Mr. Ken Bratlie
Columbia Corporation
5775 NW Wagon Way
Hillsboro, OR 97124-8531

Dear Mr. Bratlie:

This responds to your inquiry about whether two types of "trailer tippers" (a "Woods Products Trailer Tipper" and a "Landfill Trailer Tipper") are motor vehicles that would have to comply with the applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. A trailer tipper is used to empty the contents from a semitrailer onto the ground by elevating (tipping) one end of the trailer and pouring the content out the other end. You state that each trailer tipper stays at an off-road work site, such as a mill or a landfill, the majority of its life and is infrequently transported over public roads between job sites.

As way of background information, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) interprets and enforces the laws under which the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSSs) are promulgated. NHTSA's statute defines the term "motor vehicle" as follows:

"Any vehicle driven or drawn by mechanical power manufactured primarily for use on the public streets, roads, and highways, except any vehicle operated exclusively on a rail or rails."

Whether the agency considers your trailer tippers to be motor vehicles depends on their use. It is the agency's position that this statutory definition does not encompass mobile construction equipment, such as cranes and scrapers, which use the highway only to move between job sites and which typically spend extended periods of time at a single job site. In such cases, the on-highway use of the vehicle is merely incidental and is not the primary purpose for which the vehicle was manufactured. In contrast are instances where vehicles, such as dump trucks, frequently use the highway going to and from job sites, and stay at a job site for only a limited time. Such vehicles are considered motor vehicles, since the on-highway use is more than "incidental."

Based on the available information, it appears that your trailer tippers are not "motor vehicles" within the meaning of the statutory definition. This conclusion is based on your statements in your letter that the trailer tippers typically spend extended periods of time at a single site and only use the public roads infrequently to move between job sites. Thus, the agency would consider the use of the trailer tippers on the public roads to be incidental and not their primary purpose. Since your trailer tippers are not motor vehicles, they would not be subject to our Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Accordingly, the trailer tippers would not be required to be equipped with antilock brake systems.

If NHTSA were to receive additional information indicating that your trailer tippers used the roads more than on an incidental basis, then the agency would reassess this interpretation. If the agency were to determine that your trailer tippers are motor vehicles, then they would have to comply with the applicable Standards, including Standard No. 108, Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment, which addresses conspicuity, Standard No. 119, New Pneumatic Tires for Vehicles Other Than Passenger Cars, and Standard No. 120, Tire Selection and Rims for Motor Vehicles Other Than Passenger Cars. The content requirements for the vehicle identification number are found at 49 CFR Part 565. In addition, if the trailer tipper were a motor vehicle, while it would not be required to be equipped with brakes, if it is equipped with hydraulic brakes, then you would need to use brake hoses and brake fluids that comply with Standard No. 106, Brake Hoses, and Standard No. 116, Motor Vehicle Brake Fluids. Please note that trailers equipped with air brakes are required to comply with Standard No. 106 and Standard No. 121, Air Brake Systems.

In addition, if your trailers were motor vehicles, you, as a motor vehicle manufacturer, would be required to submit identification information to this agency in accordance with 49 CFR Part 566, Manufacturer Identification. You would also be required to certify that each trailer complies with all applicable Federal safety standards. This certification procedure is set out in 49 CFR Part 567.

Please note that since a State may require an off-road vehicle to be registered, you may wish to contact the States in which your trailer tippers are used about any such requirements.

I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions about NHTSA's safety standards, please feel free to contact Marvin Shaw of my staff at this address or by telephone at (202) 366-2992.

John Womack
Acting Chief Counsel