats must also be so labeled. (See enclosed final rule, 61 FR 28423, June 4, 1996.)
7. For instructions - as long as all statements are made according to standards - can we add any other information we wish regarding our seats? Are there any restrictions?
You ask about S5.6, which requires each add-on restraint system to be accompanied by installation instructions that includes certain specified information. You may add other information to the instructions, provided that the information would not cause confusion.
8. Are there Federal Label standards for materials [material content]? For any other states other than California?
There is no Federal requirement that you label the material content of the restraint. As for information on state requirements, we suggest you contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in the states the child seat will be sold or used.
9. Are there any requirements as to whether or not the seat (plastic part) has to have any information stamped into it? Or with raised letters?
Some manufacturers may have chosen to mold (or emboss) the required labeling into a restraint to ensure the permanency of the labeling. While NHTSA does not require molding or embossing the information, in a 1979 final rule upgrading Standard 213 NHTSA urged manufacturers, whenever possible, to mold the label into the surface of the restraint rather than use a paper label. 44 FR 72131, December 13, 1979.
10. I have noticed small numbers on some of the labels affixed to other carseats, do you know if it is some Federal requirement or what these numbers are? Must we show a patent number, etc.?
As discussed on the phone, we do not know what small numbers you refer to. Standard 213 does not require you to show a patent number.
11. Since we distribute the carseats, can our name be on the label for the recall information instead of the manufacturer, stating we are the distributor? We will be handling all inquiries regarding the seats.
Your company=s name may be on the label. We consider a Amanufacturer@ to include a company importing motor vehicle equipment.
12. Can we send labels for NHTSA approval before we print all of them? Is there someplace we could send a complete, labeled seat for approval?
NHTSA does not approve products or labeling on products. The responsibility for compliance with the labeling requirements, as well as all other requirements of the standard, rests with the manufacturer. Although we cannot recommend any testing facility, we are aware that the following facilities conduct tests of child restraints:
Calspan Corporation 4455 Genesee St. Buffalo, NY 14255
Detroit Testing Laboratory, Inc. 7111 E. Eleven Mile Rd. Warren, MI 48092
Child Passenger Protection University of Michigan c/o UMTRI 2901 Baxter Rd. Ann Arbor, MI 48019-2150
13. What does Aoutboard@ seating position mean?
You ask this with regard to S5.5.2(l), which requires child restraints to be labeled with an installation diagram showing the system installed in the Aright front outboard seating position . . . .@ AOutboard designated seating position@ is defined in '571.3 of NHTSA=s regulations. The position you ask about is the front right seating position.
14. Does NHTSA require anything (labels, warnings, etc.) on the box or packaging?
The answer is no, with regard to boxes or packages for child restraint systems.
If you have other questions, please call Ms. Fujita at (202) 366-2992.
Samuel J. Dubbin Chief Counsel