Richard A. Keller, III
27795 Oakachoy Loop
Daphne, AL 36526

Dear Mr. Keller:

This responds to your inquiry on behalf of Bruno Independent Living Aids, Inc., concerning the rear backup camera requirement (S6.2) of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS)   No. 111, “Rear visibility.”  We apologize for the delay in responding.  You ask several questions on whether installation of the “Bruno ASL-700 Chariot” and “ALS-250 Outsider” by vehicle owners would be permitted under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act.  As explained below, our answer is yes.    

In your letter, you state that the two products are “vehicle exterior-located platform lifts which can be temporarily attached to the vehicle.”  You state the products are sold to transport unoccupied personal mobility devices used by vehicle occupants with mobility impairments.  You describe the Bruno ASL-700 Chariot as a “trailer” that conforms to all applicable FMVSS trailer requirements.  You describe the Bruno ASL-250 Outsider as a “cargo carrier” that is supported entirely by a vehicle’s trailer hitch, and that does not touch the ground.  You state that both products are intended to be sold in the aftermarket, and that both would be attached to a vehicle’s trailer hitch by the vehicle’s owner.

You ask the following questions concerning the applicability of NHTSA’s requirements to the ASL-700 Chariot and ALS-250 Outsider.  We have restated your questions below, followed by our answers.  Our answers are based on our understanding of your descriptions of the products.

1.     Since the Bruno ASL-700 Chariot personal mobility device carrier is in compliance with all applicable FMVSS trailer regulations, and is a trailer, it is therefore not subject to the requirements of 49 CFR § 571.111, section S6.2 Rear visibility. As such, it is not required to provide a rear view [sic] camera.  Is that interpretation correct?

The answer is yes.  As set forth in S6.2, the rear visibility requirements apply only to a “multipurpose passenger vehicle, low-speed vehicle, truck, bus, and school bus with a GVWR of 4,536 kg or less.”  If, as you say, the Bruno ASL-700 Chariot is a trailer, it is not subject to FMVSS No. 111.

2.     Since the Bruno ASL-700 Chariot and Bruno ASL-250 Outsider are temporary equipment installed or removed, when needed, by the vehicle owner, the Agency Response to this issue in the Final Rule is that the rule (49 CFR § 571.111, section S6.2 Rear visibility) does not apply. Is that interpretation correct?

Our answer is S6.2 does not apply.[1]  As explained in our answer to question 1, if neither the Bruno ASL-700 Chariot nor the Bruno ASL-250 Outsider is a “multipurpose passenger vehicle, low-speed vehicle, truck, bus, [or a] school bus with a GVWR of 4,536 kg or less,” they are not subject to S6.2.  This answer is the same as “the Agency Response…in the Final Rule” to which you refer.  

(Please note that the installation of “temporary” products “by the vehicle owner” is not particularly germane to question 2 (which concerns the applicability of S6.2), but is germane to question 3.  Stated differently, if an FMVSS applies to the Chariot or the ASL-250, the fact that the products are meant to be temporarily installed or removed by the vehicle owner would not change the applicability of that standard to the product.)

3.  Since the Bruno ASL-700 Chariot and Bruno ASL-250 Outsider personal mobility device carriers are temporary equipment attached to the vehicle at the Class l, II, or III receiver hitch by the vehicle owner, and while they may when attached and loaded block the rearview camera, they are not making inoperative the OEM rearview camera under 49 USC § 30122 — Making safety devices and elements inoperative, as discussed in the Public Law 110-189 — 110th Congress and NHTSA-2010-0162-0256 Final Rule, since that prohibition is directed at a manufacturer, distributor, dealer, [rental company] or motor vehicle repair business modifying the vehicle.  Is that interpretation correct?

The Safety Act’s “make inoperative” prohibition (49 U.S.C. 30122) states:

A manufacturer, distributor, dealer, rental company, or motor vehicle repair business may not knowingly make inoperative any part of a device or element of design installed on or in a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in compliance with an applicable [FMVSS] unless the manufacturer, distributor, dealer, rental company, or repair business reasonably believes the vehicle or equipment will not be used (except for testing or a similar purpose during maintenance or repair) when the device or element is inoperative.

Our answer is the vehicle owner installing the Bruno ASL-700 Chariot or Bruno ASL-250 Outsider on his or her own vehicle is not subject to the “make inoperative” prohibition.[2]  We assume that the vehicle owner to whom you refer is not a manufacturer, distributor, dealer, rental company, or motor vehicle repair business.  In addition, because States have the authority to regulate the use of vehicles, you should check with State officials to see if State law would allow motorists to block the view of the camera of the primary vehicle.

In closing, we note that you have petitioned NHTSA to amend 49 CFR Part 595 (“Make inoperative exemptions”), Subpart C (“Vehicle modifications to accommodate people with disabilities”) to include the FMVSS No. 111 backup camera requirements, and that NHTSA informed you that the agency has granted your petition in a letter sent on November 5, 2018.  NHTSA is addressing your petition in the context of a rulemaking proceeding. 

We hope this answers your questions. 

                                                                                    Sincerely,

 


Jonathan C. Morrison
Chief Counsel

 

 

Dated: 5/3/19

Ref: FMVSS No. 111



[1] We would like to clarify that if the Bruno ASL-700 Chariot is a trailer, as you say, it is a “motor vehicle” under our regulations, and not “temporary equipment.” 

[2] Note also footnote 1, supra.  In addition, please be aware that the make inoperative provision also applies to rental companies.