The charming and heroic stars of Cars 2 and Transformers are not the only talking cars hitting American cities this summer. At DOT, we call them Connected Vehicles: cars, trucks, buses, and other vehicles fitted with technology that allows them--like their big-screen counterparts--to communicate with each other and with roadway infrastructure like traffic lights, dangerous road segments, and railroad crossings.
The communication devices installed in these cars will be able to warn their drivers of approaching hazards. Whether it's an upcoming traffic signal turning red or another vehicle stopping suddenly several cars ahead, Connected Vehicles will give drivers extra time and more information so we can make better driving decisions.
But, as useful as Connected Vehicles will be to their human drivers, this new technology will only be successful if we can learn to operate them effectively. So, this summer, DOT is beginning Driver Acceptance Clinics to test new safety capabilities for Connected Vehicles. These driver clinics will test how real drivers react to this new technology.
The clinics are part of an exciting DOT research program to make cars, trucks, and buses safer through wireless communication technology. Our Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have partnered with the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP) to lead these six driver clinics.
At DOT, we think this new technology is exciting stuff. As RITA Administrator Peter Appel said:
"A NHTSA report found that connected vehicle technology has the potential to address 81 percent of all unimpaired driver related crashes, but we must take a serious look at how this technology will work in the real world to create a safer transportation system."
NHTSA Administrator David Strickland agrees:
“We need to continue to research vehicle-to-vehicle technology, but these systems show a great amount of promise. We could be on the brink of making a real cultural change in terms of preventing crashes altogether.”
Because safety is our number one priority, I couldn't agree more strongly with Administrators Appel and Strickland, and I'm very excited to see the results of these clinics. And if they let me have a chance to drive one of the Connected Vehicles, you can bet I'll be sharing my experience with readers right here on this blog.