National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issues proposed rule aimed at saving thousands of lives by requiring vehicle-to-vehicle communications

Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on a range of vehicle-to-vehicle communications to be required in all new cars and light trucks. The agency thinks the rule is revolutionary. As the proposed rule's executive summary explains:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing to issue a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 150, to require all new light vehicles to be capable of Vehicle-to-Vehicle (“V2V”) communications, such that they will send and receive Basic Safety Messages to and from other vehicles. The proposal contains V2V communication performance requirements predicated on the use of on-board dedicated shortrange radio communication devices to transmit Basic Safety Messages about a vehicle’s speed, heading, brake status, and other vehicle information to surrounding vehicles, and receive the same information from them. When received in a timely manner, this information would help vehicle systems identify potential crash situations with other vehicles and warn their drivers. . . . The agency believes that V2V has the potential to revolutionize motor vehicle safety. By providing drivers with timely warnings of impending crash situations, V2V-based safety applications could potentially reduce the number and severity of motor vehicle crashes, thereby reducing the losses and costs to society that would have resulted from these crashes.

Among other things, the proposed rule contains extensive discussions of the various required technologies, the rule's costs and benefits, the rule's impacts on health and privacy, and consumers' expected acceptance of the new technologies.

NHSTA estimates that, in year 30, the rule's costs will range from $135 to $300 per vehicle. Over all vehicles, the costs would be $2.2 billion to $5 billion per year. That cost, according to the agency, would be greatly outweighed by the savings from far fewer and less serious crashes. (See proposed rule, at page 18.)

The public has 90 days to comment on the proposal. The agency proposes an effective date two years after it is finalized. From that date, the rule would be phased in for another two years. So, for instance, if the rule is finalized in 2019, it would become effective in 2021 and fully implemented in all new light vehicles by 2023.

For more information on the proposed rule, visit NHSTA's website.

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