Safety regulators encourage research on ‘talking’ cars

On Monday, federal auto safety regulators announced a plan to make vehicle-to-vehicle communications a part of every auto manufacturer’s plans in the near future. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx explained yesterday that such a plan is necessary because of the long-term safety implications that can come about as a result of such technology. Essentially, he believes that vehicle-to-vehicle communications could prevent nearly 80 percent of the traffic deaths that occur on American highways every year.

In what was described as a watershed moment for auto safety is beacon for automakers, who have steadily began to add crash avoidance technology in the past couple years. A number of 2014 models sold in Florida come equipped with sensors that can detect standing objects or moving cars and issue warnings to the driver. In some models, the sensors can also apply the brakes before the driver can.

With yesterday’s announcement, the Department of Transportation is making its intentions known that it wants automakers to plan their research around common safety standards. It is reasonable to say that the NHTSA may issue standards based on such research. Also, it may be a number of years before the radio bandwidth is reserved for vehicle-to-vehicle communications, and costs make such systems available on a greater number of vehicles.

In the meantime, the announcement is also a tell-tale sign that autonomous vehicles are on the horizon, as they ostensibly will use much of the same technology that “talking” cars may incorporate.  Before this happens, drivers must use reasonable care behind the wheel in staying aware of hazards.

Source: LA Times.com, “Auto safety regulators move toward vehicle-to-vehicle communications,” Jerry Hirsch, Feb. 3, 2014