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FMCSA allows video recorders to be placed in truck windshields

Written by Steve Gursten Posted April 19th, 2013

Video records save lives: Dangerous drivers might think twice when there’s a camera running

The Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration (FMCSA) recently announced its renewal of an exemption allowing small mounted video recorders to be placed in the windshield of transport trucks and other commercial motor vehicles.

Historically, the FMCSA strictly prohibited objects from being mounted in a semi-truck’s windshield. § 393.60 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations provide far-reaching regulations which generally prohibit a device like this from being placed in a truck’s windshield. But recognizing the safety value of these mounted video recorders, the FMCSA has exempted them from the regulation.

Before granting the original exemption, the FMCSA conducted a driving behavior study.

Video recorders were installed in two commercial carrier fleets.  Data was collected from both.  The report demonstrated the following:

  • Both of the two carriers who participated in the behavior study experienced a reduction in safety-related events per 10,000 miles.
  • One carrier had a decrease in safety-related events of 38 percent.
  • The second saw a decrease by 52 percent.
  • There was a reduction in severe safety-related events by 59 percent and 44 percent, respectively.

The small recording devices are exempted subject to specifications outlined by the FMCSA.  The specifications ensure that the devices will not obstruct the truck driver’s line of sight. The FMCSA renewed the exemption so that commercial motor vehicles can record and utilize data to increase safety through:

  1. Identification and remediation of dangerous driving behaviors, including distracted driving and drowsiness;
  2. Enhance monitoring of passenger behavior for motor coaches (like commercial buses) in passenger service; and
  3. To enhance collision review and analysis.

The Agency further explained that there is potential for safety gains from the use of video recorders to encourage and improve truck driver behavior.  Truckers who have their driving recorded on video may be less inclined to cut corners on safety, or perform dangerous maneuvers in their trucks, like making unsafe turns.

The FMCSA anticipates that this exemption will improve the overall level of safety to the motoring public.

Currently, video recorders are used in both private and public fleets across the country.  Manufacturers of the devices point out that the video recorders allow trucking companies to pinpoint “specific unsafe driving skills.”  The recorders provide newfound (and really unprecedented) visibility for trucking companies – or at least the good ones – to identify dangerous truck drivers and get them off of the road before they hurt or kill somebody.

In addition to the safety benefits, proponents of the video recorders maintain that through the combination of video analysis and predictive analytics, fleets can work toward improving fuel efficiency and promote driving performance.

Clearly, as demonstrated by the FMCSA report findings, these video recorders are a powerful tool in combating dangerous truck drivers. Unfortunately, there are bad truck drivers on the highway who do not care about safety.  Hopefully, these dangerous truckers will think twice about breaking the rules if they know that they are being watched and will be held accountable.

It is important to note that this is not a mandate – no companies have to install the video recorders.  But as a truck accident attorney and as a safety advocate,  I hope that responsible truck companies will take advantage of this exemption.

Video cameras save lives.

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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