U.S. DOT Announces Proposed Rule for Connected Vehicle Technology

The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced a proposed rule that would enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology for new light-duty vehicles. Over the past several years, USDOT collaborated with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to research and deploy V2V technology in order to reduce millions of crashes on U.S. roadways that result in thousands of fatalities. V2V technology would provide connectivity between and among vehicles based on a communication system that is similar to WiFi. It would allow vehicles to effectively “talk” to each other by continuously sharing safety and mobility information. The system would also provide a mechanism for vehicles to communicate wirelessly with traffic signals, work zones, toll booths, schools zones, and other infrastructure. The proposed rule would require automakers to include V2V technology in all new light-duty vehicles, and incorporate standardized messaging that will be developed with the automobile industry.

Given the numerous and substantial privacy and cybersecurity risks that such technology could pose to consumers, NHTSA sought to address these concerns in the new proposed rule. For example, the rule provides for a general exclusion from the basic safety information emitted by a vehicle of data elements that would link specific individuals to a vehicle. The NHTSA has further drafted a privacy statement that automobile manufacturers will be required to provide to consumers. Finally, the rule requires an additional hardening of the on-board V2V equipment beyond normal automotive grade specifications to reduce the risk of physical compromise. The proposed rule demonstrates that potential cybersecurity risks can be addressed prospectively and will not deter the U.S. government’s general move towards using emerging technologies to restructure the transportation industry.