Proposed Safety Rule Would Require Cars Be Able To “Talk” To Each Other

Image courtesy of redsox223

The U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed a new rule that would mandate vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) on all new cars, saying the technology has enormous potential to reduce crashes and possibly save lives.

“We are carrying the ball as far as we can to realize the potential of transportation technology to save lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This long promised V2V rule is the next step in that progression. Once deployed, V2V will provide 360-degree situational awareness on the road and will help us enhance vehicle safety.”

Back in Feb. 2014, Foxx said that the Department would speed up its work to enable V2V, and directed the Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to get the rulemaking process going.

“Advanced vehicle technologies may well prove to be the silver bullet in saving lives on our roadways,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “V2V and automated vehicle technologies each hold great potential to make our roads safer, and when combined, their potential is untold.”

If the rule becomes final, automakers would be required to include V2V technologies in any new light-duty vehicles, i.e. passenger vehicles. The industry will have to come up with a standardized messaging system to ensure that all V2V devices “speak the same language.”

The DOT’s Federal Highway Administration also separately announced that it’s planning to issue guidance soon for Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communications — the tech Audi uses for its red light countdown feature — that the Department says will help transportation integrate the technologies to allow vehicles to “talk” to roadway infrastructure “such as traffic lights, stop signs and work zones to improve mobility, reduce congestion and improve safety.”

These safety applications could eliminate or mitigate the severity of up to 80% of non-impaired crashes, like collisions at intersections or while changing lanes, NHTSA estimates.

Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports, stressed the need for strong cybersecurity standards to ensure that the technology being pursued to save lives doesn’t inadvertently put consumers at risk on the road.

“We’re hopeful that this technology will help prevent crashes and save lives, alongside proven built-in safety features like automatic emergency braking. But vehicle-to-vehicle communications must be secure as Fort Knox,” said William Wallace, policy analyst for Consumers Union. “Automakers must be required to meet baseline, enforceable standards to protect both privacy and cybersecurity as they roll out this technology. Communications should be protected through strong encryption, and security measures should be seamlessly updated so that consumers don’t have to worry about getting into a crash because their car has been hacked.”