Windshield-Mounted GPS Devices Now Okay Says FMCSA

Back in 2016, the FMCSA allowed certain vehicle safety technologies to be mounted on windshield interiors. This included inside the area swept by windshield wipers. The rule was part of the 2015 FAST Act highway bill. The regulations specified that the voluntary mounting of safety technology on a windshield was allowed.

The technology specified included:

  • Camera systems
  • Speed management systems
  • Lane departure warning systems
  • Forward collision warning systems
  • Collision mitigation systems
  • Active cruise control
  • Other applicable technologies

At the time, the current regulations stated that devices could not be mounted more than six inches below the upper edge of the windshield and outside the truck driver’s line of sight. With the new regulation, the devices have to have been mounted no more than four inches below the upper edge or seven inches below the lower edge of the area swept by the windshield wipers. Again, they would have to be mounted outside the operator’s line of sight so that they could see road signals and signs.

Federal regulations further defined vehicle safety technologies as those related to fleet management, performance, behavior, speed or other systems related to those factors. Over time, the FMCSA made further exceptions to the rule, but it wouldn’t be long before requests were coming in for something more.

Then, came petitions from transportation companies that it should be more than just safety devices that are granted the exception. Read on for the full story.

Fleets Petition the FMCSA

By March of this year, a 60-truck fleet requested a waiver from the FMCSA asking if they – and other fleets – could be allowed to mount GPS devices in the area around the windshield. Specifically, they were asking about the area which had previously been designated for vehicle safety technology.

While the FMCSA had allowed vehicle safety technology mounting for three years, GPS devices were still off-limits. The trucking company asking for the waiver specifically stated in their petition that any carrier who wishes to mount a GPS device on the windshield within the area defined for vehicle safety technology should be allowed to do so.

The FMCSA took public comment on the potential waiver through April 23rd before finally making their ruling.

The FMCSA Decides

After some time tossing the idea around, the FMCSA finally came to a conclusion on the matter in mid-August, when they announced that they would grant the trucking company requesting the waiver a limited 5-year exemption. Furthermore, the exemption applied “on behalf of motor carriers operating commercial motor vehicles.”

Their exemption specifically stated that motor carriers operating commercial motor vehicles would be allowed to mount a GPS device on the interior of the windshield normally designated specifically for vehicle safety technologies. In their ruling, the FMCSA determined that mounting a GPS device in the windshield area would not have a negative impact on the safe operation of the vehicle.

They did specify that transportation companies would have to adhere to the terms and conditions of the exemption and that, if so, they would achieve a level of safety equivalent or greater to the level of safety provided by the original regulation.

With the new exemption in place, expect trucking companies to jump on board. By allowing motor carriers to mount the devices on the windshield, it frees up interior space in the cab for other critical devices and mechanisms. Furthermore, it puts necessary information in easy viewing range of the truck driver whenever they need it.

While many say a loosening of trucking regulations create an unsafe environment, most industry advocates agree that this change is only good and creates a better environment for professional truck drivers who have safety on their mind. The ELD mandate has proven this.