Feds Vs the Future: NHTSA Begins Tests on Mirror-replacing Cameras

With camera systems replacing mirrors on vehicles eligible for sale in other parts of the world, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has decided to test how drivers might make use of them in the United States. On Tuesday, the agency said it plans to test “driving behavior and lane change maneuver execution” in cars with traditional mirrors and camera-based visibility systems.

The NHTSA also said it’s soliciting public comments on the matter, signaling that the agency is at lease semi-serious about allowing digital screens to replace old-school mirrors on passenger cars.

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Rearview Mirrors Might Evolve in a Few Years

Rearview mirrors haven’t enjoyed the same renaissance as other portions of the automobile. When the mirrors began appearing on cars roughly a century ago, wheels had wooden or wire spokes and were wrapped in organically sourced bias-ply rubber. Despite still being round, modern wheels are vastly different from their more-venerable counterparts but mirrors are not.

That might change in a few years. While some automakers have already affixed parking camera displays into the polished reflective centerpiece, like Ford, two manufactures have recently replaced traditional mirrors will full-time video feed. Nissan has one available for the Japanese market and General Motors introduced the Gentex “Full Display Mirror™” on the Cadillac CT6 and XT5 at 2016’s Consumer Electronics trade show.

While our gut-reaction is to contemplate how much more expensive a free-hanging LCD screen would be to replace than a simple mirror, this could be the general direction for a tech-focused industry. In fact, IHS Markit is already positive it’s only a matter of time.

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  • Marty S Crazy that there are 20 year old airbags out there. Have had airbag recalls on 2 of our cars (only one on each car), but how long do airbags remain safe? I always wondered why there was a recall on the passenger airbag on one of our cars, but not the drivers.Also had the airbag stolen from a 2003 Honda, and it was a nightmare to get it properly replaced by the insurance company.
  • El scotto The Horror! The Horror! Former Scirocco owner with VW PTSD. It cost more to maintain than the BMW it got traded for. The BMW cost more to maintain than the Mustang GT ragtop it got traded for.Will a used Jaguar F type ragtop lead to more counseling?
  • El scotto Most of us have radio and phone controls on our steering wheels. I have no problems pressing a button and speaking.
  • MaintenanceCosts This could either be the greatest car you'll ever buy or an exasperating money pit, and you have no way whatsoever to know before you sign on the dotted line.
  • Arthur Dailey In Ontario 'distracted driving rules apply' . In Ontario while driving or stopped in traffic including at a red light or a stop sign it is illegal to i) use a phone or other hand-held wireless communication device to text or dial – you can only touch a device to call 911 in an emergency, ii) use a hand-held electronic entertainment device, such as a tablet or portable gaming console iii) view display screens unrelated to driving, such as watching a video program or a GPS device. In fact, simply holding a phone or other device while driving is against the law. – Government of Ontario website.Other examples of distracted driving may also include: personal grooming, eating or drinking, tending to children or pets. From Campisi LLP.