Trooper James S. Kile
266 Periwinkle Lane
New Market, Virginia 22844
Dear Trooper Kile:
This responds to your letter asking about the applicability of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 205, Glazing Materials, to shade bands on windshields of passenger vehicles. You ask 1) whether Federal law permits any type of obstruction or tinting above the AS-1 line on the windshield; and 2) in the absence of an AS-1 line, is any tinting or other type of obstruction permitted near the top of the windshield. FMVSS No. 205 does not contain restrictions on tinting or opaque obstructions in the shade band area. Furthermore, the area of the windshield with a light transmittance of less than 70% must be marked by the AS-1 line.
By way of background, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is authorized by the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (49 U.S.C. Chapter 301) to issue Federal motor vehicle safety standards for new motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment. Pursuant to that authority, the agency has established FMVSS No. 205, which specifies performance requirements for various types of glazing (called items), and specifies the locations in vehicles where each item of glazing may be used. The standard also incorporates by reference industry standards, the American National Standard for Safety Glazing Materials for Glazing Motor Vehicles and Motor Vehicle Equipment Operating on Land Highways Safety Standard (ANSI Z26.1-1996) and SAE J100, Passenger Car Glazing Shade Bands.
ANSI Z26.1-1996 requires that all glazing materials used in areas of the vehicle requisite for driving visibility have a light transmittance level of not less than 70%. FMVSS No. 205 allows a shade ban area or opaque area used to mount the rearview mirror near the top of the windshield. These areas are permitted to have a light transmittance level of less than 70%. Section 7 of ANSI Z26.1-1996 requires that glazing materials requisite for driving visibility with areas having a light transmittance level of less than 70% be permanently marked with the AS-1 line with an arrow pointed to the area that has a light transmittance level greater than 70%.
FMVSS No. 205 requires that shade bands conform to either SAE J100 or paragraph S5.3.2 which mandate the lower boundary of the shade band. Neither SAE J100 nor paragraph S5.3.2 specify a luminous transmittance level for the shade ban area. Thus, FMVSS No. 205 does not prohibit any type of tinting or opaque obstruction in the shade band area provided that the windshield will be able to meet all other performance requirements specified in ANSI Z26.1-1996. Thus, FMVSS No. 205 does not prohibit any tinting or opaque obstructions above the AS-1 line assuming that the AS-1 line is in a location specified by SAE J100 or paragraph S5.3.2.
On vehicles without a shade ban the AS-1 line must mark the lowest point of the break area, the opaque area at the top of the windshield and in the center where the rearview mirror is mounted. If no AS-1 line is present on the windshield, the entire windshield must have at least a 70% light transmittance level. A windshield with no AS-1 line would still be permitted to have shade band or other tinting at the top of the windshield provided that the light transmittance of the shade band or tinting was not less than 70%.
If you have any further questions, you may refer them to Thomas Healy of this office at 202-366-7161.
O. Kevin Vincent