Product Manager, Lighting & Electrical
Federal Mogul Corporation
P.O. Box 1966
Detroit, MI 48235
Dear Mr. Golden:
This responds to your request for an interpretation asking if, under NHTSA's requirements, your company may market a lighting device, called a "Lightman," for use on warning triangles. I apologize for the delay in responding. As explained below, the answer to your question is yes. However, since the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) regulates use of warning triangles carried in commercial vehicles, that agency's regulations could also affect your product.
You explain that the Lightman is a battery operated safety strobe device, which is in the shape of an equilateral triangle measuring 3 1/2 inches on each side. You would like to market the Lightman specifically for use on warning triangles, but are concerned about the minimum area requirements of Safety Standard No. 125, Warning Devices. You ask, "Does the mounting of one of these devices...take away minimum reflective area such that it would render the warning triangles illegal or ineffective?"
As you note, Standard No. 125 specifies requirements for the configuration of warning devices. Warning devices that are subject to Standard No. 125 must be certified as meeting those configuration requirements. As we understand the Lightman, it will be sold to motorists separately from the Standard No. 125 warning devices. However, we understand that you will market the Lightman as appropriate for use with previously- certified warning devices.
There is a provision in our statute that regulates the modifications that motor vehicle manufacturers, dealers, distributors and repair businesses may make to certified vehicles and equipment. (See section 30122 of Title 49 U.S.C. 30101 et seq., copy enclosed.) However, this provision does not regulate the modifications that individuals make to their vehicles or items of equipment, such as warning triangles. Thus, under NHTSA's statute, an individual would not be precluded from placing the light on his or her equilateral triangle.
As you note in your letter, the FHWA regulates use of warning devices with regard to commercial trucks, and should be contacted about your question. Responding to your request for a contact in
FHWA, we suggest Mr. James Scapellato, Director, FHWA Office of Motor Carrier Research and Standards, at the following address and telephone number:
400 Seventh Street, S.W. Rm. 3107 Washington, DC 20590. Telephone: (202) 366-1790
We will be happy to forward your letter to Mr. Scapellato, if you would like us to do so.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions about our regulations, please feel free to call Dorothy Nakama of my staff at (202) 366- 2992.
John Womack Acting Chief Counsel
bcc: Mr. Larry Minor Office of Motor Carrier Research & Standards FHWA, Rm. 3107