Mr. Wayne Glenn
3211 East Kingshighway
Paragould, AK 72450
Dear Mr. Glenn:
This is in reply to your letter of August 8, 1997, to Donald Trilling of the Office of the Secretary. You wrote asking for DOT approval of your lighting kit.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the unit of the Department of Transportation that is responsible for the issuance of the Federal motor vehicle safety standards. These include standards for motor vehicle lighting.
You have told us that your small business involves the occasional towing of equipment. Since "it is not feasible to wire lights on each piece of equipment," you developed a light kit. Your kit appears to consist of lamps that are intended for temporary use on vehicles that are intended to be towed and which otherwise lack lighting equipment. The examples you cite are a trailer used for a hayride, "farm equipment, house trailers, modular homes, or any piece of equipment that needs to be towed."
All trailers that are manufactured primarily for use on the public streets, roads and highways are "motor vehicles" subject to our jurisdiction, and must be equipped with lamps and reflectors that comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108 Lamps, Reflectors and Associated Equipment. Because the equipment that your business tows appears to lack lighting equipment, we surmise that these are trailers whose use of the public roads is only incidental to their primary use as farm implements or mobile homes, and hence not "motor vehicles." Under this circumstance, your light kit would not be "motor vehicle equipment" because it is not intended for use on a "motor vehicle," and therefore not subject to our regulation.
Even if the kit were considered to be "motor vehicle equipment," NHTSA has no authority to approve or disapprove items of motor vehicle equipment. Therefore, we could not grant your request for approval. We do advise, however, as to the relationship of motor vehicle equipment to our regulations. In your case, NHTSA has no safety standards that apply to temporary lighting kits of the nature you have described. The acceptability of these kits is determined by local laws, the laws of the places where the kit is being used. We are unable to tell you how local laws might affect the use of your kit, but local Departments of Motor Vehicles might be able to help.
If you have any further questions, you may call Taylor Vinson of this Office (202-366-5263).
Acting Chief Counsel