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Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Robert Bosch, LLC and Mekra Lang North America, LLC Application for an Exemption

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Bosch, Mekra Lang

Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Robert Bosch, LLC and Mekra Lang North America, LLC Application for an Exemption

James W. Deck
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
17 September 2020


[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 181 (Thursday, September 17, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 58106-58108]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-20470]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

[Docket No. FMCSA-2019-0286]


Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Robert Bosch, 
LLC and Mekra Lang North America, LLC Application for an Exemption

AGENCY: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 
Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Notice of final disposition.

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SUMMARY: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) 
announces its decision to grant a limited 5-year exemption to Robert 
Bosch, LLC and Mekra Lang North America, LLC (Bosch and Mekra Lang) to 
allow motor carriers to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) with 
the companies' CV (Commercial Vehicle) Digital Mirror System installed 
as an alternative to the two rear-vision mirrors required by the 
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). The Agency has 
determined that granting the exemption would likely achieve a level of 
safety equivalent to or greater than the level of safety provided by 
the regulation.

DATES: This exemption is effective September 17, 2020 and ending 
September 17, 2025.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Luke Loy, Vehicle and Roadside 
Operations Division, Office of Carrier, Driver, and Vehicle Safety, MC-
PSV, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590-0001; (202) 366-0676; luke.loy@dot.gov.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments submitted to notice requesting public comments on the 
exemption application, go to www.regulations.gov at any time or visit 
Room W12-140 on the ground level of the West Building, 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue SE, Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., ET, Monday 
through Friday, except Federal holidays. To be sure someone is there to 
help you, please call (202) 366-9317 or (202) 366-9826 before visiting 
Docket Operations. The on-line Federal document management system is 
available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year.
    The docket number is listed at the beginning of this notice.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    FMCSA has authority under 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 31315 to grant 
exemptions from certain parts of the FMCSRs. FMCSA must publish a 
notice of each exemption request in the Federal Register (49 CFR 
381.315(a)). The Agency must provide the public an opportunity to 
inspect the information relevant to the application, including any 
safety analyses that have been conducted. The Agency must also provide 
an opportunity for public comment on the request.
    The Agency reviews safety analyses and public comments submitted, 
and determines whether granting the exemption would likely achieve a 
level of safety equivalent to, or greater than, the level that would be 
achieved by the current regulation (49 CFR 381.305). The decision of 
the Agency must be published in the Federal Register (49 CFR 
381.315(b)) with the reasons for denying or granting the application 
and, if granted, the name of the person or class of persons receiving 
the exemption, and the regulatory provision from which the exemption is 
granted. The notice must also specify the effective period (up to 5 
years) and explain the terms and conditions of the exemption. The 
exemption may be renewed (49 CFR 381.300(b)).

Bosch and Mekra Lang Application for Exemption

    Bosch and Mekra Lang applied for an exemption from 49 CFR 393.80(a) 
to allow its CV Digital Mirror System to be installed as an alternative 
to the two rear-vision mirrors required on CMVs. A copy of the 
application is included in the docket referenced at the beginning of 
this notice.
    Section 393.80(a) of the FMCSRs requires that each bus, truck, and 
truck-tractor be equipped with two rear-vision mirrors, one at each 
side. The mirrors must be positioned to reflect to the driver a view of 
the highway to the rear and the area along both sides of the CMV. 
Section 393.80(a) cross-references the National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration's (NHTSA) standards for mirrors on motor vehicles (49 
CFR 571.111, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard [FMVSS] No. 111). 
Paragraph S7.1 of FMVSS No. 111 provides requirements for mirrors on 
multipurpose passenger vehicles and trucks with a gross vehicle weight 
rating (GVWR) greater than 4,536 kg and less than 11,340 kg and each 
bus, other than a school bus, with a GVWR of more than 4,536 kg. 
Paragraph S8.1 provides requirements for mirrors on multipurpose 
passenger vehicles and trucks with a GVWR of 11,340 kg or more.
    The CV Digital Mirror System consists of multiple digital cameras 
firmly

[[Page 58107]]

mounted high on the exterior of the vehicle, enclosed in an aerodynamic 
package that provides both environmental protection for the cameras and 
a mounting location for optimal visibility. Each camera has proprietary 
video processing software that presents a clear, high-definition image 
to the driver by means of a monitor firmly mounted to the left and 
right A-pillar of the CMV, i.e., the structural member between the 
windshield and door of the cab. Bosch and Mekra Lang explain that 
attaching the monitors to the A-pillars avoids the creation of 
additional blind spots while eliminating the blind spots associated 
with conventional mirrors. Bosch and Mekra Lang state that its CV 
Digital Mirror System meets or exceeds the visibility requirements 
provided in FMVSS No. 111 based on the following factors:
     The cameras and screens are securely mounted to ensure 
that vibration does not adversely affect field of vision or cause the 
driver to misinterpret images.
     The system tracks the end of the trailer and pans the 
camera's view to ensure that the trailer's end remains in view while it 
is in motion.
     The left and right video channels are processed 
independently so that a failure of one camera or one monitor does not 
affect the camera or monitor on the opposite side.
     The system reduces glare from ambient light, provides 
color night vision, and uses lowlight functionality.
     The screen uses anti-glare, anti-reflection, and anti-
fingerprinting coating to keep the screens readable in a variety of 
environmental conditions.
     The system's ergonomics are such that it requires reduced 
upper-body range of motion, thereby reducing driver fatigue.
     The system's fixed-mount design eliminates the need for 
aim adjusting for different drivers.
     Polarization of the screen is aligned with that in 
polarized sunglasses so that the screen remains visible to operators 
using such sunglasses.
    The exemption would apply to all CMV operators driving vehicles 
with the CV Digital Mirror System. Bosch and Mekra Lang believe that 
mounting the system as described would maintain a level of safety that 
is equivalent to, or greater than, the level of safety achieved without 
the exemption.

Request for Comments

    FMCSA published a notice of the application in the Federal Register 
on January 30, 2020, and asked for public comment (85 FR 5534). The 
Agency received 3 comments, from the American Bus Association (ABA) and 
2 individuals.
    ABA supports granting the application, stating:

    Camera-based visibility systems or CBVSs, like the CV Digital 
Mirror System technology, are vehicle technology advancements ABA 
believes should be deployed to improve safety of CMV operations. 
Such systems are currently being installed and tested by equipment 
manufacturers in limited capacity; however, to ascertain real-world 
viability, equipment manufacturers need to deploy these systems for 
use in actual commercial operations. As with FMCSA's decision to 
grant an exemption to Stoneridge, Inc. for use of its MirrorEye 
Camera Monitor System (see Docket No. FMCSA-2018-0141, published 
February 21, 2019), and Vision Systems North America for its 
SmartVision system (see Docket No. FMCSA-FMCSA-2019-0159, published 
January 15, 2020) in place of mirrors[, the CV Digital Mirror 
System] will achieve a level of safety equivalent to or greater than 
the level of safety provided by the regulation.

    In addition, ABA stated that when compared to traditional mirrors, 
the CV Digital Mirror System provides additional visibility benefits 
including (1) anti-glare, (2) improved visibility at night and during 
adverse weather conditions, and (3) elimination of blind spots by 
providing a broader field of vision around the vehicle. ABA noted that 
the improvements in driver visibility can lead to enhanced 
maneuverability in backing up or turning a large vehicle. ABA also 
stated that eliminating the side mirrors may also provide fuel 
efficiency gains and carbon emission reductions, and may assist in 
reducing actions that lead to increased driver fatigue such as head and 
eye movements. In addition to noting that the exemption would be 
consistent with FMCSA's decision to grant exemptions to Stoneridge, 
Inc. and Vision Systems for similar systems, ABA also stated that 
granting the exemption is consistent with recent activities by NHTSA 
relating to possible revisions to FMVSS No. 111. Specifically, NHTSA 
published a notice and request for public comment on August 28, 2019 
(84 FR 45209), on a proposed collection of information relating to a 
multi-year research effort to learn about drivers' use of camera-based 
systems designed to replace traditional outside rearview mirrors. 
Initial research will focus on light vehicles, and be followed by 
research examining camera-based visibility systems on heavy trucks. 
Additionally, NHTSA published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking 
on October 10, 2019 (84 FR 54533), seeking public comment on permitting 
camera-based rear visibility systems as an alternative to inside and 
outside rearview mirrors.
    Two individuals provided comments and noted concerns with the CV 
Digital Mirror System. One commenter suggested that the cameras be used 
in conjunction with standard rearview mirrors, rather than replacing 
them, due to concerns that an unsafe operating condition would exist in 
the event of a camera failure. Another commenter noted that neither the 
FMCSRs nor the CVSA out-of-service criteria address camera-based mirror 
systems.

FMCSA Decision

    The FMCSA has evaluated the Bosch and Mekra Lang exemption 
application, and the comments received. For the reasons discussed 
below, FMCSA believes that granting the exemption to allow motor 
carriers to operate CMVs with the CV Digital Mirror System installed as 
an alternative to the two rear-vision mirrors required by the FMCSRs is 
likely to achieve a level of safety equivalent to or greater than the 
level of safety provided by the regulation.
    Use of the CV Digital Mirror System provides CMV drivers with an 
enhanced field of view when compared to the required rear-vision 
mirrors because (1) it eliminates the blind spots on both sides of the 
vehicle created by the required rear-vision mirrors, (2) the multi-
camera system expands the field of view compared to the required rear-
vision mirrors by an estimated 25 percent, and (3) the system uses high 
definition cameras and monitors that include features such as color 
night vision, low light sensitivity, and light and glare reduction that 
together help provide drivers with improved vision in the field of view 
when compared to traditional rear-vision mirrors.
    FMCSA notes that the CV Digital Mirror system is currently being 
used in a number of European countries as a legal alternative to the 
traditional rear-vision mirrors under the requirements of ISO 
(International Organization for Standardization) 16505 Rev 2019. That 
standard provides minimum safety, ergonomic, and performance 
requirements for camera monitor systems to replace mandatory inside and 
outside rearview mirrors for road vehicles. The ISO standard addresses 
camera monitor systems that will be used in road vehicles to present 
the required outside information of a specific field of view inside the 
vehicle. The CV Digital Mirror System has also been validated to meet 
ISO 26262-2011, Road Vehicles--Functional Safety; and United Nations 
Economic Commission

[[Page 58108]]

for Europe (UNECE) R46 rev 06--Devices for Indirect Vision.
    FMCSA acknowledges the concerns of the two individual commenters 
regarding use of the CV Digital Mirror System. The FMCSRs impose 
several operational controls that will help ensure that the CV Digital 
Mirror System is functioning properly at all times. Section 396.7 of 
the FMCSRs, ``Unsafe operations forbidden,'' prohibits any vehicle from 
being operated in such a condition as to likely cause an accident or 
breakdown of the vehicle. Section 392.7(a) requires each CMV driver to 
satisfy himself/herself that a vehicle is in safe condition before 
operating the vehicle, which would include ensuring that the rear-
vision mirrors are (or in this case, that the CV Digital Mirror System 
is) in good working order. Similarly, section 396.13(a) of the FMCSRs 
requires that, before driving a vehicle, a driver must be satisfied 
that the vehicle is in safe operating condition. If the CV Digital 
Mirror System (effectively functioning as the rear vision mirrors) 
fails during operation, the driver must complete a driver vehicle 
inspection report at the completion of the work day as required by 
section 396.11 of the FMCSRs, and the motor carrier must ensure that 
the defect is corrected.

Terms and Conditions for the Exemption

    The Agency hereby grants the exemption for a 5-year period, 
beginning September 17, 2020 and ending September 17, 2025. During the 
temporary exemption period, motor carriers operating CMVs may utilize 
the Bosch and Mekra Lang CV Digital Mirror System installed in lieu of 
the two rear-vision mirrors required by section 393.80 of the FMCSRs. 
FMCSA emphasizes that this exemption is limited to the Bosch and Mekra 
Lang CV Digital Mirror System, and does not apply to any other camera-
based mirror replacement system/technology. Section 396.7 of the 
FMCSRs, ``Unsafe operations forbidden,'' prohibits any vehicle from 
being operated in such a condition as to likely cause an accident or a 
breakdown of the vehicle. If the camera or monitor system fails during 
normal vehicle operation on the highway, continued operation of the 
vehicle shall be forbidden until (1) the CV Digital Mirror system can 
be repaired, or (2) conventional rear-vision mirrors that are compliant 
with section 393.80 are installed on the vehicle.
    The exemption will be valid for 5 years unless rescinded earlier by 
FMCSA. The exemption will be rescinded if: (1) Motor carriers and/or 
CMVs fail to comply with the terms and conditions of the exemption; (2) 
the exemption has resulted in a lower level of safety than was 
maintained before it was granted; or (3) continuation of the exemption 
would not be consistent with the goals and objectives of 49 U.S.C. 
31136(e) and 31315(b).
    Interested parties possessing information that would demonstrate 
that motor carriers operating CMVs utilizing the Bosch and Mekra Lang 
CV Digital Mirror System installed as an alternative to two rear-vision 
mirrors are not achieving the requisite statutory level of safety 
should immediately notify FMCSA. The Agency will evaluate any such 
information and, if safety is being compromised or if the continuation 
of the exemption is not consistent with 49 U.S.C. 31136(e) and 
31315(b), will take immediate steps to revoke the exemption.

Preemption

    In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 31313(d), as implemented by 49 CFR 
381.600, during the period this exemption is in effect, no State shall 
enforce any law or regulation applicable to interstate commerce that 
conflicts with or is inconsistent with this exemption with respect to a 
firm or person operating under the exemption. States may, but are not 
required to, adopt the same exemption with respect to operations in 
intrastate commerce.

James W. Deck,
Deputy Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2020-20470 Filed 9-16-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-EX-P

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