Mr. Jeff Politano
834 Florida Avenue
McDonald, OH 44437
Dear Mr. Politano:
This responds to your letter of December 7, 1997, with respect to an idea of yours. As you describe it, "the product is a small lighted device to be attached to an automobile's front windshield and rear window." The purpose of this device is to enable two or more automobiles traveling together at night to stay in a group. The device would be sold in the after market.
You have asked if there are laws as to "size, color, flashing or blinking, special design, shape, etc."
As a general rule, the legality of the use of after market lighting devices is governed by State rather than Federal law. Therefore, we recommend that you consult the Ohio authorities for their comments on your idea.
Installation of the lamp would require a modification of the vehicle as originally manufactured. Under our laws, modifications performed by the vehicle owner do not violate Federal regulations. However, modifications performed by other persons, such as dealers or motor vehicle repair businesses, must not create a noncompliance with any Federal motor vehicle safety standard including Standard No. 108 Lamps, Reflective Devices and Associated Equipment. Although Standard No. 108 prescribes no specific performance requirements for a supplementary lamp such as yours, it does require that your lamp be steady burning, rather than flashing. In addition, your lamp must not impair the effectiveness of original lighting equipment required by Standard No 108. If your lamp emitted red light, we think its steady-burning presence would have the potential to impair the effectiveness of the intermittently operating center highmounted red stop lamp, most of which are located in the rear window area where your lamp might be. As for other lamp colors, States generally restrict blue lights to emergency vehicles.
If you have any questions, Taylor Vinson of this Office would be pleased to answer them (202-366-5263).
Acting Chief Counsel