By John Schneidawind, vice president of public affairs, ARTBA

U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S.DOT) Secretary Elaine L. Chao Jan. 15 announced two transportation initiatives aimed at harnessing new and existing technologies to improve safety for the traveling public and first responders.

“These safety initiatives will make a difference in saving lives and help prevent injuries among first responders and all road users,” Chao said in U.S. DOT release. She publicly announced the initiatives at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) in Washington, D.C. They include:

  • A new program designed to help avoid traffic accidents and save the lives of first responders rushing to aid in emergencies. U.S. DOT intends to invest up to $38 million for the First Responder Safety Technology Pilot Program that will help equip emergency vehicles and key infrastructure with “vehicle-to-everything” (V2X) communication technology. These systems will use the 5.9 Gigahertz Safety Band of spectrum currently allocated by the FCC for use in transportation systems. “It is very important to retain this bandwidth for this purpose, and the department is actively advocating the FCC to do the same,” Chao said at TRB.
  • The second phase of the Partnership for Analytics Research in Traffic Safety (PARTS) program will expand participation to include almost 70 percent of the U.S. automobile market. PARTS II will collect data on additional advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) such as Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keep Assist. Results derived from analysis of up-to-date-real-world performance data will assist researchers in assessing the safety effectiveness of these systems.

PHOTO: File image of Elaine Chao