Executive Vice President
Visibility Lighting Systems
P.O. Box 494
Southport, CT 06490
Dear Mr. Klinge:
This responds to your inquiry about whether a warning light device you manufacture would comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 125, Warning devices (49 CFR '571.125). Promotional literature accompanying your letter indicates that the "Lightman" is a flashing, battery operated device that is 3 1/2 inches wide by 1 1/2 inches high. You stated that you plan to market this product as a warning light source for use by truck fleets and commercial auto fleets. I am pleased to have this opportunity to explain our regulations to you.
By way of background information, Congress has authorized this agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), to issue safety standards applicable to new motor vehicles and new items of motor vehicle equipment. (49 U.S.C. 30101 et seq.) We have exercised this authority to establish Standard No. 125. NHTSA has no authority to approve, certify, or otherwise endorse any commercial product. Instead, Congress has established a self-certification process under which each manufacturer is required to certify that each of its products meets all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.
Please note that Standard No. 125 applies to "devices, without self-contained energy sources, that are designed to be carried in motor vehicles and used to warn approaching traffic of the presence of a stopped vehicle, except for devices designed to be permanently affixed to the vehicle." (Emphasis added; see section S3 of the standard.) In other words, Standard No. 125 does not apply to warning devices with self-contained energy sources. In previous interpretations, the agency has determined that the phrase "self-contained energy sources" includes such things as battery powered lights. Accordingly, a warning device which consists of a battery operated flashing light would not be subject to Standard No. 125.
In a July 20, 1994 conversation with Mr. Marvin Shaw of my staff, you asked about the use of your product by commercial
vehicle operators. Please be aware that NHTSA has the authority to regulate the manufacture but not the use of warning devices. As Mr. Shaw explained, you may wish to contact the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) which is authorized to regulate some motor vehicle operators and vehicle operations.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions about NHTSA's safety standards, please feel free to contact Mr. Shaw of my staff at this address or by telephone at (202) 366-2992.
John Womack Acting Chief Counsel