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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 96-1596



Actions Taken by the Commission

[26 Pa.B. 4582]

   The Independent Regulatory Review Commission met publicly at 11 a.m., Thursday, September 5, 1996, and took the following actions:

Regulations Approved:

   Department of Transportation #18-307--Vehicle Equipment and Inspection (amends 67 Pa. Code Chapter 175)

Commissioners Present:  John R. McGinley, Jr., Chairperson; Robert J. Harbison, III, Vice Chairperson; Arthur Coccodrilli; John F. Mizner; Irvin G. Zimmerman

Public meeting held
September 5, 1996

Department of Transportation--Vehicle Equipment and Inspection; Doc. No. 18-307


   On June 30, 1994, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (Commission) received this proposed regulation from the Department of Transportation (Department). This rulemaking would amend 67 Pa. Code Chapter 175. This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority of sections 4103, 4521, 4524 and 6103 of the Motor Vehicle Code (Vehicle Code), act of June 17, 1996, P. L. 162, No. 81, as amended by the act of July 10, 1984, P. L. 679, No. 146 and the act of November 21, 1990, P. L. 556, No. 137 (75 Pa.C.S. §§ 4103, 4521, 4524 and 6103). The final-form regulation was submitted to the Commission on August 13, 1996.

   This rulemaking implements, through the 1990 amendments to section 4524(e) of the Vehicle Code, the applicable light transmittance requirements for vehicle glass under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards #205 (FMVSS #205), on the use of window glazing materials, as published at 49 CFR Part 571 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It also establishes criteria for certificates of exemption for owners of vehicles equipped with non-conforming sun screening devices or other materials which may impair glass transparency beyond established limits. Such certificates are needed by individuals who have a photosensitive condition and require that the glass on their vehicles be treated to filter out ultraviolet light.

   Section 4524(e) of the Vehicle Code prohibits, inter alia, the operation of a vehicle equipped with a sun screening device or other ''material which does not permit a person to see or view the inside of the vehicle through the windshield, side wing or side window of the vehicle.'' This rulemaking has been developed to remedy previous problems associated with uniformly defining, interpreting and enforcing this statutory language.

   FMVSS #205 requirements (at 49 CFR 571.205, S3.) apply to glazing materials used in passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, buses, motorcycles, slide-in campers and pick-up covers designed to carry persons while in motion. Passenger cars, for example, must have windows which allow at least 70% light transmittance. In contrast, trucks, buses and multipurpose passenger vehicles (for example, sport utility vehicles) do not have to observe the 70% transparency requirement on any windows behind the driver.

   The following noteworthy changes have been made to the final-form version of this regulation, many of which are in response to the recommendations of commentators.

   It further enforces the restrictions on the use of sun screening devices or light transparency reducing materials on the rear widows of passenger cars, starting with the 1998-model vehicles. No light transparency requirements have been established, however, for the rear windows of trucks, multipurpose vehicles, buses and other (non-passenger car) vehicles. The reason is that such vehicles are not subject to the 70% light transmittance requirements of FMVSS #205.

   The Department deleted language that would have required inspection stations to purchase light transmittance meters and use them during the annual inspection procedure to establish light transmittance levels of vehicle windows. That test would have helped determine whether the vehicle would qualify for a certificate of compliance (and also pass State inspection). Enforcement of vehicle glass light transmittance requirements will be handled, instead, by the State Police and other police in connection with equipment checks of individual vehicles.

   Section 175.67(d)(1), relating to window glazing and obstructions, has been amended to prohibit signs, posters or opaque materials being placed on a rear window as well as a windshield, side window or side wing of a passenger car. This will insure that the visibility through such windows on passenger cars is not obstructed in violation of the FMVSS #205 standard. This glazing obstruction requirement will not apply to the windows behind the driver on other types of vehicles (trucks, buses, multipurpose vehicles, and the like) because FMVSS #205 does not apply to them.

   Mirror-related provisions of the final-form regulation were amended to exempt vehicles with medical certificates of exemption from having an outside mirror on both sides of the vehicle in cases where the vehicle was not originally so equipped.

   The final-form regulation includes a new Table X, which will serve as a visual aid to enforcement personnel in determining acceptable levels of light transmittance as well as for those attempting to comply with this regulation.

   The final-form regulation clarifies that limousines which carry less than 10 passengers are classified as ''passenger cars'' and are subject to the 70% light transmittance requirements of FMVSS #205. The basic classification of the vehicle determines whether the 70% light transmittance requirements must be met, not whether the vehicle is in public service and regulated by the Public Utility Commission, or privately owned.

   Exemption procedures under section 175.265(a)(1) for vehicles registered as of September 8, 1984, have been revised to eliminate the need to supply photographs of the windows which have the sun screening or tinting material affixed.

   Comments on the proposed version of this rulemaking were submitted by the Senate Transportation Committee, the Delaware Valley Limousine Operators Association, Inc. (DVLOA), the Monroeville Police Department, and the Commission. In February and June of this year, PennDOT representatives met with representatives of the State Police, the American Automobile Association, the Pennsylvania Automotive Association, and garage and public interest associations, to discuss issues related to the annual vehicle safety inspection program and this rulemaking. According to the Department, these groups had substantial input in the development of the final-form regulation.

   The DVLOA submitted the only comment letter on the final-form regulation. It raised several technical matters in its comment letter, one of the primary ones of which was a renewal of its request that the Department establish a ''limousine exception'' to the glazing and tinting limitations applicable to passenger cars. The Department determined that it is unable to do so under current law; the Vehicle Code would have to be amended.

   These amendments will affect about 18,000 official inspection stations, 80,000 official inspection mechanics; the owners/operators of vehicles with nonconforming sun screening devices or materials; persons with a photosensitive skin condition who seek a certificate of exemption for their vehicle; those who reside with and drive the exempted vehicle of persons with photosensitive skin conditions; vehicle sun screening manufacturers and installers; limousine service operators; the Pennsylvania State Police; and local law enforcement agencies.

   Owners of vehicles who install window tinting material on the side windows behind the driver or the rear windows of 1998 and newer passenger cars will incur costs of approximately $300 or more to remove the nonconforming material (and possibly repair/replace rear window defogging elements) if cited by the police for not complying with the 70% light transmittance requirement of FMVSS #205 and this regulation. Owners of pre-1998 model passenger cars with heavily tinted side windows will have the same problem. The impermissible screening material will have to be removed by vehicle owners if they wish to avoid receiving an initial or a follow-up citation by a law enforcement officer for a vehicle equipment violation.

   Those who obtain a certificate of exemption will incur costs at the time they sell or otherwise divest themselves of the vehicle; the special screening or tinting material must be removed and a notarized statement to that effect must be provided to the buyer, including the name of the business entity that removed the sun screening material.

   There will also be some cost savings realized as a result of amendments made in the final-form regulation. The Department's deletion of provisions requiring inspection station operators to test vehicle glass for light transparency means that the operators will not have to purchase light meters (at a cost of about $170 to $350 per unit).

   There are several benefits of this regulation as well. Enforcement activities of the State Police and local law enforcement agencies will benefit from the clarifications on window tinting and glazing. The revisions made in this rulemaking will more clearly define the requirements and parameters for window glazing and tinting. As a result, accused violators, law enforcement officers and court officials will be in a position to better understand and interpret applicable requirements in every situation. Persons with photosensitive skin will be better protected from ultraviolet light by being able to drive or ride in a vehicle which has been granted a certificate of exemption for its special window treatment.

   The requirement that 1998 and newer passenger cars will have to comply with the 70% of light transparency requirements of FMVSS #205 will make it easier for law enforcement officials to see inside such vehicles; the officers will have a greater margin of personal safety by better knowing what they are dealing with as they approach a stopped vehicle.

   We have reviewed this regulation and find it to be in the public interest. The changes incorporated in the final-form regulation and the revisions to the preamble of the regulation demonstrate the Department's responsiveness to commentators' concerns and recommendations, including those resulting from the meetings with many affected parties held in February and June of 1996. The final-form regulation clarifies and updates the Department's current regulatory provisions and will lead to more consistent application of vehicle glazing requirements.

Therefore, It Is Ordered That:

   1.  Regulation No. 18-307 from the Department of Transportation, as submitted to the Commission on August 13, 1996, is approved; and

   2.  The Commission will transmit a copy of this Order to the Legislative Reference Bureau.


[Pa.B. Doc. No. 96-1596. Filed for public inspection September 20, 1996, 9:00 a.m.]

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