Clarke Safety Products
621 Bayshore Dr.
Tarpon Springs, FL 34689
Dear Mr. Clarke:
This responds to your letter asking several questions about the responsibilities associated with Agrooving windshields.@ We assume you refer to the process of grinding grooves into the lower portion of a windshield. The purpose of the grooves is to improve the efficacy of the windshield wipers.
I have enclosed copies of two letters on this subject, both addressed to Mr. Andrew Kallman, dated March 1, 1985 and October 28, 1988. These letters explain how the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration=s (NHTSA=s) regulations would apply if the grooves are ground into a windshield of a new vehicle, into a windshield sold as an item of replacement equipment, or into a windshield of a used vehicle.
Those letters address the issues you raise, and I will refer to them from time to time in answering your specific questions.
Question 1. Are you able to alter a previously certified item of motor vehicle equipment covered by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 205?
Answer: Our answer is yes, provided that certain requirements are met. As explained in the enclosed March 1985 letter, if the grooves are ground into the windshield of a new vehicle or into a new windshield sold as replacement equipment, the person making the grooves would have to ensure that the glazing continues to comply with all of the requirements of Standard 205. If the grooves are ground into the windshield of a used vehicle, any manufacturer, distributor, dealer or motor vehicle repair business must not make inoperative the compliance of the vehicle=s glazing with Standard 205. Individual owners may alter their vehicles as they please, as long as they adhere to all State requirements.
Question 2. If you did alter a previously certified item, could you now be construed the manufacturer and should now be perceived a Glazing Manufacturer with an I.D.#?
The answer depends on how the glazing is altered. NHTSA issues a manufacturer=s code mark only to "prime glazing manufacturers," which is defined at S6.1 as Aone who fabricates, laminates, or tempers the glazing material." If your company does not alter glazing in those ways (and merely adding grooves does not), you would not need, and NHTSA would not issue, a manufacturer=s code mark.
Question 3. If one now is to become a Glazing Manufacturer, how does one do so and how does one receive a Glazing I.D.#?
Prime glazing material manufacturers may receive a manufacturer=s code mark by writing NHTSA at the following address: Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, NHTSA, Room 6111, Washington D.C., 20590 (telephone (202) 366-2832).
Question 4. For me now to proceed and groove windshields, what steps must I take to abide by the law and to hold my liabilities to a minimum and not be deemed negligent?
Our statute does not permit NHTSA to assure any person or entity that its product or processes comply with all applicable requirements or to Aapprove@ some product or process. Instead, our statute requires the manufacturer itself to certify that its products comply with all applicable safety standards, and to ensure they are free of safety-related defects.
The enclosed copies of the Kellman letters discuss your responsibilities for meeting NHTSA=s requirements, including Standard 205. You should also be aware of State requirements. In addition, you may want to check with a private attorney for your responsibilities under State tort law.
Please feel free to contact Paul Atelsek of my staff at (202) 366-2992 if you have any further questions.
Samuel J. Dubbin Chief Counsel
Enclosures ref:205 d:6/18/96