Search Interpretations

11-001987 nelson.may18

Mr. Brian Nelson

Michigan Association of Timbermen

7350 M 123

Newberry, MI 49868

Dear Mr. Nelson:

This letter responds to your letter asking whether a product commonly known in the logging industry as a slasher saw table would be considered a motor vehicle within the laws and regulations administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). As explained below, our answer is no.

You explain that a slasher saw table is a large saw permanently mounted to a bundling carriage that has two wheels and is pulled behind another trailer or truck. It is used for cutting logs to a uniform length for loading onto a logging truck. Although a slasher saw table is equipped with wheels, you state that it is intended to remain in extreme off-road conditions for months at a time, as a logging site is harvested. You also state that, when transferred between sites, a slasher saw table is pulled behind a mobile log loader, which is equipped with brakes.

By way of background, NHTSA has the authority under 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301 (the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Safety Act)) to prescribe Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSSs). The FMVSSs are applicable to new motor vehicles and new motor vehicle equipment. That is, NHTSA regulates the manufacture of new motor vehicles. You state that an issue has arisen whether the slasher saw table is subject to regulations administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). We note that questions about the applicability of FMCSAs regulations should be directed to that agency.

We do not consider the slasher saw table to be a motor vehicle. The term motor vehicle is defined in section 30102(a)(6) of the Safety Act as a vehicle driven or drawn by mechanical power and manufactured primarily for use on the public streets, roads, and highways, but does not include a vehicle operated only on a rail line.

NHTSA has issued several interpretations of this language. We have stated that vehicles equipped with tracks, agricultural equipment, and other vehicles incapable of highway travel are not motor vehicles. We have also determined that certain vehicles designed and sold solely for off-road use (e.g., airport runway vehicles and underground mining vehicles) are not motor vehicles, even if they may be operationally capable of highway travel. Finally, we have concluded that items of mobile construction equipment that use the highways only to move between job sites and that typically spend extended periods of time at a single site are not motor vehicles. However, we do consider vehicles that use the public roads on a necessary and recurring basis to be motor vehicles. For example, vehicles that frequently travel between job sites using highways are considered motor vehicles because the on-highway use is more than incidental.

In a November 5, 2004 letter to Ms. Robin C. DesCamp of Blount International, Inc., we opined on whether certain types of logging equipment would be considered a motor vehicle. Among the logging equipment discussed in that letter were logging cranes. We stated that, because logging cranes were intended to remain at a single location for long periods of time and are moved only infrequently between logging sites, we concluded that the logging cranes are not motor vehicles.

A slasher saw table, as you have described it, appears to be akin to items of mobile construction equipment and logging cranes that do not travel on highways on a recurring basis. Accordingly, we find that the slasher saw table described in your letter is not a motor vehicle. Because a slasher saw table is not a motor vehicle, it is not subject to the FMVSSs.

I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact David Jasinski of my office at (202) 366-2992.

Sincerely yours,

O. Kevin Vincent

Chief Counsel

Ref: VSA 571.3

7/25/11