Advances in technology make cars better each year, but there are some technologies the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has yet to approve. On the list is replacing traditional side view mirrors with cameras. The agency is considering making them legal and they want feedback from automakers and the public on whether it’s a good idea.
- Automakers wants cameras to replace side view mirrors.
- NHTSA worries the technology needs improvement.
- Your voice counts when it comes time to make a decision.
The current law requires new cars and trucks to have mirrors showing what’s next to and behind the vehicle. While cameras can do the same thing and potentially provide a less obstructed view, they’re not mirrors. It’s a big change.
Cameras are thinner, yet show a better image. (Photo: Getty Images)
Are they safe?
Automakers are pushing for the move to cameras not for safety reasons, but to help improve fuel economy. Since the cameras are thinner, they reduce drag and increase fuel economy. Automakers try to improve fuel economy in any way possible. Slimmer side view mirrors might make a small change alone, but multiple small changes in a vehicle’s design make a big difference overall.
While cameras sound like a great idea, NHTSA has several concerns having nothing to do with fuel economy. One worry is image distortion that can occur when cameras encounter a bright light source. Something as simple as another vehicle’s headlights could be enough to cause this type of distortion.
The agency is also concerned about drivers readily locating the screens inside their cars. Side view mirrors are pretty much in the same place on every vehicle. In vehicles equipped with this technology, the screens are sometimes in the door panels and other times in the dashboard. NHTSA fears drivers will be confused.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Over the coming months, NHTSA welcomes the public’s feedback on whether allowing cameras to replace mirrors is a good idea. If you want to cameras to do the job, then now is the time to speak up and tell NHTSA.
The approval process for new technologies is painfully slow. While safety concerns need to be addressed, public pressure to speed the approval process will help get improved technologies on our roads more quickly.