OOIDA: Only proven tech should be added to vehicle safety technology definition

August 6, 2021

Mark Schremmer


In July, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposed a change to the regulations that would increase the area in which certain safety devices may be mounted on the interior windshield of a commercial motor vehicle.

As part of its formal comments, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association on Thursday, Aug. 5 told the agency there should be a limit to what is included as a safety device.

“Only technologies that have been proven to benefit highway safety should be added to the definition of ‘vehicle safety technology’ listed under 393.5,” OOIDA wrote. “The agency’s proposal still includes some systems that actually increase the likelihood of crashes and adds others that need more research. We have particular concerns regarding speed management systems, automatic emergency braking systems, and other equipment that is being deployed on autonomous vehicles, which are being tested and operated without sufficient oversight.”

The notice of proposed rulemaking would require that devices be mounted within the area swept by the windshield wipers to be located no more than 8.5 inches below the upper edge and no more than 7 inches above the lower edge of the swept area. The devices also would have to be located outside of the driver’s sight lines to the road and highway signs and signals.

In addition, the proposal expands the definition of vehicle safety technology to include additional items that would qualify.

According to FMCSA, vehicle safety technology includes systems and items of equipment to promote driver, occupant and roadway safety. Under the existing regulatory definitions, 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. The proposed definitions also would include braking warning systems, braking assist systems, automatic emergency braking, driver camera systems, attention assist warning, Global Positioning System equipment, and traffic sign recognition. Vehicle safety technology includes systems and devices that contain cameras, lidar, radar, sensors and/or video.

“Speed management systems, also known as speed limiters, create dangerous speed differentials between commercial motor vehicles and other vehicles,” OOIDA wrote. “Decades of highway research shows greater speed differentials increase interactions between truck drivers and other road users. Studies have consistently demonstrated that increasing interactions between vehicles directly increases the likelihood of crashes.”

OOIDA also said there are deficiencies in automatic emergency braking technology and that autonomous technology is still years away from being implemented.

“FMCSA must realize that some technologies do not always deliver on their promise,” OOIDA wrote. “The agency should reject any rush to mandate unproven technology systems, such as automatic emergency brakes, speed limiters, or whatever is being promoted as the next magic bullet to improve highway safety.

“If not, professional drivers will be among the first to experience any technology’s shortcomings, potentially creating serious safety concerns for our members and the motoring public.” LL