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New Technology May Prevent 80 Percent of All Car Crashes

Close up to a triangle reflector on the road side with a man on the phone resting a hand over his car in the background

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced plans to enable V2V (Vehicle-to-Vehicle) communication technology for light vehicles. The goal – improve vehicle safety by allowing vehicles to “talk” to each other by exchanging basic safety data, such as speed and position – and ultimately avoid many crashes altogether. The technology is the beginning of a new period in vehicle safety, focused on crash prevention versus previous efforts directed at accident survivability. The effect this technology will have on car insurance rates remains to be seen.

From August 2012 to August 2013, the DOT conducted the Safety Pilot “model deployment” in Ann Arbor, Mich., where nearly 3,000 vehicles were deployed in the largest-ever road test of V2V technology.

DOT research shows that safety enhancements using V2V technology can identify risks and provide drivers with warnings to avoid other vehicles in common crash situations, such as crashes at intersections or while changing lanes. These safety applications have been demonstrated with everyday drivers under both real-world and controlled test conditions.

Excluding accidents caused by drunken drivers (responsible for almost a third of the 33,500 traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2012) or mechanical failure, the NHTSA estimates that vehicle-to-vehicle communications could prevent almost 80 percent of all other accidents.

NHTSA is currently finalizing its analysis of the data gathered as part of its year-long pilot program and will publish a research report on V2V communication technology for public comment. NHTSA will then start framing a proposal that would require V2V devices as future standard safety equipment in vehicles. The Intelligent Transportation Society of America estimates the advanced technology would add about $100 to $200 to the price tag for each new vehicle.

How it works

Connected vehicle systems are based on Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC)—similar to Wi-Fi—which is fast, secure, reliable, and unlikely to be prone to interference. Using either in-vehicle or after-market devices that continuously share important safety and mobility information, vehicles ranging from cars to trucks and buses to trains would be able to “talk” to each other.

The technology works up to a distance of about 300 yards. Your car would “see” when another car or truck equipped with the same technology was about to run a red light, even if that vehicle was hidden around a corner or sense when a car several vehicles ahead in a line of traffic suddenly stopped, alerting you even before you saw brake lights.

  • Using radio signals, a transponder continually transmits the vehicle’s position, heading, speed and other information 10 times per second in all directions
  • A vehicle’s computer alerts its driver to an impending collision.
  • Possible alerts:
    • flashing message (sight)
    • audible warning (sound)
    • rumbling driver’s seat (touch)

Measurable safety benefits wouldn’t be seen until there are sufficient numbers of vehicles on the road using the technology. According to research, this could be achieved from just 7-10 percent of vehicles operating in a specific area.

With V2V technology becoming functional, this will definitely be a most interesting time to get a new car insurance quote.

Do you think V2V technology will make our roads safer?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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