You Really Should Read Those Sun Visor Warning Labels

Have you actually taken the time to really look at the warning on the back of your sun visor? Maybe you should.

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Image for article titled You Really Should Read Those Sun Visor Warning Labels
Image: Jason Torchinsky

I had a press vehicle recently, and when I pulled down the visor to block the intense rays of that large, glowing orb in the sky I want to say it’s Jupiter? Anyway, when I pulled down the visor, I was confronted with this big warning label, and I realized that I’m not sure I’ve ever actually read one.

There are actually multiple kinds of these: there are ones for airbag warnings, which are what you see in most passenger cars, and are stipulated by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Occupant Crash Protection, Section 49 CFR Part 571, which gives the text and dimensions required:

(b) Sun visor air bag warning label.

(1) Except as provided in S4.5.1(b)(2), each vehicle shall have a label permanently affixed to either side of the sun visor, at the manufacturer’s option, at each front outboard seating position that is equipped with an inflatable restraint. The label shall conform in content to the label shown in either Figure 6a or 6b of this standard, as appropriate, and shall comply with the requirements of S4.5.1(b)(1)(i) through S4.5.1(b)(1)(iv).

(i) The heading area shall be yellow with the word “WARNING” and the alert symbol in black.

(ii) The message area shall be white with black text. The message area shall be no less than 30 cm 2 (4.7 in 2).

(iii) The pictogram shall be black with a red circle and slash on a white background. The pictogram shall be no less than 30 mm (1.2 in) in diameter.

(iv) If the vehicle does not have a back seat, the label shown in Figure 6a or 6b may be modified by omitting the statements: “The BACK SEAT is the SAFEST place for children.”

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The vehicle I was in was a truck, though, and trucks and SUVs have different sun visor labels, specifically ones warning about rollover risk, as required since 1999 and specified in NHTSA DOT 49 CFR § 575.105 -Vehicle Rollover:

(1) Rollover Warning Label.

(i) Except as provided in paragraph (d)(2) of this section, each vehicle must have a label permanently affixed to either side of the sun visor, at the manufacturer’s option, at the driver’s seating position. The label must conform in content, form and sequence to the label shown in Figure 1 of this section, and must comply with the following requirements:

(A) The heading area must be yellow, with the text and the alert symbol in black.

(B) The message area must be white with black text.

(C) The pictograms must be black with a white background.

(D) The label must be appropriately sized so that it is legible, visible and prominent to the driver.

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Now, if you have to have both the Rollover Warning Label and the Airbag Warning Label, there are actually a whole bunch of rules about how to handle that, which I’ll let you decide to peruse at your leisure. There are options, including alternate locations, both-sides-of-the-visor, and very specific rules about how close together they can be.

Anyway, like I said, I never really sat down and read these, and the one I photographed there seems to deviate significantly from the legally-defined standards. Also, who picks the language selection? Does that vary by market?

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I did try to get it on two wheels, because I’m no candy-ass.

(fine, fine, maybe I altered the image.)