Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
On June 5, 2004, Mr. Bernard Cox submitted a petition for rulemaking
Under paragraph S6,
That portion of the vehicle fleet currently covered by S6 of the standard reflects a mix of convex mirrors and mirrors of unit magnification on the passenger's side of the vehicle. Each type of mirror has its advantages. Convex mirrors have the advantage of providing a wider field of view than a mirror of unit magnification of the same size. However, convex mirrors tend to provide an image that causes objects to appear further away and to be moving more slowly than they actually are. In contrast, mirrors of unit magnification generally provide a realistic rendering of approaching vehicles, although a narrower field of view and a larger “blind spot.”
Consumer preferences also vary in terms of the type of rearview mirror installed on the passenger's side of vehicles. The agency has received complaints from some vehicle owners who find convex mirrors annoying when trying to back up and maneuver trailers. However, others have asked the agency to allow convex mirrors in situations in locations where only a mirror of unit magnification is permitted (
The critical question posed by Mr. Cox's petition is whether there is evidence that use of a convex mirror at the passenger's side location on the vehicles in question has a negative impact on vehicle safety. To examine this issue, we reviewed the available research, including a relevant, agency-sponsored fleet study whose results were reported in a DOT research report titled, “Field Test Evaluation of Rearview Mirror Systems for Commercial Vehicles.”
Furthermore, consumers who experience difficulty adjusting to the field of view provided by a passenger-side convex mirror, including on vehicles towing a trailer, have a readily available alternative. There are currently many mirrors available in the aftermarket specifically designed to improve the visibility for drivers towing trailers, the majority of which are inexpensive and do not require significant vehicle modification.
In summary, the petitioner has not demonstrated and the agency's own research has not revealed the existence of a safety problem, as would justify amending FMVSS No. 111. People's attitudes regarding side-mounted rearview mirrors may vary based upon physiological differences or personal preference. For those consumers who desire a passenger-side mirror of unit magnification, aftermarket equipment is available to effectuate such a change. Accordingly, we do not see any reason to diminish the range of choice which FMVSS No. 111 currently provides to manufacturers to equip the vehicles in question with either a passenger-side convex mirror or mirror of unit magnification which meets the requirements of the safety standard.
In accordance with 49 CFR part 552, this completes the agency's review of the petition for rulemaking. In light of the considerations discussed above, the agency has concluded that agency resources should be spent addressing higher priority safety issues. Therefore, the petition for rulemaking is denied.
49 U.S.C. 332, 30111, 30115, 30117; and 30166; delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.50.