New regulations for windshield-mounted technology approved

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have approved new regulations for commercial trucks that allow drivers to mount technology on windshields. Although the regulations focus on only allowing safety equipment onto windshield, drivers may still lose visibility or even become distracted by these devices. This could mean that when the regulations go into effect on October 24 of this year drivers of smaller vehicles may need to be more aware of their surroundings than they already are.

Drivers of passenger vehicles may be asking themselves: Are these new technologies worth the possible increased risk of accidents? To answer this question, let's take a look at what the regulations change and how drivers can reduce their chances of colliding with a large vehicle.

What are the new regulations and what are they changing?

According to data and statistics listed on the FMCSA website, 37 percent of fatal crashes occurred at night, when a driver’s vision is most impaired. These deadly accidents show a need for commercial truckers to adopt new safety tools to protect themselves and other drivers. While this new regulation gives commercials drivers access to more safety instruments, the previous rules were in place to limit windshield obstruction. The earlier statute mandated devices must be at least six inches below the windshield to avoid distraction.

Here are a few of the new technologies that can now be mounted:

  • Video recording tools
  • Lane departure warning systems
  • Collision avoidance systems

Is view obscuring technology helpful or dangerous?

Whether these new regulations and safety devices will reduce or cause more accidents is still a question. The fact is that these devices could obstruct a long-distance driver's view or distract the driver long enough to veer into traffic, rear end another vehicle or take other actions that could otherwise cause an accident.  In fact, a 2013 study showed that cellphones and other hands-free devices can lead to distracted driver and a higher chance of crashing, despite the fact they are considered a safer option.

What can drivers of smaller vehicles do to avoid collisions?

Because commercial shipping vehicles are larger, there is a much higher chance of fatal injury if a collision occurs. Drivers should drive with a reasonable speed around commercial vehicles and avoid the blind spots of a shipping truck. To avoid an accident, be an attentive driver who does not use distracting devices while in a vehicle.

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