Last week, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called for all U.S. vehicles to come equipped with “connected-vehicle technology,” which would involve wireless components in every car that could allow them to then “talk” to one another.
This proposal followed the NTSB’s investigation of two bus accidents, both of which involved intersection collisions with trucks and resulted in the death of a student. The main focus was on the accident near Chesterfield, N.J., that killed an 11-year-old girl.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) said last May that they believed the technology is not close to complete, but NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said at the board’s meeting last week that the “technology, more than anything else, holds great promise to protect lives and prevent injuries.” Hersman believes that the NHTSA will have the ability to require this technology in all highway vehicles.
While the NTSB is hopeful, incorporating that kind of technology will be an elaborate process that involves overhauling aftermarket component systems and unifying state and federal laws over the complicated subject of operating cars with automated systems.
Despite the difficulty in establishing this kind of required technology, it is being studied in-depth across the country. The NHTSA began a yearlong study of 3,000 vehicles last August in Ann Arbor, Mich. This study uses technology similar to Wi-Fi that sends electronic data between cars, which would then notify the driver with a hazard warning in dangerous situations. The test focused on intersections, one of the main problem areas the NTSB was also focusing on in their discussion of connected vehicles.
Unfortunately, the investigation of the New Jersey bus crash showed that many other factors were involved in the accident that could be prevented without connected-car technology. For instance, the bus driver was fatigued and using sedatives, which could have been prevented if he went through a more elaborate screening process. Had all his medications been disclosed, he likely wouldn’t have been issued a license in the first place. Seatbelts on the bus, something that the NTSB is recommending to New Jersey authorities, also could have made a difference.
Overall, though the process of development is complicated and long, connected vehicles could be an important contribution to future traffic safety.
“Vehicle-to-vehicle communication has the potential to be the ultimate game-changer in roadway safety,” NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said, “but we need to understand how to apply the technology in an effective way in the real world.”
Without further testing, this technology seems to be far in the future. However, it seems to be on its way nonetheless.
[Source: NBC News]