US: NHTSA urged to impose side mirrors replaced by cameras image

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been petitioned by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, to further enhance safety by asking side mirrors to be changed with cameras.

Just recently, ending years of delaying the mandate to impose back-up cameras on all new cars, the NHTSA has moved to outline the requirements that would see them on all new cars sold by the 2018 model-year.

Now, the consortium that includes VW, Toyota, General Motors and start-up Tesla Motors has moved to ask the federal regulator to also allow automakers to equip cars with digital cameras instead of the old side mirrors.

For example, Volkswagen will start rolling out the ultra-efficient XL1 coupe (with a record 235 mpg fuel economy) but it can’t bring it to the US because Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, or FMVSS, 111 requires all vehicles be equipped with left and right-side exterior mirrors. Tesla, which aims to introduce its Model X crossover in 2015, also uses cameras instead of the traditional mirror setup.

“You can actually get these things changed, but it takes ages,” lamented Tesla CEO Elon Musk during an industry conference.

Automakers hope the NHTSA would change soon the requirement, but in the meantime they also moved to ease the transition. For example, Honda equips its 2013 Accord with the LaneWatch system – which keeps the mirrors and doubles them with a camera that signals cars entering the passenger-side blind spot.