DOT’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Program Surges Forward with FCC Approval of Radio Band

Radio Band Will Enhance Surface Transportation Safety

U.S. Transportation Deputy Secretary Mortimer L. Downey today hailed a Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to make radio spectrum available for intelligent transportation systems (ITS) operations.

"This decision will enable broader, innovative uses of telecommunications technology and result in enhanced safety and efficiency of our nation’s surface transportation system," Downey said. "I commend the FCC for allocating the spectrum and those at the U.S. Department of Transportation whose vision helped set this stage for improving safety, which is President Clinton’s and Secretary Slater’s highest transportation priority."

The FCC allocated a range of 5850-5925 megahertz (MHZ) for Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) between vehicles and electronic systems on the roadside, such as at toll booths or intersections.

Transportation safety operations are a primary reason for this allocation of spectrum, which will support intelligent transportation systems activities such as intersection collision avoidance; transit or emergency vehicle signal priority, which allows an ambulance to command a green light approaching an intersection; electronic parking payments; and commercial vehicle clearance and safety inspections that can be done at highway speeds instead of requiring trucks to pull off the road.

"Today’s decision is one more building block as we work toward our goal of integrated ITS deployment this decade in 75 cities and 25 states," said Federal Highway Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle. "Already deployment of different ITS solutions across the nation have demonstrated between 15 and 50 percent reductions in crashes."

The FCC allocation culminates many years of work initiated by the department’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which partnered with ITS America in this initiative. ITS America petitioned the FCC for radio spectrum for this purpose.

The Intelligent Transportation Systems program was established by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 and was reauthorized in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), which was signed into law by President Clinton in 1998. ITS uses communications, computer and sensor technology to improve surface transportation safety, mobility and efficiency.

A 20-year life-cycle cost analysis for 50 major urban areas has indicated that buying smarter by deploying ITS not only enhances safety but reduces the need for new roads, while saving taxpayers 35 percent of the required investment in urban highways.

Thursday, October 21, 1999
Contact: Karen Whitney
Tel.: 202-366-0660
FHWA 67-99

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