Vice President, Marketing
United Distribution, Inc.
P.O. Box 103
W. Milford, NJ 07480
Dear Mr. Dennis:
This responds to your July 26, 1996, letter asking how Federal regulations would affect your product, the "Vizoret." You describe the Vizoret to be "an auxiliary sun visor" that attaches behind the inside rear view mirror. One of your questions is whether a car dealer could hand a Vizoret to a vehicle purchaser.
According to your letter, the purpose of the Vizoret is to block direct sunlight that passes above the mirror and between the two sunvisors. From the promotional brochure that you enclosed, it appears that the Vizoret is made of some kind of thin, flat, opaque material, about 12 inches wide by 4 inches high, and can be trimmed to size. It has a notch in the center that slides over the mirror mounting bracket, so that the Vizoret hangs behind the mirror. You say that it takes 5 seconds to attach or remove the Vizoret.
The applicability of this agency's standards to your product, and the legality under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA's) regulations of a dealer handling the Vizoret to a purchaser, depend on when your product is provided to the consumer. If the Vizoret is sold or given to a consumer after a vehicle's sale, there is no Federal motor vehicle safety standard that directly applies to the product. NHTSA has issued a standard (Standard 302, copy enclosed) requiring certain materials in a vehicle's interior to be flame resistant, including sun visors and shades, but this standard applies to new, completed vehicles and not to items of equipment.
If the Vizoret were made part of a new vehicle, such as by installation by a vehicle manufacturer or a dealer before a vehicle's sale, our standards would be a factor. The vehicle, with the Vizoret installated, must be certified as complying with all applicable standards, including Standard 302. A dealer could not install the product before the vehicle's sale unless the Vizoret met the flammability resistance requirements of Standard 302. You are correct that the Vizoret would not be considered a part of the windshield, and therefore Standard 205, Glazing materials, would not
apply. You should also be aware that new requirements in S4 of Standard No. 201, Occupant protection in interior impact, will be phased-in beginning in about two years. They will require head impact protection at specified locations on the upper interior of the vehicle.
We do not regulate vehicle owners adding to or otherwise modifying their vehicles. If the dealer hands the Vizoret to the vehicle purchaser for the purchaser to use in the vehicle after the sale, our standards would not prohibit this.
However, bear in mind that manufacturers of motor vehicle equipment (such as the Vizoret) are subject to the requirements of our statute concerning the recall and remedy of products with safety related defects. I have enclosed an information sheet that briefly describes those responsibilities. In the event that you or NHTSA determines that your product
contains a safety-related defect, you would be responsible for notifying purchasers of the defective equipment and remedying the problem free of charge.
Finally, you should know that individual states have the authority to regulate the use of vehicles and may have requirements affecting the Vizoret. For information on state requirements, we suggest you contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in the states where the Vizoret will be sold or used.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Paul Atelsek of my staff at (202) 366-2992.
Acting Chief Counsel