The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has granted Rosco Vision Inc.’s exemption to allow digital cameras as an alternative to the two rear-vision mirrors normally required under federal safety regulations.
The limited 5-year exemption takes effect Dec. 4 and lasts until 2027. In its approval notice, the FMCSA indicated that it “has determined that granting the exemption would likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to or greater than the level of safety provided by the regulation.”
The exemption to Section 393.80(a) applies to Rosco Vision’s Digital Camera Monitor System (DCMS), which provides drivers with an enhanced side and rearward field of vision “exceeding that which is provided by conventional mirrors,” the company stated in its application.
What the Camera System Does
The system consists of two rearward-facing camera assemblies mounted high on each side of a school bus exterior and two vertical viewing monitors inside the bus.
Each subsystem has a dedicated connection to the vehicle electrical system. Thus, Rosco Vision told the FMCSA, the configuration makes certain that both left-hand and right-hand camera/monitor subsystems operate independently “so in the rare event of equipment failure, only one side is affected.”
By design, if one of the cameras in the assembly fails, the system automatically adjusts the view of the interior monitor for that side to a full-screen view of the remaining working camera.
Reaching the Decision
In its decision, the FMCSA noted that while it received four comments opposing this specific exemption, mostly over safety concerns in the event of camera failure, many supportive comments were recorded in similar camera-based mirror exemptions for products such as the MirrorEye Camera Monitor System, SmartVision System, and Digital Mirror System.
Benefits cited in those applications included:
- Superior total field-of-view around the vehicle, including reduction of blind spots.
- Increased visibility when driving at night and during inclement weather.
- Enhanced vehicle maneuverability in backing, turning, and lane changes.
- Reduced driver fatigue.
Conditions of the exemption include:
- Drivers must inspect the system each time before operating the vehicle to make sure it’s working.
- Drivers must check at the end of the day and note any defects in the equipment. Defects must be repaired before the driver operates the vehicle again.
- Anyone with safety concerns about using the product as an alternative to two rear-vision mirrors should immediately notify FMCSA by email at MCPSV@dot.gov.