Consumers Union: News Report of Gov’t Halting Vehicle-to-Vehicle Tech Standards “Deeply Disappointing”

Experts

Director of Cars and Product Policy and Analysis
Policy Analyst
Communications Director

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC—The Associated Press today reported that the Trump administration has halted plans by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to require new cars to come equipped with wireless, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications capability. This technology would allow cars to “talk” to one another and share important safety-related information through wireless transmissions in order to prevent crashes and save lives. This includes situations where technologies like radar, cameras, and lidar have challenges, such as snow or at a blind intersection.

Consumers Union, the policy division of Consumer Reports, thinks V2V technology could play a critical role in improving road safety.  The nonprofit organization has supported NHTSA’s proposal to set a new mandatory safety standard requiring V2V technology on new cars.

David Friedman, director of cars and product policy and analysis for Consumers Union, said, “This report, if confirmed, would be deeply disappointing. 37,461 Americans died on our roads last year, so the last thing the administration should do is stall a technology that could save thousands of lives every year by itself, and is critical to the success of self-driving cars.”

Friedman previously served as both Deputy and Acting Administrator of NHTSA, including during the time that NHTSA formally launched its V2V rulemaking process in 2014.

Friedman said, “NHTSA’s 2016 proposal made clear that every consumer on the road would be able to benefit from wireless safety communications among cars, trucks, and infrastructure. New cars should be required to send and receive these messages so that all consumers can receive safety benefits—not just those who can afford to buy expensive add-ons.

“We would oppose any effort in the administration to slow down or stop work on the safety standard for V2V communications. We strongly urge the White House and Department of Transportation to be transparent with the public and make clear right away whether or not they intend for this rule to move forward.”

NHTSA’s proposed rule, released in December 2016, would require a standard format and content for basic safety messages about a car’s position, speed, heading, acceleration, trajectory, and other information. According to the agency, this technology would complement camera- or sensor-based advanced vehicle safety features and could help address up to 3.4 million crashes every year, involving an estimated 7,000 fatalities and 1.8 million injuries.

Consumers Union supported the proposed rule in April 2017 comments, given the significant potential of V2V communications to improve traffic safety. Specifically, the technology could give drivers an early warning of unseen crash hazards posed by other vehicles. CU also called for the rule to reasonably account for potential future developments, and for baseline, enforceable standards to protect the privacy and security of communications.

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Contact: David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org202-462-6262

Consumers Union is the policy division of Consumer Reports.  Consumers Union works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace. Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization.  Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually.