Feds: Car-to-Car Tech Can Save Lives

By Kelsey Mays  on August 19, 2014


A new report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives a sneak peek at the future of accident avoidance. The agency says two technologies, left-turn assist and intersection-movement assist, could prevent as many as 592,000 accidents and 1,083 traffic fatalities a year. They're part of a burgeoning future of V2V, or vehicle-to-vehicle, technology.

Related: U.S. Government Considers Mandatory Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication

The 305-page report, which includes analyses of privacy and security implications, accompanies NHTSA's proposal to issue rules around vehicle-to-vehicle safety technology. The highlighted technologies, LTA and IMA respectively, have yet to be sold on mass-market vehicles. But the study suggests they could help prevent a lot of collisions.

LTA warns you not to turn left in front of another car if, say, it's coming too fast. IMA, meanwhile, warns you if it's unsafe to enter an intersection because there's a high chance you might hit another car — perhaps a vehicle about to run a red light or stop sign.

Both systems could also help in forward collision, blind spot, no-passing and stoplight or stop sign situations, NHTSA says. Combined, the systems could prevent anywhere from 25,000 to 592,000 crashes, avoid 11,000 to 270,000 injuries and save 49 to 1,083 lives per year. The top of that range represents about 3.2 percent of the 33,561 traffic-related deaths that occurred in 2012, the latest year of fatality data.

How much will it cost? By 2020, NHTSA estimates V2V equipment will add about $345 per car. That covers the equipment itself, plus supporting communications infrastructure and network security. The nine-author report estimates such equipment could reduce a significant number of the 5 million or so annual car accidents by communicating to other cars your speed, direction and any maneuvers (e.g., braking) you're up to. The agency conducted a pilot program by installing V2V devices in some 2,800 cars, trucks and buses in Michigan over an 18-month period from 2012 to 2014. It also conducted clinics on some 600 drivers in 2011 and 2012.

After a 60-day period of public comments, NHTSA says it will deliver a rulemaking proposal by 2016.

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Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price.  Email Kelsey