Government officials believe communication can greatly reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents on America’s roadways.
But this potential impact would be the result of vehicles talking to one another – not communication between their human drivers.
According to reports, this summer the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will begin a yearlong study in Ann Arbor, Michigan during which volunteers will drive 3,000 vehicles equipped with new technology allowing for vehicle-to-vehicle communication. The innovative technology will be tested in cars, buses and trucks as their drivers put the vehicles through 12 months of everyday driving conditions.
NHTSA officials say the V2V technology could ultimately be a game-changer in transportation safety, as it has the potential to help prevent many common types of collisions.
Vehicles equipped with the high-tech feature communicate with similarly equipped vehicles over wireless networks, sharing information such as their respective speeds, locations and directions. When this exchanged information reveals the potential for an accident, as determined by a computer, a warning is sent to the drivers, theoretically allowing them make the adjustments needed to avoid the collision.
For example, if one V2V-equipped vehicle appeared to be on the verge of running a red light, the drivers of other vehicles about to enter its projected path would be warned, allowing them to stop. Today, such a scenario would typically end with a T-bone collision.
The technology can reportedly assist in other situations when drivers’ awareness may be limited by weather conditions or other vehicles obstructing their line of sight. When preparing to turn left across oncoming traffic, for example, the technology can inform a driver when it is safe to attempt the turn, based on the speed and proximity of other vehicles. It also can alert drivers if another vehicle farther up the road has abruptly stopped or slowed, potentially reducing the chances of rear-end collisions.
And when the technology becomes very prevalent, it can even be used on stop lights to help transportation departments track traffic flow or notice repeated swerving in an area, which could point to problems like a pothole in great need of repair.
Of course, this technology can only begin saving lives when it becomes ubiquitous on America’s roadways, a change that likely is years away. But it has the potential to significantly reduce the more than 30,000 fatalities that result from traffic accidents each year in the U.S.
While auto companies and safety equipment manufacturers continue to make strides in developing products that can better withstand crashes, V2V technology seems to have the potential to take a much bigger step by preventing accidents from occurring altogether.