Mr. Lawrence J. Fetter
Athey Products Corporation
1839 South Main
Wake Forest, NC 27587
Dear Mr. Fetter:
This is in reply to your fax of November 10, 1997, to Taylor Vinson of this Office. You have asked how your Mobile Street Sweeper with speed capability of 25 mph or less is treated under both our current regulations and interpretations, and under the Federal motor vehicle safety standard that has been proposed for low-speed vehicles.
I am sorry that we have taken so long to reply. This delay was occasioned in part by your description of the street sweeper as one with three wheels, and in part by our desire to answer your question in terms of the final rule on low-speed vehicles, rather than on the basis of the proposal. The Administrator issued the final rule on June 9, 1998, and we are able to respond. We understand from your telephone conversation with Taylor Vinson of this Office in April that your sweeper in fact has four wheels, with two small ones twelve inches apart. We understand, also, that the maximum speed of the Sweeper is between 20 and 25 miles per hour.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulates "motor vehicles." A "motor vehicle" is defined in part as one which is "manufactured primarily for use on the public streets, roads, and highways." Thus, a street sweeper is a "motor vehicle" under this definition because it is manufactured for the purpose of cleaning city streets and its entire functional life is spent on the public streets.
Having determined that a street sweeper is a "motor vehicle," the next question to be answered is the manner in which NHTSA has classified it for purposes of compliance with the Federal motor vehicle safety standards. All three-wheeled vehicles, regardless of their nature, are "motorcycles" as that term is defined under 49 CFR 571.3(b). A "truck" is defined as a "motor vehicle . . . designed primarily for the transportation of property or special purpose equipment." We consider the brushes to be "special purpose equipment." This means that your Mobile Street Sweeper with a speed capability of 20 to 25 miles per hour has been considered a "truck" for Federal motor vehicle safety regulatory purposes before and during the rulemaking on low-speed vehicles.
The proposal has been finalized as Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 500 Low-speed vehicles. Under the final rule, a low-speed vehicle is defined as a "4-wheeled motor vehicle, other than a truck," whose maximum speed is between 20 and 25 miles per hour. This represents the agency's decision to continue to regulate non-passenger carrying vehicles as trucks, even if their maximum speed capability is low. This means that the final rule makes no change in the previous classification of your Mobile Street Sweeper as a truck.
If you have further questions you may refer them to Taylor Vinson (202-366-5263).
Frank Seales, Jr.