Dear NHTSA Stakeholder:
We write to alert you to a new NHTSA research report about a potential risk to an advanced vehicle safety technology called “vehicle-to-everything” communications (or “V2X,” for short). V2X is a wireless technology that allows vehicles to share critical safety information with other road users (including pedestrians and bicyclists) as well as with highway infrastructure. It promises to reduce crashes, protect first responders, alleviate traffic congestion, and assist State and local governments more efficiently maintain our highways, without requiring drivers to pay monthly subscription fees or give up their privacy.
V2X works by sending wireless communications on the 5.9 GHz “Safety Band,” which is a 75 MHz band of wireless spectrum reserved for transportation safety purposes. V2X devices share information about vehicle location, speed, and direction, letting drivers know if another V2X-enabled vehicle is coming around a blind corner, or if a pedestrian carrying a V2X device is in the roadway ahead. Other potential uses include sharing information with the highway infrastructure about traffic or road conditions, such as when vehicles experience an emergency or when a vehicle detects icy road conditions.
Contrary to what you may have heard, V2X technology is available today and is already deployed on a limited basis. Vehicle manufacturers have already included connected vehicle technology in some production vehicles and are testing additional safety devices that depend on the availability of this spectrum.
As was mentioned at the beginning of this note, NHTSA released an important research report last week that examines whether allowing part of the Safety Band to be re-purposed for non-safety Wi-Fi operations could negatively affect vehicle communication and safety in the remaining part of the Safety Band. This report concludes that allowing non-safety Wi-Fi signals to be broadcast in one part of the 5.9 GHz Safety Band could create harmful interference with V2X safety messages in the remaining parts of the Safety Band. Such interference could reduce or even eliminate the safety benefits that our highway users otherwise would enjoy as V2X devices deploy. The NHTSA Spectrum Interference Test report can be found at this link.
Members of the public, including members of NHTSA’s stakeholder community, are invited to share their comments for the record on our Safety Band research. To comment, go to http://www.regulations.gov and enter the docket number NHTSA-2019-0133, which will be publicly available in the next few days. Your perspective on our nation’s highway safety priorities is invaluable.
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Relatedly, as announced in October 2019, NHTSA plans to propose major upgrades to the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) in early 2020. In the proposed upgrade, NHTSA will consider the latest in advanced vehicle safety technologies, including V2X communications, for the next generation of NCAP. As always, NHTSA will provide the public with an opportunity to comment on our proposals when they are published early next year.
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Thank you for the work you do every day to advance safety on our nation’s roads. Please have a happy and safe holiday season.
|James C. Owens
U.S. Department of Transportation
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590