At the U.S. Department of Transportation, we are always working on transportation safety and accessibility for everyone — today and in the future! Transportation safety will always be the top priority
From a recent speech by U.S. Transportation Secretary Chao.
So, that’s what the new Department of Transportation White House initiative on automated vehicles is all about. “AV 4.0 – Ensuring American Leadership in Automated Vehicle Technologies” unifies AV efforts across 38 Federal Government entities in the face of rapid changes in this technology. In 2018, 36,560 people were killed in traffic crashes. Though this number has been decreasing, one fatality is one too many. Research and analysis have shown that 94% of crashes are due to human error. The potential appeal of AVs is its ability to save thousands of lives every year. AVs could also restore mobility for millions of people who face transportation challenges, such as the elderly and people with disabilities.
AV technologies are not yet advanced enough to enable wide-scale deployment of fully autonomous vehicles. But someday they will be. Today, we are seeing more automated features in new cars that are improving safety on America’s roads such as: Blind-Spot Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control and Automatic Emergency Braking, just to mention a few.
To better gauge the safety benefits of these Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS), I am announcing today an expansion of PARTS, or the Partnership for Analytics Research in Traffic Safety program. This data-sharing partnership between government and the private sector enables collaborative safety analysis. Initially, it focused on Automatic Emergency Braking. PARTS-2 will expand participation to nearly 70 percent of the U.S. automobile market, allowing data sharing through a third party so that private sector partners can learn from each other to resolve safety issues before they arise. And it will gather data on ADAS systems such as Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping Assistance.
In the interest of clarity for consumers, and to help drivers better understand what the various ADAS systems do, today the U.S. Department of Transportation is supporting consistency in ADAS terminology. Initiatives such as “Clearing the Confusion,” spearheaded by the National Safety Council, AAA, Consumer Reports and J.D. Power are based on ADAS system functionality. Currently, there is variance among manufacturers. We want to make sure that drivers are aware that these systems are designed to “assist,” not replace an engaged driver.
Next steps for this technology include vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. Not so long ago, the notion of vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication seemed fanciful and futuristic. But today, I’m announcing a new pilot program to deploy V2X around the country to help prevent accidents involving First Responders. Every year there are about 46,000 crashes, 17,000 injuries and 150 fatalities involving emergency response vehicles.
This brand new initiative—the First Responder Safety Technology Pilot Program– will provide up to $38 million to equip emergency response vehicles, transit vehicles and related infrastructure, including traffic signals and highway-rail-grade crossings, with V2X technology. These systems will use the 5.9 Gigahertz Safety Band of spectrum currently allocated for use in transportation systems. We believe it is very important to retain this bandwidth for this purpose and the Department is actively advocating the FCC to do so.
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