How Technology Could Limit Vehicle Crashes

The number of traffic accidents and fatalities nationwide has been increasing at an alarming rate in recent years, in part because of the rise in incidences of DUI and distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were more than 6.3 million vehicle crashes nationwide in 2015 alone, a number that was more than seven percent higher than in 2014.

Because the number of traffic accidents keeps increases year over year, safety officials at the federal and Texas state level have been actively searching for anything that might stem the tide. They are currently examining many technologies that could be pivotal in preventing accidents and reducing the carnage on the roads. One example is a pilot program that is currently being conducted by the NHTSA, using technology that could allow all sorts of vehicles to communicate with each other in a way that could lead to a significant reduction in the number of accidents.

NHTSA Pilot Program is Ongoing

With this type of communication technology being tested in the form of pilot programs in several states, buses, streetcars, private commercial trucks and other vehicles are being equipped with technology that will allow them to communicate with each other, as well as with traffic signals, crosswalks and even pedestrians. The overall goal of the pilot program is threefold; they hope to prevent accidents, improve the flow of traffic, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These “talking” vehicles will use one of several short-range communications methods to transmit such data as location, direction and speed to all vehicles located within about 300 meters. This communications system will update the data constantly, several times per second and send it to all nearby vehicles, which can identify potential risks and warn vehicles and drivers of hazards, so they can avoid imminent crashes.

Government safety agencies and several automakers have been conducting research on V2V (vehicle to vehicle) technology for a few years, and it is hoped this communication technology system can be combined with the burgeoning field of automatic driving technologies, which allow for vehicles to stop when an electronic signal tells them to do so, to make the roads safer. Many safety experts believe such a system will be safer than waiting for the driver to see and react to a hazard. Officials at the NHTSA and in the tech industry envision a system in which every vehicle and every safety system work in unison to warn all vehicles in the vicinity of the potential for an imminent crash, even if one or more vehicles is out of sight at the time.

Advanced in V2V Technology Move Forward

V2V technology is set to advance relatively quickly. In 2016, the NHTSA formally proposed a rule requiring a uniform industry-wide system that would eventually result in a mandated auto industry standard, That would mean such a system would have to be installed onto all new cars, at least once the technology has shown itself to be reliable. In addition to being mandatory, it would also be illegal for drivers or vehicle owners to block the system or turn it off completely, although drivers may be able to turn out audible alarms in some cases. The NHTSA and other safety experts are strong believers in the potential for greater traffic safety with a system like this. In fact, the NHTSA officials has gone so far as to compare the development of V2V communication technology to such safety developments as anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and even seatbelts. Each of those has been credited with saving millions of lives since they were introduced.

The NHTSA estimates that V2V technology on its own could prevent between 190,000 and 270,000 vehicle crashes every year because vehicles will be able to predict an imminent crash and stop the vehicle beforehand. When V2I technology is added to the mix, thus adding the ability for a vehicle to talk to objects like traffic lights and stop signs, even more accidents can be prevented. Just imagine a red light or a stop sign actually causing a car to have to stop safely on its own and you can see how this could prevent a lot of pedestrian accidents and vehicle crashes.

NHTSA Assures Privacy in V2V Systems

There have been some concerns expressed by privacy advocates about V2V and V2I technological systems. NHTSA has assured everyone that the data sent between and among vehicles will not identify either the vehicle or the owner, although they did not say whether law enforcement agencies might be able to use the data stream for general traffic enforcement. The NHTSA has issued proposed guidance for advanced cybersecurity methods to protect individual vehicles and the entire network from hackers and that such cybersecurity systems will be in place before automakers are required to deploy V2V technology.

This is potentially very exciting technology that could play a vital part in making the roads safer for everyone, in San Antonio, the state of Texas, the entire country and even the world. Making transportation safer, smarter and greener and preventing accidents from happening at all is better for everyone.

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