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Judge John E. Turner (Ret.)

Will vehicle-to-vehicle communications make roads safer?

If cars could talk, would they help prevent accidents? The federal government thinks so. The transportation department recently issued proposed rules that would require new cars to be wired to communicate with each other about their travel course and speed, according to The New York Times.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration thinks vehicle-to-vehicle technology can go a long way towards reducing traffic accidents. The new proposed rule closely follows the new federal guidelines on self-driving cars, which the NHTSA also hopes can reduce traffic fatalities.

The vehicle-to-vehicle technology rule would affect all cars, including those with drivers, allowing vehicles to "know" where other vehicles are - and respond appropriately to avoid crashing.

The information communicated between cars could be used to alert drivers when they are in danger of colliding with other cars, such as in the following situations:

  • There's a vehicle in the driver's blind spot.
  • Traffic is suddenly slowing down or stopping.
  • There's a car stopped right after a turn or in an upcoming intersection.

Even if the rule passes, it would still be awhile before there are enough cars on the road with the technology. The NHTSA estimates it would take four years for all new cars on the road to have it - and there would still be plenty of older cars on the streets.

Whether the incoming administration will support the proposal remains to be seen, and how widespread the technology becomes may ultimately depend on decisions by automakers, rather than government rules. Still, the proposed rule showcases another possible way technology could make the roads safer, which is good news after the spike in traffic fatalities in 2016.

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