Express Marketing Systems
1414 30th Avenue #5
San Francisco, CA 94122
Dear Mr. Rabkin:
This responds to your request for an interpretation whether your product, a warning device without a self-contained energy source, may be sold for use with motor vehicles that have a GVWR under 10,000 pounds. As explained below, although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cannot "approve" your product, the answer is yes.
In your FAX transmission, you asked for NHTSA's "review and approval" to market your product the "EMERSIGN" to the public and to car manufacturers. You stated, the "EMERSIGN is designed for vehicles that have GVWR under 10,000 pounds." A drawing enclosed with your transmission depicts a triangular object placed on one triangular point on a car roof. The words "Call 911" with a cross underneath the words are depicted on the triangle. Your product is described as having five basic signals for requesting "ambulance, police, fire engine, tow truck, and 'STOP'."
In a telephone conversation with Dorothy Nakama of my staff, you explained that the triangles are flat and made of reflective material. A magnet is placed at one triangular point to facilitate placing the triangle on the vehicle. You stated that telescoping posts (which you described as "antennae") are also provided so that the triangle may be placed on the vehicle side, roof, trunk top or other places.
By way of background information, our agency NHTSA, is authorized to issue Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSSs) for new motor vehicles and new items of motor vehicle equipment. Unlike the practice in many countries, NHTSA does not provide approvals of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment. Instead, manufacturers are required to certify that their vehicles and equipment meet applicable standards.
As you know, NHTSA has issued Standard No. 125 Warning devices. The application section (S3.) of Standard No. 125 states that: "the 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."
Your FAX stated that the EMERSIGN is designed for vehicles that have a GVWR under 10,000 pounds. Thus, if the EMERSIGN is sold for use with vehicles with a GVWR under 10,000 pounds, Standard No. 125 would not apply, the EMERSIGN would not have to meet Standard No. 125's specifications, and you, the manufacturer, would not certify that the EMERSIGN meets Standard No. 125.
Even when sold for use with vehicles with a GVWR under 10,000 pounds and no safety standard applies, other NHTSA laws may apply to the EMERSIGN. As an accessory to a motor vehicle, the EMERSIGN is an item of motor vehicle equipment. If either you or this agency should determine that a defect related to motor vehicle safety exists in the EMERSIGN, you, the manufacturer, will be required to notify consumers and dealers, and remedy the safety related defect at no cost to the consumers and dealers.
The EMERSIGN may also be subject to the laws of the individual States. We are unable to advise you on State laws, but you can get information by contacting the Department of Motor Vehicles of each State in which you wish to market your product.
I hope this information is helpful. I am also enclosing a copy of a NHTSA publication that provides information for new manufacturers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment. If you need any further information, please contact Dorothy Nakama of my staff at (202) 366-2992.
Acting Chief Counsel