1005 Drinnon Drive
Morristown, TN 37814
Dear Mr. Morrison:
This is in reply to your letter of April 25, 1995, asking for a clarification of the letter of April 10 to you from the former Chief Counsel, Philip Recht. He explained Standard No. 108's requirements for the location of rear lighting on wide vehicles.
As the letter stated, identification lamps are to be mounted "as close to the top of the vehicle as practicable." You speak of having seen "semitrailers on the highway with all the rear lights at bed level" including clearance and identification lamps. As the letter also stated, the determination of practicability is initially that of the manufacturer, to be made in its certification that the vehicle meets all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards. NHTSA will not question that determination unless it appears clearly erroneous.
Without further information on the semitrailers you saw, we cannot judge whether mounting the clearance and identification lamps at bed level was a clearly erroneous determination by the trailer's manufacturer. There are some configurations where there is no header on which to mount lamps and the top of the doors approaches the top of the vehicle. In those configurations, we would not contest the manufacturer's determination that mounting the lamps at bed level was "as close to the top of the vehicle as practicable." On the other hand, the semitrailers you saw might have failed to conform to Standard No. 108.
I hope that this clarifies the matter for you. If you have any further questions you may call Taylor Vinson of this Office (202-366-5263).
John Womack Acting Chief Counsel Ref:108 d:5/19/95