NHTSA’s V2V Rule May Not Be an Effective After All


January 25, 2017

NHTSA Promotes a Rule Requiring V2V Technology

We recently reported that in December 2016, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed a rule that seemed poised to take advantage of cutting-edge technology when it suggested that all new cars manufactured for sale in the United States be equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology. Unlike current collision avoidance technology, V2V would allow cars to detect other nearby vehicles even if the other vehicle is not within the line of sight of the driver (such as a vehicle approaching the driver perpendicularly or a vehicle that cannot be seen because of trees or another obstacle). If adopted, NHTSA hoped that the technology would reduce the number of fatal and injury traffic collisions by providing drivers with information (speed, direction, location, etc.) about other nearby vehicles. In fact, NHTSA's own estimates suggest that over 1,300 traffic-related fatalities could be avoided each year if V2V technology were to be implemented.

V2V Technology May Be Obsolete Before NHTSA's Rule Goes Into Full Effect

As well-intentioned as NHTSA's V2V rule may be, Autoweek.com recently identified a serious flaw with the rule: It may be outdated before it ever takes full effect. Even now, V2V technology (which is based on short-range communication technology) is set to be replaced by cellular-based communication technology. Assuming NHTSA's rule begins being implemented in 2019, by 2023 (when the rule becomes fully implemented) the short-range communication technology would likely be outdated. If true, this would mean NHTSA's proposed rule and its requirements are not only ineffective but needless.

Additionally, unlike cellular-based communication, receivers would need to be constructed near city roads and along highways in order to "connect" all nearby vehicles and so the potential of V2V technology could be realized. Cellular-based vehicle-to-vehicle technology uses existing cell phone towers to accomplish this task.

No Indication That NHTSA Intends to Alter Its Rule

Despite critics that have voiced these concerns about the V2V technology described in NHTSA's rule, the agency appears unwilling at this time to change or amend its rule and adopt other specific types of technology like cellular-based technology. However, the language of the rule seems to allow for manufacturers to come forward with V2V technology that is substantially similar to short-range communication technology. In addition, now that its rule has been proposed, a 90-day comment period has commenced in which vehicle manufacturers and other companies likely to be affected by the rule can suggest modifications to the rule or explore alternatives to NHTSA's rule as proposed that would accomplish the same purposes.

Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, remains committed to keeping informed about NHTSA and V2V technology as well as other automotive technology developments. As NHTSA and other public agencies and private companies take measures to make driving safer for drivers throughout the nation, the duties and obligations of drivers toward others on the road may change. For example, if NHTSA enacts a rule providing that all vehicles possess certain communicative technology, a driver may then have an obligation to ensure his or her vehicle is equipped with that technology and that the technology is working properly. Failing to do so might result in the driver being held responsible for injuries in any crash caused by the lack of equipment. In addition, if the V2V technology was present but malfunctioned, the manufacturer(s) of the V2V communication device and its component parts may be held responsible for injuries.

Sources: http://autoweek.com/article/car-news/nhtsas-vehicle-vehicle-mandate-could-be-doa

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