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U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao Announces New Initiatives to Improve Safety on America’s Roads

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Elaine L. Chao today spoke at the 99th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) where she announced new 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,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

Today, Secretary Chao announced the next phase of the Partnership for Analytics Research in Traffic Safety (PARTS) program. PARTS II expands participation in the PARTS program to include almost 70% of the U.S. automobile market and 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.

PARTS is a voluntary, data-driven safety partnership between USDOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the automobile industry. Earlier in this Administration, six manufacturers participated in this program to gather data on Automatic Emergency Braking Systems. Vehicles with this technology reported 53% fewer rear-end collisions than vehicles without Automatic Emergency Braking Systems based upon preliminary data from the initial program.  

Secretary Chao also announced a new program designed to help avoid traffic accidents and save the lives of first responders rushing to aid in emergencies. The Department intends to invest up to $38 million for the First Responder Safety Technology Pilot Program that will help equip emergency response 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.  

Finally, the Department is endorsing a standardized listing of recommended ADAS terminology through an initiative entitled “Clearing the Confusion,” spearheaded by the National Safety Council, AAA, Consumer Reports and J.D. Power.  The recommended ADAS terminology is based on ADAS system functionality. Currently, there is variance among manufacturers and standard language will ensure drivers are aware that these systems are designed to “assist,” not replace an engaged driver.