DOT to propose requirement that new cars and light trucks ‘communicate with each other’

The Department of Transportation (DOT) will propose requiring that automakers equip new cars and light trucks with technology that allows vehicles to communicate with one other, the organization announced on Monday. The move isn’t being made to allow cars to conspire with each other, a la “Maximum Overdrive.” Instead the agency wants to foster development of V2V technology to reduce accidents.

In its statement, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said:

Vehicle-to-vehicle technology represents the next generation of auto safety improvements, building on the life-saving achievements we’ve already seen with safety belts and air bags. By helping drivers avoid crashes, this technology will play a key role in improving the way people get where they need to go while ensuring that the U.S. remains the leader in the global automotive industry.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Acting Administrator David Friedman added:

V2V crash avoidance technology has game-changing potential to significantly reduce the number of crashes, injuries and deaths on our nation’s roads. Decades from now, it’s likely we’ll look back at this time period as one in which the historical arc of transportation safety considerably changed for the better, similar to the introduction of standards for seat belts, airbags, and electronic stability control technology.

Research, including a 3,000-vehicle test of the system in Ann Arbor, Mich., found that V2V technology has the potential to “help drivers avoid or mitigate 70 to 80 percent of vehicle crashes involving unimpaired drivers.”

To be clear, the NHTSA and DOT are not talking about self-driving vehicles, akin to Google’s famous driverless vehicles. Instead, the organizations are speaking about a system that would alert drivers to potential issues.

In addition, the agencies tried to assuage any privacy concerns: the vehicles would only, they said, send anonymous “safety data” to each other.

In this age of the NSA spying on virtually everything, we’ll see how well that sells.

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