The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

The Waning Days of a Technology Mandate

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


Good news may be on the horizon for car owners across the country, with a possible roll-back of a technology mandate that would have forced car manufacturers to install a vehicle-to-vehicle device that has already been outstripped by new technologies.  On November 1, 2017 U.S. News and World Reports stated that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had removed the mandate from the list of regulations it was considering for approval.

In 1999, the federal government set aside the 5.9 GHz spectrum band for use by automobile manufacturers who were developing a dedicated short-range communications device (DSRC) that would facilitate vehicle-to-vehicle communications by relaying basic safety messages between vehicles.  Eighteen years later, only one car equipped with this technology is on the market, and the technology is already out of date.

Despite the lack of innovation or adoption of this particular technology, the Department of Transportation issued a proposed rule in December 2016, which would have required all light vehicles sold in the U.S. to be equipped with a DSRC device for vehicle-to-vehicle communications by 2023.  According to an April 5, 2017 Cato Institute report, the mandate would cost car manufacturers at least $200 billion by 2060, adding approximately $300 to the price of every car.

Many auto manufacturers have already adopted alternative vehicle-to-vehicle communication technologies, including Cellular V2X, which has proven more reliable than DSRC at all ranges as well as in congested environments, and other features like Crash-avoidance radars, GPS receivers, Light, Imaging, Detection, and Ranging (LIDAR) systems, automatic brake systems, and lane keep assistance.  Some of these safety measures have been in place since 2001. 

Technology mandates all too often impede growth and innovation in the private sector.  It is time for the Department of Transportation to finish the work started by OMB, and withdraw the DSRC mandate.

-- Jake George

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