With the vast majority of car accidents caused by error of the drivers involved, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration seeks to give motorists more automated features to increase their awareness of potential hazards. The latest effort involves the advancement of Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communication systems, which the NHTSA wants to make mandatory for all cars and light trucks in the U.S.
The agency issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on the technology, which gives cars – and other devices – the ability to transmit their location, speed, direction and other information at a rate of 10 times per second. That lets other cars (and drivers) nearby know when a vehicle ahead is braking hard or about to run a red light or changing lanes or barreling fast around a blind curve. These alerts would give drivers enough time to react and prevent a collision.
Officials with NHTSA believe this technology has the potential to mitigate or prevent the severity of 8 out of 10 crashes that don’t involve drugs or alcohol (which is about two-thirds of the total 13 million accidents that happen every year). In essence, V2V has the ability to give drivers a total 360-degree awareness of what’s happening on the road.
A representative for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is reviewing the proposal, but views V2V as complementary to the automated safety features that are already being added to many newer model vehicles. The auto industry has been working with the government to roll out these features to reduce car accidents for the last decade. What the new proposal would require is that all vehicles have the same system that “speaks the same language” which messages that are standardized.
Other features that could tap into this secure grid could also include:
- Toll booths;
- Traffic signals;
- Emergency response vehicles;
- School zones;
- Work zones.
Drivers would be alerted not only when there is a school zone up ahead (so slow down), but how much time they have before the light turns red and whether they are better off taking an alternate route due to an accident up ahead. Meanwhile, the data would also go back to these systems. So for example, a traffic signal would “know” how long to stay red/ when to turn green in order to cut down on unnecessary wait times and reduce congestion.
The NHTSA first announced that it was prioritizing the V2V technology in February 2014, and issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking in August of that year. This was three years after the agency launched pilot program testing for the technology in California, Minnesota, Michigan, Texas, Virginia and Orlando, Florida. Those pilot programs tested certain standardized messages, such as emergency braking, forward collision warning, blind spot/ lane change warning, left turn assist, intersection movement assist and do not pass warnings. These features were each tested in eight different vehicle manufacturer models. The results of that study found more than 90 percent of drivers stated they would like to have V2V communication safety in their personal vehicle.
Even cars with automated driving functions – such as adaptive cruise control or emergency braking – will likely benefit from having this additional data.
The notice of rulemaking opens the door for public comment for 90 days, at which point the NHTSA will likely proceed with its plan. This could mean the technology is installed standard in vehicles made in 2019 or later, though no date has yet been set.
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Government to Require Cars Be Able to Talk to Each Other, Dec. 13, 2016, Associated Press
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