August 3, 2007
To: TRAILER, RV and TRUCK Manufacturers (OEMs), plus associated Replacement Parts Distributors
and Dealers … and “others” these subjects might concern!
From: Dennis G. Moore, President
Re: Supply the Public only “LEGAL”, “CONSPICUOUS” and “RELIABLE” Lighting!
DON’T INCREASE YOUR LIABILITY
Everyone involved with OEM or Replacement Lighting for use on Trailers, RV’s and Trucks should realize they are most likely being misinformed by the average Lighting Vendor calling on them. Therefore, those involved in the lighting selection process should be asking these vendors all necessary questions … and they should be hearing the proper answers and assurances … in order to steer their Company away from avoidable Complaints, Recalls and Liability problems.
Furthermore, be aware, when OEMs or Replacement Part Distributors supply their Dealers with any illegal or non-
LIABILITY far into the FUTURE
Trucking Industry management can (more or less) correct any Non Compliant lighting problems as they become aware of them. However, the typical Cargo, Utility, Horse, Boat Trailer or RV manufacturer cant’ easily retrieve non compliant or prematurely failing lighting they’ve supplied to the Public, thus leaving themselves and their associates vulnerable to being sued for as long as the non compliant (illegal) lights remain on the vehicles they were put on, which means many years of liability they’d just as soon avoid.
If, (for instance) any of the new Big Rig, “4 inch Round” … “LED” Brake/Turn/Lane Changing Signal Lights used on millions of Big Rig Trailers are later found to be prematurely failing or heat loss deficient or fading easily … and therefore become Non Compliant to FMVSS #108* … Truck Fleet management and/or Independent Truck Owners can simply “pop off” the faulty product from their 4” Rubber Mounting Grommet and exchange them for, new, LED or Incandescent 4” Brake Lights that are known to be FMVSS #108 Photometric, “EPLLA”** and “Heat Compensated” Compliant so that these managers and owners can quickly squelch the possibility of being accused of using non compliant , therefore Illegal Lights.
*FMVSS #108 = Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #108 **EPLLA = Effective Projected Luminous Lens Area
When a vehicle manufacturer finds out they’ve been providing the Public with Illegal Lighting … they’ll then find out how the Guarantees and Promises they’ve been given by the supplying lighting vendors are honored or not honored?
Every year, millions of Autos, SUVs, RVs, Trailers and Trucks, “Rear End” or “Clip” the rear ends of other Autos, RVs, Trailers and Trucks where each “accident”, “crash”, “wreck” or “multi vehicle pile up” can start one or more intertwined lawsuits entailing damages to vehicles … injuries … and sometimes deaths, which in turn, can involve partial or total blame put on any kind of Vehicle Safety Device that can be shown to be “Non Compliant” … therefore illegal … to Federal Mandated Standards. This blame can result in thousands to millions of dollars in Lawyer, Court and Settlement costs and at best, you’re involved in time consuming Depositions and Company record searches.
THE PLAINTIFF can be TURNED INTO the DEFENDANT
The accepted thought process that … “it’s always the fault of the rearward vehicle” when the forward vehicle is “Rear Ended” – is not valid! … particularly when the forward vehicle can be shown to be using Non-
You NEVER have enough LIABILITY KNOWLEDGE
You can learn a lot from the attached Federal “EPLLA”* Letter and my other included writings, plus I know you’ll greatly benefit from what you can learn from our (always being updated) “Technical & Legal Clarifications”* (“TLCs”) …four new ones are attached. Additionally, we know you’ll learn even more when you thoroughly … and in detail … question all the companies trying to supply you with Lights and Reflectors destined to be put onto public use.
*Effective Projected Luminous Lens Area – the discussed definition that must be complied to!
Since managers of most companies … including me … try and not think too much about “Liability Vulnerability” … I’ve attached a pair of still valid Mechanical Engineering and Lawyer’s Articles discussing product “Liabilities”, which personally, I read every so often to keep in sight what responsibilities my Company and I have to the Public – I hope you consider reading these as well.
After fully comprehending all this new legal and practical knowledge, we sincerely hope that you’ll pass some of this knowledge on to your Company “Principals” and to your Company Lawyers.
WARNINGS are currently being GENERATED
As the attached five Trade Articles outline, the “National Association of Trailer Manufacturers” (NATM) and their Legal Council, plus associated Vehicle Liability Insurance Companies and their Lawyers … as well as Safety and Consumer Protection “Watch Dog Groups” … are also becoming aware of the hidden liabilities I outline in the attached writings. These various kinds of organizations have begun warning Trailer, RV and Truck Manufacturers … as well as the Public … about poorly Engineered, poorly made, and outright Illegal Trailer, RV and Truck Lighting* that is currently being permitted by NHTSA to be put into use on our roadways.
*Particularly “Brake Lights”
Additionally attached, is a recent NHTSA Legal Counsel letter sent to me personally from the most current “Chief Counsel” at NHTSA emphasizing the importance of recognizing and correcting any “Effective Projective Luminous Lens Area” (EPLLA) non compliances. Note where the NHTSA Lawyer actually uses the word “Illegal” in the second paragraph
I’ve also attached a “drafted” letter to all important Administrators at NHTSA that touches on the latest “Tire Fiasco” they have allowed to generate. This head in the sand … “don’t blame me” attitude, shows how NHTSA personnel can allow you to “hang yourself” while they assume no responsibility.
Inadequate or dimmed Photometrics, as well as prematurely Failed Brake/Turn and Lane Changing Signal Lighting is very obvious to the public … as are Faded and Warped Lens and Reflector Plastics … all of which visually degrades the Vehicle they’re attached to. When the Public sees junk! … the Vehicle’s reputation is then tied to a junk demeanor.
WHEN THERE’S A WRECK – YOU CAN BE MADE LIABLE!
Have you heard of the recent “Non Compliance Lawsuit” in Florida that was propagated from the practice where some Florida Trailer Manufacturers had been offering Brakes on their Trailers over 3,500# Gross, only on an “optional basis” rather than honoring Florida’s (and NHTSA’s?) mandates to supply “all” Trailers over 3,500# with Brakes. This Law doesn’t say that “Brakes are Optional” … the law says … “Brakes are Mandated”!
Then, all of a sudden – a Trailer Manufacturer got sued because an injured Plaintiff’s Lawyer found out about this ignoring of mandated law and was able to successfully blame the Trailer manufacturer for some (or all) of the Injuries and damages that occurred to his/her Client due to the omission of Brakes … that should have been on the Trailer … but weren’t!
Now the cat is out of the bag and all the Plaintiff Attorney Organizations and all the Plaintiff “Expert Witnesses” … overnight … are made aware of this case from the Web. This means that… from now on … all Plaintiff Lawyers made aware of this kind of Illegal “Non Compliance” situation will be seeing to it that they’ll take full advantage of every damage, injury and death case that involves Trailers without mandated brakes.
This example clearly demonstrates the fact that even though this mandated Brake Law wasn’t being enforced by the assigned Federal and/or State authorities … never the less … this law was ultimately enforced using Civil Penalties. Also, realize that the nationwide exposure of this kind of liability situation on the Internet has started what’s just the beginning of many costly Lawsuits that will go “on and on” over the years … as long as crash involved Trailers without mandated brakes still remain in operation. Also, realize Federal and State authorities do not have to assume any of the blame as they are sufficiently isolated using existing bureaucratic protection laws that they can… and will … always use to totally separate themselves from any liabilities. Bottom Line! -
Conclusion: Don’t get involved in NON COMPLIANT practices whether or not they are being Federally or State enforced -
WANT SOMETHING with NEW LOOKS? … yet LEGAL? … yet AFFORDABLE?
By totally understanding the facts and common sense rational we’ve tried to convey in these writings … those hunting affordable, legal, and lasting Lighting will soon realize they are going to have a hard (or impossible) time finding any inexpensive, legal and lasting 6/7 Function* “LED” type Brake/Turn/Lane Changing Signal Light Assemblies. *All use the “Industry Standard” 2” Bolt-
There are a couple 6” Oval and 4” Round Big Rig (3 Function) “LED” type Lights currently on the market that appear to have legal (11-
HERE’S the NEW “DETROIT LOOK”
We believe you will agree that our revolutionary new, See Thru/Chrome, “Detroit Look” is truly modern and “up to date” and perfectly complimentary to all the new Auto, SUV and Pick Up Truck Tail Light Designs coming from Detroit, Japan and Europe. I’ve attached a couple unfinished “drafts” of New Product Announcements, which outlines the truly unique and “one of a kind” features in our latest 3-
These unique modern designs a big improvement in direct contrast to the “Same Ol, Same Ol, Plain-
Note that no other Incandescent 6/7 Function Trailer Lighting … except ours … offer this revolutionary, “See-
Auto Designers and Marketing people can be confident our Incandescent designs pass all FMVSS #108 mandates, plus looks great on the highway, as well as on any showroom floor … Unlit as well as Lit. Designers are aware they are paying more for the Plating additions. “Marketing” knows this approach will result in selling more $30,000 to $60,000 Autos, SUVs and Pick Ups using these unique, intriguing, See Thru Looks that are very similar to what we’re offering.
Watch the latest new car ads – they now flaunt their See Thru/Chrome Tail Light Designs, something they never use to do.
LEGAL and LASTING “LED” Lighting from “Sierra”
We have begun telling our current customers that we’ll be offering “LED” versions of our newest 6/7 Function, 3-
I’m sure the ultimate solution for solving these LED Brake/Turn “EPLLA” and “HEAT LOSS” size and output subjects will require the addition of many more, and/or higher quality … with wider scope … LEDs, which of course, will result in significant price quote increases from all LED Importers!
MORE LEDS AND LARGER “EPLLA”
As to the subject of adding more LEDs, you’ll note from the attached photos … the “Work Truck” Industry has started to recognize the need for more LEDs in order to assure compliancy to the 11-
At the “WORK TRUCK CONVENTION”, we saw LARGE “LED” ADDITIONS
I recently attended the “Work Truck Show” in Indianapolis. I saw several Work Trucks where Manufacturers are obviously starting to use much larger in area LED arrays … now, using between 60 and 120 “LEDs” in their Brake/Turn/Lane Changing Signals. This indicates that Work Truck Manufacturers see the importance of complying to the Federal “Effective Projected Luminous Lens Area” mandate of 11-
*Minimum of 10 to 20 years?
Further, I just found out that WESBAR® (CEQUENT®) has started marketing a New LED 6/7 Function 3-
Another interesting trend I observed at the Work Truck Show that relates to “LED New Looks! versus Incandescent New Looks” … Toyota’s Truck Division is the first (we know of) that has totally circumvented the idea of using LEDs in their new Brake/Turn Lights and have instead adopted very intriguing, modern looking “Incandescents” that provide their Trucks with the very cool “See Thru/Chrome Look” that’s similar to our designs as well as to what we have been seeing coming out of Detroit, Japan and Europe for the past 5+ years, while only costing ≈½ to ⅓ the price of “Legal* LED” Brake/Turn/Lane Changing Signal Assemblies.
*assuming an affordable and Legal and lasting 6/7 function “LED” Light Assembly can be found!? … I haven’t seen one yet!
NHTSA MUST ENFORCE their PHOTOMETRIC, “EPLLA” and PHYSICAL TESTING MANDATES
It shouldn’t be long before the new employees at NHTSA realize what they’ve inherited in the way of “LED” related “Effective Projected Luminous Lens Area” (EPLLA) and Outdoor moisture and heat degradation problems. It’ll be very interesting to see how NHTSA’s Legal Counsel Lawyer’s finally rationalize the millions of … now in use … LED Brake/Turn Lights that have been allowed by NHTSA to outright ignore FMVSS #108 “EPLLA” and Physical Testing Mandates.
To get the enforcement of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #108 back on a legal and practical track … NHTSA can’t simply continue to ignore the 39 year old Brake and Turn “Effective Area” (EPLLA) mandates that are currently being violated by far too many LED Brake Light Importers and manufacturers, because these “EPLLA” minimums were established using irrefutable human response tests, while at the same time, making a “projected area” provision for road dirt, snow and splash obscuring problems. Furthermore, NHTSA knows they can’t arbitrarily reduce the 7-
NON COMPLIANT … Non Lasting … LENS and REFLECTOR MATERIALS
We can show that most … if not all? … Imported Lighting components, including Lenses and Reflectors are using unknown?, unqualified? materials* that can prematurely lose their Color and Warp, which, in turn, promotes cracking** and water entry, resulting in disabling rust and/or the destruction of the LEDs and the LED circuitry, while also possibly resulting in Lenses and Reflectors losing their projection and reflection qualities … see CHMSL failure photos attached.
*Particularly note the millions of non working LED “CHMSLs” (Center High Mount Stop Lights) and their turned white Plastics … seeable on Pick Up Truck Caps/Shells/Toppers all over the U.S.
**Ask about “Innovative’s” 6/7 Function LED “Cracking/Leaking Problems” on Boat Trailers
50% SUMMERTIME “HEAT LOSSES” in LED BRAKE/TURN and LANE CHANGING LIGHTING
It’s about time NHTSA’s “Crash Avoidance Department” faces the fact that there can be as much as a 50% loss in LED Candela output when fully exposed “LED” Brake/Turn/Lane Changing Signal Lights mounted on Trailers heat up from normal use in slow moving, close up traffic … on a hot day while dangling only a few inches over very hot pavement, which represents common summer conditions found all over the U.S.A. This type of traffic represents conditions where full strength Brake, Turn, and Lane Changing Signals are needed the most. Here’s a vital road safety reality NHTSA’s past and present personnel have totally neglected for more than 10 long years. Checkout the absurd reasoning “Rulemaking” gave for not addressing this subject in 1994 and 1998 and still! up to 2007 (see attached).
AUTOS, SUVs and PICK UPS are “ALWAYS” FMVSS #108 COMPLIANT
On the other hand, try and find any Auto, SUV or Pick Up manufacturer in the U.S.A., Japan or Europe that is violating the minimal Photometrics or minimal “EPLLA” or minimal Outdoor (Longevity) Testing Mandates. Simple Common Sense … Economic Sense … and their Corporate Lawyers’ insistence will simply not allow Auto Manufacturers to violate FMVSS #108 and SAE Mandates.
It’s a fact that all Detroit, Japan and European Auto and SUV, etc. SAE Engineers and Management types always see to it that all FMVSS #108 Mandates are totally complied with in every Incandescent or LED Multi Function Tail Light design, while also providing additional outputs to compensate for predictable “LED” … hot day … heat losses while also being sure to always provide proper materials that will hold up under all adverse road, heat and bad weather conditions. Unfortunately, this cannot be said for the typical Trailer, RV or Truck Brake/Turn and Lane Changing Lighting System.
THE LAWYERS are COMING
While NHTSA (hopefully) updates their “Crash Avoidance”, “Rulemaking” and “Compliance” Departments …all Trailer, RV and Truck manufacturers that continue to put Non Compliant* (illegal) Lights on their vehicles … must be warned they are greatly increasing their chances for any astute “Plaintiff, Civil Case, Lawyer” … sooner or later … of accusing them of supplying “Non Compliant” (Illegal) Lighting that contributed to any accident, crash, wreck or multi vehicle pile up being litigated.
*and/or those that “distribute replacements” to the Public
Even if you believe you’re innocent … the related lawyers fees, lost time, and related grief will likely cost you more for only one Rear Ender, or Clipping entanglement than you could possibly save by gambling on buying and using Non Compliant or premature failing lighting.
When a “Non Compliant to FMVSS #108” accusation is brought up in Civil Court – and the Defendants are not able to effectively refute the charges … this is all any Judge or Jury needs to blame any (and all) involved persons or companies for the damages, injuries and/or deaths that their Non Compliant Vehicle Lighting partially or totally caused. Also, know that “Non Compliancy” is easily provable in Court using already available Expert Witnesses and Federal writings. It’s irrelevant whether or not NHTSA is actively enforcing written Compliancy Mandates.
7 OUT OF 10 “LED” BRAKE/TURN Federally Tested “FAILURES”
The National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (www.NATM.com) points out in one of their “Warning Articles” (attached) that a recent series of official Federal Tests performed on randomly gathered “LED” Brake/Turn/Lane Changing Signal Lights … found that 7 out of 10 of these “LED” Brake/Turn Lights being currently offered and sold to Trailer, RV and Truck Manufacturers … significantly failed the Federally mandated minimal Photometric Test Pattern output requirements of FMVSS #108 and therefore, required mandated Recalls.
Of course, since very few Illegal lighting products are actually returned in a typical Recall … anyone involved with the remaining “in use” Recalled products …are still facing many years of Civil Liability attached to all the vehicles that continue to use these Non Compliant … therefore, Ιllegal Lights.
INCAPACITATED REAR REFLECTORS and LENSES also INCREASES LAWSUIT VULNERABILITY
Realize too, that …any rear projecting Reflector (or Lens) that is allowed to deteriorate below FMVSS #108 mandated minimal output during its’ lifetime … can be considered a public danger and represent an act of civil neglect by those involved in letting this happen, not to mention being in direct violation of SAE J1398, Sections 6.2.3 and 6.2.4, which will put even more unwanted Liabilities onto the OEMs and Distributors providing the Public with these kinds of failing products.
6.2.3 Performance of lamps may deteriorate significantly as a result of dirt, grime, and/or snow accumulation on their optical surfaces. Installation of lamps on vehicles should be considered to minimize the effect of these factors.
6.2.4 Where it is expected that lamps must perform an extremely severe environments, such as off-
This is a subject not specifically addressed by FMVSS #108 … however, if neglected, will put the Vehicle Manufacturer (plus any associated Distributors and Dealers) in a position of violating road safety common sense, as well as violating the main Objective of the 1966 Vehicle Safety Act and violating their Civil responsibility to the Public … that is … not providing the public with “Lasting*, Conspicuous, Presence and Intentions Lights and Reflectors”. *”Lasting” … is estimated to be, at least, 10 to 20 years by most SAE Engineers
“TRAPPED AIR” … REAR REFLECTOR GRIME DEGRADATION
Even when using the “Trapped Air Concept” for Boat Trailer Submersible Lights … which “Sierra” was the first to market 25+ years ago … the one to two inch water invasion in the trapped air “Compression Column” (Dry Launch®) will wet most … if not all bottom-
Note that “Optronics®” … and other Import Copiers who have been selling the popular sized 3-
**With a flat tire or when pulled onto the road’s shoulder or a parked position for whatever reason
Be aware that all of our 20 year old, “Old Reliable” 3-
You should also be aware that not only Grime, but even “hanging water droplets” cancel Reflex effectiveness … you can prove this to yourself using a flashlight and a grimy wetted Reflector in a dark room.
*Road Proven for 20 years on quality boat trailers like -
Unlike the Optronics® and Other 3-
Note too, our open bottom, air trapping designs work well, not only for submersible applications, but they perform as well and as reliably on all kinds of Trailer, RV and Truck applications where our (no tools) “Snap-
“FILL and DRAIN” … DESTROYS ALL REFLECTORS and LENSES
In the “Fill and Drain” designs made by Optronics®, Peterson®, Wesbar® (Cequent®) and others … since the entire light is allowed to “fill” with grimy launch ramp area water during submersions … accumulated grime and wetted dust deposits soon cover “all” the internal reflective and refractive faceting … thereby, destroying the effectiveness of the Reflectors and all of the Lenses’ Photometric outputs as well … resulting in unavoidable long term Liabilities that don’t go away!
“DUAL COLOR”, 5 FUNCTION “WING TIPS®” save installation $, wiring and energy
In spite of the two or three cheapened Taiwan Patent Infringing* “Wingtip® Copies” we must “legally” deal with … we are still pointing out their cheapening techniques and pointing out our special, unique bonus features that are built into all our popular 2 Color, 360° visible, WingTip® designs. Red light is simultaneously pointed to the Rear and Amber to the Front, so that just a single WingTip® photometrically complies with both the forward and rearward pointing FMVSS #108 Clearance Light photometric and direction mandates, while additionally providing a legal Side Marker Light … plus a bonus “Back Up, Location Light” … and, also, provides augment Tail (Presence) Lighting. This means up to 5 Safety Functions can be added to each side of any Trailer, RV, or Truck while requiring to power only one, easily found, #168 bulb that draws a tiny (1/4 amp) amount of energy. *One is from Optronics®
WingTips® can be mounted on the sides or rear of any vehicle providing very “conspicuous, many directions, “Presence” lighting. They can be pointed up or out and are most conspicuous when used sticking out somewhat beyond the width of any Trailer, RV or Truck … which is allowed … and even encouraged by NHTSA and SAE, as well as by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
WingTips® (for sure!) can comply to … “Representing the Extreme Width” mandate of FMVSS #108. Furthermore, be aware that our WingTips® … used on fenders … with our unique, All Lexan®, “Crossover Wire Protectors” … can be stepped on (or not!*) while acting (or not*) as an optional “Foot Friction Pad” in “wet” applications or conditions. *We have a “NO STEP” model as well
Further, realize that for 30 years, NHTSA, SAE and FHWA have “always” allowed any Light or Mirror to “stick out” beyond the maximum 102” Vehicle width limit. Ask them directly or check their websites to verify this fact.
On Trailers, RVs and Trucks over 80” in width that are mandated to have front as well as rear pointing “Extreme Width”* Clearance Lights … we estimate … the average OEM must spend at least $2 for each Amber and Red Light, or ≈ $4 (for each side) plus the necessary extra installation and extra wiring costs. Our, all Lexan®, 2 Color WingTip® designs save half of this cost by requiring just one light and installation and wiring on each side, while, at the same time, also providing a bonus … mirror seeable … and always appreciated “Backing-
These are not features that are Federally or SAE mandated … but certainly will be appreciated by old and new “Trailer Pilots” who will always be thankful to anyone who helps to eliminate some of the trailer pulling grief and safety problems that most of us have experienced in the Trailer Towing Process *Sometimes “Overall Width” is used … meaning the same thing as “Extreme Width”
TAIWAN and CHINA TAKE OVERS
Our 2 Color, Red/Amber, WingTip®, 360º visible, lens design (that we also pioneered), has also been “duplicated” by the “always copying and cheapening” Taiwan Importers using inferior, unqualified materials in contrast to our exclusive use of cold/hot tolerant … tough and fadeproof, all Lexan® construction. Furthermore, Optronics® and two other Copiers have infringed upon our Design Patents – a practice that represents typical “Taiwan/China Morals” and will result in another set of legal problems for “any involved” using or circulating any of these Patent Infringing products.
It still amazes me how foreign manufacturers and importers can simply disregard American Laws and Patents, while, also, using “Ιllegal Pirating Government Subsidies”? that are carefully planned to wipe out … one at a time … selected American Industries. Further, it also amazes … while also infuriating …me that our Government and Congress personnel stand by and do absolutely nothing about these situations!
GSA DOESN’T WANT NON COMPLIANT LIGHTING on their Vehicles
The “Government Service Administration” (GSA) is (I believe) becoming aware of the Non Compliant Lighting being put on Vehicles they buy for Federal Government Agencies. The people manning the GSA’s booth at the last “Work Truck” Show in Indianapolis said to me “GSA has always counted on NHTSA policing the Lighting being put on the Vehicles we buy!” However, GSA officials are now finding out this isn’t happening and are dismayed (to say the least) when they find that any Non Compliant, Fading, Short-
*Same thing is happening on a State level as well
WE KNOW LIGHTING LAW and WE CAN PROVE IT … IN COURT!
For 30+ years, we have used Calibrated Photometric Equipment that is directly traceable to the U.S. Bureau of Standards -
*Including compliancy to the FMVSS #108 mandated 3 Year Outdoor, Ozone, Ultraviolet and Heat Tests in Nevada and Florida
As a matter of fact, at one time, we were officially approved as a “Certified Vehicle Lighting Testing Lab” by the California Highway Patrol Engineering Department. However, now the CHP Engineering Division* relies on NHTSA to police FMVSS #108 mandates*, which … we all, now, know … isn’t happening!
*as do most (all?) State Governments
Additionally, be aware that “Sierra” has already been Plaintiffs in two long Federal Trials in Milwaukee and Chicago directly involving FMVSS #108 Law, which included the subpoenaing of Defendant’s Company Records, plus … “Involved” Company Personnel Depositions … plus trial testimony from California Highway Patrol Lab and East Coast Vehicle Lighting Testing Lab personnel. One of these Federal cases went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
This background should indicate … we know FMVSS #108 Law in detail! … and therefore, our experience should also indicate … we can effectively help our customers avoid Lawsuits and Recalls that we know! they would just as soon avoid.
PASS IT ON
Please “pass on” all you learn from these writings, in addition to what you learn from questioning your current lighting suppliers. We know your “Principals” and your Liability Lawyers will appreciate being furnished this valuable information.