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VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARDS

By Melissa Stevens,2014-04-12 03:46
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However, this requirement is probably no longer an issue as modern car design now puts the glove box under the dash rather than on the front or top face.

    Regulation Impact Statement

    for Vehicle Standards for Instrument Panels

    FINAL - December 2007

Prepared by: Vehicle Safety Standards Branch

     Department of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional

    Development and Local Government

Regulation Impact Statement Instrument Panels page 2

    CONTENTS

    1. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM .......................................................................................... 3 1.1 INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................................................... 3

    1.2 INTERACTION OF OCCUPANT PROTECTION MEASURES ......................................................... 3

    1.3 THE EXTENT OF THE PROBLEM .............................................................................................. 3

    1.4 WHY GOVERNMENT ACTION IS NEEDED ............................................................................... 4

    1.5 GOVERNMENT UNDERTAKING AND TREATY OBLIGATIONS .................................................. 6

    2. OBJECTIVES ............................................................................................................................... 7 2.1 GENERAL AND SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES .................................................................................... 7

    2.2 PRESENT GOVERNMENT REGULATION .................................................................................. 7

    3. OPTIONS FOR FUTURE GOVERNMENT LEGISLATION AND ALTERNATIVES ...... 9 3.1 REGULATORY OPTIONS .......................................................................................................... 9

    3.2 NON-REGULATORY OPTIONS ............................................................................................... 11

    4. IMPACT ANALYSIS ................................................................................................................. 16 4.1. INTRODUCTION ..................................................................................................................... 16

    4.2. IDENTIFICATION OF AFFECTED PARTIES .............................................................................. 16

    4.3. EFFECT ON EXISTING REGULATIONS ................................................................................... 17

    4.4. CATEGORIES OF EXPECTED IMPACTS ................................................................................... 18

    4.5. DISCUSSION OF IMPACTS ...................................................................................................... 21

    5. CONSULTATION ...................................................................................................................... 21 5.1. PUBLIC COMMENT ............................................................................................................... 21

    5.2. TRANSPORT AGENCIES CHIEF EXECUTIVE (TACE) ............................................................ 22

    5.3. AUSTRALIAN TRANSPORT COUNCIL .................................................................................... 22

    6. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION ........................................................................ 22 6.1 CONCLUSION ........................................................................................................................ 22

    6.2 RECOMMENDATION .............................................................................................................. 22

    7. IMPLEMENTATION AND REVIEW ..................................................................................... 23 APPENDIX 1 OCCUPANT PROTECTION SINGLE ISSUE WORKING GROUP ............... 24 APPENDIX 2 - PUBLIC COMMENT RESPONSES ...................................................................... 25 APPENDIX 3 DATA SOURCES AND ASSUMPTIONS ............................................................. 26

Regulation Impact Statement Instrument Panel page 3

    1. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM 1.1 Introduction

    When a vehicle is involved in a crash, injury may occur to occupants if they make contact with sharp or hard objects in the interior compartment. Requirements to limit injury to occupants from rigid instrument panels have been in place in Australia for many years. With airbags, seatbelt and seat improvements, head and upper body injury outcomes are reduced but further benefits would be gained by use of less injurious and less hard materials for the construction of instrument panels.

    1.2 Interaction of Occupant Protection Measures A concept which is useful in estimating the effect of safety measures is the fact that any road crash and its injury outcome, is the result of a chain of events and if any one link in the chain can be broken, then the outcome can be changed. Occupant protection measures reduce the extent of injury by reducing the progression from one event to the next.

    Occupant protection measures are inherently multiplicative in nature e.g. if the occupant is restrained, seatbelts will provide some protection in the first instance, before a possible second event involving impact with the steering wheel/column or contact with an airbag, followed by a third possibility of contact with the instrument panel or other parts of the vehicle interior. For the front seat passenger, there is nothing between the occupant and the instrument panel, unless the vehicle is equipped with a passenger airbag. For an unrestrained driver, the steering wheel/column or airbag (if available), would be the first line of defence and would have to compensate for the lack of occupant restraint to provide a comparable level of protection.

    This demonstrates the effect of occupant protection measures in reducing the risk of exposure to injuries or fatalities. In the event where an occupant is likely to impact the instrument panel, the risk of injury is considerably reduced by a collection of safety measures; seatbelts providing the initial restraint followed by inflation of the airbag, if available. In the case of the driver, an appropriately designed steering wheel and column provide a third level of restraint. The net effect of these safety measures is a reduction in the overall risk of injury or fatality.

    1.3 The Extent of the Problem Frontal collisions account for over 50% of Australian road trauma. As a result of such collisions, front occupants are exposed to risks arising from impacts with components located in the front compartment. Such devices include the steering column, sun visors and instrument panel. This RIS discusses the problem arising from front occupants impacting with the instrument panel (steering columns and sun visors have been addressed in other RIS). The risk of injury resulting from impact with an instrument panel is substantially higher in case of unrestrained occupants than with restrained occupants. In 1996, the national seatbelt wearing rate averaged around 95% (FORS, 1996). This figure has remained reasonably constant over the last ten years.

     Department of Infrastructure, Transport,

    Regional Development and Local Government Injuries resulting from impacts with instrument panels as a result of frontal collisions include head, neck and facial areas. For vehicle occupants injured seriously enough in a crash to be hospitalised or killed, head, neck or facial injuries make up about 79% of all injuries (McLean et al, 1997). In fatalities, head injuries occur in 66% of all cases and in about two thirds of

    Regulation Impact Statement Instrument Panel page 4 these, the head injury was the sole cause of death. The instrument panel is a point of contact

    in 27% of injuries for front-left passengers and in 7% for drivers (McLean et al, op cit). It is

    not known whether these instrument panel contacts relate to restrained or unrestrained

    occupants as both were included in the sample used by McLean et al. However, an

    unrestrained occupant is far more likely to contact the instrument panel than a restrained

    occupant, particularly for a front passenger.

1.4 Why Government Action Is Needed

    The Government provides consumer protection for new vehicle consumers on two fronts,

    through the Trade Practices Act 1974 and the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989. The

    Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), operated by a consortium of state and

    territory governments and insurance companies, serves to enhance consumer protection by

    complementing the primary effects of legislated arrangements through their public

    information program. The program is aimed at publicising the relative performance of

    vehicles in the important area of frontal impact occupant protection, in the hope that

    consumers will make informed choices, based on safety performance.

The Trade Practices Act 1974 (TPA) provides consumer protection and quality of supply of

    product. Section 65C of the Act requires goods to meet prescribed consumer product safety

    standard. Consumer protection laws are important as a device for increasing equity in market

    place dealings between consumers and producers of vehicles. Part IV B of the TPA can

    prescribe self regulated or quasi regulated industry codes into black letter law which applies

    the remedies contained in the TPA to those who contravene codes, mandatory or voluntary. It

    is important to note that the TPA applies across all sectors of the economy and is not industry

    specific.

The Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 (MVSA) provides mandatory vehicle safety standards

    with which suppliers of new vehicles are required to comply. It is important to note that

    consumers benefit from the functions of the two Acts, the MVSA providing a preventative

    effect, the TPA providing both compensatory and preventative effects. The compensatory

    effect comes through the Act‟s comprehensive coverage in most areas of consumer protection

    and the preventative effect through the prescriptions of codes by legislative means.

Besides the two Acts, market mechanisms as demonstrated by the consumers‟ willingness to

    pay for safer vehicles (with airbags, immobilisers and ABS) and vehicle manufacturers

    responsiveness to the consumers‟ desires have been gradually moving market forces towards

    a social optimum. This is assisted by information programs provided by government

    sponsored and non-government organisations and the provisions of the TPA. All these

    methods are desirable as they help improve the allocation efficiency of markets for

    automotive safety.

Australian Design Rule (ADR) No. 21 specifies requirements for the instrument panel fitted

    in passenger cars. ADR 21 is intended to reduce the injury potential when an occupant strikes

    the dashboard during a crash.

    The conditions under which the market will produce an optimal level of product safety exist Department of Infrastructure, Transport, when individuals have perfect information about the risk of personal injuries (i.e. with and Regional Development and Local Government without safety equipment) and there are no externalities. This solution comes about from

    each individual balancing the benefits in terms of injury avoidance or minimisation from

    safety devices against the cost of purchasing and utilising safety devices. This behaviour will

Regulation Impact Statement Instrument Panel page 5

    lead to an outcome in which injury and injury avoidance costs are minimised for society as

    whole.

    Determining the benefits and costs of using safety devices is generally a complex task, where the relevant risk for any individual is likely to be driven by assumptions about the road

    environment and personal driving habits. Individuals will likely encounter serious difficulties in making a well-informed decision about the value of safety devices. In principle, this

    uncertainty about the benefits of protection could lead to a less than optimal utilisation of safety devices.

    Another basic source of market failure is the presence of market externalities. Auto accidents that result in injuries or deaths because of the failure of individuals to use safety equipment impose costs on other parties in society. In an unregulated market system, all these factors mainly „information problems‟ and externality effects result in the sub optimal usage of safety devices. These are discussed in greater detail in the externalities section.

    Government intervention in the market for delivery of safer vehicles to consumers arises as a result of potential market failure from:

? Imperfect Information and manufacturer myopia, and

    ? Externalities

Imperfect Information and Manufacturer Myopia:

    Individual consumers would be able to effectively exercise their safety preferences if they were in a position to accurately assess the safety level offered by different vehicles. The typical consumer does not possess the engineering knowledge or information to make a

    comparative evaluation of safety devices in vehicles.

    The issue of manufacturer myopia is important as in the absence of standards or regulations manufacturers could respond to market pressures, to the general detriment of society. In a market based regulatory environment manufacturers may project an image that vehicles are

    safe without in fact even incorporating basic protective safety features and the consumers

    would be unable to differentiate between vehicles with and without basic safety features.

Externalities:

    When manufacturers introduce vehicles into the Australian fleet, several negative externalities arise. These include:

    ? Road trauma costs which are borne by the community. In the current regulated

    environment, road trauma costs the Australian community $6.0 billion annually in terms

    of health care,

    ? Costs in terms of losses in utility to family and friends, losses in productivity to other

    workers in team oriented job tasks and also from the necessity of hiring and training

    temporary or permanent replacements,

    ? Other costs include property damage, and inconvenience to the community, ? The medical treatment of injuries and disability also diverts medical resources from other Department of Infrastructure, Transport, uses, Regional Development and Local Government

    ? Medical insurance programs can also introduce distortions and cause a potential problem

    on efficiency grounds to the extent that they lead to disincentives to the purchase and

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    utilisation of safety devices because individuals do not have to bear the full costs of

    restoring their health and well-being after injury due to a crash.

Negative externalities are also likely to emerge when consumers make poor decisions in

    relation to an optimal level of vehicle safety. In the absence of government based regulation,

    vehicles with less than the optimal level of safety may become available to consumers. Such

    a situation would create a demand by risk takers for very low cost vehicles with very few

    safety features. Although consumers may wish to maximise their private benefits through

    such a trade off, the social costs of such a transaction are likely to result in a net cost to the

    community.

The negative externalities arsing from manufacturers introducing less than optimally safe

    vehicles and poor selection of vehicles by consumers are therefore reflected by increasing

    expenditures on hospitalisation, a loss of quality of life, property damage, rehabilitation and

    other costs, most of which are borne by the community, not the individual consumer.

    1.5 Government Undertaking and Treaty Obligations The Australian Government has undertaken to review the ADRs to ensure that they are

    relevant, cost effective and do not provide a barrier to importation of safe vehicles and

    components. These objectives are shared by the New Zealand Government, which has been

    reviewing its vehicle safety standards. The review is being carried out by the Vehicle Safety

    Standards Branch of the Department of Infrastructure Transport and Regional Development

    and Local Government (the Department) together with the National Transport Commission

    (NTC) and New Zealand Land Transport.

The aim of the ADR review is four-fold:

    1 to identify whether existing standards are relevant in the light of on-going developments

    in automotive safety technology, given the fact that some of the standards are in a

    mature stage,

    2 if existing standards are relevant, to identify any refinements required to ensure their

    progression and positive contribution in the standards life cycle, 3 to ensure standards do not impose excessive requirements on business, that they are cost

    effective and take account of community, social, economic, environmental, health and

    safety concerns, and

    4 to pursue where appropriate harmonisation with international standards, rather than with

    regional or national standards.

The review takes account of the provisions of the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition

    Arrangement (TTMRA) Annex 4 Road Vehicles. While the main object of the TTMRA is

    that goods sold in Australia could be sold in New Zealand and vice versa, it was

    acknowledged that there would be difficulties with Trans-Tasman trade in road vehicles,

    given the different regulatory regimes of the two countries. Road vehicles were therefore

    granted a special exemption from the immediate application of the TTMRA until the

    regulatory systems could be aligned. In Annex 4 of TTMRA, the Parties undertook to embark

    on a cooperation programme aimed, where appropriate, at harmonising Australian and New Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Zealand standards with United Nations - Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Regional Development and Local Government

    Regulations or those national or regional standards that are agreed by the Parties. The Parties

    also agreed to seek to develop consistent conformance assessment and certification

    requirements in both countries. The UNECE is regarded as the international standards setting

Regulation Impact Statement Instrument Panel page 7

    body, meeting the provisions of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on

    Technical Barriers to Trade, as standards development in the UNECE is open to participation

    by the international community.

New Zealand and Australia‟s accession to the 1958 Agreement is consistent with

    commitments by Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) region economies to facilitate

    trade in automotive product by harmonisation of road vehicle regulations through the

    multilateral UNECE arrangements. Accordingly, the regional perspective of the TTMRA has

    been overtaken by APEC-wide developments. There is little to be gained at this juncture in

    pursuing a programme of bilateral coordination, and bilateral convergence will be a function

    of the pace at which Australia moves to harmonise its ADRs with UNECE regulations.

2. OBJECTIVES

    2.1 General and Specific Objectives

    The general and specific objectives of Australian Government action are to establish the most

    appropriate measures for delivering safer vehicles to the Australian community. These include:

    General Objectives:

    ? reduce road trauma arising from any potential failure of the market to provide vehicles

    with adequate levels of occupant protection;

    ? ensure that community, social, economic, environmental, health and safety standards

    are not compromised;

    ? determine what form of action is required, either government intervention or the use of

    market based measures;

Specific Objectives:

    ? eliminate any duplication and overlap arising from ongoing development of frontal

    protection countermeasures;

    ? ensure that the new measures proposed for frontal protection in the form of impact

    requirements for instrument panels arising do not create a barrier to the import of safer

    vehicles.

This RIS examines present Australian Government regulation for protection of occupants

    exposed to the risk of injury arising from impacts with instrument panels. It assesses the

    relative costs and benefits of both the present and proposed regulations and non-regulatory

    alternatives.

2.2 Present Government Regulation

    ADR 21 applies only to MA category vehicles (primarily passenger cars) and to some LE

    category vehicles (trikes). The ADR defines a Head Impact Area of the dashboard as that

    area contactable by a 165mm diameter sphere but excluding:

    ? any area within 127mm of the left hand A pillar (forward-most pillar that generally

    supports the windscreen), Department of Infrastructure, Transport,

    Regional Development and Local Government ? areas to the right of the left hand edge of that part of the dashboard protected from contact

    by the sphere by the left hand side of the steering wheel; and

    ? areas below the rearmost face of the dashboard.

Regulation Impact Statement Instrument Panel page 8

    Diagrams A and B illustrate the Head Impact Area.

Requirements in ADR 21 are primarily:

    ? when the Head Impact Area is impacted by a 165mm diameter head form of mass 6.8kg

    the head form must not exceed a deceleration of more than 80g continuously for more

    than 3 milliseconds. The test must be carried out in accordance with SAE test procedure

    J921 Instrument Panel Laboratory Impact Test Procedure, June 1965. For this test the

    impact velocity is 24.1 km/h for all vehicles other than those which use an inflatable

    supplementary restraint system for the front outboard passenger seating position to

    comply with ADR 69. In the latter case the impact velocity is 19.2 km/h;

    ? any instrument panel compartment door must remain shut when the dashboard is tested as

    above;

    ? any instrument panel compartment door must remain shut when subjected to a 10g

    loading vertically and horizontally when tested in accordance with SAE test procedure

    J839b Passenger Car Side Door Latch Systems, May 1965 or Jan 1972 (or an approved

    equivalent); and

    ? any instrument panel compartment door must remain shut when subjected to either:

    ? a front end longitudinal barrier collision test at not less than 48km/h conducted in

    accordance with SAE test procedure J850 Barrier Collision Tests, February 1963

    (or an approved equivalent); or

    ? a 30g horizontal longitudinal loading in accordance with SAE test procedure J839b

    Passenger Car Side Door Latch Systems, May 1965 or Jan 1972 (or an approved

    equivalent).

There are currently no accepted alternatives to the ADR 21 requirements. This means that

    irrespective of what other international standards a vehicle meets it must demonstrate

    compliance with ADR 21.

While the ADRs apply to new vehicles, which must comply before they can be supplied to the

    market, once in service the vehicles must comply with the regulations administered by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, states and territories. The general principle applied is that vehicles produced in compliance Regional Development and Local Government

    with ADRs applicable at the time of manufacture must continue to comply with those ADRs.

    In 1999, the National Transport Commission (NTS) published the Australian Vehicle

Regulation Impact Statement Instrument Panel page 9

    Standards (AVSRs) with the aim of providing a set of national uniform in-service vehicle rules and all jurisdictions agreed to implement the AVSRs.

    The AVSRs have preserved the general principle of continuing compliance with the ADRs but also make particular provisions in areas not covered by the ADRs. There are also provisions in recognition that as vehicles age, continued compliance with the ADRs is not practicable. Another area where departure from the general principle is allowed is to accommodate established practices such as window tinting and alternative tyre selection. In case of passenger vehicles and NA (light commercial vehicles) and LEP categories of vehicles, the AVSRs demand continued compliance with ADR 21. If ADR 21 was to be removed, the states and territories would have the option of applying an in-service standard.

    3. OPTIONS FOR FUTURE GOVERNMENT LEGISLATION AND

    ALTERNATIVES

    The means available to promote safer vehicles to consumers can be classified as those which recommend government intervention or regulatory options and those that use non-regulatory options such as the use of market based instruments.

3.1 Regulatory Options

    The four options for future legislation are:

    Option 1: Retain ADR 21 as is;

    Option 2: Retain ADR 21 and accept the relevant part of UNECE R21 as an alternative

    standard;

    Option 3: Delete ADR 21;

    Option 4: Use of American and Japanese standards as alternative standards in each of the

    first two options.

    The international standard, UNECE R21 Interior Fittings, has almost identical provisions to ADR 21 regarding energy absorbing dashboards but ECE R21 covers a much wider range of possible contact areas within a vehicle including handbrake levers, window winders, head lining and sun roofs. It makes no reference to the glove box lid (instrument panel

    compartment door) staying closed during a crash. If a glove box in the Head Impact Area

    opens during a crash the occupant‟s head would be exposed to the inside edges of the glove

    box, its catch and possibly the hinges as well as any contents of the glove box. However, this requirement is probably no longer an issue as modern car design now puts the glove box under the dash rather than on the front or top face. Further, modern glove box lids and catches are relatively soft plastic and much less likely to cause any serious injuries.

The United States Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 201, Head Impact

    Protection, formed the basis of ADR 21 when it was prepared in the late 1960s. In addition to dashboards, FMVSS 201 also covers sun visors (covered by ADR 11), seatbacks (for rear seat passengers - covered by ADR 3) and armrests (covered indirectly in ADR 42 no dangerous

    projections, etc). FMVSS 201 is being phased in for vehicles other than passenger cars and now includes upper interior components, including, but not limited to, pillars, side rails, roof

    Department of Infrastructure, Transport, headers and the roof. FMVSS 201 also now includes optional requirements for dynamically Regional Development and Local Government deploying upper interior head protection systems providing head injury protection in lateral crashes.

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    A possible alternative would be to replace ADR 21 with either or both UNECE R21 and FMVSS 201. In practice, the additional stringency of these rules (because they cover a wide range of other issues not currently covered by ADR 21) would lead to increased certification costs, with no guaranteed safety gain. In addition, modern standards are moving away from specification of individual vehicle parts to overall standards for occupant protection. It is more feasible to adopt the relevant parts of UNECE R21 as an acceptable alternative to ADR 21 as the requirements are similar.

    The fourth option involves the use of standards applying in the United States of America and Japan. The allowance of alternative standards is only of real benefit where compliance with those standards can be easily verified by the issue of authoritative certificates of compliance or the standards are materially different and vehicles would need to be modified to comply with the Australian standard. In the case of instrument panels, neither of these conditions applies.

    The United States standard, FMVSS 201, is a head impact protection standard which, similar to UNECE R21, covers a range of interior fittings such as sun visors, seat backs, glove box and armrests in addition to instrument panels. As the US government does not get involved in pre-market approval of vehicles, there is no approval certification available for vehicles claiming compliance with the US Head Impact Protection standard.

    Japan is a contracting party to the 1958 Agreement (as is Australia) and if it decides to adopt UNECE R21, any UNECE R21 approvals issued by Japan will be accepted in Australia without the need for additional approval activities (such as providing test evidence). Presently the Japanese domestic standard applies to vehicles destined for domestic and export markets. The Japanese government does not issue certificates of approval for vehicles built for export markets and it would be up to the Australian vehicle safety regulator to confirm compliance with a standard if the current Japanese standard was to be accepted as an alterative to ADR 21.

Maintenance of alternative standards is another issue that seriously erodes the regulator‟s

    efficiency to mange the administrative functions as a result of the need to continuously examine ADR amendment proposals to maintain the currency of the ADRs in relation to the alternative standards. The process for amending an ADR to allow compliance with an amended alternative standard typically involves assessment of the technical differences and preparation of a proposal for consideration by the advisory group responsible for ADR development. Following this stage, depending on the nature of the change, the proposal may need to be submitted to the state and territory governments for consideration. If they agree with the proposal, the amendment needs to be approved by the Australian Transport Council and finally determined by the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development and Local Government.

    Depending on the nature of the amendments this process could take anywhere between 3 months and several years. In the mean time, manufacturers would not be able to progress compliance of components and vehicles certified to the amended alternative standard. The total cost of this activity is difficult to determine as it involves people from many other

    Department of Infrastructure, Transport, organisations. Regional Development and Local Government

    For reasons outlined, the viable alternatives are:

    Option 1: Retain ADR 21 as is;

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