William Shapiro, P.E.
Manager, Regulatory Compliance
and Environmental Affairs
Volvo Cars of North America, Inc.
7 Volvo Dr.
Rockleigh, N.J. 07647-0913

Dear Mr. Shapiro:

This responds to your April 29, 1997, letter asking whether Standard No. 213, "Child Restraint Systems," would prohibit you from producing a rear-facing child restraint for older children (weighing more than 20 pounds). You state: "Volvo strongly believes that children weighing up to 40 pounds are provided the greatest injury protection when riding in rear-facing child restraints...."

Standard 213 does not prohibit a manufacturer from recommending a rear-facing child restraint for children weighing more than 20 pounds (lb.). However, in making its certification of compliance with the standard, the manufacturer must ensure that the restraint meets the requirements of Standard 213 when tested in accordance with the test procedures specified in the standard. Under S7 of the standard, any child restraint that is recommended for use by children from birth to 40 lb. is tested with test dummies representing a newborn infant (see S7.1(a)), a 9-month-old (S7.1(b)) and a 3-year-old child (S7.1(c)).(1) The rear-facing restraint must be able to accommodate each of the dummies and meet the performance criteria of the standard when tested with the dummies.

I have enclosed copies of letters dated April 22, 1992, to Mark Sedlack of Century Products Company and August 18, 1992, to Timber Dick of Safeline Children's Products Company, concerning the testing of a rear-facing child restraint recommended for children weighing up to 25 lb. (Note that at the date of these letters, Standard 213 incorporated a 6-month-old child dummy and used different weight categories than the current standard. The standard was amended, effective September 1, 1996, to incorporate, inter alia, a newborn, 9-month-old and 6-year-old dummy and to delete the 6-month-old dummy. New weight categories were also adopted, e.g., the smallest dummy (infant) is used for testing a restraint recommended for children weighing up to 22 lb., rather than 20 lb.)

That the rear-facing restraint must be able to accommodate the 3-year-old dummy is explained at length in the letters. Our position has not changed. If the rear-facing child restraint does not physically permit the 3-year-old dummy to be positioned rear-facing in accordance with the dummy positioning procedures of the standard, the restraint cannot be tested in accordance with the standard and thus cannot be certified as complying with the standard. Accordingly, the restraint cannot be recommended by its manufacturer for children weighing more than 22 lb. We understand that since receiving our letters, Century and Safeline have been or will be producing convertible child restraints that are recommended for use rear-facing by children weighing up to about 30 lb. (A convertible restraint is designed for use rear-facing by infants and forward-facing by toddlers.)

You ask whether the labeling requirements of S5.5.2(k)(1)(i) and (k)(2)(i) of Standard 213 in effect require that restraints that are designed to be rear-facing with older children can only be infant or convertible restraints and cannot be "rear-facing only child restraints." The answer is no. However, we understand why you ask this; S5.5.2(k)(1)(i) specifies labeling requirements for each rear-facing child restraint system "that is designed for infants only," and S5.5.2(k)(2)(i) specifies requirements for each "child restraint system that is designed to be used rearward-facing for infants and forward facing for older children." (Emphases added.)

These paragraphs were not intended to prohibit your restraint. Until February 1995, S5.5.2(k) specified requirements for "each child restraint system that can be used in a rear-facing position," which on its face included restraints such as yours. You would have been required to state either "PLACE THIS INFANT RESTRAINT IN A REAR-FACING POSITION WHEN USING IT IN THE VEHICLE," or "PLACE THIS CHILD RESTRAINT IN A REAR-FACING POSITION WHEN USING IT WITH AN INFANT WEIGHING LESS THAN (insert a weight that is not less than 20 pounds)." The language was changed in 1995 to the language quoted above in S5.5.2(k)(1)(i) and (2)(i) in response to requests to clarify and expand on the air bag warning label requirement (60 FR 7461, February 8, 1995). The change differentiated between infant-only restraints and convertibles, because those were the types of rear-facing restraints that were available at the time. The agency did not intend to limit rear-facing restraints to infant-only and convertibles.

While we agree that Standard 213 imposes no directional positioning labeling requirements for your particular system, we recommend that a rear-facing child restraint for older children should nonetheless be labeled with a warning that the restraint must be rear-facing when carrying infants, e.g., "PLACE THIS RESTRAINT IN A REAR-FACING POSITION WHEN USING IT WITH AN INFANT." Because your restraint is also designed for use rear-facing with older children, you should have clear labeling warning against misuse of the restraint in the forward-facing position.

We note also that under S5.5.2(k)(4) and (k)(5) of Standard 213, "each child restraint system that can be used in a rear-facing position" must have the air bag warning label described in those sections. This requirement applies on its face to rear-facing only child restraints for older children. Thus, your restraint must have the label depicted in Figure 10 of Standard 213, with the pictogram and required heading and wording.

If you need further assistance, please contact Ms. Deirdre Fujita of my staff at (202) 366-2992.

Sincerely,
John Womack
Acting Chief Counsel
Enclosures
ref:213
d.7/25/97

 

1. Under S7 of Standard 213, a restraint that is recommended for children weighing more than 40 lb. is tested with a 6-year-old child dummy.