“Smart” cars that recognize an impending collision and alert the driver are closer to becoming reality for every driver after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced in February that it is considering requiring such systems on light vehicles.
The agency said that it may propose a rule that would require light vehicles use technologies that enable them to electronically “talk” with each other so that they can share some operational data, such as speed and location, in an effort to avoid crashes.
Crash-avoidance technologies have been have been used in commercial vehicles for years and are becoming more available in some automobile models, but these systems are self-contained, stand-alone systems.
"Vehicle-to-vehicle technology represents the next generation of auto safety improvements,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a release. "By helping drivers avoid crashes, this technology will play a key role in improving the way people get where they need to go.”
NHTSA said it has researched and tested systems that monitor operational data 10 times per second, can identify dangerous situations and provide drivers with warnings to avoid other vehicles. The technology can address a large majority of common crashes involving two or more vehicles, such as rear-end, lane change and intersection crashes, the agency said.
The systems also can detect threats from other vehicles that cannot be seen and which on-board sensors alone cannot detect, such as when approaching an intersection or passing on a hill.
"V2V crash avoidance technology has game-changing potential to significantly reduce the number of crashes, injuries and deaths on our nation's roads," said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman.
Given the current sensitivity to privacy issues, NHTSA also said that the V2V technology monitors basic safety data but does not identify vehicles or exchange personal information or tracking vehicle movements.
NHTSA’s first proposal would focus on passive systems that would warn the driver of an impending collision but rely on the driver to take action. The agency said it later would consider more active technologies in which the onboard systems would take over vehicle functions like braking or steering.
The Department of Transportation completed a 12-month pilot test of about 3,000 V2V systems in Ann Arbor, Mich., last August. NHTSA is expected to release the results of the study for public comment in a matter of weeks and then begin working on a proposal to be released “in a future year,” the agency said.