Motor and Other Vehicles

CHAPTER 31-23.1
Vehicle Equipment Safety Compact

SECTION 31-23.1-1

§ 31-23.1-1. Compact enacted.

The vehicle equipment safety compact is enacted into law and entered into with all other jurisdictions legally joining in it in the form substantially as follows:



Findings and Purposes

(a) The party states find that:

(1) Accidents and deaths on their streets and highways present a very serious human and economic problem with a major deleterious effect on the public welfare.

(2) There is a vital need for the development of greater interjurisdictional cooperation to achieve the necessary uniformity in the laws, rules, regulations and codes relating to vehicle equipment, and to accomplish this by any means that will minimize the time between the development of demonstrably and scientifically sound safety features and their incorporation into vehicles.

(b) The purposes of this compact are to:

(1) Promote uniformity in regulation of and standards for equipment.

(2) Secure uniformity of law and administrative practice in vehicular regulation and related safety standards to permit incorporation of desirable equipment changes in vehicles in the interest of greater traffic safety.

(3) To provide means for the encouragement and utilization of research which will facilitate the achievement of the foregoing purposes, with due regard for the findings set forth in subdivision (a) of this article.

(c) It is the intent of this compact to emphasize performance requirements and not to determine the specific detail of engineering in the manufacture of vehicles or equipment except to the extent necessary for the meeting of such performance requirements.



As used in this compact:

(a) "Vehicle" means every device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, excepting devices moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.

(b) "State" means a state, territory or possession of the United States, the District of Columbia, or the commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

(c) "Equipment" means any part of a vehicle or any accessory for use thereon which affects the safety of operation of such vehicle or the safety of the occupants.


The Commission

(a) There is created an agency of the party states to be known as the "vehicle equipment safety commission" referred to here as "the commission". The commission shall be composed of one commissioner from each party state who shall be appointed, serve, and be subject to removal in accordance with the laws of the state which he or she represents. If authorized by the laws of that party state, a commissioner may provide for the discharge of his or her duties and the performance of his or her functions on the commission, either for the duration of his or her membership or for any lesser period of time, by an alternate. No such alternate shall be entitled to serve unless notification of his or her identity and appointment shall have been given to the commission in whatever form that the commission may require. Each commissioner, and each alternate, when serving in the place and stead of a commissioner, shall be entitled to be reimbursed by the commission for expenses actually incurred in attending commission meetings or while engaged in the business of the commission.

(b) The commissioners shall be entitled to one vote each on the commission. No action of the commission shall be binding unless taken at a meeting at which a majority of the total number of votes on the commission are cast in favor of that action. Action of the commission shall be only at a meeting at which a majority of the commissioners, or their alternates, are present.

(c) The commission shall have a seal.

(d) The commission shall elect annually, from among its members, a chairman, a vice chairman and a treasurer. The commission may appoint an executive director and fix his or her duties and compensation. The executive director shall serve at the pleasure of the commission, and together with the treasurer shall be bonded in any amount that the commission shall determine. The executive director also shall serve as secretary. If there be no executive director, the commission shall elect a secretary in addition to the other officers provided by this subdivision.

(e) Irrespective of the civil service, personnel or other merit system laws of any of the party states, the executive director with the approval of the commission, or the commission if there be no executive director, shall appoint, remove or discharge such personnel as may be necessary for the performance of the commission's functions, and shall fix the duties and compensation of such personnel.

(f) The commission may establish and maintain independently or in conjunction with any one or more of the party states, a suitable retirement system for its full time employees. Employees of the commission shall be eligible for social security coverage in respect of old age and survivor's insurance provided that the commission takes such steps as may be necessary pursuant to the laws of the United States, to participate in such program of insurance as a governmental agency or unit. The commission may establish and maintain or participate in such additional programs of employee benefits as may be appropriate.

(g) The commission may borrow, accept or contract for the services of personnel from any party state, the United States, or any subdivision or agency of the aforementioned governments, or from any agency of two (2) or more of the party states or their subdivisions.

(h) The commission may accept for any of its purposes and functions under this compact any and all donations, and grants of money, equipment, supplies, materials, and services, conditional or otherwise, from any state, the United States, or any other governmental agency and may receive, utilize and dispose of the same.

(i) The commission may establish and maintain any facilities that may be necessary for the transacting of its business. The commission may acquire, hold, and convey real and personal property and any interest in it.

(j) The commission shall adopt bylaws for the conduct of its business and shall have the power to amend and rescind these bylaws. The commission shall publish its bylaws in convenient form and shall file a copy of them and a copy of any amendment thereto, with the appropriate agency or officer in each of the party states. The bylaws shall provide for appropriate notice to the commissioners of all commission meetings and hearings and the business to be transacted at those meetings or hearings. This notice shall also be given to those agencies or officers of each party state as the laws of that party state may provide.

(k) The commission annually shall make to the governor and legislature of each party state a report covering the activities of the commission for the preceding year, and embodying such recommendations as may have been issued by the commission. The commission may make such additional reports as it may deem desirable.


Research and Testing

The commission shall have power to:

(a) Collect, correlate, analyze and evaluate information resulting or derivable from research and testing activities in equipment and related fields.

(b) Recommend and encourage the undertaking of research and testing in any aspect of equipment or related matters when, in its judgment, appropriate or sufficient research or testing has not been undertaken.

(c) Contract for any equipment research and testing that one or more governmental agencies may agree to have contracted for by the commission, provided that the governmental agency or agencies shall make available the funds necessary for that research and testing.

(d) Recommend to the party states changes in law or policy with emphasis on uniformity of laws and administrative rules, regulations, or codes which would promote effective governmental action or coordination in the prevention of equipment-related highway accidents or the mitigation of equipment-related highway safety problems.


Vehicular Equipment

(a) In the interest of vehicular and public safety, the commission may study the need for or desirability of the establishment of or changes in performance requirements, or restrictions for any item of equipment. As a result of such a study, the commission may publish a report relating to any item or items of equipment, and the issuance of such a report shall be a condition precedent to any proceedings or other action provided or authorized by this article. No less than sixty (60) days after the publication of a report containing the results of such a study, the commission upon due notice shall hold a hearing or hearings at such place or places as it may determine.

(b) Following the hearing or hearings provided for in subdivision (a) of this article, and with due regard for standards recommended by appropriate professional and technical associations and agencies, the commission may issue rules, regulations, or codes embodying performance requirements or restrictions for any item or items of equipment covered in the report, which in the opinion of the commission will be fair and equitable and effectuate the purposes of this compact.

(c) Each party state obligates itself to give due consideration to any and all rules, regulations, and codes issued by the commission and declares its policy and intent to be the promotion of uniformity in the laws of the several party states relating to equipment.

(d) The commission shall send prompt notice of its action in issuing any rule, regulation or code pursuant to this article to the appropriate motor vehicle agency of each party state and that notice shall contain the complete text of the rule, regulation or code.

(e) If the constitution of a party state requires, or if its statutes provide, the approval of the legislature by appropriate resolution or act may be made a prior condition to the taking effect in that party state of any rule, regulation or code. In such event, the commissioner of that party state shall submit any commission rule, regulation, or code to the legislature as promptly as may be in lieu of administrative acceptance or rejection of it by the party state.

(f) Except as otherwise specifically provided in or pursuant to subdivisions (e) and (g) of this article, the appropriate motor vehicle agency of a party state shall in accordance with its constitution or procedural laws adopt the rule, regulation or code within six (6) months of the sending of the notice, and upon adoption, the rule, regulation or code shall have the force and effect of law in that state.

(g) The appropriate motor vehicle agency of a party state may decline to adopt a rule, regulation or code issued by the commission pursuant to this article if that agency specifically finds, after public hearing on due notice, that a variation from the commission's rule, regulation or code is necessary to the public safety, and incorporates in that finding the reasons upon which it is based. Any such finding shall be subject to review by whatever procedure for review of administrative determinations as may be applicable pursuant to the laws of the party state. Upon request, the commission shall be furnished with a copy of the transcript of any hearings held pursuant to this subdivision.



(a) The commission shall submit to the executive head or designated officer or officers of each party state a budget of its estimated expenditures for that period as may be required by the laws of that party state for presentation to its legislature.

(b) Each of the commission's budgets of estimated expenditures shall contain specific recommendations of the amount or amounts to be appropriated by each of the party states. The total amount of appropriations under any of these budgets shall be apportioned among the party states as follows: one-third ( 1 / 3 ) in equal shares; and the remainder in proportion to the number of motor vehicles registered in each party state. In determining the number of registrations, the commission may employ whatever source or sources of information as, in its judgment present the most equitable and accurate comparisons among the party states. Each of the commission's budgets of estimated expenditures and requests for appropriations shall indicate the source or sources used in obtaining information concerning vehicular registrations.

(c) The commission shall not pledge the credit of any party state. The commission may meet any of its obligations in whole or in part with funds available to it under article III(h) of this compact, provided that the commission takes specific action setting aside those funds prior to incurring any obligation to be met in whole or in part in such manner. Except where the commission makes use of funds available to it under article III(h) of this compact, the commission shall not incur any obligation prior to the allotment of funds by party states adequate to meet them.

(d) The commission shall keep accurate accounts of all receipts and disbursements. The receipts and disbursements of the commission shall be subject to the audit and accounting procedures established under its rules. However, all receipts and disbursements of funds handled by the commission shall be audited yearly by a qualified public accountant and the report of the audit shall be included in and become part of the annual reports of the commission.

(e) The accounts of the commission shall be open at any reasonable time for inspection by duly constituted officers of the party states and by any persons authorized by the commission.

(f) Nothing contained in this compact shall be construed to prevent commission compliance with laws relating to audit or inspection of accounts by or on behalf of any government contributing to the support of the commission.


Conflict of Interest

(a) The commission shall adopt rules and regulations with respect to conflict of interest for the commissioners of the party states, and their alternates, if any, and for the staff of the commission and contractors with the commission to the end that no member or employee or contractor shall have a pecuniary or other incompatible interest in the manufacture, sale or distribution of motor vehicles or vehicular equipment or in any facility or enterprise employed by the commission or on its behalf for testing, conduct of investigations or research. In addition to any penalty for violation of any rules and regulations that may be applicable under the laws of the violator's jurisdiction of residence, employment or business, any violation of a commission rule or regulation adopted pursuant to this article shall require the immediate discharge of any violating employee and the immediate vacating of membership, or relinquishing of status as a member on the commission by any commissioner or alternate. In the case of a contractor, any violation of any rule or regulation shall make any contract of the violator with the commission subject to cancellation by the commission.

(b) Nothing contained in this article shall be deemed to prevent a contractor for the commission from using any facilities subject to the contractor's control in the performance of the contract even though those facilities are not devoted solely to work of or done on behalf of the commission; nor to prevent such a contractor from receiving remuneration or profit from the use of those facilities.


Advisory and Technical Committees

The commission may establish any advisory and technical committees as it may deem necessary, membership on which may include private citizens and public officials, and may cooperate with and use the services of any of these committees and the organizations which the members represent in furthering any of its activities.


Entry into Force and Withdrawal

(a) This compact shall enter into force when enacted into law by any six (6) or more states. Thereafter, this compact shall become effective as to any other state upon its enactment of it.

(b) Any party state may withdraw from this compact by enacting a statute repealing it, but no withdrawal shall take effect until one year after the executive head of the withdrawing state has given notice in writing of the withdrawal to the executive heads of all other party states. No withdrawal shall affect any liability already incurred by or chargeable to a party state prior to the time of that withdrawal.


Construction and Severability

This compact shall be liberally construed so as to effectuate its purposes. The provisions of this compact shall be severable and if any phrase, clause, sentence or provision of this compact is declared to be contrary to the constitution of any state or of the United States or the applicability of it to any government, agency, person or circumstances is held invalid, the validity of the remainder of this compact and the applicability of it to any government, agency, person or circumstance shall not be affected by it. If this compact shall be held contrary to the constitution of any state participating in it, the compact shall remain in full force and effect as to the remaining party states and in full force and effect as to the state affected as to all severable matters.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1963, ch. 43, § 1.)