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Connected Vehicles Could Prevent Car Accidents

A promising new technology got a boost this week as the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that all new vehicles be equipped with connected-vehicle capability. The NTSB has estimated that such technology could reduce car accidents not involving impaired drivers by as much as 80 percent. It would do so by allowing vehicles to talk to one another and alert a driver to impending danger. The nature of that warning would be decided by carmakers, but could take the form of an audible alarm, a flashing light or a vibrating steering wheel.

The devices would send information concerning the vehicle's speed, direction and position several times a second. In addition, they could be equipped to work with stop lights and stop signs to help drivers avoid accidents at intersections. The Chairwoman of the NTSB said that such technology "holds the promise to save lives and prevent injuries."

The NTSB cannot compel automakers or the federal government to mandate the use of these devices. The spread of the devices may depend largely on the expense involved in implementing them and the success of trials, such as the one currently being conducted in Michigan. The Department of Transportation and the University of Michigan coordinated to put such devices in 2,800 cars in the Ann Arbor area nearly one year ago. The project has drawn praise from Ray LaHood, former secretary of the Department of Transportation.

Many advancements in auto safety have focused on protecting the lives of drivers and passengers involved in an accident. This technology holds the potential to stop those accidents before they occur. If successful, it could save countless lives and make the roads safer for everyone.

Source: Politico, "NTSB goal: A nation of communicating vehicles," by Kevin Robillard, 25 July 2013

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