Mr. John Sheppard
Sales and Marketing Manager
Reflexite Canada, Inc.
6790 Kitimat Road, Unit 18
Ontario L5N 5L9

Dear Mr. Sheppard:

We have received your letter of November 2, 1994, asking whether certain conspicuity material could be used on trailers required to meet S5.7 of U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108. You have enclosed samples of the material.

The material alternates red and white stripes "oriented at a 45 degree angle to the edge of the roll." Rolls are either 6 or 8 inches in width and "will not have DOT-C2 marking." In addition, we note that the horizontal length of the red segments is 5 1/2 inches (and presume an equal length for the white segments). Specifically, you have asked whether this material could "be applied to the lower edge of the vehicle's rear doors as a compliant substitute for the 2" 'block pattern' material currently being used?"

Paragraph S5.7's specifications for conspicuity material are intended to ensure uniformity of treatment in order to enhance the ability of drivers of other vehicles to detect large objects in the roadway under conditions when headlamps are used. While S5.7 does not require that the red and white color segments be rectangular, it does establish requirements for their length and width. Under S5.7.1.3(b), each segment shall have a length of 300 mm +/- 150 mm. The color segment separation of 5 1/2 inches on your sample is approximately 140 mm, and thus below the minimum permitted by the standard. Although currently, under S5.7.1.3(d), three widths of retroreflective material are permissible: 50 mm (DOT-C2), 75 mm (DOT-C3), and 100 mm (DOT-C4) and your widths of 6 inches (150 mm) and 8 inches (200mm) do not conform to these specifications, the agency has proposed that these be minimum minimum widths for the DOT grades indicated. We expect a final rule to be issued on this proposal in the near future.

Because the retroreflective material discussed above would not comply with Standard No. 108's requirements for color segment length (and currently width), it could not be used as a substitute for the DOT-C2 material that you currently manufacture. Further, geometrically and photometrically complying material would require the appropriate DOT grade identification marking for use on a trailer required to comply with Standard No. 108.


Philip R. Recht Chief Counsel ref:108 d:12/7/94