William E. Otto, Esq.
Sebring & Associates
2735 Mosside Boulevard
Monroeville, PA 15146
Dear Mr. Otto:
This responds to your letter asking two questions about the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 111, Rearview Mirrors, regarding outside rearview mirrors.
By way of background, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is authorized to issue FMVSSs that set performance requirements for new motor vehicles and items of motor vehicle equipment (see 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301). NHTSA also investigates safety-related defects. The agency 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.
In your letter, you ask about an outside drivers side rearview mirror that would contain two parts. You state that on the right portion of the mirror, a section of the mirror would contain a FMVSS No. 111-compliant flat mirror, while the left portion of the mirror would contain a curved or aspheric component. You also suggested that this additional section may cause the mirror to extend farther than the widest part of the vehicle body. You ask two questions relating to this design, which are restated below.
Q1. You ask whether a single drivers side mirror containing both a flat portion and curved or aspherical portion located to the left of said flat portion would be permitted by S5.2.1 of Standard No. 111, provided that the flat portion of the mirror otherwise complies with Section S5.2.1.
Our answer is yes. FMVSS No. 111, S5.2.1, Field of view, states that [e]ach passenger car shall have an outside mirror of unit magnification, which requires a flat mirror. However, if this requirement is met, there is no specific prohibition on additional mirrored surfaces, which can be convex or aspheric.
In a previous letter of interpretation from 1995, NHTSA answered a similar question in the affirmative. In that letter, we stated, [v]ehicle manufacturers may install mirror systems that combine a portion of the mirror with a straight angle with a portion of the mirror that is at a slight variance, provided that the straight mirror portion by itself complies with the requirements in FMVSS No. 111 that are applicable to the vehicle on which the mirror system is installed. Similarly, in a 1998 letter, NHTSA stated that [v]ehicle manufacturers may install mirror systems that combine flat and convex mirrors on their new vehicles, provided that the flat mirror portion by itself meets FMVSS No. 111 requirements applicable to the vehicle on which the mirror system is installed.
Therefore, assuming your drivers side flat mirror meets the field of view requirements, we can confirm that an additional aspheric portion would not be prohibited.
Q2. You ask whether a drivers side mirror which protrudes farther than the widest part of the vehicle body is permitted under S5.2.2 of FMVSS No. 111, if the extent of the protrusion is limited to the minimum necessary to accommodate a mirror which exceeds the requirements of Section S5.2.1 by the following characteristics: (1) the flat portion of the mirror complies with the requirements of Section S5.2.1 and (b) a curved or aspheric portion of the mirror located to the left of the flat portion of the mirror results in an increase in the field of view.
Assuming that the aspheric portion of your mirror produces a field of view that exceeds S5.2.1, our answer is yes. Paragraph S5.2.2 reads, in part, neither the mirror nor the mounting shall protrude farther than the widest part of the vehicle body except to the extent necessary to produce a field of view meeting or exceeding the requirements of S5.2.1. (Emphasis added.) S5.2.2 as originally adopted (then S126.96.36.199) specified that neither the mirror nor the mounting shall protrude farther than the widest part of the vehicle body, except to the extent necessary to meet the requirements of the field view requirements (32 FR 2408, 2413). Shortly thereafter, the exception was expanded to include the words meeting or exceeding in an early amendment to the standard (32 FR 5498, April 4, 1967, copy enclosed). Since the exception was revised to accommodate mirrors and mountings that produce a field of view exceeding the requirements of S5.2.1, we believe a protrusion to accommodate that part of the mirror is permitted. However, this exception does not extend to protrusions beyond the widest part of the body to accommodate items such as decorations or lights near that part of the mirror. Moreover, the mirror and mounting must be free of sharp points or edges that could contribute to pedestrian injury, as specified elsewhere in S5.2.2.
I hope this answers your questions. If you have any further questions, please contact Ari Scott of my staff at (202) 366-2992.
Anthony M. Cooke