Will vehicle-to-vehicle communication in new cars save lives?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is proposing a new rule which will require automakers to equip all light-duty vehicles to include vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication. V2V technologies enable cars to “talk” with each other, alerting their drivers to potential dangers as they arise in traffic.

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In 2013, there were over 5.9 million crashes on US roadways. These collisions resulted in over 32,700 fatalities. According to the Department of Transportation, many of these accidents and fatalities could be avoided with a more widespread deployment of V2V technologies.

See also: Instead of waiting around for the auto industry to phase in these features, or worse to make them a paid upgrade, the NHTSA is proposing a new rule that would make them a requirement on all new light-duty vehicles produced for sale in the US.

From the official proposal:

The agency believes that V2V has the potential to revolutionize motor vehicle safety. By providing drivers with timely warnings of impending crash situations, V2V-based safety applications could potentially reduce the number and severity of motor vehicle crashes, thereby reducing the losses and costs to society that would have resulted from these crashes.

A unique standard to share information

This new rule isn’t without some merit. Without a standard set of requirements, auto makers are at risk of creating their own proprietary communication systems, each sharing data that isn’t consistent between makes and/or models. This would greatly reduce the effectiveness of this technology as it would limit the number of vehicles that would be able to talk to one-another.

By making a regulated standard, vehicles will share information that will enable them to alert each other when danger approaches. A driver would hear an alert in the vehicle when another vehicle is merging into them, and collisions that occur just on the other side of an obstructing truck would be detectable thanks to the information shared with other vehicles in the area.

This new regulation will raise questions among privacy advocates. After all, if our vehicles are communicating with one-another, what’s to say that your behavior on the road won’t make its way to the authorities?

The information shared between vehicles does not include personally identifiable information. The proposed rule includes privacy-protecting language that ensures that this information remains anonymous and untrackable to the individual.

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