The development of regulations affecting commercial motor vehicles and the holders of a Commercial driver’s license has been assigned to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The FMCSA Regulations include windshields, windows and equipment that affect a driver’s view of the roadside and surrounding environment.
Maintaining compliance with these regulations has taken on a new significance for drivers and carriers since the introduction of the FMCSA’s Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 (CSA2010). The program methodology was later renamed Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA). Drivers should maintain a familiarity with the provisions of this program. The assignment of CSA severity weight points to drivers’ scores and carriers’ safety ratings occurs when non-conformance with the safety regulations is observed during roadside inspections. Unacceptable windshield conditions could draw a law enforcement officer’s attention to you and trigger a roadside inspection. Understand the following requirements and avoid a blemish on your record.
- The area of concern with a truck windshield does not include a 2-inch border at the top, a 1-inch border at each side of the windshield or windshield panel and the area below the top of the steering wheel.
- The vision of the driver must not be obstructed by discoloration or damage, within the remaining portion of the windshield.
- The unacceptable damage discussed in the regulations is a rock chip greater than ¾ inch or a chip that cannot be covered by a nickel. A small rock chip that is less than ¾ inch but is within 3 inches of another similarly or greater sized chip, or a crack would also be a defect. Any two cracks that intersect are also a defect.
- CMV windshields, and the driver and passenger windows, may be tinted providing that 70% of light be allowed to pass through the window under normal light conditions. Two important factors that must be considered before an owner decides to tint a truck window are: (a) Clear tempered glass allows only 88% - 92% light to pass through. (b) Many OEM truck windows receive tint at the factory that allows close to the minimum legal at 76% - 78% light transmittance.
- If owners apply tint what they believe to be legal at 30% blockage, light transmission through clear glass would be an unacceptable 62% -64%. Worse yet, applying the same tint to a typical factory tinted window would allow less than 55% light to pass through.
- Many drivers tint their windows because they are worried about the affects of bright sunlight on their eyes and skin. A viable and legal solution to offset the harsh affects of the sunlight would be clear, ultraviolet blocking window film that is readily available at $2 - $3 per square foot.
- The regulation concerning windshield obstructions is quite clear. FMCSA regulation, §393.60(e) states, in part: Antennas, transponders, and similar devices must not be mounted more than 6 inches below the upper edge of the windshield. These devices must be located outside the area swept by the windshield wipers, and outside the driver's sight lines to the road and highway signs and signals.
- Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) inspection decals and stickers and/or decals required under Federal or State laws may be placed at the bottom or sides of the windshield. Such decals or stickers must not extend more than 4 ½ inches from the bottom of the windshield and must be located outside the area swept by the windshield wipers, and outside the driver's sight lines to the road and highway signs or signals.
- It is a common practice to attach GPS receivers or pre-pass and toll road transponders in an unauthorized area of the windshield. Drivers should be aware that this practice is non-compliant with the regulations.
WINDSHIELD WIPERS AND WASHERS
- Each bus, truck, and truck-tractor manufactured on or after December 25, 1968, must have a windshield wiping system.
- Each of these vehicles must also have a windshield washing system. Windshield washing systems must contain washing fluid in order to be considered a working system.
Any of the aforementioned defects could result in a violation with a fine and associated CSA points. Additionally, an experienced mechanic performing the annually required DOT Periodic Inspection should fail the inspection if cracks or chips adversely affect the driver’s vision. The inspection should also fail if the wiper is inoperative or has missing parts that render it ineffective.
The worst-case inspection scenario a driver faces is a roadside inspection that results in an out of service order for a laden truck on a tight schedule. A defective windshield wiper on the driver’s side during inclement weather requires an out of service order. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) out of service criteria places in a restricted service condition any CMV that has a crack in the windshield area lying in the sweep of the driver’s wiper blade. Follow these requirements to keep your record clean and to keep you on the road.