Personal Injury

Placed properly, lane departure warning sensors assist truck drivers

In a July 14 letter to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), The American Trucking Associations (ATA) asked federal regulators to waive the rules prohibiting the placement of lane departure warning sensors on the swept area of the windshield. ATA submitted the letter in support of a petition filed by trucking companies Con-way, TK Holdings, and Iteris, who seek to use the safety devices outside the permitted areas on their vehicles.

Most lane departure warning systems use cameras to determine that a vehicle is within the center of the lane markings, just as human drivers do with their eyes. According to the ATA’s letter, these systems require the same cleared area as the driver to “see” properly.

However, FMCSA regulations prohibit the placement of the lane detection devices where they can be most beneficial in order to eliminate obstructions to the driver’s view. ATA said that mounting the sensors near the upper edge of the windshield placed them well outside of the driver’s primary field of forward vision and shouldn’t impede the driver’s ability to clearly see the road and signage.

Mounting the sensors higher on the windshield, out of the driver’s field of view as the current regulations require, would diminish their effectiveness, the ATA said.

“When the system determines that it cannot ‘see’ well enough to determine the lane markings, it will emit a warning signal to the driver and go offline until the visibility is restored. While offline, any safety benefit is negated,” the letter stated.

ATA also requested the waiver on the grounds that the FMCSA has granted similar exemptions in the past, and the devices could improve safety by detecting unintended lane changes and alerting the driver. Unintended lane changes typically happen when the driver is distracted or fatigued. Alerting the driver to make these corrections during a lane change may prevent serious accidents such as sideswipes or head-on collisions.