House panel to hold hearing on connected cars
Washington — A House panel said Thursday it will hold a hearing on connected-vehicle technologies that could help prevent thousands of traffic crashes.
Next week’s hearing will continue the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade subcommittee’s work to improve auto safety. Members will examine how vehicle-to-vehicle communications can improve driver and vehicle safety.
Panel chair Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, said, “As more manufacturers test this potentially life-saving technology every day, this hearing will give us an opportunity to check in on its progress and understand what we in Congress can be doing to further improve safety on American roads.”
Nat Beuse, who is NHTSA’s associate administrator for vehicle safety research, is among those expected to testify.
Earlier this month, two senators introduced a bill to promote the adoption of vehicle-to-vehicle technology that could eliminate up to 80 percent of all crashes in which alcohol is not a factor.
U.S. Sens. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, and Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, introduced legislation to promote investments in vehicle-to-infrastructure communication technology that the bill says will “improve vehicle safety, reduce accidents and avoid congestion.”
The technology — which involves cars repeatedly sending wireless signals to each other — could help alert cars if an oncoming vehicle is about to disregard a stop sign. It can detect threats from hundreds of yards away and tell drivers if they can pass safely or make a left turn. It also involves vehicles getting signals from infrastructure such as traffic signals and bridges.
The push comes as the Federal Communications Commission considers narrowing part of the wireless spectrum now reserved for cars to “talk” to each other; that would open up more bandwidth for wireless connectivity for electronic gadgets. Congress is considering a bill that would require automakers to share the spectrum with electronic devices.
Advocates think the connected vehicle effort could help make autonomous cars an eventual reality.
The Peters bill would allow states to use existing highway funding to invest in projects such as monitors on bridges that communicate whether the roadway is icy, or sensors that warn of nearby emergency vehicles or work zones.
Last month, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the government is speeding up efforts to get government rules in place that would require wireless vehicle-to-vehicle communication in future cars and trucks.
Under a tentative timetable laid out in 2014, automakers aren’t likely to be required to install the in-vehicle communication devices until around 2020 — and even then, they will be phased in.
Last year, General Motors said it would offer vehicle-to-vehicle technologies starting with the 2017 Cadillac CTS that will go on sale late next year.