Officer Ron Weeks
Biloxi Police Department
1045 Howard Avenue
Biloxi, MS 39530
Dear Officer Weeks:
We are replying to your email of February 15, 2000, to our Webmaster,
asking for information about the substitution of" white" (
clear) lenses on the taillamps of motor vehicles. You report that
officers in your locale have started citing drivers of vehicles with
white lenses for improper equipment.
As you know, Federal requirements for original and replacement motor
vehicle lighting equipment are established by 49 CFR 571.108 Standard
No. 108, Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment.
Under the preemption authority of 49 U.S.C. 30103(b), Mississippi may
enact and enforce its own motor vehicle lighting equipment standard,
provided that it is identical to Standard No. 108.
Table I and Table III of Standard No. 108 require taillamps and stop
lamps to be red in color. The color red is defined by SAE Standard J578c
Color Specifications for Electric Signaling Devices, February
1977 which S5.1.5 of Standard No. 108 incorporates by reference.
Although Standard No. 108 does not specifically say that the lens must
be red and the bulb clear to achieve the color red, we
know of no original equipment manufacturer who is producing and
certifying compliance with Standard No. 108 of a taillamp consisting of
a red bulb and a white (clear) lens. Nor do we know of any red bulb in
production that conforms to Standard No. 108's color specification.
In addition, if any replacement lens is plastic, S5.1.2 requires the
plastic material to conform to the specifications of SAE Recommended
Practice J576 Plastic Materials for Use in Optical Parts, Such as
Lenses and Reflectors, of Motor Vehicle Lighting Equipment, JUL91.
Since conformance is judged through a three-year outdoor exposure test,
we have substantial doubts that any aftermarket white (clear) plastic
lens intended for use on taillamps is manufactured from materials that
have been tested in accordance with SAE J576 JUL91. Finally,
it has been our experience that most white (clear ) replacement taillamp
lenses do not incorporate a red side or rear reflex reflector as
contained in the original red taillamp lens. Many vehicle
manufacturers use the configuration of a red lens incorporating a reflex
reflector to meet the additional requirement of Table I and Table III
that vehicles be equipped with two red reflex reflectors on the rear,
and one on each side at the rear.
For all the above reasons, we believe it likely that the use of white
(clear) replacement lenses and red bulbs will result in a taillamp that
does not comply with the specifications of Standard No. 108 for
We hope that this information is helpful in your enforcement efforts.
If you have any questions, you may call Taylor Vinson of this Office
Frank Seales, Jr.