Mr. Arthur W. Uher
Director, Export Sales
Systematic Home Products Industrial Co., Inc.
9610 Honeysuckle Drive
Frisco, TX 75035
Dear Mr. Uher:
This responds to your letter of March 27, 2002, asking for confirmation that Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 125, Warning devices (Standard No. 125) applies only to warning devices designed to be carried in buses and trucks over 4536 kg (10,000 pounds) gross vehicle weight rating. You are correct in your understanding of the applicability of Standard No. 125. As explained below, Standard No. 125 does not apply to warning devices, such as your company's product, designed to be carried in passenger automobiles and light trucks.
We are unable, however, to provide you with "recognition," as you requested, that your product "would be acceptable for use in passenger vehicles and trucks whose weight is less than 10,000 lbs" or "is of sound design and offers the user additional safety." The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) does not provide approvals of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment. Under 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301, manufacturers are required to ensure that their vehicles and equipment meet applicable requirements. Even if no Federal motor vehicle safety standard applies to an item of motor vehicle equipment, the equipment manufacturer must ensure that its product is free of safety-related defects.
Standard No. 125 Does Not Apply to Your Product
At S3, Application, Standard No. 125 states:
This standard applies to devices, without self-contained energy sources, that are designed to be carried in buses and trucks that have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 10,000 pounds. These devices are used to warn approaching traffic of the presence of a stopped vehicle, except for devices designed to be permanently affixed to the vehicle.
The standard had at one point applied to all warning devices that do not have self-contained energy sources and that are designed to be carried in motor vehicles. However, S3 was amended in a final rule published in the Federal Register on September 29, 1994 (see 59 FR 49586, copy enclosed). In that final rule, we amended Standard No. 125 to apply only to those warning devices that do not have self-contained energy sources and that are designed to be carried in buses and trucks that have a GVWR greater than 10,000 pounds (or 4536 kg). The amendments made in the final rule took effect on October 31, 1994.
A warning device that is subject to Standard No. 125 must be permanently marked with "the symbol DOT, or the statement that the warning device complies with all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards." (See S5.1.4(c).) If your warning devices are not covered under Standard No. 125 (i.e., are not designed to be used by commercial vehicles with GVWRs greater than 10,000 pounds (or 4,536 kg), and have self-contained energy sources), they must not be marked with the DOT symbol and must not contain any statement about compliance with Federal motor vehicle safety standards.
You Must Ensure Your Product Is Free of "Safety-Related Defects"
Please note, however, that even if not covered by Standard No. 125, a warning device designed to be carried in motor vehicles 4536 kg and under is an item of "motor vehicle equipment," and is subject to various provisions of 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301, "Motor Vehicle Safety." Manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment must ensure that their products are free of safety-related defects. If a manufacturer or NHTSA determines that the product contains a safety-related defect, the manufacturer is responsible for notifying purchasers of the defective vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment and remedying the problem free of charge. (This responsibility is borne by the vehicle manufacturer in cases in which a device is installed on or in a new vehicle by or with the express authorization of that vehicle manufacturer.) I have enclosed an information sheet that describes these and other responsibilities.
State Law May Regulate Your Product
Finally, some states may regulate warning devices that vehicles with a GVWR of 4536 kg or less may or must use when the vehicle is stopped. Each state in which you sell your product can provide information on whether there are any requirements in that state for warning devices to be used with vehicles with a GVWR of 4536 kg or less.
I hope this information is helpful. If you need further assistance, please contact Dorothy Nakama of my staff at this address or at (202) 366-2992.