Preserving the Spectrum Saves Lives

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Connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), like technology, is literally changing how people and goods move in our society. Through minimized human error, enhanced ride-share opportunities, and improved mobility in under served communities, CAVs have the ability to reduce traffic accidents, decrease travel time and congestion, and increase accessibility in underserved communities.

CAVs provide the benefit of a more integrated surface transportation network due to enhanced communication. Through the deployment of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), and vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) communication, collectively known as V2X communications, CAVs are capable of reducing traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries while supporting stronger planning, design, operation, and maintenance of surface roadways.

However, this is not possible without preserving the 5.9 GHz band of spectrum within Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC). DSRC is a channel specifically designed for CAV use through V2X communication protocols and standards. With 80 deployments of DRSC around the country, this technology can save lives by providing drivers with timely warnings of crashes and other potential, life-harming traffic incidents.

To ensure safe communication between CAVs and the driving environment, we must ensure that the dedicated 5.9 GHz band of spectrum remains free from interference. When safety is at stake, speed matters. By opening and sharing the band to unlicensed applications, safety could be compromised, putting lives at risk. Therefore, preserving the 5.9 GHz band is critical to ensuring the DSRC channel can guarantee high-speed, secure, reliable and interoperable communication between vehicles and with the infrastructure and road users.

ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, which gave the nation’s infrastructure a grade of “D+,” states that infrastructure challenges remain significant, but solvable. By considering emerging technologies and shifting social and economic trends – such as autonomous vehicles, we can better prepare for the future and enhance safety.

As this technology develops at a face pace, bringing more demand, civil engineers must arm themselves with the skills and knowledge necessary to adapt to a more automated transportation system. The spectrum must be preserved for safety purposes in order to create stable connectivity and safe CAV communications. ASCE’s government relations team will ensure the needs of the profession are effectively represented as legislation and regulations are developed.

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