Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

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Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) are U.S. federal regulations specifying design, construction, performance, and durability requirements for motor vehicles and regulated safety-related components, systems, and design features. They are the U.S. counterpart to the UN Regulations developed by the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations and recognized to varying degree by most countries except the United States. Canada has a system of analogous rules called the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS), which overlap substantially but not completely in content and structure with the FMVSS. The FMVSS/CMVSS requirements differ significantly from the international UN requirements, so private import of vehicles not originally manufactured for the United States market is difficult or impossible.

FMVSS are currently codified at 49 C.F.R. 571. FMVSS are developed and enforced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) pursuant to statutory authorization in the form of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966, which is now codified at 49 U.S.C. ch. 301.

FMVSS are divided into three categories: crash avoidance (100-series), crashworthiness (200-series), and post-crash survivability (300-series). The first regulation, FMVSS No. 209, was adopted on 1 March 1967 and remains in force to date though its requirements have been periodically updated and made more stringent. It stipulates the requirements for seat belts in roadgoing vehicles.

Other FMVSS include:

  • FMVSS No. 101: Controls and displays
  • FMVSS No. 102: Transmission shift lever sequence, starter interlock, and transmission braking effect
  • FMVSS No. 105: Hydraulic and electric brake systems
  • FMVSS No. 106: Brake hose performance and labelling
  • FMVSS No. 108: Lamps and reflective devices
  • FMVSS No. 109: New pneumatic tires for passenger cars
  • FMVSS No. 110: Tire selection and rims for passenger cars
  • FMVSS No. 111: Rear view and side view mirrors
  • FMVSS No. 201: Occupant protection in interior impact
  • FMVSS No. 202: Head restraint Strength
  • FMVSS No. 207: Seating Systems
  • FMVSS No. 208: Occupant crash protection
  • FMVSS No. 209: Seat belt assemblies
  • FMVSS No. 210: Seat belt anchorages
  • FMVSS No. 212: Windshield mounting
  • FMVSS No. 218: Motorcycle helmets
  • FMVSS No. 301: Fuel system integrity
  • FMVSS No. 302: Flammability of interior materials

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