Washington, D.C.—In response to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) proposed rule that would reallocate portions of the 5.9 GHz spectrum away from connected vehicle (V2X) applications, Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) submitted comments noting that revoking this spectrum from transportation applications will indefinitely forestall the realization of the significant safety and efficiency benefits of vehicle connectivity.
“It is very disconcerting that transportation safety would be relegated to the back seat by the FCC’s ambition to maximize unlicensed operations such as Wi-Fi. While the FCC claims the 5.9 GHz band has lain ‘fallow’ since it was allocated for transportation safety, in fact, it was the FCC’s own strategy of delaying, distracting from and discouraging the use of V2X technologies that has created a self-fulfilling prophecy,” said Robbie Diamond, President and CEO of SAFE.
SAFE’s comments to the FCC reference a letter from the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure noting that the FCC “announced a temporary freeze” on accepting and processing 5.9 GHz licenses and voices concern that the commission “has been sitting on approximately 500 applications” for V2I roadside unit licenses. In addition, the comments raise concern that the FCC has been injecting regulatory uncertainty into long-term V2X investment and deployment by the auto industry.
“Safety—not faster streaming—must be a national priority,” Diamond continued. “In a world where more than 36,000 Americans lose their lives in traffic collisions every year, it is unconscionable to think that the FCC would choose to thwart the deployment of this lifesaving technology rather than striving to enable it.”
The Co-Chairs of SAFE’s Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC) — Frederick W. Smith, the Chairman and CEO of FedEx Corporation and General James Conway, the 34th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps — authored a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai urging the FCC to maintain the spectrum for vehicle connectivity, noting that “such a shift in regulation and approach threatens to derail the safety and efficiency benefits that the full Safety Spectrum can deliver, thereby disrupting American economic and national security goals.”
SAFE’s FCC comments noted:
- 36,560 Americans died in traffic collisions in 2018 according to NTHSA, and millions more were injured. The widespread deployment of V2X can unlock an 80 percent reduction in the number and severity of collisions involving unimpaired drivers.
- Traffic collisions cost the United States $800 billion annually once loss of life, injuries, and reduced quality of life are considered, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
- 3 billion gallons of fuel are wasted in the U.S. every year due to traffic congestion, with gridlock costing $179 billion annually. Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) communications can reduce travel times by up to 27 percent and reduce fuel wasted in congestion.
V2X is a complementary technology to autonomous vehicles (AVs), which will help to maximize the functionality, safety, and efficiency of our transportation sector. The United States is currently the technological leader in AV development, and the combination of these technologies positions the U.S. automotive sector to be globally competitive in manufacturing the next generation of vehicles. SAFE’s research has found that AVs promise to unlock $800 billion in annual social and economic benefits through reducing collisions and congestion, increasing transportation access, and reducing oil consumption.
About Securing America’s Future Energy
Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) is an action-oriented, nonpartisan organization that aims to reduce America’s dependence on oil. Near-total dependence on petroleum in the transportation sector undermines the nation’s economic and national security, and constrains U.S. foreign policy. To combat these threats, SAFE advocates for expanded domestic production of U.S. oil and gas resources, continued improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency, and transportation sector innovations including electric vehicles, natural gas trucks, and autonomous vehicles. In 2006, SAFE joined with General P.X. Kelley (Ret.), 28th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, and Frederick W. Smith, Chairman, President, and CEO of FedEx Corporation, to form the Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC), a group of business and former military leaders committed to reducing the United States’ dependence on oil. Today, the ESLC is co-chaired by Frederick W. Smith and General James T. Conway (Ret), 34th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.