Dear [ ]
This responds to your request for an interpretation of S5.2.5, Footrests, in Standard No. 123 Motorcycle controls and displays. You ask whether the requirement that the footrest "fold rearward and upward when not in use" can be interpreted to require the passenger footrest to fold upward only. As explained below, the answer is no.
You requested confidential treatment for all information in your letter, and its attachment. Please note that when confidential treatment is claimed for material submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), our confidentiality regulation, 49 CFR Part 512, requires the submission of a certification stating that the submitter has made a diligent inquiry to ascertain that the information submitted has not been disclosed, or otherwise made public, (49 CFR 512.4(e)) and other supporting information (49 CFR 512.4(b)). However, in order to expedite our response to you, I will waive the requirement of the certification contained in 49 CFR 512. In a telephone conversation with Dorothy Nakama of my staff, you stated that redacting your name, the name of your company, and the drawing of your motorcycle from publicly available copies of your letter and our response letter to you will satisfy your request for confidential treatment.
S5.2.5 Footrests in Standard No. 123 states in full:
Footrests shall be provided for each designated seating position. Each footrest for a passenger other than an operator shall fold rearward and upward when not in use.
In your letter, you state that in its current designs, your company uses passenger footboards for some of the larger motorcycles. Your footboards are hinged, and their basic design allows them to fold directly upward, rather than rearward and upward. Your company believes that the footboard location makes it impossible for the footboard to contact the road during turning maneuvers. You expressed the opinion that S5.2.5 is "design restrictive," and that safety will not be compromised by allowing passenger footboards that fold directly upward, as long the footboards "cannot possibly make contact with the road during normal driving conditions."
NHTSA has addressed S5.2.5 in past interpretation letters, but has never interpreted S5.2.5 to permit the passenger footrest to fold upward only. Because the provision plainly states "shall fold rearward and upward," we are unable to interpret S5.2.5 by disregarding the word "rearward," and to permit a passenger footrest to fold upward only. Please note that S5.2.5 states only that the passenger footrest "shall fold rearward" but does not specify the extent to which the footrest must fold rearward.
If you believe S5.2.5 should be amended, you may petition for rulemaking, as provided in our regulations at 49 CFR Part 552 - Petitions for Rulemaking, Defect, and Noncompliance Orders. Please note that even if your petition should be granted and a rulemaking proceeding is commenced, it does not signify that the rule in question will be issued. A decision as to the issuance of the rule is made on the basis of all available information developed in the course of the rulemaking proceeding, in accordance with statutory criteria.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Dorothy Nakama of my staff at this address or by telephone at (202) 366-2992.
Acting Chief Counsel
This interp contains confidential information in brackets [ ].