U.S. Department of Transportation Advocates Retaining Transportation Safety Spectrum, Announces First Responder Program

The U.S. Department of Transportation intends to invest up to $38 million for a multimodal First Responder Safety Technology Pilot Program. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced the new program on January 15 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, 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," said 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.

"Working together, we can help enable a future in which transportation innovations will increase safety, strengthen economic growth, improve quality of life, and ensure that our country remains a global technology leader," said Secretary Chao.

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 proposed pilot program will substantially benefit state and local governments. 

To learn more about Secretary Chao's announcement, visit: https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/us-transportation-secretary-elaine-l-chao-announces-new-initiatives-improve-safety.

To learn more about the Safety Band, visit: