When I spoke to the Intelligent Transportation Society of America’s annual meeting last year, I pledged that this DOT would be committed to:
- Improving safety;
- Creating jobs through infrastructure work;
- Promoting livable communities; and
- Exercising good environmental stewardship.
And I told ITSA that research and technology would play a crucial role in achieving these objectives. Well, readers of this blog know the Obama Administration has made good on that pledge.
Learn more about V2V communication at the IntelliDrive website.
Now, despite the tremendous advances our country has made in improving roadway and vehicle safety, nearly 34,000 people died last year alone on America's roadways. Far too many American families still experience the devastation caused by the loss or injury of a loved one in a traffic crash.
The 2.3 million injuries caused by vehicle crashes bring tragedy to individuals, families, businesses and communities, and are also an enormous burden on health care and other resources.
The bottom line is that roadway safety isn’t just a transportation issue; it's a matter of public health.
Our research shows that if drivers were warned about immediate dangers—like an impending collision—many of these deadly crashes could be avoided.
It turns out that existing wireless technologies show real promise for dramatically reducing vehicle crashes. V2V communications systems will provide 360˚ situational awareness of other, similarly-equipped V2V vehicles within range. DOT analysis indicates that up to 76% of all crashes by unimpaired drivers could potentially be addressed by this technology.
I think that's pretty good news.
And V2V systems are built on low-cost technology that combines a wireless technology similar to household WiFi with the Global Positioning System (GPS) technology that is already in many vehicles. Under a cooperative agreement with automobile manufacturers, DOT has developed V2V safety system prototypes that build on this combination to transmit alerts and warnings to other vehicles sharing the roadway.
Imagine the number of crashes that might be averted if vehicles were equipped with:
- Blind Spot Warning, warning drivers when they try to change lanes if there is a car in the blind spot.
- Forward Collision Warning, alerting and then warns drivers if they fail to brake when a vehicle ahead of them is stopped or traveling too slowly.
- Electronic Emergency Brake Lights, notifying drivers when a hard to see vehicle ahead of them is braking hard.
- Intersection Movement Assist, telling drivers when it is not safe to enter an intersection, for example, when something is blocking a driver’s view of opposing traffic.
- Do Not Pass Warning, warning drivers if they attempt to change lanes and pass when there is a vehicle in the opposing lane within the passing zone.
- Control Loss Warning, advising drivers when they are about to lose control of the vehicle.
Like I said, this is pretty exciting territory. Our cars may start telling us how to drive.
Okay, it may not exactly be the stuff of science fiction. But, it's not the sci-fi-ness of the technology that has me revved up. It's the improved road safety these developments promise.
Because, when safety is your number one priority, that kind of promise is truly exciting.