Mr. Greg Broemeling
Idaho Tote Dolly, Inc.
27980 North Juliaetta Grd.
Juliaetta, ID 83535
Dear Mr. Broemeling:
This responds to your email inquiry to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concerning the classification of your product, The Idaho Tote, under NHTSA regulations. Your email, which you originally sent to Mr. David Coleman of NHTSAs Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, was referred to my office for reply. We have also received a letter from U.S. Senator Michael D. Crapo on your behalf concerning The Idaho Tote, to which we are responding separately.
By way of background, NHTSA does not provide approvals of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment. Under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, now codified as 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301, it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to ensure that its vehicles and equipment comply with applicable requirements. Title 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301 authorizes NHTSA to issue and enforce Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) applicable to new motor vehicles and new items of motor vehicle equipment, which require minimum levels of safety performance.
In your email communication to NHTSA, you indicated that you disagree with a recent Idaho Transportation Department classification of The Idaho Tote as a trailer and asked for our opinion on the matter. Keep in mind that State and Federal definitions of types of motor vehicles are relevant for different purposes. State law regulates, among other things, titling, licensing, and other aspects of motor vehicle use requirements. NHTSAs regulations apply to the manufacture and sale of new motor vehicles and specify, among other things, the requirements of this agency that new vehicles must meet according to the vehicle type. NHTSA does not interpret the laws of the individual States, such as Idahos definitions of motor vehicle type.
Under NHTSAs regulations, based on the information supplied to this agency and for the reasons explained below, The Idaho Tote would be considered a trailer. The term motor vehicle is defined in the controlling statute (49 U.S.C. 30102) as a vehicle that is driven or drawn by mechanical power and manufactured primarily for use on public streets, roads, and highways. For purposes of applying the FMVSS, NHTSA defines vehicle types as set forth in
49 CFR 571.3. Trailer, which is one of those vehicle types, is defined in the agencys regulations at 49 CFR 571.3(b) as a motor vehicle with or without motive power, designed for carrying persons or property and for being drawn by another motor vehicle.
In your letter to Senator Crapo, you described The Idaho Tote as an external toy hauler with its own wheels and axle, which attaches to the towing vehicle by two main frame rails that are bolted to an attachment which is, in turn, welded to the frame of a truck or other towing vehicle. You stated that because The Idaho Tote is able to articulate up and down on the bolts, it eliminates any stress to the frame from road irregularities. You further stated that because it is attached to the towing vehicle by means of the two rails, the tote cannot swerve, sway, or jackknife, as can a trailer that is attached to a towing vehicle at a single pivot point.
Under NHTSAs regulations (49 CFR 571.3(b)), a unit is a trailer if it is a motor vehicle (i.e., a vehicle that is driven or drawn by mechanical power and manufactured primarily for use on public streets, roads, and highways) and is designed for carrying persons or property and for being drawn by another motor vehicle. As is evident from our definition of trailer, the manner in which a unit is attached to a towing vehicle has no bearing on the units classification as a trailer for the purpose of NHTSAs regulations. You described The Idaho Tote as having been developed as an external toy hauler. You also furnished photographs of the tote, which has a flat bed and side rails, carrying what appears to be a small off-road vehicle. Since your product meets the statutory definition of a motor vehicle and is designed for carrying property and for being drawn by another motor vehicle, we would consider The Idaho Tote to be a trailer under NHTSAs regulations.
An informational brochure for new trailer manufacturers is posted on our website at www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/maninfo. This brochure identifies and describes the FMVSS that apply to trailers, and certain procedural requirements that a motor vehicle manufacturer must meet under NHTSAs regulations. Those requirements include the need to obtain from the Society of Automotive Engineers a world manufacturer identifier (WMI) to be incorporated into the vehicle identification numbers (VINs) that a manufacturer must assign to motor vehicles manufactured for sale in the United States. A manufacturer must also submit VIN deciphering information to NHTSA at least 60 days before offering for sale a motor vehicle with the manufacturers VIN, as required by NHTSAs regulations at 49 CFR Part 565, Vehicle Identification Number Requirements. A manufacturer must also submit to NHTSA identifying information on itself and the vehicles that it manufactures, as required under NHTSAs regulations at 49 CFR Part 566, Manufacturer Identification. Finally, a manufacturer must permanently affix to each motor vehicle it manufactures for sale in the United States a label that, among other things, identifies the manufacturer and the vehicles
date of manufacture, and states that the vehicle complies with all applicable FMVSS in effect on that date. This requirement is reflected in NHTSAs regulations at 49 CFR Part 567, Certification.
Finally, you noted in the letter you sent to Senator Crapo that you believed that Mr. Coleman of NHTSA, with whom you also communicated by telephone about your product, supported your views and recommended that you plead your case to the Idaho State Senate. In a follow-up conversation with NHTSAs Office of Chief Counsel, Mr. Coleman recalled expressing a view that The Idaho Tote would be a trailer under NHTSAs regulations, and that he had only suggested that you discuss matters relating to licensing, titling, and registration requirements with state administrators. We regret any confusion or inconvenience the conversation may have caused.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact Ms. Sarah Alves of my staff at (202) 366-2992.
Anthony M. Cooke
 You indicated in your letter to Senator Crapo that a July 25, 1995 letter from NHTSA to David Lowell supported a determination that your product was not a trailer. The letter does not support such a view. The letter addressed the issue of whether a vehicle was a truck or truck tractor under 49 CFR 571.3(b). Under 49 CFR 571.3(b), both trucks and truck tractors are defined as vehicles with motive power, among other characteristics. The Idaho Tote does not have its own engine and is not a truck or truck tractor under NHTSA regulations.
 NHTSA published a final rule in the Federal Register of April 30, 2008, (73 FR 23367; NHTSA Docket 2008-0022), corrected 73 FR 28370, that made certain changes to the VIN regulation, effective October 27, 2008. A copy of these final rule documents is enclosed.