Will new technology help prevent fatal car accidents?

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When discussing the development and proliferation of communication technology in the context of traffic safety, it’s often about the danger created by drivers using smartphones and other mobile devices behind the wheel. Interestingly enough, an emerging technology could actually help prevent accidents and save lives.

Federal officials have noticed the impact car-to-car communication could have on the safety of motorists. The idea behind this technology is that cars can send and receive information about the speed and location of other vehicles. By interpreting data coming in from nearby cars, it’s possible that vehicles can predict accidents and warn drivers.

While this type of technology hasn’t made its way onto the market, transportation officials have an interest in getting involved in its development and future implementation. Namely, there will have to be efforts to make sure that there is signal standardization among auto manufacturers to make the technology effective on a wide scale.

At this time, according to the Associated Press, the federal government isn’t quite ready to issue rules to auto manufacturers. However, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx intends to issue a policy proposal before the Obama Administration leaves office in early 2017. There’s good reason to move forward: estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggest that the number of car accidents could be cut by as much as 80 percent with this technology.

Of course, in order to car-to-car communication to be effective, there has to be a certain number of vehicles on the road that come equipped with the proper hardware. Even though this type of innovation seems promising, the responsibility to drive carefully is ultimately remains in the hands of drivers.

Source: Associated Press, “Car-to-Car Talk Offers Warning on Collisions,” Joan Lowy, Feb 3, 2014