Driving into the future. The Automakers of Tesla and Audi want to roll out new vehicle technology that could change our driving habits. But is it safe?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering a plan to replace rear and side view mirrors with digital side mirrors or “camera monitoring systems” outside of those vehicles.
The reason? Better fuel efficiency. An Audi spokesperson tells NBC Connecticut, the cameras “can be safer by eliminating blind spots, but they do allow for better Aerodynamics. We currently do offer the digital side mirrors in Europe where they are legal.”
“We’re not there yet,” said Kelly Funkhouser, Program Manager of Vehicle Interface Testing at Consumer Reports.
Auto safety experts at Consumer Reports have been tracking the new technology.
“We definitely had an initial concern reaction because some of the technology we have seen can be faulty,” said Funkhouser. “We do hear reports of infotainment screens or back up camera type of screens going blank sometimes or being covered in ice or rain.”
Funkhouser said the technology could prove to be safe down the road.
“The implementations that we’ve seen with some of the vehicles are only activated when you turn on your turn signals. But we want to be able to make sure we have full awareness around our vehicle all times. Not when we’re just making out lane change,” said Funkhouser. “There are a lot of issues related to the ability to perceive how fast a car is traveling behind you through a camera instead of through a mirror.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reviewing the change. Currently, all vehicles are required to have one or more rear view mirrors. Most vehicles have three.
“The general public is not necessarily on board yet,” said Amy Parmenter, AAA, Connecticut.
According to AAA, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding this technology.
“If there is sufficient research that shows that any kind of technology is at least as good as, if not better than what already exists, then certainly that technology would be a consideration,” said Parmenter. “While this may be alarming at first glance, it’s not a decision that’s going to be made without consideration for the motorists safety.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will review the hundreds of public comment its received and then conduct its own research before making a decision on the new technology.