Helfgott & Karas, P.C.
Empire State Building
New York, NY 10118-6098
Re: Your Ref. No.: 12.065
Dear Mr. Helfgott:
We have received your letter of July 1, 1994, to Paul Jackson Rice, former chief counsel of this agency, on behalf of your client Harold Caine, with respect to whether a certain supplementary lighting system would be permissible under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108. You have enclosed copies of two previous letters that this Office has sent you on other supplementary lighting systems developed by Mr. Caine.
You state that "Mr. Caine is considering the possibility of utilizing [a] combination of red and amber lighting arrangement to be placed along the side of trucks and other vehicles." Since you later ask "whether the presence of the red and amber lights on the sides of the vehicle would be permissible under Standard No. 108", we interpret this as meaning that the red and amber lamps would be in addition to those red and amber lamps that are presently required on the sides of vehicles (the side marker lamps) by Standard No. 108. However, your letter fails to state the number and candela of the lamps, and how they would be arrayed along the side of the vehicle.
As we understand it, during normal vehicle operation, the amber side lamps of the system would be activated. When the brake pedal is applied, the amber lamps are extinguished and the required stop lamps and red side lamps of the system would be activated. As you know from previous correspondence, supplementary lighting equipment is prohibited only if it impairs the effectiveness of lighting equipment that is required by Standard No. 108. Standard No. 108 specifies that front and intermediate side marker lamps (those at or near the midpoint of the length) shall be amber, and that rear ones shall be red. If, in the Caine system, the amber supplementary lamps are mounted to the front of the vehicle side and the red supplementary lamps to the rear of the
vehicle side (i.e., amber from front to and including the midpoint; red, after the midpoint to the rear), we do not see that the supplementary system would have an impairing effect upon the stop lamps or rear side marker lamps and reflectors. If, however, the system consists of alternating red and amber lamps displayed along the side of the vehicle, then the potential for confusion as to orientation of the trailer could result, impairing the effectiveness of the color code of the required side marker lamps. We assume that the candela of the lamps in the Caine system is no greater than that permitted for the side marker lamps that are required by Standard No 108, but if the candela is greater, that would also create the potential for impairment if the array alternates red and amber lamps.
You have also asked "whether there are any prohibitions that might prevent utilization of this structure on the sides of the vehicles." We know of none, however, it is possible that some States might have laws that would affect this. As we are unable to advise you on State law, we suggest that you write for an opinion to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, 4600 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Va. 22203.
John Womack Acting Chief Counsel