Freightliner Corp. v. Myrick, 514 U.S. 280, 6 (1995)

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Cite as: 514 U. S. 280 (1995)

Opinion of the Court

shorter than those that could be achieved with brakes without ABS, several manufacturers notified NHTSA that ABS devices would be required. Some manufacturers asked NHTSA to alter the standard itself because they believed that ABS devices were unreliable and rendered vehicles dangerously unsafe when combined with new, more effective brakes. In 1974, NHTSA responded that Standard 121 was practical and that ABS devices did not cause accidents. See generally Paccar, Inc. v. NHTSA, 573 F. 2d 632, 637-638 (CA9), cert. denied, 439 U. S. 862 (1978).

Several manufacturers and trade associations then sought review of Standard 121 in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. That court remanded the case to NHTSA because "a careful review of the extensive record" indicated that "the Standard was neither reasonable nor practicable at the time it was put into effect." 573 F. 2d, at 640. The court found that NHTSA had failed to consider the high failure rate of ABS devices placed in actual use, id., at 642, and that "there [was] a strong probability that [ABS] has created a potentially more hazardous highway situation than existed before the Standard became operative," id., at 643. Until NHTSA compiled sufficient evidence to show that ABS would not create the possibility of greater danger, the court concluded, the Standard would remain suspended. Ibid.

After the Ninth Circuit's decision in Paccar, the agency amended Standard 121 so that the stopping distance and lock-up requirements no longer applied to trucks and trailers. NHTSA nevertheless left the unamended Standard 121 in the Code of Federal Regulations so that "the affected sections [could] most easily be reinstated" when the agency met Paccar's requirements. 44 Fed. Reg. 46849 (1979). NHTSA also stated that the provisions would remain in place so that manufacturers would know "what the agency still considers to be reasonable standards for minimum acceptable performance." Ibid. Although NHTSA has developed new stopping distance standards, to this day it still


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