Mercedes-Benz USA LLC, Denial of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance, 21660-21662 [2016-08361]

Download as PDF asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 21660 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 70 / Tuesday, April 12, 2016 / Notices the chief safety officers of rail transit systems, seeking data and information on stop signal overruns during 2015. Safety Advisory 16–1 and the accompanying letter are available in their entirety on the FTA public Web site at http://www.fta.dot.gov/tso.html. DATES: The FTA is asking the directors of the SSO programs to submit the requested data and information by July 2016. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For program matters, Mr. Sam Shelton, Office of System Safety, telephone (202) 366–0815 or Sam.Shelton@dot.gov. For legal matters, Scott Biehl, Senior Counsel, telephone (202) 366–0826 or Scott.Biehl@dot.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Across the rail transit industry, many if not most operators keep a database on the number of instances in which their passenger or maintenance vehicles over run a stop signal. In some instances, State Safety Oversight Agencies (SSOAs) have identified stop signal overruns as event data a Rail Fixed Guideway Public Transportation System (RFGPTS) must record and report to the SSOA, as part of the hazard management process in the System Safety Program Plans required by the FTA rules at 49 CFR part 659. The FTA considers stop signal overruns to be significant events, creating safety risks, with potentially catastrophic consequences. The FTA now seeks to better understand the prevalence of stop signal overruns throughout the industry. The FTA issued Safety Advisory 16–1, ‘‘Stop Signal Overruns,’’ which is eliciting data and information on stop signal overruns at RFGPTSs that occurred during calendar year 2015. Specifically, FTA is requesting that each SSOA provide FTA with; (1) the total number of stop signal overruns that occurred during 2015 at each RFGPTS within the SSOA’s oversight; (2) each RFGPTS’s definition of stop signal overrun; (3) each RFGPTS’s definition of a stop signal/stop aspect (e.g., hand signal, stop sign, cab signal); (4) a description of the process each RFGPTS uses to internally detect stop signal overruns; and, (5) a description of the process each RFGPTS uses to report stop signal overruns to the SSOA. The FTA is requesting this data and information by July 2016. The FTA is making this request in accordance with its authority to request State Safety Oversight program information, codified at 49 CFR 659.39(d). Safety Advisory 16–1 and an accompanying letter addressed to the SSO program managers, and the chief safety officers of RFGPTSs, are available in their entirety VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:18 Apr 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 on the FTA public Web site at http:// fta.dot.gov/tso.html. Also, FTA is aware that a number of RFGPTSs keep data and information on stop signal overruns on their own volition, for the purpose of enhancing the safety of their operations, albeit they are not required to report that data and information to their SSOAs. The FTA seeks to develop as complete a database as practical, thus, FTA would appreciate these RFGPTSs submitting their data and information to their SSOAs, and in turn, the SSOAs providing that material to FTA. The cooperation of the entire rail transit industry would be very helpful in developing a better understanding of stop signal overruns, and in due course, a strategy for mitigating the safety risks created by stop signal overruns. Matthew J. Welbes, Executive Director. [FR Doc. 2016–08353 Filed 4–11–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [Docket No. NHTSA–2015–0029; Notice 2] Mercedes-Benz USA LLC, Denial of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Department of Transportation (DOT). ACTION: Denial of petition. AGENCY: Mercedes-Benz USA LLC (MBUSA), on behalf of itself and its parent company Daimler AG (DAG), collectively referred to as ‘‘Mercedes’’ has determined that certain model year (MY) 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class (205 Platform) passenger cars do not fully comply with paragraph S10.18.4 of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 108, Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment. Mercedes has filed a report dated February 9, 2015, pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, Defect and Noncompliance Responsibility and Reports. Mercedes then petitioned NHTSA under 49 CFR part 556 requesting a decision that the subject noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. ADDRESSES: For further information on this decision contact Mike Cole, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), telephone (202) 366–2334, facsimile (202) 366– 5930. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00128 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Mercedes’ Petition: Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h) and the rule implementing those provisions at 49 CFR part 556, Mercedes has petitioned for an exemption from the notification and remedy requirements of 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301 on the basis that this noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. Notice of receipt of Mercedes’ petition was published, with a 30-day public comment period, on April 16, 2015 in the Federal Register (80 FR 20571). No comments were received. To view the petition and all supporting documents, log onto the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) Web site at: http://www.regulations.gov/. Follow the online search instructions to locate docket number ‘‘NHTSA–2015–0029.’’ II. Vehicles Involved: Affected are approximately 9,137 MY 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class (205 Platform) passenger cars manufactured from June 18, 2014 through September 5, 2014 at Mercedes’ Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant. III. Noncompliance: Mercedes explains that the subject vehicles were manufactured with horizontal adjustment-visually aimed headlamps that have a lower beam and a horizontal adjustment mechanism that was not made inoperative at the factory. Specifically, the horizontal adjustment screw was not properly sealed off with non-removable sealing caps as necessary to fully meet the requirements of paragraph S10.18.4 of FMVSS No. 108. IV. Rule Text: Paragraph S10.18.4 of FMVSS No. 108 requires in pertinent part: S10.18.4 Horizontal adjustment-visually aimed headlamp. A visually/optically aimable headlamp that has a lower beam must not have a horizontal adjustment mechanism unless such mechanism meets the requirements of this standard for on vehicle aiming as specified in S10.18.8. V. Summary of MBUSA’s Analyses: Mercedes stated its belief that the subject noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety for the following reasons: (A) Mercedes believes that new manufacturing methods, including the use of optical image processing to adjust the horizontal and the vertical illumination levels of headlamps in addition to the reduction in assembly tolerances for headlamp assemblies, has resulted in optimal headlamp adjustments on vehicles leaving their manufacturing plants. As a result, onvehicle aiming devices are no longer common in the industry. Mercedes believes that this has led to the elimination of the need for horizontal headlamp adjustment on in-use E:\FR\FM\12APN1.SGM 12APN1 asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 70 / Tuesday, April 12, 2016 / Notices vehicles. Regarding the subject vehicles, Mercedes says there is generally no need for customers or repair shops to adjust the horizontal aim of headlamps. (B) Mercedes states that they have only received five customer complaints in the United States, relating to alleged headlamp mis-aiming in the subject vehicles. None of the complaints relate to horizontal mis-aiming of the headlamps. In all instances customers brought their vehicles in for service by Mercedes repair shops, who know how to perform a headlamp readjustment properly, without using the horizontal adjustment screw. (C) Mercedes states that they provide service instructions to U.S. repair shops that horizontal headlamp adjustment is not permitted and do not even mention that a horizontal headlamp adjustment screw exists. Similarly, the vehicle owner’s manual does not include information about performing headlamp illumination adjustment. Thus, since the horizontal headlamp screw’s existence is not mentioned in any sales or service instructions or manuals, use of the screw by the customer or repair facilities would be extremely unlikely. (D) Mercedes also states that even if the screw were to be used, such adjustment would result in only minimal differences in illumination levels compared to the original levels because it provides only a minimal range of adjustment. Mercedes elaborated by stating that when the horizontal adjustment screw is turned to the far left or far right end-position, only a few measuring points are slightly above or below the FMVSS No. 108 required levels. Specifically, when the horizontal adjustment screw is turned to the maximum left end-position (¥2.8°), only 4 out of 24 measuring points are above (3) or under (1) the required illumination levels. And when the horizontal adjustment screw is turned to the maximum right end-position (+3.2°), only 2 out of 24 measuring points are under the required illumination levels. Thus, the difference between these worst-case levels and the required minimum or maximum levels are very small. According to Mercedes’ headlamp development engineers, a difference of 300 cd [candela] is unlikely to be noticed by a driver and would not affect oncoming traffic or visibility in any material way. In addition, the subject headlamps rely on a reflection-based system which Mercedes’ believes leads to less glare then projection-based system. Mercedes has additionally informed NHTSA that it has corrected the subject noncompliance on vehicles in subsequent production and that all VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:18 Apr 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 future vehicles will be in full compliance with FMVSS No. 108. In summation, Mercedes believes that the described noncompliance of the subject vehicles is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety, and that its petition, to exempt from providing recall notification of noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30118 and remedying the noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30120 should be granted. NHTSA’s Decision NHTSA’S Analysis: Mercedes states that its service instructions to U.S. repair shops specify that horizontal headlamp adjustment is not permitted and that they do not mention the existence of a horizontal headlamp adjustment screw. Similarly, the vehicle owner’s manual does not include information about performing headlamp adjustment. As a result, Mercedes concludes that use of the headlamps horizontal aiming screw by a customer or repair facilities would be extremely unlikely. This argument is not persuasive. As these vehicles get older and fall out of the warranty period, consumers will have more options for servicing than Mercedes dealerships. Further, many states also have vehicle inspection stations that periodically check and adjust headlamp aim and these entities may not be familiar with this headlamp design. Therefore, NHTSA contends that it is possible that entities not familiar with the subject vehicle’s design may use the screw to adjust the horizontal aim. NHTSA has granted prior inconsequentiality petitions with similar arguments; however, the prior petitions also demonstrated that the horizontal aiming mechanisms were difficult to access (see Bentley Motors, Inc., 76 FR 4744, and General Motors, 71 FR 34415). That is not the case for the Mercedes petition. Because no mention was made of the accessibility of the horizontal aiming mechanism, a NHTSA representative inspected a 2015 Mercedes C-Class and found that a nonsealed horizontal aiming mechanism would be easily accessible, and would likely be the first adjustment screw used to alter the headlamp adjustment by someone unfamiliar with this headlamp design. This is because the horizontal aiming mechanism screw is in plain view, whereas, the required vertical aiming mechanism is out of sight and only accessible through a non-descript hole in the upper radiator support using a long tool. Mercedes also argued that even if the horizontal aim were adjusted, it would result in only minimal differences in PO 00000 Frm 00129 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 21661 illumination levels that would be unlikely to be noticed by a driver or affect oncoming traffic in any material way. To substantiate its claim, Mercedes provided photometric test data at the extreme right and left adjustment of the horizontal aiming mechanism. (Mercedes did not provide any test data at intermediate locations of horizontal adjustment) When adjusted to the extreme left position, the initial measured intensity level was 1,035 candela at test point 1U–1.5L which is nearly 48% over the required maximum of 700 candela. Using a 1⁄4 degree reaim, an adjustment permitted by the standard for compliance test purposes, the measured intensity level dropped to 982 candela, but this is still 40% over the required maximum of 700 candela. A NHTSA sponsored study titled ‘‘Driver Perception of Just Noticeable Differences of Automotive Signal Lamp Intensities’’ (DOT HS 808 209, September 1994) demonstrated a change in luminous intensity of 25 percent or less is not noticeable by most drivers and is a reasonable criterion for determining the inconsequentiality of non-compliant signal lamps. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) performed a follow-up study relative to lower beam headlamps titled ‘‘Just Noticeable Differences for Low-Beam Headlamp Intensities.’’ (UMTRI–97–4, February 1997) In that report, UMTRI determined that the 25% limit for inconsequential noncompliance determinations was suitable for photometric test points that specified maximum intensities for glare protection. Based on these reports, exceeding the maximum intensity specification by 40% at test point 1U– 1.5L, a glare protection point that limits the amount of light into the eyes of oncoming drivers, would be noticeable to other drivers. As explained in the agency’s report, ‘‘Nighttime Glare and Driving Performance,’’ (Report to Congress, February 2007) increased glare reduces seeing distance because it causes light to scatter in the eyes, which in turn reduces the contrast of roadway objects. Glare decreases visibility distance, increases reaction times to objects in the roadway, and increases recovery time after the eyes have been exposed to increased glare. All of these factors increase risks during nighttime driving. NHTSA’S Decision: In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA finds that Mercedes has not met its burden of persuasion that the subject FMVSS No. 108 noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. Accordingly, NHTSA hereby denies Mercedes’ E:\FR\FM\12APN1.SGM 12APN1 21662 Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 70 / Tuesday, April 12, 2016 / Notices petition and Mercedes is consequently obligated to provide notification of, and a free remedy for, that noncompliance under 49 U.S.C. 30118 and 30120. Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30118, 30120: delegations of authority at 49 CFR 1.95 and 501.8. Gregory K. Rea, Associate Administrator for Enforcement. [FR Doc. 2016–08361 Filed 4–11–16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–59–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [Docket No. NHTSA–2015–0098; Notice 2] Continental Tire the Americas, LLC, Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Department of Transportation (DOT). ACTION: Grant of petition. AGENCY: Continental Tire the Americas, LLC (CTA), has determined that certain Continental Tire brand T-type spare tires do not fully comply with paragraph S4.3(a) of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 109, New Pneumatic and Certain Specialty Tires. CTA has filed a report dated August 25, 2015 and amended on October 1, 2015, pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, Defect and Noncompliance Responsibility and Reports. ADDRESSES: For further information on this decision contact Abraham Diaz, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), telephone (202) 366–5310, facsimile (202) 366– 5930. SUMMARY: I. Overview: Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h) (see implementing rule at 49 CFR part 556), CTA submitted a petition for an exemption from the notification and remedy requirements of 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301 on the basis that this noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. Notice of receipt of the petition was published with a 30-day public comment period, on October 29, 2015 in the Federal Register (80 FR 66613). No comments were received. To view the petition and all supporting documents log onto the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) Web site at: http://www.regulations.gov/. Then follow the online search instructions to asabaliauskas on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:18 Apr 11, 2016 Jkt 238001 locate docket number ‘‘NHTSA–2015– 0098.’’ II. Tires Involved: Affected are approximately 3,627 Continental Tire brand CST 17 size T125/70R17 98M temporary spare tires sold to General Motors and also in small quantities in the replacement market. These tires were manufactured between March 18, 2012 and April 11, 2015. III. Noncompliance: CTA explains that the noncompliance is that the tire size designation markings on the sidewalls of the subject tires do not contain the tire type code designator symbol from The Tire and Rim Association yearbook as required by paragraph S4.3(a) of FMVSS No. 109. Specifically, the subject tire size reads ‘‘125/70R17 98M’’ but should read ‘‘T125/70R17 98M’’ indicating the tire is a spare tire and for temporary use. IV. Rule Text: Paragraph S4.3(a) of FMVSS No. 109 requires in pertinent part: S4.3 Labeling Requirements. Except as provided in S4.3.1 and S4.3.2 of this standard, each tire, except for those certified to comply with S5.5 of § 571.139, shall have permanently molded into or onto both sidewalls, in letters and numerals not less than 0.078 inches high, the information shown in paragraphs S4.3(a) through (g) of this standard. On at least one sidewall, the information shall be positioned in an area between the maximum section width and bead of the tire, unless the maximum section width of the tire falls between the bead and one-fourth of the distance from the bead to the shoulder of the tire. . . . (a) One size designation, except that equivalent inch and metric size designations may be used; . . . V. Summary of CTA’s Analyses: CTA stated that the only missing marking on the sidewalls of the affected tires is the letter ‘‘T’’ as part of the size designation. CTA also stated its belief that the omission of the tire size designation markings has no impact on the operational performance or durability of these tires or on the safety of vehicles on which these tires may be mounted and that the affected tires cannot be confused with normal P-metric or metric passenger tires for the following reasons: 1. Both sidewalls of the affected tires have permanently molded letters that are 1⁄2 inch tall with the words ‘‘TEMPORARY USE ONLY.’’ 2. Both sidewalls of the affected tires have permanently molded letters and numerals that are 1⁄2 inch tall with the words ‘‘INFLATE TO 420KPA (60PSI),’’ as required by section S4.3.5 of FMVSS No. 109. 3. The affected tires are intended as spare tires for the Chevy Impala, which is equipped with four ground tires of PO 00000 Frm 00130 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 size P235[/]55R17 98W. The ground tires are significantly different in width (approximately four inches wider) and in diameter (approximately three inches larger) than the subject spare tires. 4. The affected tires also have a starting tread depth of only 3/32 inch, whereas a typical P-metric or metric passenger tire has a much deeper tread depth of approximately 10/32 inch. CTA also noted that they are not aware of any crashes, injuries, customer complaints or field reports associated with this noncompliance. In addition, CTA informed NHTSA that it has corrected the mold at the manufacturing plant so that no additional tires will be manufactured with the subject noncompliance and that all remaining CTA inventory of the subject tires in their possession have been scrapped. CTA also made reference to inconsequential noncompliance petitions that NHTSA previously granted concerning noncompliances that CTA believes are similar to the subject noncompliance. In summation, CTA believes that the described noncompliance of the subject tires is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety, and that its petition, to exempt CTA from providing recall notification of noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30118 and remedying the recall noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30120 should be granted. NHTSA’s Decision NHTSA’s Analysis: Labeling the tire size ‘‘125/70R17’’ instead of ‘‘T125/ 70R17,’’ violates paragraph S4.3(a) of FMVSS No. 109 because the tire is labeled with an incomplete tire size designation for temporary use tires, also referred to as spare tires. NHTSA bases its decision on several points. First, CTS labeled the subject tires on both sidewalls with the words ‘‘TEMPORARY USE ONLY’’ and ‘‘INFLATE TO 420KPA (60PSI).’’ The maximum pressure labeled on the subject tires correlates with the pressure specified for all temporary use tires in the TRA’s tire publication. Together, these additional labels provide the user with the same information intended by the missing labels, and by spelling out the word TEMPORARY, provides that information in clear format. All other sidewall labels and safety information are correct. Next, NHTSA agrees that the subject tires would not be confused with nontemporary tires used on vehicles for which the tires are intended because of the differences in geometry of the two types of tires. CTA indicated that the subject tires are approximately four E:\FR\FM\12APN1.SGM 12APN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 70 (Tuesday, April 12, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 21660-21662]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-08361]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2015-0029; Notice 2]


Mercedes-Benz USA LLC, Denial of Petition for Decision of 
Inconsequential Noncompliance

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 
Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Denial of petition.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: Mercedes-Benz USA LLC (MBUSA), on behalf of itself and its 
parent company Daimler AG (DAG), collectively referred to as 
``Mercedes'' has determined that certain model year (MY) 2015 Mercedes-
Benz C-Class (205 Platform) passenger cars do not fully comply with 
paragraph S10.18.4 of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 
108, Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment. Mercedes has 
filed a report dated February 9, 2015, pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, 
Defect and Noncompliance Responsibility and Reports. Mercedes then 
petitioned NHTSA under 49 CFR part 556 requesting a decision that the 
subject noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety.

ADDRESSES: For further information on this decision contact Mike Cole, 
Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, the National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration (NHTSA), telephone (202) 366-2334, facsimile 
(202) 366-5930.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    I. Mercedes' Petition: Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h) 
and the rule implementing those provisions at 49 CFR part 556, Mercedes 
has petitioned for an exemption from the notification and remedy 
requirements of 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301 on the basis that this 
noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety.
    Notice of receipt of Mercedes' petition was published, with a 30-
day public comment period, on April 16, 2015 in the Federal Register 
(80 FR 20571). No comments were received. To view the petition and all 
supporting documents, log onto the Federal Docket Management System 
(FDMS) Web site at: http://www.regulations.gov/. Follow the online 
search instructions to locate docket number ``NHTSA-2015-0029.''
    II. Vehicles Involved: Affected are approximately 9,137 MY 2015 
Mercedes-Benz C-Class (205 Platform) passenger cars manufactured from 
June 18, 2014 through September 5, 2014 at Mercedes' Tuscaloosa, 
Alabama plant.
    III. Noncompliance: Mercedes explains that the subject vehicles 
were manufactured with horizontal adjustment-visually aimed headlamps 
that have a lower beam and a horizontal adjustment mechanism that was 
not made inoperative at the factory. Specifically, the horizontal 
adjustment screw was not properly sealed off with non-removable sealing 
caps as necessary to fully meet the requirements of paragraph S10.18.4 
of FMVSS No. 108.
    IV. Rule Text: Paragraph S10.18.4 of FMVSS No. 108 requires in 
pertinent part:

S10.18.4 Horizontal adjustment-visually aimed headlamp. A visually/
optically aimable headlamp that has a lower beam must not have a 
horizontal adjustment mechanism unless such mechanism meets the 
requirements of this standard for on vehicle aiming as specified in 
S10.18.8.

    V. Summary of MBUSA's Analyses: Mercedes stated its belief that the 
subject noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety for 
the following reasons:
    (A) Mercedes believes that new manufacturing methods, including the 
use of optical image processing to adjust the horizontal and the 
vertical illumination levels of headlamps in addition to the reduction 
in assembly tolerances for headlamp assemblies, has resulted in optimal 
headlamp adjustments on vehicles leaving their manufacturing plants. As 
a result, on-vehicle aiming devices are no longer common in the 
industry. Mercedes believes that this has led to the elimination of the 
need for horizontal headlamp adjustment on in-use

[[Page 21661]]

vehicles. Regarding the subject vehicles, Mercedes says there is 
generally no need for customers or repair shops to adjust the 
horizontal aim of headlamps.
    (B) Mercedes states that they have only received five customer 
complaints in the United States, relating to alleged headlamp mis-
aiming in the subject vehicles. None of the complaints relate to 
horizontal mis-aiming of the headlamps. In all instances customers 
brought their vehicles in for service by Mercedes repair shops, who 
know how to perform a headlamp readjustment properly, without using the 
horizontal adjustment screw.
    (C) Mercedes states that they provide service instructions to U.S. 
repair shops that horizontal headlamp adjustment is not permitted and 
do not even mention that a horizontal headlamp adjustment screw exists. 
Similarly, the vehicle owner's manual does not include information 
about performing headlamp illumination adjustment. Thus, since the 
horizontal headlamp screw's existence is not mentioned in any sales or 
service instructions or manuals, use of the screw by the customer or 
repair facilities would be extremely unlikely.
    (D) Mercedes also states that even if the screw were to be used, 
such adjustment would result in only minimal differences in 
illumination levels compared to the original levels because it provides 
only a minimal range of adjustment. Mercedes elaborated by stating that 
when the horizontal adjustment screw is turned to the far left or far 
right end-position, only a few measuring points are slightly above or 
below the FMVSS No. 108 required levels. Specifically, when the 
horizontal adjustment screw is turned to the maximum left end-position 
(-2.8[deg]), only 4 out of 24 measuring points are above (3) or under 
(1) the required illumination levels. And when the horizontal 
adjustment screw is turned to the maximum right end-position 
(+3.2[deg]), only 2 out of 24 measuring points are under the required 
illumination levels. Thus, the difference between these worst-case 
levels and the required minimum or maximum levels are very small. 
According to Mercedes' headlamp development engineers, a difference of 
300 cd [candela] is unlikely to be noticed by a driver and would not 
affect oncoming traffic or visibility in any material way. In addition, 
the subject headlamps rely on a reflection-based system which Mercedes' 
believes leads to less glare then projection-based system.
    Mercedes has additionally informed NHTSA that it has corrected the 
subject noncompliance on vehicles in subsequent production and that all 
future vehicles will be in full compliance with FMVSS No. 108.
    In summation, Mercedes believes that the described noncompliance of 
the subject vehicles is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety, and 
that its petition, to exempt from providing recall notification of 
noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30118 and remedying the 
noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30120 should be granted.

NHTSA's Decision

    NHTSA'S Analysis: Mercedes states that its service instructions to 
U.S. repair shops specify that horizontal headlamp adjustment is not 
permitted and that they do not mention the existence of a horizontal 
headlamp adjustment screw. Similarly, the vehicle owner's manual does 
not include information about performing headlamp adjustment. As a 
result, Mercedes concludes that use of the headlamps horizontal aiming 
screw by a customer or repair facilities would be extremely unlikely. 
This argument is not persuasive. As these vehicles get older and fall 
out of the warranty period, consumers will have more options for 
servicing than Mercedes dealerships. Further, many states also have 
vehicle inspection stations that periodically check and adjust headlamp 
aim and these entities may not be familiar with this headlamp design. 
Therefore, NHTSA contends that it is possible that entities not 
familiar with the subject vehicle's design may use the screw to adjust 
the horizontal aim.
    NHTSA has granted prior inconsequentiality petitions with similar 
arguments; however, the prior petitions also demonstrated that the 
horizontal aiming mechanisms were difficult to access (see Bentley 
Motors, Inc., 76 FR 4744, and General Motors, 71 FR 34415). That is not 
the case for the Mercedes petition. Because no mention was made of the 
accessibility of the horizontal aiming mechanism, a NHTSA 
representative inspected a 2015 Mercedes C-Class and found that a non-
sealed horizontal aiming mechanism would be easily accessible, and 
would likely be the first adjustment screw used to alter the headlamp 
adjustment by someone unfamiliar with this headlamp design. This is 
because the horizontal aiming mechanism screw is in plain view, 
whereas, the required vertical aiming mechanism is out of sight and 
only accessible through a non-descript hole in the upper radiator 
support using a long tool.
    Mercedes also argued that even if the horizontal aim were adjusted, 
it would result in only minimal differences in illumination levels that 
would be unlikely to be noticed by a driver or affect oncoming traffic 
in any material way. To substantiate its claim, Mercedes provided 
photometric test data at the extreme right and left adjustment of the 
horizontal aiming mechanism. (Mercedes did not provide any test data at 
intermediate locations of horizontal adjustment) When adjusted to the 
extreme left position, the initial measured intensity level was 1,035 
candela at test point 1U-1.5L which is nearly 48% over the required 
maximum of 700 candela. Using a \1/4\ degree reaim, an adjustment 
permitted by the standard for compliance test purposes, the measured 
intensity level dropped to 982 candela, but this is still 40% over the 
required maximum of 700 candela. A NHTSA sponsored study titled 
``Driver Perception of Just Noticeable Differences of Automotive Signal 
Lamp Intensities'' (DOT HS 808 209, September 1994) demonstrated a 
change in luminous intensity of 25 percent or less is not noticeable by 
most drivers and is a reasonable criterion for determining the 
inconsequentiality of non-compliant signal lamps. The University of 
Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) performed a follow-
up study relative to lower beam headlamps titled ``Just Noticeable 
Differences for Low-Beam Headlamp Intensities.'' (UMTRI-97-4, February 
1997) In that report, UMTRI determined that the 25% limit for 
inconsequential noncompliance determinations was suitable for 
photometric test points that specified maximum intensities for glare 
protection. Based on these reports, exceeding the maximum intensity 
specification by 40% at test point 1U-1.5L, a glare protection point 
that limits the amount of light into the eyes of oncoming drivers, 
would be noticeable to other drivers. As explained in the agency's 
report, ``Nighttime Glare and Driving Performance,'' (Report to 
Congress, February 2007) increased glare reduces seeing distance 
because it causes light to scatter in the eyes, which in turn reduces 
the contrast of roadway objects. Glare decreases visibility distance, 
increases reaction times to objects in the roadway, and increases 
recovery time after the eyes have been exposed to increased glare. All 
of these factors increase risks during nighttime driving.
    NHTSA'S Decision: In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA finds 
that Mercedes has not met its burden of persuasion that the subject 
FMVSS No. 108 noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. 
Accordingly, NHTSA hereby denies Mercedes'

[[Page 21662]]

petition and Mercedes is consequently obligated to provide notification 
of, and a free remedy for, that noncompliance under 49 U.S.C. 30118 and 
30120.

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 30118, 30120: delegations of authority at 
49 CFR 1.95 and 501.8.

Gregory K. Rea,
Associate Administrator for Enforcement.
[FR Doc. 2016-08361 Filed 4-11-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P