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From Products Liability Law Daily, August 19, 2014

NHTSA proposes minimum performance requirements for vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology

By Pamela C. Maloney, J.D.

An advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) and a supporting comprehensive research report on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications technology has been released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In a press release accompanying the release of the ANPRM and report, NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman said, “By warning drivers of imminent danger, V2V technology has the potential to dramatically improve highway safety. V2V technology is ready to move toward implementation and this report highlights the work NHTSA and DOT are doing to bring this technology and its great safety benefits into the nation’s light vehicle fleet.” The agency also indicated that in the near future it will be issue of Request for Information to explore whether any private entities have an interest in exploring the possibility of constituting and operating a V2V Security Credential Management Systems (SCMS), to obtain feedback on certain questions regarding the establishment of an SCMS, and to collect other comments or information from the public on the issue of an SCMS. (NHTSA Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Docket No. NHTSA-2014-0022, August 18, 2014).

Proposed rulemaking. NHTSA’s purpose in initiating a V2V rulemaking is to create a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS No. 150) that would require V2V communication capability for new light vehicles (passenger cars and light truck vehicles (LTVs)) and would create minimum performance requirements for V2V devices and messages. The agency believes that requiring V2V communication capability in new light vehicles would facilitate the development and introduction of a number of advanced vehicle safety applications, such as crash warning V2V applications.

According to NHTSA, V2V technology has the potential to be fused with existing vehicle safety features to further improve the effectiveness of many crash avoidance safety systems currently being developed and implemented in the vehicle fleet and serve as a building block for a driverless vehicle. Vehicles equipped with V2V technology could also enable the development of a wide range of mobility and environmental benefits based on vehicle-to-infrastructure applications and other V2V applications that can enhance traffic flow in many ways. V2V technology does not involve collecting or exchanging personal information or tracking drivers or their vehicles, the agency cautioned, noting that the information sent between vehicles does not identify those vehicles, but merely contains basic safety data. In fact, the system as contemplated contains several layers of security and privacy protection to ensure that vehicles can rely on messages sent from other vehicles.

The ANPRM will help NHTSA and the Department of Transportation gather significant input from the public and stakeholders as the agency works to deliver a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by 2016.

Research report. The research report includes analysis of DOT’s research findings in several key areas including technical feasibility, privacy and security, and preliminary estimates on costs and safety benefits, while the ANPRM seeks public input on these findings to support the Department’s regulatory work to eventually require V2V devices in new light vehicles The report outlines preliminary estimates of safety benefits that show two safety applications—Left Turn Assist (LTA) and Intersection Movement Assist (IMA)—could prevent up to 592,000 crashes and save 1,083 lives per year. IN other words, the agency said, V2V technology could help drivers avoid more than half of these types of crashes that would otherwise occur by providing advance warning. LTA warns drivers not to turn left in front of another vehicle traveling in the opposite direction and IMA warns them if it is not safe to enter an intersection due to a high probability of colliding with one or more vehicles. Additional applications could also help drivers avoid imminent danger through forward collision, blind spot, do not pass, and stop light/stop sign warnings.

Comments requested. Comments are invited on all aspects of the research report. Specifically, NHTSA requests comments on, among other questions: (1) which crash scenarios are most likely to be addressed by V2V technology; (2) whether the agency correctly conducted its preliminary analysis of which types of crashes could be addressed by V2V-based safety applications; (3) whether the agency’s preliminary analysis of the potential for V2V to address vehicle crashes seemed accurate; (4) whether V2V-enabled safety applications might evolve over time to address more and different pre-crash scenarios; and (5) by mandating V2V technology, is the agency “crowding out” other promising technology.

The technical report also identifies aspects of V2V technology that needs further research and development in order to transition to wide-scale V2V deployment. Thus, the agency requests comments on: (1) whether V2V safety applications could only be addressed through the use of dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) devices, or are there were some other method of communication that could be used; (2) should any of the descriptions used in the report be modified to better support wide-scale implementation of V2V technology; (3) are there any additional elements the agency should include as part of the Basic Safety Message for this technology; (4) should vehicle manufacturers be allowed to choose what form of warning should be provided to drivers and should drivers be able to modify or turn off any warnings they receive; (5) because the agency is drawing heavily on standards under development by the auto industry, how can it choose the correct standards and should it mandate a specific standard or only mandate V2V; (6) what level of research is sufficient to insure the interoperability for wide-scale V2V deployment; (7) will the agency’s decision to mandate V2V devices for new vehicles spur the development and application of aftermarket V2V devices and what might those devices be; and (8) how should NHTSA work to harmonize its actions on V2V with those being taken globally.

Comments will be due 60 days after publication of the ANPRM in the Federal Register.

MainStory: TopStory NHTSANewsStory MotorVehiclesNews

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