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Department of Transportation Announces New Car Communication Technology Aimed At Avoiding Accidents

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In a surprising and potentially revolutionary announcement, the Department of Transportation has revealed that it will begin work on rules that will eventually require car companies to create systems that allow vehicles to talk to one another. The ultimate goal is that the technology will help drivers avoid deadly and dangerous accidents.

According to officials with the DOT, the system will consist of a short-range radio transmitter that will be tied to the car’s computer system and GPS. The device will be able to transmit information concerning the car’s speed and location to nearby vehicles. Engineers say that the technology will work rapidly, relaying information up to 10 times per second. The hope is that this technology could then be routed into collision avoidance technologies that allow vehicles to automatically engage in maneuvers to avoid accidents.

The Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, has said that the new system will be mandated by the DOT and will be constructed by car companies. A segment of the radio spectrum will be protected and set aside for this sole purpose. The goal is that the vehicle-to-vehicle communications will give the car and its driver 360-degree knowledge of the actions of other drivers, greatly diminishing the risk of an accident.

Experts say that the technology’s potential impact cannot be overstated and may revolutionize the safety of driving. The step marks a dramatic shift in strategy for the DOT. For years now regulators have created rules designed to ensure that the structure of vehicles is improved to better survive an accident. The new push represents a desire to avoid the accidents entirely. Some say they believe the technology could reduce the number of traffic deaths by as much as 80 percent, saving more than 24,000 lives each and every year.

Though the system might sound far-fetched, it’s actually far closer to reality than you might suspect. Already, Honda has designed vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems that it is in the process of testing in Japan. The DOT says its role is to construct guidelines regarding the technology to ensure that all cars are able to speak the same language. By standardizing the system it will be much more effective than if each car company independently developed its own.

Looking ahead, officials say they hope that the vehicle-to-vehicle technology grows to include vehicle-to-pedestrian and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. This would allow cars to understand more about road conditions and avoid accidents with bicyclists and pedestrians. Given the thousands of deaths that take place each year on the nation’s roads, we can only hope that the Department of Transportation puts its expertise and energy behind the proposal.