Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108
It is reasonable for an officer to render unsafe a vehicle operating with a malfunctioning rear deck brake light. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") of the United States Department of Transportation underscores the unsafe nature of operating a vehicle with a malfunctioning rear deck brake light. Promulgated by the NHTSA, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108, specifies the requirements for brake lights, among other lighting equipment, on motor vehicles. 49 C.F.R. 571.108 (2011).
Standard 108 was enacted to "reduce traffic accidents and deaths and injuries resulting from traffic accidents, by providing adequate illumination of the roadway, and by enhancing the conspicuity of motor vehicles on the public roads so that their presence is perceived and their signals understood." Id. The Standard specifies also the requirement of a rear deck brake light on certain vehicles. Id.
Standard 108 requires all vehicles manufactured on or after September 1, 1985 to have at least three brake lights including one center high-mounted brake light. Id.
The specific purpose for the high-mounted brake light is to "prevent crashes by reducing the reaction time for drivers to notice that the vehicle in front of them is braking." Nat'l Highway Traffic Safety Admin., U.S. Dep't of Transp., The Long-Term Effectiveness of Center High Mounted Stop Lamps in Passenger Cars and Light Trucks v. (1998).
Moreover, a study conducted by the NHTSA found that from 1986 to 1995, the high-mounted brake light reduced the frequency of rear impact accidents in every year the study was conducted. Id. at 7.
The study indicated also that the distinct and separate location of the high-mounted brake light, apart from the other two rear brake lights, makes it easier for drivers to notice because it is where they are most likely to glance. Id. at 1.
Therefore, even with two functioning rear brake lights, the specific safety advantages of the center high-mounted brake light demand that it function properly.