[Federal Register: April 20, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 77)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
[Docket No. FMCSA-97-2341]
Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Manufactured
AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), DOT.
ACTION: Notice of intent to deny petitions for rulemaking; request for
SUMMARY: The FMCSA announces its intent to deny petitions for
rulemaking from the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and
Multinational Legal Services, PLLC (Multinational) concerning
overloading of tires used for the transportation of manufactured homes.
Currently, these tires may be loaded up to 18 percent over the load
rating marked on the sidewall of the tires, or in the absence of such a
marking, 18 percent above the load rating specified in publications of
certain organizations specializing in tires. The termination date of
the rule allowing 18-percent overloading of these tires was originally
set for November 20, 2000, but was delayed until December 31, 2001, to
provide the agency time to complete its review of the MHI's petition to
allow 18 percent overloading on a permanent basis. The agency has now
completed its review of the MHI's data and believes that there should
be no further delay in the termination date. The agency has also
completed its analysis of Multinational's petition to rescind the final
rule which delayed the termination date until December 31, 2001, and
determined on a preliminary basis that the petition should be denied.
Denial of both petitions would result in transporters of manufactured
homes being prohibited from operating such units on overloaded tires on
or after January 1, 2002.
DATES: We must receive your comments by May 21, 2001. We will consider
comments received after the comment closing date to the extent
ADDRESSES: You can mail, fax, hand deliver or electronically submit
written comments to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket
Management Facility, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington,
DC 20590-0001, FAX (202) 493-2251, on-line at
You must include the docket number that appears in the heading
of this document in your comment. You can examine and copy all comments
at the above address from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., e.t. Monday through Friday,
except Federal holidays. If you want us to notify you that we received
you comments, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope or
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Larry W. Minor, Office of Bus and
Truck Standards and Operations, MC-PSV, (202) 366-4009, Federal Motor
Carrier Safety Administration, 400 Seventh
Street, SW., Washington, D.C. 20590-0001.
On February 18, 1998, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and
the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) jointly published
a final rule amending, respectively, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Regulations (FMCSRs) and an interpretation of the Manufactured Home
Construction and Safety Standards (see 63 FR 8330). The FHWA and HUD
actions reduced the amount of tire overloading allowed (at the time up
to 50 percent above the tire manufacturer's load rating) on tires used
to transport manufactured homes. As a result of the rulemaking, the
maximum amount of loading on a manufactured home tire was reduced so
that it cannot exceed the tire manufacturer's load rating by more than
18 percent. Manufactured homes transported on tires overloaded by 9
percent or more may not be operated at speeds exceeding 80 kilometers
per hour (km/hr)(50 mph). The final rule allowed 18-percent overloading
for a two-year period. The two-year period began on November 16, 1998,
the effective date of the final rule, and was scheduled to end on
November 20, 2000.
In publishing the final rule and interpretative bulletin, the
agencies indicated there was sufficient data to support the premise
that overloading tires may be potentially unsafe. The agencies also
indicated that unless both of them were persuaded by the end of the
two-year period that 18-percent overloading did not pose a risk to the
traveling public, or have an adverse impact on safety or the ability of
motor carriers to transport manufactured homes, any overloading of
tires beyond their design capacity would be prohibited.
MHI Petition for Rulemaking
On August 7, 2000, the MHI filed a petition for rulemaking with the
FMCSA and HUD to initiate a joint rulemaking to amend the agencies'
rules concerning manufactured home tires to enable the manufactured
home industry to continue to exceed the tire manufacturer's load rating
by up to 18 percent, indefinitely. The MHI requested that: (1) The
FMCSA amend 49 CFR 393.75(g); and (2) HUD revise Interpretative
Bulletin J-1-76 to 24 CFR part 3260. MHI recognized that it would be
difficult, if not impossible, for the FMCSA and HUD to act on the
petition and, if granted, complete the rulemaking before November 20,
2000. Therefore, the MHI also petitioned the FMCSA and HUD to provide
interim regulatory relief from the November 20, 2000, deadline until
the agencies acted on the petition for rulemaking. A copy of the MHI's
petition for rulemaking and request for an exemption are included in
the docket referenced at the top of this document.
The MHI indicated that during the first 18 months of the two-year
period for 18-percent overloading, it sponsored studies of the safety
risk associated with tire overloading. This work included a study of
the movement of manufactured homes under actual operating conditions
and a survey of principal manufacturers, transporters and suppliers.
The study involved observing and recording the results of 503 shipments
of manufactured homes during a 12-month period from June 1999 through
June 2000. The MHI believes the results of the study demonstrate that
tire performance improved when the industry operated under the 18-
percent overloading rule.
The MHI indicated that of the 3,708 tires used on the 503
manufactured home sections transported, there were 81 tire failures (a
2.2 percent tire failure rate). The MHI believes that only a fraction
of these failures were attributable, in whole or in part, to the tires
being overloaded. Of the 81 tires that failed, 62 (76.5 percent) were
used tires, indicating that repeated usage of tires may be more of a
factor in the tire failure rate than overloading. The MHI believes the
2.2 percent tire failure rate represents a significant improvement
given the estimated eight percent tire failure rate the FHWA and HUD
presented in the April 23, 1996, notice of proposed rulemaking (61 FR
18014). None of the 81 tire failures resulted in an accident causing
damage to a manufactured home, other property, or personal injury. The
81 tire failures occurred on 61 of the 503 sections transported. The
The dramatic decrease in tire failures attributable, in whole or
in part, to tire over-loading beyond tire load ratings and the total
absence of any accidents resulting in damage to the manufactured
home, other property, or personal injury, based upon a
representative sampling of manufactured homes transported throughout
the country, demonstrates the lack of any safety risk associated
with the permanent removal of the November 20, 2000 ``sunset'' date
for the 118% Rule.
FMCSA and HUD Preliminary Responses to the MHI Petition
On November 21, 2000, the FMCSA published a final rule delaying the
termination date of the rule allowing overloading of manufactured home
tires (65 FR 70218). The FMCSA indicated that it had met with officials
from HUD to discuss the MHI's request. Both agencies believed that
MHI's petition and its supporting documentation warranted a thorough
review, but because relevant staff were otherwise committed, neither
was able to complete such an analysis before November 20, 2000, the
termination date established by the 1998 final rule. On November 21,
2000, HUD amended Interpretative Bulletin J-1-76 to remove a paragraph
that referenced the November 20, 2000, termination date.
Multinational Petition to Rescind November 21, 2000, Regulatory Actions
On January 16, 2001, Multinational filed a petition with the FMCSA
and HUD requesting that the FMCSA and HUD rescind their actions
relating to overloading of manufactured home tires. A copy of
Multinational's petition is included in the docket referenced at the
beginning of this document. Multinational argued that the FMCSA and HUD
actions delaying the termination date are contrary to both Federal law
and the public interest. Multinational believes that the FMCSA violated
5 U.S.C. 553(b) by publishing the final rule without prior notice and
request for public comment. Multinational believes the agencies could
have requested public comment when the MHI submitted its preliminary
data on July 7, 2000. Multinational argues that the ``good cause''
exception to the requirement for requesting public comment prior to
issuing a final rule should not apply in this case.
In addition, Multinational believes the delay in the termination
date was issued in violation of the National Technology Transfer and
Advancement Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-113, 110 Stat. 775) which requires
that Federal agencies use standards established by voluntary consensus
standards organizations unless the adoption of the voluntary standards
would be impractical or inconsistent with law.
Multinational argues that delaying the termination date is contrary
to the public interest.
FMCSA Analysis of the Petitions
The FMCSA has reviewed the MHI's and Multinational's petitions and
believes that both should be denied.
The MHI's petition requesting that 18 percent overloading be
allowed on a permanent basis is not supported by the data submitted.
The MHI provided detailed data (on-the-road performance data which
included the amount of tire
loading) on 53 shipments of manufactured homes. However, data from
industry indicates that in 1999, the manufactured housing industry
shipped 122,926 single-section and 225,745 multi-section homes for a
total of 582,498 sections transported. Therefore, any inferences made
from the data would be based on a sample size of approximately 0.0091
percent [100 x (53/582,498)] of all shipments transported in 1999.
The agency believes this sample size is entirely too small to make any
valid judgment about the on-the-road performance of tires overloaded by
Although information was collected on 503 shipments of manufactured
home sections, individual wheel weights were measured on only 53 of
these shipments. The information gathered from the remaining 450 trips
is important for looking at the overall tire failure rate but not for
examining the percentage of tire failures attributable in whole, or in
part, to tire overloading.
Another factor complicating the analysis of tire failures is that
both the number of tires overloaded, and the amount of overloading on
those tires, varies from trip to trip. Not all manufactured home tires
are overloaded by 18 percent on every trip. Because of the variability
in the amount of overloading per tire and the number of tires that are
typically overloaded on a given shipment, it is extremely difficult to
draw inferences on the performance of overloaded tires. This is
especially the case when an extremely small sample size is involved.
Despite the inadequacy of the MHI data for some kinds of analysis,
one figure is hard to ignore: tire failures occurred on 12 percent of
the trips involving sections of manufactured housing (61 of 503).
Although the incidence of tire failure seems to have declined since
overloading was limited to 18 percent in 1998, the fact that 12 percent
of the trips examined by the MHI were still marred by tire failure--for
whatever reason--is not reassuring. This is a far higher number than
other segments of the motor carrier industry experience. The
manufactured housing industry may not have been involved in any recent
fatalities or property-damage accidents, but with a tire-failure rate
that high one cannot be optimistic about the future. Even if a tire
failure does not send the affected combination out of control, tire
fragments can cause other vehicles to swerve, perhaps triggering a
secondary accident. When units of manufactured housing are stopped for
tire replacement, other vehicles will usually slow down to look,
increasing the risk of rear-end accidents in the traffic stream.
Finally, because drivers typically orient themselves by following other
cars or trucks, drivers who are fatigued or distracted sometimes fail
to distinguish between moving vehicles and parked vehicles, with
disastrous consequences. While the FMCSA cannot identify the exact role
of tire overloading in the failure rate experienced by the manufactured
housing industry, we have concluded that this rate is too high and that
the agency should take what actions it can to lower the rate. We have
therefore decided to end the allowance of overloaded tires on
The FMCSA requests comments on the adequacy of the sample size used
by the MHI in its data collection, and on the analysis and
interpretation of that data. The agency also requests comments on its
own analysis and conclusions.
The FMCSA does not consider its actions to be in violation of the
Administrative Procedure Act or the National Technology Transfer and
Advancement Act of 1995. Furthermore, our actions were not contrary to
the public interest.
The FMCSA was not required to place the information it received
from the MHI in the docket until it issued its November 21, 2000, final
rule. Doing so earlier would not have served as a request for public
comment, or provided information about the agency's evaluation of the
petition, or accelerated the agency's analysis of the MHI data. The
period from August 7 to November 20, 2000, was not long enough to allow
the agency, occupied with a wide variety of prior commitments, to
prepare a notice that discussed the issues in meaningful detail, review
the public comments submitted, and issue a final decision. Therefore,
the agency stands by its previous determination that notice and comment
The FMCSA believes notice and comment were unnecessary because the
November 21, 2000, delay in the termination date did not change the
substance of 49 CFR 393.75(g). The agency relied on its expertise in
transportation safety to delay the termination date until December 31,
2001. The agency is not aware of any accidents (as defined in 49 CFR
390.5) involving manufactured homes prior to the 1998 final rule, or
subsequent to the publication of that rule. The agency believes the
data presented by the MHI is an acceptable indicator that the overall
tire failure rate decreased after tire overloading was reduced from 50
percent to 18 percent. The MHI's estimate of a decrease in the overall
tire failure rate justified the conclusion that the level of safety had
improved (in terms of reducing the potential for an accident
attributable to tire failure) since the publication of the February 18,
1998, final rule. The only uncertainty was whether the level of safety
was comparable to, or better than, what would be expected if all
overloading of manufactured tires were prohibited. The postponement of
the termination date did not increase the safety risks to the traveling
public. The actions of the agency were not contrary to public interest.
With regard to the Multinational's other point, neither the
National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995, nor the
Office of Management and Budget's Circular No. A-119, which provides
executive direction to Federal agencies in implementing the statutory
requirements, is applicable to the debate about overloading
manufactured home tires. The FMCSA's did not establish a government-
unique standard for the design of manufactured home tires, or a
government-unique standard concerning the use of such tires.
Furthermore, the agency's actions did not ignore a private-sector
``consensus standard'' as defined in OMB's Circular No. A-119.
The FMCSA has carefully reviewed the Tire and Rim Association,
Inc.'s ``Year Book'' to determine whether the publication could be
construed as a consensus standard establishing guidelines that differ
from the agency's final rule. The ``Year Book'' states:
The purposes of the Tire and Rim Association, Inc., include the
establishment and promulgation of interchangeability standards for
tires, rims and allied parts for the guidance of manufacturers of
such products, designers and manufacturers of motor vehicles,
aircraft and other wheeled vehicles and equipment, and governmental
and other regulatory bodies.
The Tire and Rim Association, Inc., has no responsibility or
involvement with respect to the utility or performance of any tire,
rim or allied part which may be manufactured in conformity to such
The Tire and Rim Association publication provides information on
interchangeability standards for tires and rims--the ability to replace
components, parts, or equipment of one manufacturer with those of
another, without losing function or suitability. Furthermore, the
organization disclaimed all responsibility or involvement with respect
to the use or performance of any tire. Therefore, the Tire and Rim
Association's ``Year Book''
is not a consensus standard applicable to overloaded manufactured home
tires. The FMCSA's actions have not undermined or compromised the
interchangeability standards of the Tire and Rim Association. The tire
overloading rule relates solely to the manner in which motor carriers
use manufactured home tires, an issue that association never attempted
to address. The FMCSA has not violated the NTTA.
With regard to Multinational's concerns about the public interest,
the FMCSA worked with HUD to require the manufactured housing industry
to alter its practice of overloading tires by up to 50 percent above
the tire manufacturer's load rating. The agencies have reduced the
amount of overloading to 18 percent presently, and through the denial
of the MHI's petition, transporters of manufactured homes would be
prohibited from overloading tires. Transporters of manufactured homes
would be required to adhere to the same standards as anyone else
subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. The delay in
the termination date does not, in and of itself, change the substance
of 49 CFR 393.75(g).
Through this notice the agency is making clear its preliminary
intention not to grant the MHI's petition to allow 18 percent
overloading on a permanent basis. The agency intends to bring to an end
the industry practice of transporting manufactured homes on overloaded
tires, albeit approximately 13 months later than originally planned.
The agency does not believe the delay in the termination date is
contrary to the public interest because the level of safety provided by
the November 21, 2000, final rule is no different than the level of
safety provided prior to the delay.
Request for Comments
The FMCSA requests comments from all interested parties concerning
overloading of tires used in the transportation of manufactured homes.
The agency encourages commenters to discuss any of the specific issues
mentioned above and any other issues the commenters believe may be
relevant. Depending on the comments received, the agency will issue a
notice denying the MHI's and Multinational's petitions.
Issued on: April 16, 2001.
Julie Anna Cirillo,
Acting Deputy Administrator.
[FR Doc. 01-9867 Filed 4-19-01; 8:45 am]
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