Mr. Jeffrey B. Baldwin
The Dork Company
P.O. Box 3314
Running Springs, CA 92382
Dear Mr. Baldwin:
This responds to your letter regarding the product that you sent to us, which we consider to be a type of sun visor. This device hooks to the rearview mirror and blocks the window in the areas between the vehicles visor and rearview mirror. You ask us to determine if your invention meets the vehicle safety standards in the United States, with regard to dimensions and the UL rating. We regret to inform you that this agency does not make those types of determinations. However, the information below should be of assistance.
By way of background, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is authorized to issue Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSSs) that set performance requirements for new motor vehicles and items of motor vehicle equipment (see 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301). NHTSA does not provide approvals of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment. Instead, manufacturers are required to self-certify that their products conform to all applicable safety standards that are in effect on the date of manufacture. NHTSA selects a sampling of new vehicles and equipment each year to determine their compliance with applicable FMVSSs. If our testing or examination reveals an apparent noncompliance, we may require the manufacturer to remedy the noncompliance, and may initiate an enforcement proceeding if necessary to ensure that the manufacturer takes appropriate action.
FMVSS No. 201, Occupant Protection in Interior Impact, contains requirements for sun visors. However, the standard applies only to new motor vehicles, and not to items of aftermarket equipment, such as a sun visor installed by a vehicles owner.
If your product were installed on new motor vehicles, it would be subject to the provisions of FMVSS No. 201. We are enclosing an informational pamphlet for manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment that can assist you in understanding the certification process. In addition, we are enclosing a copy of a previous interpretation regarding a similar product, which may be helpful. That letter discusses the make inoperative provision of our statute (49 U.S.C. section 30122), which prohibits manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and motor vehicle repair businesses from making inoperative compliance with any safety standard.
As noted in the earlier letter, products of this type are considered items of motor vehicle equipment. Manufacturers of motor vehicle equipment must ensure that their products are free of safety-related defects (see 49 U.S.C. 30118-30121). In the event a manufacturer or NHTSA determines that the manufacturers product contains a safety-related defect, the manufacturer would be responsible for, among other things, notifying purchasers of the defective equipment and remedying the problem free of charge.
We hope this information has been helpful. Please contact Mr. Ari Scott of my staff at (202) 366-2992 if you have any additional questions.
Anthony M. Cooke