Obama Pushes Congress to Invest in Smarter Roads

President hypes vehicle-to-vehicle communications to cut crashes.

by on Jul.15, 2014

President Barack Obama talks with supporters in McLean, Virginia. During a speech there, he encouraged Congress to approve additional funding for the Highway Trust Fund, including new technology to make roads safer.

After spending much of his two terms prodding automakers to improve the mileage of vehicles as well as their operational efficacy, President Barack Obama today encouraged automakers to continue the development of “vehicle to vehicle” technology research and pushed lawmakers to fund its use.

Speaking at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Virginia, today, Obama spoke about the impact such technology could make on the safety of America’s roads. He also got a chance to get a look at the technology in person driving in a simulator that allowed him to experience the technology in real time.

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After hitting 90 mph in the simulator, he joked that anything makes the roads safer has taken on a new emphasis for him.

“Now, as the father of a daughter who just turned 16, any new technology that makes driving safer is important to me,” he said.

The technology is designed to send and receive wireless signals from other vehicles as well as buildings and people. The vehicles could then process that information and help avoid potential collisions.

In 2012, there were more 32,000 deaths or more and 2 million injuries on U.S. roads at a cost of more than $800 billion. While that’s important, he also noted that the bettering the efficiency of roads has an economy benefit.

“One study shows that Americans spend 5.5 billion hours stuck in traffic each year, which costs us $120 billion in wasted time and gas – that’s 800 bucks per commuter,” he said.

“Then you’ve got outdated roads and bridges that mean businesses pay an extra $27 billion in freight costs, which are then passed on to consumers.  So, all told, transportation eats up more of the typical family’s household budget than anything except the rent or a mortgage – which means that the cutting-edge research that all of you are doing here helps save lives and save money, and leads to new jobs and new technologies and new industries.”

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Obama segued into his latest push to convince Congress to extend funding for road repairs. The Highway Trust Fund is expected to run out of cash next month, which will result in the Transportation Department sending partial payments for infrastructure work.

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Congress is working through scenarios to provide the funds the trust needs to continue into next year. As part of that new funding, the administration wants to incorporate the necessary equipment and infrastructure needed to use vehicle-to-vehicle technology to cut down on accidents and deaths. The technology Obama used today is designed to do that and is part of a larger program.

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Last August, the Transportation Dept. completed a 12-month, $25 million study of 3,000 vehicles in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to see if connected vehicle technology really can reduce the number of collisions. In the past 15 months, more than 12 billion basic safety messages have been collected, and 60,000 interactions between participating vehicles have occurred.

The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute is working with: Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Honda Motor Co., Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center, Inc., Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America, Inc., Nissan Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp., and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., on the program.

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2 Responses to “Obama Pushes Congress to Invest in Smarter Roads”

  1. Jim says:

    I think the insurance companies should kick in some on this since they will be one of the winners with this.

  2. Jorge says:

    There are lies, damn lies and statistics. With start/stop technology a lot of wasted fuel in traffic could be eliminated. Clean Diesels also lower fuel consumption dramatically at idle over gasoline engines.

    Before we spend billions on “smart roads” how about repairing the existing roads so they are safe and don’t destroy current autos and trucks? How about making sure that people with a driver’s license actually have proper driving skills? How about we stop all subsidies for EV’s and make these owners pay road use taxes like everyone else? How about we have realistic emission standards for Diesel engines like the rest of the world. How about an excess profit tax on the oil companies to reduce price gouging?

    There are lots of ways to improve our environment and safety without spending billions of tax payer dollars that the Feds don’t have. There is almost nothing that the Obama administration and the EPA have done for the U.S. that is either smart or practical. In fact they done as much as possible to damage the U.S. including pissing away Billions of tax payer dollars for advanced research tech which was just a handout to political supporters now that many of those companies have closed their doors. Unscrupulous doesn’t begin to cover the Obama administration and EPA’s behavior.

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