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Interpretation ID: 9418

Herr Dr. Thomas Lckemeyer
ITT Automotive Europe
Dept. VER/LB

FAX 07142/73-2895

Dear Dr. Lckemeyer:

This responds to your FAX of December 10, 1993, to Taylor Vinson of this Office. You have asked the following questions with respect to the permissibility of rear fog lamps on U.S. cars:

"Is the rear fog lamp in a combined rear lamp unit permissible in all the states of the U.S.? There is no statement in the FMVSS 108."

Paragraph S5.1.3. of Standard No. 108 prohibits the installation as original equipment of additional lamps such as rear fog lamps if the additional lamp "impairs the effectiveness of lighting equipment required by the standard." The determination of whether a rear fog lamp in a combined rear lamp unit impairs the effectiveness of other lighting equipment is initially that of the manufacturer of the vehicle on which the lamp is installed. Unless such a determination is clearly erroneous, this agency will not question it.

We do not know whether a rear fog lamp in a combined rear lamp unit is permissible in all the States. Because a fog lamp is not required motor vehicle equipment under Federal law, each State in which it is used may regulate it according to its own laws. We are unable to advise you on the laws of the individual States, and suggest that you ask the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) for an opinion. Its FAX number is 001 703 522 1553, and its address is 4600 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia 22203.

"Which photometric requirements do we have to fulfill for the rear fog lamp?"

There are no Federal requirements that apply to rear fog lamps, and, as noted above, we are not conversant with state requirements. For your information, the latest specification of the Society of Automotive Engineers for this item of equipment is SAE Recommended Practice J1319 AUG87 "Fog Tail Lamp (Rear Fog Light) Systems."

"Is the certification of the combined rear lamp unit binding upon the whole states of the U.S.?"

No. The certification of the vehicle manufacturer is its representation that the vehicle complies with all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards, including paragraph S5.1.3 of Standard No. 108. A State has no authority to question this certification.

However, a State is permitted to have a State vehicle lighting standard provided that the State lighting standard is identical to the Federal lighting standard in those areas covered by the Federal lighting standard. Under these circumstances, a State may enforce the State lighting standard even if the vehicle is certified as conforming to the Federal lighting standard. Furthermore, a State may have its own State lighting standard in those areas where there is no Federal lighting standard, such as fog lamps.

"Do you have a list of lighting equipment for cars and the necessary requirements in the different states of the U.S."

AAMVA may be able to provide you with this information as we are unable to. Because State requirements must be identical with respect to the lighting equipment required by Standard No. 108, State specifications and prohibitions will differ only with respect to supplementary lighting equipment not covered by Standard No. 108 such as cornering lamps and front and rear fog lamps.


John Womack Acting Chief Counsel

ref:108#VSA d:12/23/93