FROM: AUTHOR UNAVAILABLE; Erika Z. Jones; NHTSA
TO: Jerry Koh
TITLE: FMVSS INTERPRETATION
Mr. Jerry Koh 7617 DeLongpre Ave., #1 Los Angeles, California 90046
Dear Mr. Koh:
This is in reply to your letter of February 6, 1986, to Mr. Vinson of my staff asking whether a lighting accessory you wish to import for sale is acceptable.
The device you describe is intended for installation on the rear parcel shelf of passenger cars. You state that it emits a "stream of flashing lights in continuous sequence when the driver steps on the brake (stops), turns (right or left), and when overtaking other cars." The specification sheet that you enclosed indicates that the device has an adjustable flashing speed between 66 and 140 times a minute.
This agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, establishes manufacturing requirements for new motor vehicles and equipment. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108, Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment, applies to lighting equipment that is required on new motor vehicles, and to aftermarket equipment that is intended to replace the required equipment. The standard does not itself cover accessory lighting equipment such as you propose to import, and thus there is no U.S. safety standard that applies to it. Whether it is permissible for use therefore must be determined by the law of each state in which it will be sold and operated.
However, Standard No. 108 does prohibit installation of any aftermarket lighting device before initial sale of a new vehicle if that device "impairs the effectiveness" of lighting equipment that the standard requires, and you should be aware of this prohibition if you intend to sell the device to new car dealers for installation on new cars in stock. Thus, we must consider whether your device would impair the effectiveness of the center high-mounted stop lamp, and the turn signal lamps. We offer these comments: stop lamps must be activated simultaneously and not sequentially. The mode of operation of your device to indicate brake application is not clear. If all eight lights are activated simultaneously, and are steady burning, that would not appear to impair the effectiveness of the center stop lamp. If they are activated in a sequential spread, or flash if activated simultaneously, this could possibly be an impairment of the nature contemplated by Standard No. 108.
With respect to the turn signal function, the flash rate should be synchronized with that of the vehicle's standard turn signals. Under Standard No. 108, 60 to-120 cycles per minute is permissible, Thus, the highest speed attainable of your device, 110, could be viewed as a possible impairment. We do not understand the safety purpose of the overtaking function and how it operates.
If you have any further questions, we will be happy to answer them. Thank you for your interest in highway safety.
Erika Z. Jones Chief Counsel
Mr. Taylor Vinson Legal Counsel NHTSA. U.S. Dept. Of Transportation 400 7th ST. S.W. Washington D.C.
February 6, 1986
Dear Mr. Vinson:
Please provide me a letter of interpretation regarding the following item. Thank you.
I have an illumination accessory (Highway Flasher FS-7100, made in Tiawan for automobiles which can be mounted on rear dash of each car.
The Flasher Hill emits a stream of flashing lights in continuous sequence when the driver steps on the break (stops), turns (right or left), and when overtaking other cars. It is a very good safe-guard device in which it alarms other drivers and at the same time it is a beautiful car ornamentation.
" In a way The Flasher is similar to the 3rd light that is now mandatorily required on all 1986 cars. However, it can be used on all cars that are with or without the 3rd light. For the 3rd light is always mounted in the center of the rear window; whereas The Flasher can be mounted on the rear dash board and its light will flash on either right or left or both sides of the rear window. (Figure 1)
In fact with the Flasher it will actually enhance the visibility of all vehicles, increase drivers' awareness at night, in heavy fog and on highways, and complement cars that already have the 3rd light.
I am thinking about importing the Flashers into the U.S. but I want to make sure it is safe and legal to do so. I am unable to find out from the manufacturer whether this product has met U.S. Highway Safety Standard or not, probably because the product is not being imported yet.
Thank you for your time and assistance.