FMCSA Grants New Exemption Allowing Cameras as Alternative to Rear-View Mirrors

Washington D.C. – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has granted a new exemption that will allow for high definition camera monitoring systems to be used in commercial vehicles (CMV) as an alternative to traditional rear-vision mirrors.

On Wednesday, the FMCSA published into the Federal Register its decision to grant Vision Systems North America, Inc.’s (VSNA) application for a limited 5-year exemption to allow motor carriers to operate CMVs with the company’s Smart-Vision high definition camera monitoring system (Smart-Vision) installed as an alternative to the two rear-vision mirrors required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).

The Agency says it determined that granting the exemption to allow use of the Smart-Vision system in lieu of mirrors would “likely achieve a level of safety equivalent to or greater than” the level of safety provided by current regulations.


In explaining its decision, the FMCSA says use of the Smart-Vision system provides CMV drivers with an “enhanced field of view when compared to the required rear-vision mirrors.”

In fact, FMCSA says the Smart-Vision system:

(1) eliminates the blind spots on both sides of the vehicle created by the required rear-vision mirrors,

(2) the multi-camera system expands the field of view compared to the required rear-vision mirrors by an estimated 25 percent,

(3) and the system uses high definition cameras and monitors that include features such as color night vision, low light sensitivity, and light and glare reduction that together help provide drivers with improved vision in the field of view when compared to traditional rear-vision mirrors.


FMCSA also notes that the Smart-Vision system is currently being used in a number of European countries as a legal alternative to the traditional rear-vision mirrors under the requirements of ISO (International Organization for Standardization).

The exemption is granted for a 5-year period, beginning January 15, 2020 and ending January 15, 2025.

What if the camera system fails during normal vehicle operation?

In its decision, the Agency addressed a common question of what happens if the camera system fails.


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The FMCSA says if the camera or monitor system fails during normal vehicle operation on the highway, “continued operation of the vehicle shall be forbidden until the Smart-Vision system can be repaired, or conventional rear-vision mirrors that are compliant with FMCSRs are installed on the vehicle.”

Not The First Time

This is not the first time the Agency has granted a similar exemption.

In December of 2018, the FMCSA granted Stoneridge, Inc.’s application for a 5-year exemption to rules governing “Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation.”


Stoneridge applied for an exemption to allow its MirrorEyeTM camera monitoring system (CMS) to be installed as an alternative to the two rear-vision mirrors required on CMVs.

Before making that decision, the Agency says it considered comments from mega carriers Schneider and J.B. Hunt.

Both carriers documented their experience with the MirrorEyeTM CMS and stated they had been using the system in a select number of vehicles and experienced “positive results.”

Photo courtesy of MirrorEyeTM



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