Wireless communication has not generally been a boon to safety when it comes to cars. Cell phones have contributed to an epidemic of distracted driving and led to countless car accidents. Drivers talking to others while driving might be a safety hazard, but technology that allows cars to communicate with each other has the potential to be highly beneficial.
The Department of Transportation is running a test of vehicle to vehicle communication technology. Such technology allows vehicles to share information about speed, direction, location and more. That information can be useful in several ways. Cars can be equipped to warn drivers of an impending collision. They could also be equipped to take evasive action on their own to avoid a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking to make vehicle to vehicle communication technology mandatory in the near future.
In addition to cars sharing data, it may also be possible for roads to send information to the vehicles traveling on them. This could be useful in communicating issues such as ice formation, construction, and other hazards that might not involve other vehicles. Early tests of the technology have demonstrated several ways that greater communication can enhance safety.
Driverless vehicles, if they are ever perfected, will require vehicles to gather large amounts of data about the conditions around them. This data is useful to the occupants of that vehicle, but also to other vehicles on the road. Maximizing the value of that information could lead to accidents avoided and lives saved.
Source: The New York Times, “New Era in Safety When Cars Talk to One Another,” by Aaron M. Kessler, 20 August 2014