Last month, the government agency responsible for regulating roads and highways announced that it is moving forward with a new technology that could lead to up to an 80 percent reduction in auto accidents.
The National Highway Transit and Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a proposed rule that would enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology on new light-duty vehicles. This technology promises to save lives by helping motor vehicles "talk" to each other.
Human error is the cause of over 90 percent of auto accidents, according to the NHTSA, this technology could play a key role in stopping collisions from happening. For instance, two cars with V2V technology could communicate around a blind corner or at a dangerous intersection and warn the drivers of an impending collision that they otherwise may not be able to see.
While there are several regulatory and technological challenges to be addressed before this technology can be put to use in cars nationwide, the NHTSA believes they can be overcome. The proposed plan would have all new cars equipped with V2V technology in about five years.
Communication with infrastructure could also save lives
In coordination with the Federal Highway Administration, this same technology may be used to allow vehicle to infrastructure - V2I - communication, which again could provide drivers with warnings of potential safety risks.
For example, a V2I-equipped car could warn the driver that a red light is coming up ahead. This seemingly small change could make a huge difference, as research estimates that two people die every day nationwide in crashes caused by drivers who run red lights.
The ultimate in avoiding crashes caused by human error, of course, would be self-driving cars. But while that technology is still in its infancy, V2V and V2I communication could go a long way to make our roads much safer as long as human motorists still have their hands on the wheel.
Need for safety technology highlights risks to drivers
While it's incredibly encouraging to see the government moving forward with this new safety technology, the fact remains that human error remains by far the leading cause of auto accidents. Very few crashes are actually "accidents" - the vast majority could be prevented if motorists took care to be awake, alert, sober, and operate in compliance with traffic laws each time they got behind the wheel.
That's why it's so important to make sure that negligent drivers are held accountable. While providing drivers with additional information will certainly help to make our roads safer, motorists still need strong incentives to actually make use of that information. In many cases, that means it's necessary to take legal action against a negligent driver in order to make sure those hurt in the accident get the compensation they need.