|NHTSA Issues Another Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, This One on 'Camera Monitor Systems'
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 111 enumerates performance requirements for new motor vehicles for the purpose of "reduc[ing] the number of deaths and injuries that occur when the driver of a motor vehicle does not have a clear and reasonably unobstructed view to the rear." Among these is the requirement that all passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, buses, school buses, and motorcycles, be equipped with inside and, at least on the driver's side, outside rearview mirrors. The mirrors must be mounted according to certain specifications and must provide the driver with a specified minimum field of view. The FMVSS No. 111 requirements relating to rearview mirrors have been largely unchanged for several decades.
Manufacturers routinely and voluntarily exceed the standard's rearview mirror requirements in two major ways. First, most manufacturers voluntarily equip new vehicles with a passenger-side outside rearview mirror, in addition to the required inside rearview mirror, even though a passenger-side mirror is required only if the inside rearview mirror does not meet field of view requirements. Second, most manufacturers equip vehicles with outside rearview mirrors that are substantially larger than required under the standard.
In recent years, there has been growing interest, both in the United States and abroad, in the use of "Camera Monitor Systems", commonly called CMS, in lieu of inside and/or outside rearview mirrors. A vehicle equipped with a CMS uses exterior cameras mounted on the sides and/or rear of the vehicle to capture an image of the rear and/or side of the vehicle, which the system transmits to one or more electronic visual displays located in the occupant compartment within view of the driver.
Cameras in a CMS are typically mounted on the exterior of the vehicle near where traditional rearview mirrors would be installed, so they provide a similar field of view. Conversely, the visual displays showing the rearview image to the driver may be mounted in a variety of locations in the interior of the vehicle, because there is no need for there to be a direct line of sight between the cameras and the visual displays. Although most prototype CMSs that NHTSA has seen have displays mounted on or near the vehicle's A-pillars, in the vicinity of where a traditional outside rearview mirror would be located, other configurations are possible.
NHTSA issued this ANPRM in response to two rulemaking petitions from manufacturers seeking permission to install CMS, instead of outside rearview mirrors, on both light vehicles and heavy trucks. According to NHTSA, this ANPRM builds on the agency's prior efforts to obtain supporting technical information, data, and analysis on CMS so that the agency can determine whether these systems can provide the same level of safety as the rearview mirrors currently required under FMVSS No. 111.
NHTSA invites comments on all aspects of permitting camera-based technologies to be installed as an alternative to mirrors to meet the FMVSS No. 111 rear visibility requirements. However, the agency requests that commenters provide as much research, evidence, and/or objective data as possible to support their comments to inform the agency in determining the appropriate next steps.
Written information should be submitted to the docket by December 9, 2019.
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