Ms. Carol Dingledy
Manager, Corporate Communications
Cosco Inc.
2525 State St.
Columbus, IN 47201

Dear Ms. Dingledy:

This responds to your January 27, 1997 letter concerning the air bag warning label requirement adopted in Standard 213 by a November 27, 1996 final rule (61 FR 60206). You ask whether you can revise the label for Cosco's "Dream Ride" car bed.

The November 1996 rule requires that beginning May 27, 1997, rear-facing child seats must have a specified label "that conforms in content to Figure 10...." Figure 10, also adopted by the rule, depicts a label with the word "Warning" and an alert symbol in the heading, and a message and pictogram under that heading. The text of the message appears as:

DO NOT place rear-facing child seat on front seat with air bag.

DEATH OR SERIOUS INJURY can occur.

The back seat is the safest place for children 12 and under.

You state that the Dream Ride can be used rear-facing, and side-facing as a car bed. According to the installation information you enclosed, Cosco believes that the Dream Ride "can be used as a car bed in seating locations where there is an air bag." You ask whether the standard would permit you to add a sentence at the beginning of the required text, stating:

Dream Ride can be used with an air bag in the car bed position ONLY.

You believe this sentence is needed "to make the intent crystal clear and prevent anyone from either facing the car seat forward or putting an infant who must be watched alone in the rear seat."

Our answer is that the standard does not permit the additional sentence on the label. S5.5.2(k)(4) requires a label that, among other things, "conforms in content to Figure 10." NHTSA provided flexibility in the final rule concerning the format and size of the label, but stated that "Manufacturers agreed that NHTSA should specify the label content and prohibit additional labels." 61 FR at 60210. Thus, flexibility as to the content of the label was not provided.

References to car bed use, while precluded from inclusion on the label, may be included in the installation instructions for the restraint. Please note, however, that the January 6, 1997 final rule extending the time period during which manual cutoff switches for the passenger-side air bag are permitted (62 FR 798) expressed the following concerns about car beds:

Given the limited information that is available [on the use of car beds], NHTSA is not prepared to recommend placing a car bed in front of an air bag. The agency did conduct a test in which the air bag deployed primarily over the top of a car bed, barely contacting the bed. However, NHTSA used an infant dummy that was not instrumented, and thus did not obtain measurements of the potential for injury.* * * The agency does not know how hard the air bag impacted the bed, or what the effect the impact would have on a four, five or ten pound infant, with or without a medical problem. Moreover, the agency does not know the extent to which that particular test was representative of current vehicle seats and air bags. Finally, NHTSA notes that car beds cannot fit on bucket seats. (62 FR at 804, column 3)

We would appreciate learning the basis for your determination that the Dream Ride is safe to use side-facing in front of an air bag.

Sincerely,

John Womack

Acting Chief Counsel

ref:213

d:3/31/97