Talking-Car Safety Technology Has Hit a Snag

Driver safety is always a top concern.  When your occupation is driving your risk of accident increases significantly, usually because of external factors.  Therefore, the safety of all vehicles on the road is important.  If we take measures to increase the safety of regular commuting drivers, CDL Driver safety will increase by proxy.  On how to implement talking-car safety technology is currently under debate in Washington.  The technology in essence gives all cars the ability to talk to each other over high-speed wireless airwaves.  Cars can warn each other if they are getting to close and assist in avoiding collisions if a car down the road slams on its brakes.

The Benefits

The potential benefits of implementing this plan are significant.  In December 2016, the Obama administration proposed this rule stating it would eliminate 80% of car crashes involving unimpaired drivers.  The new rule will require, within four years, all “light-duty vehicles” to install this new technology.  This technology would work with new automated safety devices such as automatic braking.  Increasing driver safety in this manner is not what has it stalled in Washington.  It’s the how.

“More than 400 people and organizations filed formal opinions with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration” in early April with a wide range of viewpoints.  This new rule has a lot of support from safety advocates like the National Safety Council.  Automakers have mixed opinions, questioning of practicality and fairness of implementing the new rule.

The Point of Contention

Several auto industry companies like General Motors and Toyota have spent years developing vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication system.  A representative from General Motors states, “A delay in rolling out V2V will cost lives, and that’s a tragedy.”  On the other hand, the Alliance of Automobile Manufactures that represents GM, Ford Motor Co., and Volkswagen AG stated that the proposal has several issues that need to be addressed first.

Tesla Inc. stated that NHTSA’s V2V is “too antiquated and vague” regarding protecting the privacy of V2V messages.  In other words, they fear hacking, which could in turn cause far more damage.  Another problem is in 1999 the Federal Communications Commission put a reserve on the airwaves for this technology.  Many feel that these airwaves for use will become inferior sooner rather than later.  Companies attempting to use newer airwaves and technology would be at a disadvantage to companies using the FCC reserved airwaves.

This has been the biggest snag in implementing talking-car safety.  The technology is on the brink of becoming old.   Marc Scribner at Competitive Enterprise Institute stated, “You’re betting on something that at its core is 10-year-old technology that isn’t going to have much of a difference on safety for 20 years…By the time it’s effective it will be out of date by 30 years.”  Wi-Fi and Cable providers are claiming that NHTSA are proposing “to race to impose new regulations without developing a full record on alternatives.”

Wait and See

From here where the new rule goes is up to the Trump administration.  However, as we already know, the Trump administration has made creating new regulations more difficult.  A new executive order in place requires the cost of new rules to be offset by repealing others.  Furthermore, the administration has yet to nominate a leader for NHTSA, the ones responsible for the new rule.  So, for the time being, talking-car technology is up in the air.  It is possible and far from science fiction, we just have to wait and see if they can find a middle ground.

Original Source: IndustryWeek South China Morning Post