Search Interpretations

07-004525--5 Oct 07--sa

Mr. William Farmer

10114 Allenwood Drive

Riverview, FL 33569

Dear Mr. Farmer:

This responds to your request for our support of your development of an electronic device that would be installed in a motor vehicle, that could inform and warn drivers of an emergency situation (such as an approaching emergency vehicle), of hazardous road conditions (e.g., road closures) or to exercise caution in certain situations (e.g., that the driver is in the vicinity of a school or train crossing). As explained below, this office cannot comment on or offer the opinion sought by your letter regarding the safety impacts of your proposed devices.

By way of background, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is authorized under 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301 to issue and enforce Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSSs) applicable to new motor vehicles and items of motor vehicle equipment.  NHTSA does not approve motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment, nor do we endorse any commercial products.  Instead, our statute establishes a self-certification process under which each manufacturer is responsible for certifying that its products meet all applicable safety standards.  The agency periodically tests vehicles and equipment items for compliance with the standards, and also investigates reports of safety-related defects.

We cannot render an opinion as to how our safety standards would affect your product, in part because your description of your device was very general. In any event, it would be your responsibility as a manufacturer of motor vehicle equipment to ensure that the product complies with all applicable standards and is free of safety-related defects. NHTSA does not have an FMVSS that applies to aftermarket warning systems, but we cannot say for sure that no standard applies to your product since we know very little about your device. Keep in mind also that installation of your product on a new or used vehicle by a motor vehicle manufacturer, dealer, distributor or repair business must not make inoperative the compliance of any safety system with an applicable FMVSS (49 U.S.C. 30122).

It appears that you are seeking a judgment call or some kind of indication as to whether NHTSA believed these devices would increase safety. NHTSA does not certify, endorse, approve, or give assurances of compliance for any vehicle or item of vehicle equipment. Therefore, this office cannot and will not express support for or approval of your idea.

We appreciate your interest in motor vehicle safety, however. I have enclosed an information sheet that briefly describes manufacturer responsibilities under our statutes and regulations.

Please also note that States have the authority to regulate the operation and use of vehicles. If you wish to know whether State law permits the installation of your product in motor vehicles, you should contact State officials with your question.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact Sarah Alves of my staff at (202) 366-2992.

Sincerely yours,

Anthony M. Cooke

Chief Counsel