A group of top executives from state departments of transportation and local agencies told senior Trump administration officials that they support federal protection of the 5.9 gigahertz "dedicated short range communications" or DSRC radio spectrum that infrastructure owners are using to expand vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure connected technologies.
"We were very concerned when reports surfaced recently that the administration was backing off from this proposed safety mandate," the state and regional officials wrote in a Jan. 23 letter. "We were excited to see the USDOT response that the proposed rule was still under consideration. Such action would signal an interest in saving lives today."
They sent the letter to USDOT Secretary Elaine Chao, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.
Those signing it included the CEOs of state DOTs in Michigan, Utah, California, Ohio, Wyoming, Minnesota, Arizona, Washington, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Tennessee and Louisiana.
The state and local executives said various agencies across the country are deploying "safety-critical applications" that use the DSRC bandwidth, "including red light violation warnings, reduced speed zone warnings, curve speed warnings and spot weather-impact warnings."
As a result, they said this deployment in turn "has created a diverse industry that has responded aggressively in support of these technologies," with examples such as building DSRC units into traffic signals hardware and spurring development of aftermarket on-board units.
The infrastructure-managing agencies, they told Trump officials, "have the ultimate goal of driving traffic fatalities to zero and DSRC is the right technology to invest in to save lives today."
The issue relates to an Associated Press report last fall that the administration "has quietly set aside plans to require new cars to be able to wirelessly talk to each other," prompting the USDOT to say it had not made any final decisions on a proposed rulemaking.
But the letter writers made clear that they need more clarity on the issue, saying that "the longer the administration remains indecisive about DSRC, the more lives will be lost due to this inaction."
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