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Nat'l Hgwy Trans SAFETY A. is finally looking at a real moto safety issue!


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NHTSA Plans to Amend Angle Mandate

For Mounting Motorcycle License Plates

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to issue a proposed rule later this year to amend the license plate angle mounting requirement for motorcycles. The plan comes in response to a motorcycle industry petition for rulemaking seeking to harmonize the current license plate requirements with those of the European Union.

The agency announced its plan April 25 in a notice to be published in the April 26 Federal Register.

The Motorcycle Industry Council petitioned the agency in March 2005 to amend the license plate holder requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108, Lamps Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment (Reference File, 901:1191), to allow motorcycles to mount license plates at an upward angle of up to 30 degrees. FMVSS 108 currently requires license plates to be mounted at an angle ± 15 degrees of perpendicular to the plane on which the vehicle stands.

The standard sets minimum requirements for vehicle lighting, reflective devices, and other related equipment.

Efforts to Harmonize Standard

MIC noted in its petition that although the lighting standard does not directly address license plate mounting, the angle requirement is contained in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Standard J587, dating back to October 1981. The SAE standard is incorporated into Table III of FMVSS 108 for license plate lamps.

MIC also said that the requirements of the October 1981 SAE Standard J587 are different from those used by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE).

The petitioner argued that harmonizing the standard “would not adversely affect safety or law enforcement efforts but would reduce the unnecessary design and manufacturing complexities for its member companies,” NHTSA wrote.

Additionally, MIC contended that allowing the 30 degree upward license plate mounting angle would give manufacturers more flexibility in design without compromising real-world reflective illumination of the license plates. The industry also pointed out that SAE Standard J587 was updated in 1997 to allow the 30 degree upward angle permitted by the ECE regulation.

The industry said harmonization with the European standard would afford greater design flexibility while not compromising safety or law enforcement efforts.

Administrative Rewrite of Standard

The agency in December 2007 reorganized FMVSS 108—a nearly 40-year-old safety standard on vehicle lighting—to provide a more logical presentation of the applicable regulatory requirements (35 PSLR 1155, 12/10/07).

Paragraph S5.1.1 of the pre-reorganized version of FMVSS 108 required that passenger vehicles and motorcycles be equipped with the lamps, reflective devices, and associated equipment listed in Table III of the standard. Table III listed lamps such as turn-signal lamps, reflectors such as reflex reflectors, and associated equipment, including turn-signal operating units. One of the listed items—license plate lamps— required the lamps to be designed to conform to a 1981 SAE standard.

The revision imported requirements directly into the main body of the regulatory text from SAE standards rather than through incorporation of the provisions by reference as they are now. It also updated the text to reflect significant letters of interpretation. While not imposing new substantive demands on manufacturers, the final rule did make some changes from the original December 2005 proposal, NHTSA said ( 34 PSLR 13, 1/9/06).

Those changes prompted a number of petitions for reconsideration. The agency received requests to delay the compliance date of the final rule, and the agency responded by postponing the date the revamped standard becomes effective from Dec. 1, 2009, to Dec. 1, 2012 (37 PSLR 1190, 11/16/09).

Petitioner Objections to FMVSS 108 Rewrite

The MIC petition preceded several petitions for reconsideration of the December 2007 final rule that reorganized FMVSS 108.

These petitions also raised concerns about the license plate holders and mounting requirements. The agency included directly into the regulatory text of that final rule the license plate mounting requirements of SAE Standard J587. That raised petitioners' objections on the grounds the license plate mounting requirements of the 1981 SAE standard were never incorporated into FMVSS 108 and therefore could not be included in an administrative rewrite of Standard 108 “where the agency has stated no intent to substantively change the standard,” NHTSA wrote.

The petitioners' concerns are outlined more fully in a separate notice , also slated for publication in the April 26 Federal Register.

The MIC petition merits further consideration through the rulemaking process, NHTSA said, adding it is denying other petitions for reconsideration of the December 2007 final rule because the agency will resolve the issue through rulemaking. “However, due to the confusion and special circumstances surrounding this rule, the agency announced … that it will not enforce the 15 degree license plate holder mounting requirement during the pendency of rulemaking on the issue of that requirement,” NHTSA said.

But granting the MIC petition does not mean a final rule will be issued, NHTSA said. First the agency must study the action and evaluate alternatives.

In the interim, the agency said it is still considering comments and requests raised in the petitions for reconsideration of the December 2007 final rule and will respond to them separately.

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Our tax dollars hard at work...


Nevermind that state laws will dictate actual mounting requirements for license plates.

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Just what we need, politicians focusing even more on motorcycles, next up- roll cages, seatbelts, anti-roll out riggers, stability control, 5 mph bumpers, side impact crash protection................... yippee $50,000 bikes we can all take naps on

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