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Cars that talk with other cars to avoid accidents?

September 6, 2014 by Steven M. Gursten

How vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) is developing to prevent car accidents with  autonomous cars and human-driven vehicles

Cars with technology that enables them to communicate with other cars on the road in order to prevent car crashes is such an exciting idea to me.

Yes, I’m an auto accident lawyer. I often quip that I can’t wait to be put out of business. There is real truth here, as I’ve said several times before in writing about the development of autonomous cars, I truly do look forward to the day where my job as a lawyer becomes obsolete. A day when the vehicle technology is so advanced that it will save hundreds of thousands of lives. If I have to become obsolete, that is the way I want to do it.

And it’s coming. This is not something out of the Jetsons. It’s real, and it’s now one step closer to becoming reality.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is moving forward with plans to require advanced safety technology that enables cars to directly communicate with one another. The life-saving technology is known as vehicle-to-vehicle communication, or V2V.

An example of V2V: Instead of a driver having to see and react to a car stopping ahead, with V2V any application of the brakes in the car ahead would send an electronic signal to your car. Your car could react immediately and automatically. And since most accidents are caused by human beings, that means the chances of you plowing into that car in front of you because you weren’t paying attention disappears.

Other actions, like turning or accelerating, would be communicated instantly to other drivers in the same way, allowing cars to avoid one another more quickly than by relying on people to do this.

V2V could be a component in driverless cars. But the amazing thing is it can also save lives and prevent injury accidents in human-driven vehicles as well.

That’s us, in our cars, right now.

On July 18, the NHTSA released an advance notice of proposed rule making and a supporting comprehensive research report on V2V communications technology.

The report will include analysis of the Department’s research findings in several key areas including technical feasibility, privacy and security, and preliminary estimates on costs and safety benefits. The advance public notice will seek public input on these findings to support the Department’s regulatory work to eventually require V2V devices in new vehicles.

How many lives could V2V save?

The technology could help avoid 80% of automobile crashes involving sober drivers, according to NHTSA.

In addition, the report includes preliminary estimates of safety benefits that show two safety applications – Left Turn Assist (LTA) and Intersection Movement Assist (IMA). These two systems could prevent up to 592,000 automobile crashes and save 1,083 lives saved per year from car accidents.

Put another way, V2V technology could help drivers avoid more than half of these types of crashes that would otherwise occur by providing advance warning, according to a press release from the NHTSA.

Here’s how the two systems work: LTA warns drivers not to turn left in front of another vehicle traveling in the opposite direction and IMA warns them if it is not safe to enter an intersection due to a high probability of colliding with one or more vehicles.

Additional applications could also help drivers avoid imminent danger through forward collision, blind spot, do not pass, and stop light/stop sign warnings.

Privacy concerns with V2V?

As for those concerned with protecting their personal privacy, the NHTSA says the data sent between and among vehicles does not ordinarily identify individual vehicles, so privacy would not be compromised.

Said the NHTSA, “The information sent between vehicles does not identify those vehicles, but merely contains basic safety data. In fact, the system as contemplated contains several layers of security and privacy protection to ensure that vehicles can rely on messages sent from other vehicles.”

Our readers had a lot to say about the government requiring black box data recorders in cars and the privacy issues that accompany the new law.

What do you think about the government requiring technology that will one day enable your car to communicate with other vehicles on the road? Let us know by making a comment below, or on our Michigan Auto Law Facebook page.

We are marching closer to a world where car accidents no longer have to happen.  And V2V may be a huge part of it.

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