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Interpretation ID: 7066

Mr. Kevin J. Stoll
Technical Advisor
Russell Products, Inc.
21419 Protecta Drive
Elkhart, IN 46516-9704

Dear Mr. Stoll:

This responds to your letter of February 27, 1992, to Taylor Vinson of this Office asking several questions relating to center high-mounted stop lamps.

Your questions are:

"1. Are the LED (light emitting diode) being used for third brake light legal? If so, what are the specifications so that they can be used as a third brake light?"

A center high-mounted stop lamp whose illumination is provided by LEDs is legal, provided that the light meets the photometric specifications for such lamp specified in Figure 10 of Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108, and all other requirements.

"2. a. Where are the truck manufacturers ie. GM, Ford, Dodge locating the third brake light on pickup trucks?

b. What effect will this have on truck cap manufacturers and the dealer responsibility to the consumer?

c. Can the dealer wire directly to the existing third brake light harness used to light up the factory third brake light?"

With respect to (a), the center lamp may be installed at any point on the rear vertical centerline of pickup trucks. Because this requirement is not effective until September 1, 1993, we have no specific knowledge as to where the manufacturers of pickup trucks will locate the lamps.

With respect to (b), NHTSA discussed the relationship of center high-mounted stoplamps to aftermarket slide-in campers or caps in the preamble to the final rule adopting the requirement. I enclose a copy of the rule (56 FR 16015) with our discussion highlighted on pages l6017 and 16018. After reading this material, if you have further questions regarding the effect on truck cap manufacturers and dealers, we shall be pleased to answer them.

With respect to (c), we assume that the situation you envision is that a truck cap has been manufactured with a center stop lamp and the dealer is installing the cap on a pickup truck. If the cap is being permanently installed, the dealer may wire the cap's lamp directly to the existing center lamp light harness, as the cap lamp is intended as a surrogate for the original lamp. If the cap is removable, the dealer may also wire in the manner you discuss, provided that when the cap is removed (and the cap lamp disconnected) the original lamp will perform in conformance with Standard No. 108. The specific connections to be made should be done in accordance with the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations.

"3. a. We have a customer that would like to mount a flush mounted third brake light in the rear glass window of a truck cap. This window is used also as the rear access door to get to the truck bed from the outside of the truck.

b. This would allow the third brake light to be moveable and not stationery. If a consumer would have an object in the bed of the truck with the window in the open position, allowing for the third brake light to be left in an upward position and no longer viewed from the rear. Would this application be approved?"

The agency has no authority to approve or disapprove specific designs. We can advise you as to whether designs appear to conform or not to conform with the applicable laws of our agency. Conformance with Standard No. 108 is determined with respect to the vehicle in its normal operating state. With respect to your question, this would be with the pickup cap window in its closed position. Thus, your design does not raise a question of conformance with Standard No. 108.

"4. Could you please enter Russell Products, Inc. on your mailing lists for all future updated rulings on third brake lights passed or discussed at all committee meetings?"

We do not maintain a mailing list of any sort. However, "rulings" are not "passed" at "committee meetings" but are published in the Federal Register, initially as proposed rules affording a minimum of 45 days in which to comment. After evaluation of comments, a final rule may be published, with an effective date no earlier than 30 days after issuance. We believe it likely that any future proposals and amendments would be publicized, and that you would be likely to hear of them. There are no current plans to amend these requirements.


Paul Jackson Rice Chief Counsel

Enclosure ref:108 d:4/27/92