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FEDERAL  #108 SUMMARY

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LEGAL CLARIFICATIONS

TLC #101 B - WHO’S IN CHARGE?

Federal Law* prevails over all State Law relating to the same subject!  In this case … publicly used Vehicle Lighting.  All States can copy and adopt (and, I believe all have) FMVSS #108* requirements into their own Codes; however, States must also adopt similar Enforcement and Non Compliance “Penalties” requirements at the same time.  If not … States risk the violation of Federal Law … and actually face the elimination of Federal contributions for their Highway and Street Improvements, etc.
       *FMVSS #108 = Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #108 … see our website www.sierradesignmfg.com/Section108.htm for details

Private nor Public Associations cannot make up their own versions or interpretations of Federal Law resulting in making FMVSS #108 Regulations more stringent or less stringent than derived and interpreted by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).  Furthermore, know that Canadian and U.S. Vehicle Lighting Laws are supposed to be the same – which, I understand, is required by active Treaties and the most recent “NAFTA” Agreements.

The determination of what’s Legal and what’s Illegal hinges on NHTSA’s (or any State’s) “Compliancy Determination”, which is accomplished by distinctively testing lighting products used by the public to the many Physical and Photometric requirements mandated by FMVSS #108.

If just one Non Compliance of the many associated FMVSS #108 regulations is “obvious” and/or uncovered by credible photometric or physical testing … Inconsequential to Public Safety” status must be granted by NHTSA (or by the State) for “each” non-compliance in order to avoid Recalls.

Contrary to popular belief … NHTSA administrates only a “Self-Certification System”, which requires that those using, selling or distributing Vehicle Lighting Products must be able to prove, when asked, that the Vehicle Lighting Products they are involved with are, indeed, “Compliant” to all the many mandated Photometric and Physical requirements of FMVSS #108.

Therefore, there can be no such thing as … “NHTSA Certified or Approved” or “DOT Certified or Approved” claims for mandated vehicle Lamps and Reflectors … as many dishonest Vehicle Lighting Manufacturers and Importers will try to convince you of.  The currently permitted (not required) D.O.T. Marking only indicates Self Certification and that’s all.  Since the allowed D.O.T. marking doesn’t clearly define exactly what single or multiple mandated Functions* are being “Self Certified”, the D.O.T. marking virtually means nothing and represents another “erroneous and “dumb” NHTSA FMVSS #108 “enforcement” blunder that needs immediate, common sense repair.
         *That is, Brake, Turn Signals, Tail, Side Marker, etc., etc. functions

Of course, NHTSA should be requiring … but are not … that every Product being Sold as “Mandated Lighting” to the American Public should be adequately marked, so as to at least indicate the Manufacturer’s (or Importer’s) Name and Location, as well as being adequately marked to indicate exactly, which Mandated Function(s) of FMVSS #108 this particular product has been properly designed and tested to.

Also, know that NHTSA, as well as any State Compliance Authorities can ask any “involved” Company or individual … at any time … for all necessary Compliancy Proof, especially when a “Non-Compliancy is obvious”, or when “just cause” can be shown.  To prove complete Compliancy to FMVSS #108 requires providing credibly engineered and professionally executed “Photometric”, “Physical” and “Longevity” set of tests*.
       
*Covered in detail in FMVSS #108 and our “TLCs” (Technical & Legal Clarifications)

Since there are many Mandated Tests required … when inquiring about a specific “suspect lamp”, NHTSA, usually asks for only what they consider the most important tests, such as the Brake and Turn Signal, Photometric (“Test Pattern”) Data.  Additionally, when there is any kind of unknown/untested plastics, NHTSA should also be asking for proof that the suspect Lamps’ Lenses and Support Materials have indeed passed the very important 3 Year Weather, UV, outdoor Heat, and Water (Moisture) Exposure Tests … plus all other common sense Tests that guarantees the Public and all involved in all related industries against “Rip Offs” and unreasonable and premature failures.  NHTSA also maintains the authority to ask for any of the many other mandated tests if they suspect this is necessary.  Without hesitation, NHTSA should be demanding to investigate FMVSS #108 Compliancy for all “obvious poor qualityand obviously failed” Vehicle Lighting Products that are currently or soon to be on our roads.

Municipalities … that is, City, County, State Police and Fire Departments, etc. … are allowed to add Emergency Lights, etc. to their Specialty Vehicles … more or less, at their discretion.  However, everyone else … that is … Vehicle Manufacturers, Parts Distributors … including Repair and Installation Dealers … that are maintaining, exchanging, modifying and/or selling “Original” or “ReplacementVehicle Lighting of any kind … whether for new, older, or modified Vehicles must be prepared to prove that all the lighting they’re providing to the Public, totally complies with all the mandated regulations of FMVSS #108.

Also, stating on the product, “Designed to comply with FMVSS #108”, does not mean that the product does indeed comply with the many facets of FMVSS #108.

In order to avoid costly and embarrassing “Recalls” for any “Obvious” and/or “Test Failing” Non Compliances … NHTSA must determine each Non Compliance to be “Inconsequential to Public Safety” … using the official Federal Register’s Public Comment Process*.          *More details on this subject in future writings

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