View Source: John Gallagher

Temporary exemptions no longer needed for array of vehicle safety systems.

Manufacturers of driver-assist technology for trucks will have an easier time getting their systems installed thanks to a petition by Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) and approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

An FMCSA final rule based on the petition, scheduled to be published Monday, increases the area on the interior of truck cab windshields where certain vehicle safety technology devices may be mounted. The rule also expands the FMCSA’s definition of “vehicle safety technology” to accommodate future types of vehicle safety devices.

Specifically, DTNA, a unit of Daimler AG [OTC: DDAIF], in 2019 had asked FMCSA to increase the distance below the upper edge of the area swept by the windshield wipers within which certain Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) safety technologies may be mounted from 4 inches to 8.5 inches.

With FMCSA codifying the change, DTNA and other manufacturers of such systems will no longer have to apply for temporary exemptions from the current law. Over the last five years, the agency granted 10 such exemptions to:

  • Hino Motors (August 2017).
  • DTNA (January 2018).
  • SmartDrive (April 2019).
  • Navistar (November 2019).
  • Lytx Inc. (May 2020).
  • Nauto (October 2020).
  • Samsara Networks (October 2020).
  • J. Keller & Associates (November 2020).
  • Netradyne (December 2020).
  • Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems (April 2021).

In addition, the new rule incorporates DTNA’s request to expand the definition of vehicle safety technology. Under the existing definition, vehicle safety technology includes a fleet-related incident management system, performance or behavior management system, speed management system, lane departure warning system, forward collision warning or mitigation system, active cruise control system, and transponder.

Under the final rule, the definition will also include braking warning systems, braking assist systems, driver camera systems, attention assist warning, GPS, and traffic sign recognition. Vehicle safety technology includes systems and devices that contain cameras, lidar, radar, sensors and/or video.

“As a result, vehicle safety technologies will expand to cover new devices and systems and better accommodate the advanced driver assistance technologies,” FMCSA affirmed.

Although DTNA had asked that automatic emergency braking (AEB) technology be included in the expanded definition as well, FMCSA specifically left it out because the agency, along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, plans to complete a separate rulemaking dealing with AEB.

Most of the 17 comments FMCSA received on DTNA’s petition supported the changes, including the American Trucking Associations. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association pushed back, however, asserting that ADAS such as speed limiters “create serious operational challenges and dangers for truckers, including challenges navigating merges and running blockades (known as elephant races) that increase ‘road rage’ among other drivers.”

But FMCSA noted that speed limiters were already defined under the current rules, and the final rule does not mandate installation of any of the technologies cited.