Couch, White Brenner, Howard & Feigenbaum
P.O. Box 22222
Albany, NY 12201
Dear Mr. Cernik:
This is in reply to your letter of October 11, 1995, to Thomas M. Louizou, NHTSA Regional Administrator, seeking an interpretation of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108 on behalf of your client, RoyRock LLC. RoyRock wishes to know "the extent to which it may state that the Dobert Lights meet DOT requirements when used as temporary replacement lights for certain lights required on commercial motor vehicles . . . ."
RoyRock is the distributor for the Dobert Universal Safety Light, two of which you enclosed with your letter. This is a lamp operated by two AA batteries, in either steady-burning or flashing mode, which may be affixed to a vehicle and is equipped with a road base stand for off-vehicle use. We note that the art work on the blister pack also depicts use of the lamps on products other than motor vehicles, specifically tractors and boats.
One intent for the Dobert Light is for it "to act as a temporary replacement for several standard lamps and reflectors as required by Standard 108", specifically, "taillamps; side marker lamps; identification lamps; vehicle hazard warning signal flasher; clearance lamps; and intermediate side marker lamps; . . . reflex reflectors and side reflex reflectors."
As you note, "[a]t issue is the fact that Standard 108 does not contemplate the use of temporary replacement lights." We
agree with that statement. Paragraph S3(c) specifies that Standard No. 108 applies to "Lamps, reflective devices, and associated equipment for replacement of like equipment on vehicles to which this standard applies." Unless that equipment is identical in design to original equipment, it cannot be said to be a replacement for it. The purpose of paragraph S5.8 Replacement Equipment and most of its ten subparagraphs is to require that replacement equipment be designed to meet the same level of performance as original equipment. As you also note, the wiring requirements of paragraph S5.5 cannot apply to the activation and operation of the Dobert Light. In our view, taken together, paragraphs S3(c), S5.5, and S5.8 indicate the agency's unmistakable intent that the replacement lighting equipment governed by Standard No. 108 is equipment that differs from original equipment only in the time in which it installed on a motor vehicle. Replacement equipment is intended to be permanent, not temporary, and operable through a vehicle's electrical system and not through self-contained power sources outside the vehicle.
In our view, the Dobert Light meets the statutory definition of 49 U.S.C. 30102(a)(7)(B) for "motor vehicle equipment" to the extent that it is "an accessory or addition to a motor vehicle" even though it is not replacement equipment. Under Standard No. 108, the symbol "DOT" on a product is the manufacturer's certification that it complies with all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards. However, neither Standard No. 108 nor any other Federal motor vehicle safety standard applies to this item of accessory lighting equipment and use of the DOT symbol on it would be inappropriate and misleading. Standard No. 108, however, would not prohibit the Dobert Light from being marked with the SAE lighting code specifying the various automotive lighting functions that its manufacturer believes it may meet.
If you have any questions, you may refer them to Taylor Vinson of this Office (202-366-5263).
Samuel J. Dubbin Chief Counsel