Washington, D.C. (July 17, 2014) – Scott F. Belcher, President and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), today released the following statement in response to the Wi-Fi Innovation Act introduced by U.S. Representatives Bob Latta (R-OH), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) that would put pressure on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow unlicensed devices to operate in the 5.9 GHz band of spectrum set aside by the FCC for life-saving vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication technology showcased by President Barack Obama on Tuesday during a visit to the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Virginia:
“ITS America and our members were thrilled to join President Obama this week to celebrate the latest connected vehicle technologies that are making our roads safer and our infrastructure smarter,” said ITS America President and CEO Scott Belcher. “As President Obama said this week, ‘Any new technology that makes driving safer is important to me and new technology that makes driving smarter is good for the economy.’ Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication has the potential to prevent or mitigate 4 out of 5 unimpaired vehicle crashes according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, saving tens of thousands of lives each year while improving mobility and reducing wasted time and fuel.”
Belcher continued, “While we support efforts to make better use of the nation’s airwaves and recognize the cable industry’s interest in gaining access to the 5.9 GHz band, I cannot think of a more appropriate, innovative and important use of spectrum than saving tens of thousands of lives each year and reducing the nearly $1 trillion cost of crashes and congestion to American families and our nation’s economy.”
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children and young adults in the United States, with more than 33,000 annual fatalities, 2.3 million injuries, and an economic cost of $871 billion according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Traffic congestion costs Americans another $121 billion in wasted time and fuel according to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, stifling economic growth and creating 5.5 billion hours of additional delay for commuters.
More than 3,000 vehicles are already operating with V2V technology in Ann Arbor, Michigan as a result of the U.S. DOT-sponsored Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot, which is being expanded to 20,000 – 30,000 vehicles and V2I applications, and the technology is expected to be adopted in all newly manufactured vehicles in the next few years thanks to collaborative efforts between the U.S. DOT and major automakers and tech companies who developed and tested the technology over the past decade. The technology is already being deployed in Japan and is expected to be adopted in Europe as early as next year.
In response to a Senate companion bill introduced last month, U.S. DOT Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology Gregory Winfree testified before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee that, “We have very serious concerns about any spectrum sharing that prevents or delays access to the desired channel, or otherwise preempts the safety applications. At this time, the Department is unaware of any existing or proposed technical solution which guarantees interference free operation of the DSRC safety critical applications while allowing Wi-Fi enabled devices to share the 5.9 GHz spectrum.”
Belcher concluded, “ITS America supports the collaborative effort, which is already underway, to explore whether a technical solution exists that would allow Wi-Fi devices to operate in the 5.9 GHz band without interfering with these critical safety applications. But this process should be allowed to proceed without arbitrary deadlines, restrictive parameters or political pressure that could influence the outcome.”