Rearview camera final safety standard issued (FMVSS111)

Full enforcement delayed by three years to vehicles built on and after May 1, 2018



A rearview mirror featuring display for images from a rearview camera
(Photo provided by Gentex Corporation)

The U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard requiring rearview camera was finally issued, on March 31, 2014, by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Department of Transportation (DOT). (The entire document can be found at the website of NHTSA ). The final rule applies to 100% of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of less than 10,000 pounds that are built on or after May 1, 2018, three years later than the original proposal.


1. Background

Congress: Cameron Gulbransen Kid's Transportation Safety Act of 2007 (K.T. Safety Act)

 The K.T. Act, proposed in 2007 by Senator Clinton and others, was passed for the purpose to reduce fatalities and injuries resulting from backover accidents involving children at home.

 The Act directed the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to initiate rulemaking to prevent such accidents by MY2015. The proposal was met by oppositions that challenged its cost effectiveness. Nevertheless, it was found that children under 5 years old and adults 70 years of age and older accounted for 60 percent of backover accident fatalities each year. The Act was passed because of the woefulness of such accidents.


Action by the U.S. Department of Transportation

 As directed in the K.T. Safety Act, NHTSA worked on amending the Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (MVSS).


Proposed amendment to the MVSS111 of October 2010

 In October 2010, NHTSA proposed amendment to the regulations regarding the rearview mirrors (MVSS111). Unlike the rear visibility requirement in the original standard, the proposed amendment required an expanded field of rearview to enable the driver to detect areas behind the vehicle. The area directly behind the bumpers was also included in the area that must be visible to the driver. The proposal even ruled the dimensions of the visible area and how it looked.

 The original proposal required a rearview camera and a display mounted in the driver's seat to display image from the camera. It called for phased-in application starting with the MY2013 and 100% application with the MY2015. The starting time of application was later delayed by three years for phase-in application in MY2016 and for 100% application with all vehicles manufactured in and after May 2018.

 In discussing the Act's cost effectiveness, the NHTSA predicted that the automakers would voluntarily feature rearview camera and video systems on 73% of their vehicles in the market by 2018. The agency insisted that only the remaining 27% of the vehicles would be affected by the new rule. As a result, the agency reached the conclusion that the rule would not impose a high cost burden on automakers.



2. Summary of final rule requiring rearview camera in amended MVSS111

Applicable vehicles (S3)
All vehicles under GVWR of 10,000 pounds (passenger cars, SUVs, trucks, buses)
Enforcement (phased-in application) (S5.5, S6.2, S15)
* Over 10% of vehicles manufactured between May 1, 2016 and April 30, 2017 (see Note)
* Over 40% of vehicles manufactured between May 1, 2017 and April 30, 2018 (see Note)
* 100% of vehicles manufactured on and after May 1, 2018
   Note: Or average wearing rate of vehicles manufactured in the three previous years
Reporting and record keeping requirements (S585.126, S585.127)
* Each manufacturer must submit a report to the NHTSA as required during the period from May 1, 2016 and April 30, 2018, containing the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for each applicable vehicle. Records must be kept until April 30, 2022.
Summary of rear visibility requirements
* Definition of 'backing event' (S4): An amount of time which starts when the vehicle's direction selector is placed in Reverse and ends when the vehicle's forward motion reaches; (1) a speed of 10mph, (2) a distance of 10 meters traveled, or (3) a continuous duration of 10 seconds.
* 'Rear visibility requirements' (S5.5.1, S5.5.3, S6.2.1, S6.2.2): The circular cylinders placed at points A through G in the area behind the vehicle (5 feet from either of the vehicle's centerline to 20 feet longitudinally from the vehicle' rear bumper) must be visible on the display mounted by the driver's seat while meeting the following requirements:
F, G: The 150mm-wide vertical and horizontal stripes on the cylinders (Fig. 2) must be visible (Fig. 3).
A ~ E: The circular cylinder (Fig. 2) must be entirely visible (Fig. 3).
A, B, C: Minimum width of the test cylinders. The visual angle of the cylinder (see Note) as seen in the display by the driver's seat must be no less than 3 minutes of arc each, or an average of no less than 5 minutes of arc (Fig. 4).
   Note: See S14.1.8 in the MVSS111 about the equation of calculating the Visual Angle.
Fig. 1 Vehicle field of rearview
Vehicle field of rearview
Fig. 2 Test objects
Test objects

Fig. 3 Test object image requirements
(objects A to G must be visible)

Test object image requirements

Fig. 4 Image size requirements
(visual angles at the top portions of the objects A, B, and C)

Image size requirements
Other requirements
* Response time, linger time: (S5.5.3, S5.5.4, S6.2.3, S6.2.4): The rearview image shall be displayed within 2 seconds after the direction selector is placed in Reverse (the start of the backing event), and shall not be displayed after the backing event has ended.
* Duration of display (S5.5.5, S6.2.5): The rearview image must remain visible during the backing event until either the driver modifies the view or the vehicle direction selector is removed from Reverse.
* Default view (S5.5.6, S6.2.6): The rear visibility system must default to the rearview image meeting the requirements at the beginning of each backing event regardless of any modifications to the field of view.




* The long overdue standard was finally issued. As NHTSA noted in the document, rearview cameras are already fitted as standard equipment on many vehicles (grade standard). Besides, automakers have plenty time before the standard becomes fully applicable and it does not seem to impose much burden on them.

* The standard requires a rearview display fitted by the driver's seat. Hence, automakers are making audio with display systems available on more vehicles.

* To expand the function of the standard display, automakers are working on links between the display and smartphones (such as the use of smartphone applications for navigations and music in vehicles).

* The new rule requiring rearview display is increasing the use of touch panels on more models and unique designs of audio systems. These trends are likely to cause severe conditions for suppliers of aftermarket audio and navigation systems in conventional sizes (2DIN, 1DIN).

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