NHTSA Publishes Final Rule to Extend ‘Lockability’ Requirement for Lap Belts, Child Safety Restraints

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NHTSA will continue to require that lap belts in all vehicles must be lockable without the use of special tools to tightly secure a child restraint system (CRS).

The final rule amends FMVSS 208, which was amended in 1993 to require all passenger cars, trucks, buses, and multipurpose passenger vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds to have a seat belt assembly with a lockable lap belt at each seating position. The new final fuel goes into effect on Dec. 27, 2011. Petitions for reconsideration must be received by Sept. 1, 2012.

The current regulation states that the so-called “lockability requirement” will cease to apply to seating positions equipped with a child restraint anchorage system, or “LATCH” system, on all vehicles manufactured after Sept. 1, 2012. But, NHTSA said data taken from a 2005 survey indicates that motorists continue to use lockable belts to install CRSs, including in seating positions with LATCH. The final rule ensures that the lockability requirement continues in effect for all seating positions past next year’s deadline.

SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. and Safe Ride News petitioned NHTSA in January 2007 to remove a sunset clause from the lockability clause in FMVSS 208. NHTSA filed an NPRM on Sept. 12, 2008 to remove the requirement and received 154 public comments from various vehicle and CRS manufacturers, highway and traffic consumer organizations, child passenger safety technicians, physicians, and emergency responders, all of which supported the removal of the sunset clause.