Monday, June 8, 2015 | Gothenburg, Sweden
Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
Monday, June 8, 2015
As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you. It is a pleasure to be with you today, and, if you’ll grant me a point of personal privilege, it is an additional pleasure to share this plenary session with Dan Smith. This ESV conference is one of the last opportunities I’ll have to draw on his expertise in his role as our senior associate administrator for vehicle safety. Our role at NHTSA is to save lives, and in his NHTSA career, and in other positions within the Department of Transportation, Dan has delivered on that mission. We will miss him.
I want to touch on just one of the subjects where I’ve relied on Dan’s advice since coming to NHTSA – revolutionary technologies. When I came to the agency, I laid out three strategic goals: To improve our defect investigations process, to reinvigorate our core behavioral safety programs, and to encourage technology innovations. Innovation is, in fact, a building block of the vision our Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx, has outlined for a transformed U.S. transportation system. And a few weeks ago, in Silicon Valley, Secretary Foxx announced some major steps forward in that transformation. I’d like to spend a few minutes on the significance of that announcement.
The secretary laid out three policy steps. First, we are accelerating the schedule of NHTSA’s proposal to require vehicle-to-vehicle communications equipment on new vehicles. We had planned to send a proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget in February 2016. We have accelerated this goal and will now do so in December of this year
Second, we will also develop an expedited test plan on interference with V2V signals. The 5.9 GHz spectrum is essential for the success of this technology, yet some have proposed sharing it with unlicensed users. We can’t risk the future of this lifesaving technology, so DOT and NHTSA must and will be prepared to test devices for interference as soon as they are made available by industry. We can save lives if we can get a clear signal, and our commitment to test on an expedited basis – as soon as unlicensed devices, which do not exist today, are made available – is designed to ensure that clear signal.
Third, we are also addressing our department’s regulatory framework to ensure it facilitates safety innovation. We cannot allow regulatory obstacles to hold back a lifesaving advance. We will identify obstacles, address them ourselves when possible, and work with Congress when legislative action may be required.
We believe these three announcements are concrete, achievable steps toward a dramatically different highway safety era. And that is an era of connected automation. Vehicles that can sense the environment around them – through on-vehicle sensors and through short-range communications that link vehicles with one another – offer us breathtaking possibilities. At the U.S. Department of Transportation, we intend to help bring those about.
Now, in the United States and in other countries, government is sometimes portrayed as an obstacle to progress in this area. This is an outdated assumption. The steps the secretary announced in California send a simple message: We’re not standing in the way, we’re leading the charge. If a technology innovation can make our roads safer, we will help bring that innovation to the people we serve, the American public.
That’s the vision Secretary Foxx has laid out for us, it is the vision NHTSA pursues every day, and it is the vision we hope will help inform the global discussion on these issues that is taking place here in Sweden this week and around the globe every day.