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USDOT advocates retaining transportation safety spectrum, announces first responder program

The US Department of Transportation intends to invest up to $38 million for a multimodal First Responder Safety Technology Pilot Program. US Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced the new program on 15 January at the 2020 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.

First responders face serious risks to their safety as they provide life-saving services. Each year, there are an estimated 46,000 crashes; 17,000 estimated people injured; and nearly 150 fatalities involving emergency response vehicles (ERVs), which include law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services vehicles. These crashes, which often occur at signalized intersections, prevent immediate emergency response services.

The deployment of vehicle-to-everything (V2X) applications, using the 5.9 GHz Safety Band (earlier post), which includes technologies that enable communication between intersection signals and ERVs, has the potential to address this critical safety issue.

These systems will use the 5.9 Gigahertz Safety Band of spectrum currently allocated for use in transportation systems. We believe it is very important to retain this bandwidth for this purpose, and the Department is actively advocating the FCC to do so.

—Secretary Chao

Grants will allow awardees to equip ERVs, related infrastructure (such as traffic signals), and public transit with V2X technologies, to enhance the safety of ERVs and the traveling public—helping first responders to provide immediate response.

Targeted federal investment will help to demonstrate the benefits of V2X technology for ERVs throughout the country and generate additional tangible transportation safety benefits from using the 5.9 GHz Safety Band.

The FCC is exploring taking the 75 megahertz of spectrum in the 5.9 Ghz band currently allocated for Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) for the transportation and automotive industries and to reallocate it for different services. (Earlier post.)


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