Mr. Thomas V. Kazyaka
Chief Executive Officer
T.V.K. Industries, Inc.
P. O. Box 1161
Gualala, CA 95445
Dear Mr. Kazyaka:
This responds to your letter to Dr. Raymond P. Owings, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations, Associate Administrator for Advanced Research and Analysis, expressing the view that manual transmission shift levers "may be required to be backlit and possibly display the gear engaged" in order to comply with S3.2 of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 102, Transmission shift lever sequence, starter interlock, and transmission braking effect. Because your letter seeks a legal interpretation, I am responding on Dr. Owings behalf. As explained below, S3.2 of FMVSS No. 102 does not require manual transmission shift levers to identify the gear engaged or have backlighting.
S3.2 of FMVSS No. 102 specifies the following requirements for vehicles with manual transmissions:
Manual transmissions. Identification of the shift lever pattern of manual transmissions, except three forward speed manual transmissions having the standard "H" pattern, shall be displayed in view of the driver at all times when a driver is present in the drivers seating position.
While this paragraph requires identification of the shift lever pattern of manual transmissions, it neither requires identification of the gear engaged nor backlighting.
I also note that no other FMVSS requires vehicles with only manual transmission shift levers to identify the gear engaged or to have backlighting.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Dorothy Nakama of my staff at this address or at (202) 366-2992.