FAST ACT: Safety technology exempted from windshield-mounting ban

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line associate editor | Monday, December 21, 2015

Windshield-mounted technologies ostensibly designed to improve safety or track driver behavior will be exempted from federal regulations that prohibit obstructing the driver’s view.

The exemption comes as part of Section 5301 in the FAST Act, which directs the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary to revise the existing regulations within the next six months to include the exemption for “the voluntary mounting on a windshield of vehicle safety technology likely to achieve a level of safety that is equivalent to or greater than the level of safety that would be achieved absent the exemption.”

The act defines vehicle safety technology as “a fleet-related incident management system, performance or behavior management system, speed management system, lane departure warning system, forward collision warning or mitigation system, and active cruise control system” as well as any other technology that the Transportation secretary considers applicable.

The existing language prohibits obstructing the driver’s field of view with devices such as antennas, transponders, and similar devices, which must not be mounted more than 6 inches below the upper edge of the windshield.

While the Association did not actively oppose the change, OOIDA Regulatory Affairs Director Scott Grenerth said the language of the proposal – which specifically cites fleet management devices, is geared to helping fleets, not drivers.

“Locating a GPS device or phone with a placement to minimize the time eyes are off the road provides a safety benefit every day,” Grenerth said. “Locating a ‘fleet-related incident management system’ in the same location may never provide a safety benefit, yet Congress has granted this special dispensation because they believe it may provide a safety benefit.”

For the first time in more than a decade, highway funding and policy are settled for the next five years with the president’s signature putting into law the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act Dec. 4, 2015.

The House of Representatives passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or FAST Act, by a vote of 359-65 on Dec. 3, with one day until the current funding extension expired. The Senate defied earlier reports that it would not take up the measure until the following week and passed the bill by a vote of 83-16 that same evening.

Hailed as a bill with many pieces of trucker-driven language included, the bill is filled with a number of regulatory and highway funding provisions of interest to truck drivers.

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