The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced this week that it will begin taking steps to enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology for light vehicles.
“Vehicle-to-vehicle technology represents the next generation of auto safety improvements, building on the life-saving achievements we’ve already seen with safety belts and air bags,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
Even better, suggested Scott F. Belcher, president and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), who called the DOT announcement “a safety leap exceeding even seat belts and air bags.”
NHTSA estimated last fall that 15,470 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes during the first half of 2013. By that estimate fatalities were down 4.2 percent from 16,150 in the first half of 2012.
DOT research indicates that safety applications using V2V technology can address a large majority of crashes involving two or more motor vehicles. With safety data such as speed and location flowing from nearby vehicles, vehicles can identify risks and provide drivers with warnings to avoid other vehicles in common crash types such as rear-end, lane change, and intersection crashes. DOT says these safety applications have been demonstrated with everyday drivers under both real-world and controlled test conditions.
But don’t expect a lot to happen quickly. NHTSA took some time to make its decision and promises to proceed carefully. It’s currently finalizing its analysis of the pilot study data and will publish a research report on V2V technology for public comment in the coming weeks.
NHTSA will then begin working on a regulatory proposal that would require V2V devices in new vehicles. Meanwhile, automakers will continue developing and promoting their own safety systems.
DOT stressed in its announcement that V2V technology does not involve exchanging or recording personal information or tracking vehicle movements. The information sent between vehicles doesn’t identify the vehicles, it just contains basic safety data. The system as contemplated contains several layers of security and privacy protection.