The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is currently trying to acquire outside research and input on whether to allow camera monitoring systems to replace side and rear-view mirrors. If regulators agree to have cameras replace mirrors, drivers will no longer have to worry about turning their necks to check their blind spots. However, the possibility of camera monitoring systems replacing mirrors come with new safety concerns.
Tesla Inc. and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers cited in the benefits of camera use with improved fuel economy through reduced aerodynamic drag. The Auto Alliance also stated that having more than one display inside the car could improve side and rear visibility. Current law requires that all buses and trucks have two outside mirrors positioned so that the driver can have a view of the highway to the rear, and the area along both sides of a commercial vehicle.
Safety Risks of Camera Monitoring Systems
According to the NHTSA, camera monitoring systems can present new safety risks, including display screens that are too bright. This has the potential of making it harder for drivers to see objects on the road ahead of them.
In 2017, the NHTSA tested a prototype camera monitoring system. The results showed that the camera could be used in most situations and produce better quality images than mirrors during dusk and dawn. However, flaws included distorted images as well as displays being too bright at night. The camera lenses also tended to be distorted by raindrops. In 2018, the NHTSA’s examination of a passenger vehicle equipped with a rear-camera system found that even though display glare caused by sunlight was a concern, only minimal glare was found.
The NHTSA believes that camera monitoring systems are a promising technology. However, they also believe that safety concerns should be addressed before proposing amending federal regulations that permit camera monitoring systems replacing mirrors. The agency did not offer a timeline for a final decision. However, changes to auto safety standards normally take years.
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