Citing an “enormous potential” to reduce crashes on U.S. roadways, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation issued a proposed rule that would advance the deployment of connected vehicle technologies throughout the U.S. light vehicle fleet.

"The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology on all new light-duty vehicles, enabling a multitude of new crash-avoidance applications that, once fully deployed, could prevent hundreds of thousands of crashes every year by helping vehicles 'talk' to each other," according to the department.

"We are carrying the ball as far as we can to realize the potential of transportation technology to save lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This long promised V2V rule is the next step in that progression.  Once deployed, V2V will provide 360-degree situational awareness on the road and will help us enhance vehicle safety."

In February 2014, Foxx announced the department would accelerate its work to enable V2V, directing the Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to begin work on the rulemaking. NHTSA issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in August 2014. The advancement of the V2V rulemaking complements the Department’s work to accelerate the development and deployment of automated vehicles.

The proposed rule would require automakers to include V2V technologies in all new light-duty vehicles. The rule proposes requiring V2V devices to “speak the same language” through standardized messaging developed with industry.

Reactions to the proposed rule are already trickling in.

The National Safety Council applauds the Department of Transportation for its proposed rule, released today, that will advance the deployment of connected vehicle technologies so our cars can ‘talk’ to one another on the road,” Council president and CEO Deborah Hersman said in a statement. “Technology is a game changer when it comes to eliminating preventable deaths on our roadways. Independent safety systems in vehicles can prevent some collisions, but when coupled with V2V systems, it is like a 'belt and suspenders' approach to preventing or mitigating the severity of ALL collisions.”

“The National Safety Council is committed to working with DOT and NHTSA to promote V2V systems, because our cars – not just drivers – must communicate with one another if we expect to get to zero roadway deaths,” Hersman added.

On the other hand, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) stated the proposed rule on connected vehicle technology means more safety risks.

“It is extremely disappointing to see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration try to push through its highly controversial proposed vehicle-to-vehicle communications mandate in the final weeks of the Obama administration,” said Marc Scribner, research fellow at CEI. “The concerns that the Competitive Enterprise Institute raised to the agency in 2014 remain unresolved. As NHTSA readily admits, hypothetical safety benefits of the mandate will be trivial for the next 15 years, at which point far superior automated vehicle technology may be deployed to consumers. The only accomplishment of this all-pain, no-gain mandate will be a large misallocation of resources away from more promising safety technologies, along with possible delays in their introduction, which would result in more preventable highway crashes and deaths. The incoming administration should immediately withdraw this dangerous proposed rule.”

Separately, the department’s Federal Highway Administration plans to soon issue guidance for Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communications, which will help transportation planners integrate the technologies to allow vehicles to “talk” to roadway infrastructure such as traffic lights, stop signs and work zones to improve mobility, reduce congestion and improve safety.

NHTSA estimates that safety applications enabled by V2V and V2I could eliminate or mitigate the severity of up to 80 percent of non-impaired crashes, including crashes at intersections or while changing lanes.

According to the department, privacy is also protected in V2V safety transmissions. V2V technology does not involve the exchange of information linked to or, as a practical matter, linkable to an individual, and the rule would require extensive privacy and security controls in any V2V devices, DOT added.

The notice of proposed rulemaking will be open for public comment for 90 days.