Will truck upfitters figure out how to mount equipment at the rear of light-duty trucks and vans and still comply with NHTSA’s new rear visibility safety standard? Rear-mounted equipment could block the required back-up cameras, but the industry has until 2018 to find an answer.
IT’s too early to tell how the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s rear-camera final rule will affect truck equipment distributors, but it’s likely to affect pickup trucks more than vans, according to National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) technical services manager Steve Spata.
The final rule, published in the Federal Register on Monday, will require rear camera system technology in all new light vehicles under 10,000 pounds GVW—including trucks and buses as well—manufactured on or after May 1, 2018.
NHTSA said the rear camera system’s “field of view” must include a 10-by-20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle and must also meet other requirements, including image size, linger time, response time, durability, and deactivation protocols.
“It’s hard to speculate on what the industry is going to need to do for specific vehicles nobody has seen yet,” Spata told Trailer/Body Builders magazine. “It’s kind of a moving target—the configuration the trucks are going to be in 2018.
“Anything hanging off the back has the potential to be affected. That doesn’t mean it will necessarily be affected, but it will bring about the question of compliance for vehicles. The regulations are performance-based, so they claim they don’t dictate a particular technology, but it’s pretty much going to dictate you’re going to use a camera to meet this. For a base vehicle like a pickup or van, they’re already going to have to meet the regulation as they’re put together. One of the challenges will be with anything added back there. Can the original position of the camera still have field-of-view requirements that the standard is prescribing? Can the original position be accommodated with aftermarket equipment so that when you go and add something to the back of the truck, does it cut into the field of view? That’s really the big question.
“Not knowing what 2018 trucks are going to look like, it’s going to be hard to say. Where’s the camera going to be located from the OEM? Without knowing that, it’s tough to tell how a particular piece of equipment will be located in a way that would obscure all or part of that field of view required by the standard.”
Spata said the good news is that NTEA has a good relationship with all the chassis manufacturers, so it has time to sort out what vehicles are going to be affected and what will need to be done at that point.
“The effective date is what freaks everybody out,” he said. “Chassis manufacturers may have heard just enough to feel like the sky is falling, but for our industry, we have until 2018. We have a few years to work on this.
“I think the compliance date is the big thing that will help calm everybody down. We’ve been getting a lot of inquiries on it. It’s focused on passenger vehicles. Our end of the industry is always an afterthought, but we’re always affected by it, and more so because people do stuff with trucks. One of the things we’ll look for from OEMs is the ability to move the camera to another position where it can then have the field of view that it needs.”
According to NHTSA’s research, on average, there are 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries per year caused by “back-over” crashes and the agency has found that children under 5 years old account for 31% of back-over fatalities each year, with adults 70 years of age and older accounting for 26%.
NHTSA pointed out that many vehicle OEMs are already installing rear visibility technology on their own, due to consumer demand. Including vehicles that already have such systems installed, the agency expects that 58 to 69 lives will be saved each year once the entire on-road light vehicle fleet is equipped with rear camera technology outlined in its final rule. ♦