Scott F. Belcher, president and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), responded to the vehicle-to-vehicle communications announcement made by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology.
"Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children and young adults in the U.S., with approximately 33,000 people killed and 2.3 million injured each year on America's roads," said Belcher. "While the auto industry has made great strides to reduce fatalities and injuries after a crash, the next giant leap is to enable real-time communication between vehicles and with the world around them so crashes can be avoided in the first place."
"This announcement represents a significant step forward in advancing the next generation of vehicle safety and automotive innovation, and is the result of years of collaboration between the transportation and high-tech industries and our federal, state and local partners," continued Belcher, who called it "a safety leap exceeding even seat belts and air bags."
"Thanks to the strong commitment by U.S. DOT and automotive leaders and years of investment by countless innovators and industry pioneers, the vision of 'talking' cars that avoid crashes is well on the way to becoming a reality. And we're not just talking about cars talking to cars, but about cars talking to bikes, trucks talking to motorcycles and even buses talking to pedestrians. This promises to significantly reduce the number of deaths and injuries on our nation's roads while unleashing a new wave of innovation from advanced traffic management systems and smart mobility apps to real-time traffic, transit and parking information. We look forward to working with U.S. DOT, the automakers and the high-tech industry to ensure that issues such as security and privacy are addressed as we work toward full scale adoption of this life-saving technology."
Belcher also thanked Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler for his commitment to ensure that the 5.9 GHz band which supports V2V communications remains free from interference, which could result from expanded use of Wi-Fi in the band. The FCC allocated the 5.9 GHz band for the development of connected vehicle technology following ITS America's petition for spectrum to support this vital safety system. NHTSA estimates that connected vehicle technology could potentially address 80% of all unimpaired crash scenarios.
"While we are working closely with our partners in the wi-fi industry to explore the potential for spectrum sharing in the 5.9 GHz band, we are thrilled that Chairman Wheeler is outspoken in his commitment to putting safety first while we examine potential solutions. With more than 30,000 deaths on our nation's roads every year, it is critical that efforts to open up additional spectrum do not come at the expense of revolutionary life-saving technologies. And as automated vehicles begin to be rolled out over the next decade, vehicle-to-vehicle communications will be critical for preventing crashes and enabling drivers, operators and traffic managers to navigate this brand new world more safety and efficiently."
The U.S. DOT is currently sponsoring the largest naturalistic test of connected vehicle technology in the world in Ann Arbor, Mich.—the Safety Pilot Model Deployment—with nearly 3,000 cars, buses, trucks and motorcycles outfitted with 5.9 GHz dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) radios devices to test the effectiveness of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications. The National Transportation Safety Board made a formal recommendation last year that the technology be installed on all newly manufactured vehicles.
ITS America Leadership Circle Chair Peter F. Sweatman—director of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), which is conducting the Safety Pilot in Ann Arbor—testified on behalf of ITS America before the House T&I Subcommittee on Highways and Transit last week about the latest developments in connected and automated vehicles, including collaborative efforts to deploy connected vehicle technology more broadly in southeast Michigan, which could serve as a model for nationwide deployment.