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Interpretation ID: 2624y

Mr. Jeff Cornell
The Bargman Company
129 Industrial Avenue
Coldwater, MI 49036

Dear Mr. Cornell:

This is in reply to your letter of July 25, l990, to Taylor Vinson of this Office, asking for clarification of the amendments to Standard No. l08 which were published on May l5 of this year.

With reference to section S5.1.1.31, requiring photometric measurement of the entire lamp (and not its individual compartments), you have asked whether this includes the maximums because the preamble to the final rule discussed the requirement only in terms of the minimums.

Section S5.1.1.31 refers unqualifiedly to "measurements" of photometrics, and thus includes maximums as well as minimums. The preamble spoke of minimums only as an example, and was not intended to exclude maximums. I am sorry if this caused some confusion.

You have also pointed out that the preamble refers to a minimum luminous lens area of 12 square inches for certain lamps, while the applicable SAE standards that Standard No. l08 incorporates by reference state the minimum as 75 square centimeters, which is only 11.625 square inches. You request a clarification of this point.

The appropriate value is 75 square centimeters (11.625 square inches). As a general rule of construction, the text of a standard constitutes the legal requirements which apply. When a value is clearly stated, as in the SAE materials, it takes precedence over an inconsistent value appearing outside the standard, such as in the preamble to the May l5 amendments. The earlier versions of the SAE standards (which the new SAE materials supersede for new motor vehicle equipment) spoke in terms of 12 square inches, and the agency retained this non-metric terminology for purposes of discussing in the preamble the difference between the old and new requirements. Although the SAE could have adopted a value of 77.42 square centimeters (12 square inches) in its new materials, it chose to round the value off to 75 square centimeters, thereby reducing its previously specified minimum luminous lens area by .375 square inch. With respect to another concern, you have presented the hypothetical of the use "in a molded bumper or fiberglass cap" of three identical single compartment stop lamps per side, none of whose individual luminous lens areas meets the 75 square centimeter requirement, but which, in combination, would exceed it. You have asked whether this would comply with the new requirements.

Our answer is no. On May l5, Standard No. l08 was also amended to add a definition for "Multiple lamp arrangement."(S3). This is "an array of two or more separate lamps on each side of the vehicle which operate together to give a signal." Paragraph 5.3.2 of the newly-incorporated SAE Standard J1398 MAY85 for stop lamps on wide vehicles states in pertinent part that "The functional lighted lens area of a single lamp . . . and each lamp of a multiple lamp arrangement shall be at least 75 square centimeters." The configuration you describe is a "multiple lamp arrangement" and each lamp in the array is subject to the minimum specified requirement.

You further ask, if "the vendor making these lights mounts the individual lights in a molded housing", whether this would create a "multiple compartment lamp", and if so, "then how is it different if it is installed into a molded bumper or fiberglass cap." The definition of "Multiple compartment lamp" adopted on May 15 states that it is "a device which gives its indication by two or more separately lighted areas which are joined by one or more common parts, such as a housing or lens."

Multiple lamps cannot be combined to create a "multiple compartment lamp". If the individual lamps are mounted in a molded housing, they remain "an array of two or more separate lamps on the same side of the vehicle which operate together to give a signal", that is to say, a "multiple lamp arrangement." The "lighted areas" of a "multiple compartment lamp" are something less than a complete lamp, but, when joined by common parts become a single lamp. The configuration you describe is not a "multiple compartment lamp."

If you have any further questions, we shall be pleased to answer them.


Paul Jackson Rice Chief Counsel /ref:l08 d:8/22/90