New Auto Safety Frontier: V2V Communication to Reduce Driver Errors

Technology is improving almost every product imaginable. Motor vehicles are no exception. In fact, auto safety experts say new technology in cars can reduce serious traffic accidents.

The Department of Transportation says crashes could be avoided with the use of technology enabling vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication. Short-range radio systems would permit cars to exchange basic information about speed and direction. In some vehicles, systems could automatically engage the brakes to prevent an impending crash.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says this vehicle-to-vehicle communication represents the next big advancement in auto safety, comparable to the introduction of seat belts and airbags. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates the technology could cut the more than 30,000 traffic deaths that occur each year by 80 percent.

Federal safety regulators previously focused on structural improvements to motor vehicles. Now the government plans to shift its attention to technological tools to improve safety. Federal agencies are in the process of requiring automakers to equip all new cars and light trucks with V2V systems in an effort to save lives.

Using V2V technology, vehicles would warn drivers to avoid other vehicles in common types of crashes such as rear-end collisions, lane changing and intersection crashes.

Prevention of Drunk Driving

Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board is in the process of looking into ways technology can be used to prevent driving while intoxicated.

The board is encouraging all 50 states to compel convicted DUI offenders to have ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. (Only 17 states currently have this requirement.) The board also wants further research into Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) technology. The technology tests a driver through touch or breath before a car can start.

This technology works through the use of special sensors. The touch-based sensor is built into the start/stop ignition button and shines an infrared light on the driver’s finger. In a half-second, the light measures the alcohol content within the individual’s tissue.

The breath-based sensor, mounted close to the steering wheel, examines molecules in the driver’s breath. It’s likely that the sensor technology is still a good 8 to 10 years away from completion.

Currently, federal agencies and automakers have both technological obstacles and a lack of public approval for such a measure. But if DADSS technology becomes standard on every automobile, it could help prevent drunk driving and save more than 7,000 lives each year.

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