Rocky Mountain Technology Engineering Corporation
P.O. Box 280307
Lakewood, CO 80228-0307
Dear Mr. Wessels:
This responds to your letter requesting an interpretation about the use of your product, the "Handi-Slide." You state that your invention is a locking system for securing and releasing a sliding semitrailer undercarriage. You further state that the system is tied into the trailer's air brake system. I am pleased to have this opportunity to explain our regulations to you.
By way of background, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) administers Federal requirements for the manufacture and sale of new motor vehicles and items of motor vehicle equipment. NHTSA does not provide approvals of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment. Instead, the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act establishes a "self- certification" process under which each manufacturer is responsible for certifying that its products meet all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS's). This process requires each manufacturer to determine in the exercise of due care that its products meet all applicable requirements.
NHTSA tests vehicles and equipment sold to consumers for compliance with the FMVSS's and investigates defects relating to motor vehicle safety. If a manufacturer or NHTSA determines that a noncompliance or safety-related defect exists, the manufacturer must notify purchasers of its product and remedy the problem free of charge. (This responsibility is borne by the vehicle manufacturer in cases in which your product is installed on a new vehicle by the vehicle manufacturer.) A manufacturer of a noncomplying product that is subject to an FMVSS is also subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for each noncomplying item it produces. I have enclosed an information sheet that highlights the responsibilities of motor vehicle equipment manufacturers.
NHTSA does not have any specific FMVSS for semitrailer undercarriages. However, since the Handi-Slide is tied to a
vehicle's air brake system, your product could affect a vehicle's compliance with Standard No. 121, Air Brake Systems. That standard applies to new trucks, buses, and trailers equipped with air brake systems, and specifies performance and equipment requirements for the braking systems on these vehicles. Your product could also affect the vehicle's compliance with Standard No. 106, Brake Hoses, which specifies requirements for the air brake hoses, fittings and assemblies on the vehicle.
If the Handi-Slide is installed as original equipment on a new vehicle, the vehicle manufacturer is required to certify that, with the device installed, the vehicle satisfies the requirements of all applicable safety standards, including Standards No. 121 and 106. If the device were added to a previously certified new motor vehicle prior to its first consumer purchase, then the person who modifies the vehicle would be an alterer of a previously certified motor vehicle and would be required to certify that, as altered, the vehicle continues to comply with all of the safety standards affected by the alteration.
If the Handi-Slide were installed on a used vehicle by a manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or motor vehicle repair business, then the installer would not be required to attach a certification label. However, '108(a)(2)(A) of the Safety Act requires the installer not to knowingly render inoperative, in whole or in part, any device or element of design installed on or in a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment in compliance with an applicable FMVSS. Section 108(a)(2)(A) does not apply to vehicle owners modifying their own vehicles.
I note that you provide an attachment titled "Current NHTSA Locking Pin Safety Concerns" that references several Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Please note that these regulations are administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), not NHTSA. If you are interested in the FHWA requirements, you can write to that agency at the address provided in the enclosed information sheet.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any questions about NHTSA's safety standards, please feel free to contact Marvin Shaw at this address or by telephone at (202) 366-2992. Sincerely,
John Womack Acting Chief Counsel