Consumer Reports: Auto industry shows progress with new connected car pledge, but much more needs to happen for consumers to get full safety benefits

CR urges FCC, DOT, automakers to treat V2X technology like the urgent life-saving priority it is

Contact: David Butler
david.butler@consumer.org, 202-579-7935

WASHINGTON — Consumer Reports today welcomed a pledge by the Alliance for Automotive Innovation to deploy 5 million devices in cars and infrastructure within five years to enable the use of vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications technologies. The Alliance said the pledge is conditional on the Federal Communications Commission keeping the full 5.9 GHz band of spectrum for transportation safety and allowing the use of cellular V2X within the band.

 

V2X technologies allow vehicles to communicate through wireless transmissions with different parts of the transportation system. This includes cars and trucks communicating with one another, as well as with street lights and signs, other road infrastructure, and non-occupants.

 

Kelly Funkhouser, head of automated and connected vehicle testing for Consumer Reports, said, “This is a terrific development. It’s striking that the auto industry has the same position on preserving the entire transportation safety spectrum for V2X as safety groups and the U.S. Department of Transportation. With such a broad coalition against the FCC proposal, it is clear that preserving the safety spectrum is the right thing to do.”

 

The FCC has proposed to reallocate 45 MHz of the band for unlicensed use, including for WiFi services, a move that CR opposes unless the agency can demonstrate that V2X safety applications could still be used securely and effectively. The remaining 30 MHz in the 5.9 GHz band would be split for use by two communications technologies, dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) and cellular V2X (C-V2X). The FCC’s regulatory docket includes numerous public comments on the agency’s plan, with a range of stakeholders in opposition.

 

William Wallace, manager of safety policy for Consumer Reports, said, “The auto industry’s pledge shows progress toward treating V2X like the urgent life-saving priority that it is, but much more needs to happen before most consumers will get safety benefits. We continue to urge the FCC to drop its proposal and DOT to issue a final rule requiring all new cars and trucks to have V2X capability within five years. Individual automakers should do their part for safety — and for preserving the safety allocation of the 5.9 GHz band — by launching aggressive deployment plans right away.”

 

While improvements to crash protection for vehicle occupants are far from exhausted, enhanced crash prevention technologies are critically important to making our roads safer. CR finds V2X safety applications to be especially promising. Unlike other essential technologies like automatic emergency braking, V2X can provide an early warning of yet-unseen crash hazards posed by other vehicles, weather, or road conditions. These features also can augment existing sensor- based driver assistance systems and increase the potential safety benefits of self-driving cars.

 

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Note: With the continued impact of COVID-19 on health and the economy, Consumer Reports is working to give consumers the latest information and CR advice related to the pandemic. 

 

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit membership organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. For 80 years, CR has provided evidence-based product testing and ratings, rigorous research, hard-hitting investigative journalism, public education, and steadfast policy action on behalf of consumers’ interests. Unconstrained by advertising or other commercial influences, CR has exposed landmark public health and safety issues and strives to be a catalyst for pro-consumer changes in the marketplace. From championing responsible auto safety standards, to winning food and water protections, to enhancing healthcare quality, to fighting back against predatory lenders in the financial markets, Consumer Reports has always been on the front lines, raising the voices of consumers.

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