Transportation Secretary Announces 5.9 GHz V2X Pilot to Prevent First Responder Accidents
Friday, January 17, 2020 | Comments

Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced a new pilot program to deploy vehicle-to-everything (V2X) around the country to help prevent accidents involving first responders.

The program will provide up to $38 million to equip emergency response vehicles, transit vehicles and related infrastructure, including traffic signals and highway-rail-grade crossings, with V2X technology using the 5.9 GHz spectrum allocated for use in transportation systems.

Every year there are about 46,000 crashes; 17,000 injuries; and 150 fatalities involving emergency response vehicles. Chao hopes to reduce those numbers with the First Responder Safety Technology Pilot Program.

The Safety Band is radio spectrum reserved specifically for transportation safety. In 1999, the FCC allocated 75 megahertz of radio spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band to be used for vehicle and infrastructure communications. Since then, infrastructure developers and vehicle innovators have developed smart technologies that rely on the Safety Band, and those innovations all depend on clear, uncluttered wireless signals that can help vehicles avoid accidents in the smallest fraction of a second.

Last month, the FCC proposed rules changes in the band that would see unlicensed Wi-Fi use, as well as cellular-V2X (C-V2X) applications and announced a temporary freeze on accepting and processing applications related to Part 90 services operating in the 5. 9 GHz band.

“We believe it is very important to retain this bandwidth for this purpose and the department is actively advocating the FCC to do so,” Cho said during a Jan. 16 speech to the Transportation Research Board.

The Department of Transportation said technologies developed to operate in the Safety Band carry messages that allow vehicles to “see” around blind curves and traffic in ways that conventional line-of-sight technologies, including LiDAR and radar, cannot. They enable traffic and emergency operations to flow safely and know what’s ahead, unaffected by fog, rain, snow and blinding sunbeams.

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