Trucks are constantly undergoing changes in design. Better engines, less wind drag, improved wheel bases – these are all things designed to make trucks perform better without hindering the experience of the driver. Now there is a new motion to replace side mirrors on trucks, and it has the support of the FMCSA.
Instead of using mirrors, the new movement on the technological front would see them replaced by cameras. The cameras offer a much greater field of vision, and what they see would be displayed on a screen in the cab. Unlike a lot of new technology, the camera systems have received over two million miles of active testing to work out any bugs or potential failures. By having the screens closer to the driver’s forward field of view, there is less reduction in reaction time. The camera system is being recognized as beneficial by the FMCSA in its ongoing focus on safety issues for the trucking industry. The new system also does not require much in the way of cost or effort to implement, so truckers will not be further limited if the system becomes mandatory.
Potential Fuel Savings
One of the other benefits being touted by the new camera system is that it reduces drag caused by regular side mirrors. The reduced drag translates to better fuel efficiency by as much as 2.5 percent. That relatively low number may not seem like anything great until it is multiplied by the total number of active trucks in the United States. With the price of fuel slated to increase in the near future – in part due to the demand for cleaner diesel for new freight ships – shaving off the total overhead cost for the trucking industry will certainly appeal to anyone in charge of accounting. Schneider spent over $300 million in fuel and gas taxes to keep their fleet running in 2017. a 2.5 percent savings would equate to $7.6 million. Even for large fleets, that’s a sizable amount.
While advocated are pushing the FMCSA to test the camera system further in a pilot program, it is not inconceivable that we will see trucks without side mirrors in the next decade.