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Communicating Vehicles May Help Drivers Avoid Accidents

Drive for any length of time and you are bound to see a vehicle fly through a red light or go past a stop sign without slowing down. Countless car accidents are the result of driver error where someone behind the wheel failed to notice an impending collision until it was too late. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is testing a new type of technology it believes can greatly reduce the number of accidents: vehicle to vehicle communications. The equipment is promising enough that the National Transportation Safety Board has decided to recommend that all new vehicles be equipped with the technology.

The devices currently being tested allow properly equipped vehicles to communicate wirelessly when they are within roughly 1,000 feet of one another. The vehicles share data regarding speed, direction and location. Software is capable of determining when two such vehicles are in danger of colliding. The cars would then give the driver some type of warning, drawing attention to the potential accident before it occurred.

Accidents at intersections account for more than one out of every five traffic fatalities. The period from 2002 to 2011 saw almost 87,000 intersection accident fatalities nationwide. While vehicle to vehicle communication would not prevent all of these accidents, safety officials believe the impact could be significant.

The NTSB does not have the authority to force automakers to adopt vehicle to vehicle technology. The recommendation has been met with some skepticism and calls for greater testing before widespread use of the devices.

Source: The Seattle Times, "Technology for cars to talk to each other urged," by Joan Lowy, 23 July 2013

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