Requiring cars to communicate with each other could help reduce crashes

Car accidents claim thousands of lives and cause even more injuries every year. What if crashes could be reduced by having cars talk to each other? It may sound like the future, but it could soon be reality.

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), after years of research, recently took a step forward in deciding to propose a plan that incorporates vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) technology requirements for all new vehicles in the near future.

V2V technology allows for cars to exchange information, such as speed, braking and positioning, to help drivers avoid collisions.

What is V2V technology?

According to the research division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, V2V is the “wireless exchange of data between nearby vehicles that offers the opportunity for significant safety improvements.”

The cars exchange anonymous information with each other about each car’s respective speed, location and position, allowing the vehicles to detect threats. The vehicles’ sensors operate 360 degrees around the position of the vehicle.

When the car detects a threat, it notifies the driver so that the collision can be avoided. This is called the “Here I Am” application, and it lies at the heart of the technology.

Major automakers, such as Ford and Honda, are developing V2V technology alongside the government through a group called the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership. Cisco Systems Inc. and Denso Corp. are developing and supplying V2V to the auto industry.

Despite the additional cost, automakers seem to be embracing the technology as a way to enhance road safety.

When will this happen?

The new rules and standards will probably be proposed in 2017 and would require certain new vehicles to have V2V technology installed as standard equipment. The cost is estimated to be about $341 to $350 per vehicle in 2020.

Has this technology been tested?

Yes. In August 2012, the U.S. Department of Transportation performed a “model deployment” in Michigan, outfitting almost 3,000 cars with V2V technology. The outcome showed “high favorability ratings and levels of customer acceptance” and that participants in the program wanted the V2V technology on their own cars.

V2V can save lives.

Automotive News reported that just two of the possible safety features of V2V – a left turn warning and the notification of another car running a red light – could prevent an estimated 25,000 to 592,000 crashes every year, saving anywhere from 49 to 1,083 lives.

According to Automotive News, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx stated in an announcement, “Safety is our top priority, and V2V technology represents the next great advance in saving lives.”

Unlike safety measures such as airbags and seatbelts that help people survive a car accident, V2V helps “them avoid crashes altogether,” Foxx said.

Concerns about V2V.

As with any new technology, there are always concerns.

As a CBS News report discusses, privacy is a concern due to the uncertainty as to whether such technology could be employed as a means of collecting data and personal information about drivers.

There are also legal questions that may arise due to the fact that the technology relies on information provided from other vehicles and how that would affect the liability of the technology providers for each car involved in an accident.

Despite these concerns, research and testing will continue and V2V will likely be a new safety standard in the very near future.