Janet Lee

Janet Lee
Photo:Janet Lee, injured by a taxi partition.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Either the law applies... or it doesn't

Manufacturer of currently used police cruiser partitions say;

“During our many years designing and manufacturing police vehicle equipment, we have done much research to see if there was any federal regulation that might pertain to our products.
We have found that our equipment is considered an “after-market product” that has no federal regulations.”
Judy Setina

Can this possibly be a sincere answer? It is possible that she believes this lie. 
The USDOT doesn't believe it.

However, our federal government said;

“You first asked whether our safety standards apply to auxiliary interior equipment installed in motor vehicles. The answer is yes. The NHTSA authorizes this agency to issue safety standards for new motor vehicles and equipment (S103), prohibits the sale or manufacture of new vehicles and equipment which do not meet those standards (S108(a)(1)(A)), establishes civil penalties for non-complying vehicles and equipment (S109(a)), and requires manufacturers to recall and remedy any non-compliances (S154(a)).
In addition, the Act requires certification of compliance with applicable safety standards (S114). This requirement applies to manufacturers of equipment, with regard to those items of equipment, and to vehicle manufacturers with regard to the entire vehicle. Thus, if auxiliary interior equipment is installed in a vehicle prior to first sale, the automobile equipment manufacturer must certify compliance with any safety standards applicable to the item of equipment, and the vehicle manufacturer must certify that the entire vehicle (including items of equipment) complies  with all applicable safety standards.”

Jeffrey R. Miller

Chief Counsel USDOT 1985

It seems pretty clear from this excerpt from a 1985USDOT letter. The law applies.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Sept. 13, 1985 Miller Letter



US Department
Of Transportation
National Highway
Traffic Safety
Administration
400 Seventh Street S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20590
SEP I 3 1985

Mr. Steven W. Crowell
29 Mansfield Street
Allston, MA  02134

Dear Mr. Crowell:

Thank you for your March 8, 1985 letter to Mr. Stephen Oesch of this office asking several questions concerning the Federal motor vehicle safety standards issued by this agency.  I sincerely regret the delay in responding to your letter; however, I hope the following discussion will be of assistance to you.

You first asked whether our safety standards apply to auxiliary interior equipment installed in motor vehicles.  The answer is yes.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Act authorizes this agency to issue safety standards for new motor vehicles and equipment (§103), prohibits the sale or manufacture of new vehicles and equipment which do not meet those standards (§108(a)(1)(A)), establishes civil penalties for non-complying vehicles and equipment (§109(a)), and requires manufacturers to recall and remedy any non-compliances (§154(a)).   A copy of the Act is enclosed for your information.

In addition, the Act requires certification of compliance with applicable safety standards (§114).  This requirement applies to manufacturers of equipment, with regard to those items of equipment, and to vehicle manufacturers, with regard to the entire vehicle.  Thus, if auxiliary interior equipment is installed in a vehicle prior to first sale, the equipment manufacturer must certify compliance with any safety standards applicable to the item of equipment, and the vehicle manufacturer must certify that the entire vehicle (including items of equipment) complies with all applicable standards.

You also asked specifically about the applicability of certain safety standards to interior partitions:  Standard No. 107, Reflecting Surfaces, No. 111, Rearview Mirrors, No. 201, Occupant Protection in Interior Impact (dashboards and seatbacks), No. 205, glazing Materials (windows), and No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection (safety belts and other restraint systems). Only Standard No. 205 directly applies to interior partitions.  However a vehicle manufacturer must certify that its vehicles comply with applicable safety standards, even if an interior partition or other auxiliary equipment is installed.  For example, Standard No. 111 requires that a rearview mirror provide a minimum field of view for a driver.  If the rearview mirror does not provide that field of view (due to an interior partition or any other reason), the Standard requires an outside rearview mirror.  Each safety standard describes the types of vehicles and equipment systems to which it applies; copies of Standards No. 107, 111, 201, 205 and 208 are also enclosed for your information.

The safety standards apply to new motor vehicles and new items of motor vehicle equipment, and the responsibility for assuring compliance rests with the manufacturer.  However, the Act also includes some restrictions on vehicle modifications after the first sale to a consumer.   Under §108(a)(2)(A) of the Act, a manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or motor vehicle repair business may not "render inoperative" any device or element of design installed in accordance with a Federal motor vehicle safety standard. Thus, modification of a vehicle by such a person must not render any safety feature inoperative.   The owner or other user of a motor vehicle, however, may modify the vehicle without concern about possibly violating a Federal safety standard because the "render inoperative" provision does not apply to such users. State law should always be considered before modification, however, because it may limit the alteration of a vehicle by its owner or other users.

You also ask whether the Act and our safety standards apply to various types of vehicles and ownership's.  The Federal safety standards apply to all new motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment that are introduced into commerce in the United States.  All the types of vehicles you mention, such as taxicabs, police cruisers, and utility vans, are within the Act's definition of "motor vehicle" (§102(3)), 50 they are subject to all applicable safety standards.  As discussed above, each safety standard sets forth the types of vehicles to which it applies.  There is no exception for the manufacture of vehicles for government or commercial use.  Also, as discussed above, the user of a vehicle, such as an owner or lessee, may personally modify his or her vehicle without violating Federal law, but users should check State law.

You also inquired, in cases whether the Act and safety standards do not apply, as to who might be liable for personal injury or property damage resulting from the use of interior partitions.  As noted above, the Act applies to all new motor vehicles, so each new vehicle is required to comply with all applicable safety standards.   However, the Act does not govern liability questions, regardless of whether a safety standard does or does not apply to a given vehicle or item of equipment.  Liability issues are governed by State tort law; you may wish to consult with a local attorney to discuss the liability laws in your State.

In addition, you asked how the preemption provision of the Act, (§103(d)) would affect a State motor vehicle inspection law requiring safety belt retention for passenger cars, but not for commercial vehicles.  That preemption provision prohibits any state safety standards for vehicles or items of vehicle equipment, which are not identical to Federal safety standards covering the same aspect of performance.  While that provision would not apply to the situation you describe -- since there is no Federal safety standard requiring the retention of safety belts -- the restrictions in the Act on subsequent vehicle modifications (§10B(a)(2)(A), discussed above) would apply.  Since safety belts are required items of motor vehicle equipment under Standard No. 208, the statutory provision would prohibit certain commercial enterprises from removing those belts, whether from passenger cars or from commercial vehicles.  Thus, no State law could legalize the removal by such businesses of federally required safety belts, since such a law would conflict with §108(a)(2)(A) of the Act.  Of course, State law may require the retention of safety belts for any or all classes of motor vehicles.

Finally, you asked whether prohibiting motor vehicles from interstate commerce would effectively avoid the requirements of the Vehicle Safety Act.  Such prohibition would not affect a manufacturer's obligation under the Act to certify the vehicle and assure compliance with all applicable safety standards.  The Act is not limited to vehicles which are actually used in interstate commerce (i.e., those that cross State lines).  Instead, it requires compliance with safety standards for all new vehicles and items of vehicle equipment which are manufactured,  sold or introduced in interstate commerce (§108(a)(1)(A)).  In our view, that provision indicates Congress' intent to cover all new motor vehicles.  As a practical matter, it is extremely unlikely that any vehicle would never be in interstate commerce at some time during its lifetime.  For example, the delivery of the vehicle from its place of manufacture to its original place of sale will generally involve movement in interstate commerce. Also, a manufacturer has no way of knowing where its vehicles may subsequently be used. In addition, whether or not the vehicles are actually used in interstate commerce, their subsequent use on public roads substantially affects interstate commerce and therefore is subject to Federal law.

I hope these answers are helpful. We appreciate your interest in State safety belt use legislation, and again I apologize for the delay in responding. If we can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me or Mr. Oesh of my office (202-426-2992)   safety belt responding.
contact me or



Sincerely,
Jeffrey R. Miller
Chief Counsel USDOT







Sunday, December 04, 2016

NYC Taxi Partitions Are Optional and Might Start Disappearing Soon

I predict NYC will, since April of 2016, do as all other cities where partitions in taxis are optional, that is... decline to install them. Cabs without partitions installed have always been available in NYC. If you ever got one and asked why no partition, the answer would change over the years. At first, if the owner was also a driver, or if the driver worked for such an owner, the requirement was waived. Then it had to be driven ONLY by the owner for the requirement to be waived.

The most notable thing about the TLC dropping the partition installation mandate is that this happens very shortly after Nissan's Taxi of Tomorrow was introduced, having the most evolved taxi partition design yet.

Nissan surely regrets getting involved with the TLC and their illegal partition requirements.

For a misleading article about the start date for NYC taxi partition mandate click here. Note that the TLC still requires, inspects and approves the introduction of sharp edges on the driver information display.
The lie that the taxi partition mandate did not begin until 1994 is important. The mandate began in 1968. It has been in effect for 26 years longer than the TLC admits.

New York Times Excerpt regarding false start date for partition mandate

"...passenger injuries may have come from taxi passengers' hitting their heads on the plastic partition between the front and back seats... made mandatory in most cabs beginning in 1994. 
A study of 200 accident victims by Bellevue in 1995 and 1996 found that passengers in cabs are two and a half times more likely to suffer cranial or facial injuries than those in private cars." NY Times 2/7/1998

Aside from the fact that passengers in cabs are two and a half times more likely to suffer cranial or facial injuries than those in private cars being a disturbing fact, is the fallacy that the plastic partition between the front and back seats... was made mandatory in most cabs beginning in 1994.
The requirement began many years earlier. This is not a benign lie. 

An article from the New York Times dated August 4th, 1972 said; 
“Detroit needs three to four years to make really major changes and we had to work within this limit” Mr. Mautner said. “But this is a start and we have put Detroit on notice that we will be doing more… Stephen Wjlder, a Taxi Commission engineer who supervised preparation of the standards; said the agency had been discussing the evolving plan with the four major suppliers of city taxis - the Chrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Checker Motors - for several months, all were working to meet the standards.” The cab regulators in New York must have appeared fairly 'full of themselves' to the big four.

          The NYC TLC cab partition standard is convoluted and has a history of evolution in its' specifications. They have yet to require the partition to be certified to be compliant with federal standards despite many pleas from this complying manufacturer to do so.

Cab partitions are portrayed as friendly barriers that are there to keep unruly gun wielding assailants from hurting the driver. The actual truth is cabs are required to have partitions installed in order to create The illusion that the issue of cab driver murders has been addressed when it has not been. They do this with total disregard for passenger safety in collisions and driver safety in assaults.   

    Drivers continue to be killed in every city that requires allegedly bullet-proof partitions. Actually, murder rates increase when the partition;
A)    requires all robberies to done with a gun 
and 
B) precludes preemptory or retaliatory action on the part of the driver. Without a partition most robberies are done with a knife or an implied weapon and the driver can usually reach the assailant. 
    Without a partition it is like 'two dogs in a cage'. With a partition it is more like 'shooting a fish in a barrel'.

Now, these predictable outcomes are coming home to kill our loved ones who happen to be in a taxi in any one of a dozen-odd cities in the US that require partitions.