NHTSA Calls for V2V Technology in Models Built After 2020

V2V and V2X

NHTSA’s pre­lim­i­nary esti­mates of safe­ty ben­e­fits of V2V tech­nol­o­gy show that just two safe­ty appli­ca­tions — Left Turn Assist (LTA) and Inter­sec­tion Move­ment Assist (IMA) – could pre­vent up to 592,000 crash­es and 1,083 lives could be saved per year. 

By Mike Sheldrick, Senior Edi­tor

Let’s give the gov­ern­ment cred­it where it’s due: 30 years ago, the Fed­er­al High­way Admin­is­tra­tion (FHWA) began pro­grams designed to apply elec­tron­ic and soft­ware sys­tems to the trans­porta­tion sys­tem. Those pro­grams were first envi­sioned when the reign­ing tech­nol­o­gy was not far removed from punched cards and room-sized main­frames.

The goal was to move more peo­ple more safe­ly and more effi­cient­ly over the exist­ing high­way sys­tem. Even then, it was clear that the gold­en era of high­way build­ing, if not over, soon would be, espe­cial­ly in urban areas. Only now, thir­ty years lat­er, are some of the more advanced ideas float­ed back then being real­ized.

No, this is not the result of gov­ern­ment inep­ti­tude (sor­ry, lib­er­tar­i­ans). The nascent tech­nolo­gies talked of then were not pow­er­ful enough, per­va­sive enough, nor inex­pen­sive enough. Yet thanks to the per­sis­tence of FHWA, the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion, and the Admin­is­tra­tion under Pres­i­dent Bush, Con­gress passed the Inter­modal Sur­face Trans­porta­tion and Effi­cien­cy Act, pop­u­lar­ly known then as ISTEA. Pas­sage of the bill was only secured with tor­tur­ous bi-par­ti­san, big-state, small-state, and urban vs. rur­al nego­ti­a­tions, and maybe most impor­tant a slather­ing of pork.

Right from the start, back in the ear­ly 80s, the notion of vehi­cle-to-vehi­cle com­mu­ni­ca­tion was sought after by FHWA. Now, final­ly, we are get­ting clos­er. Last week, the Depart­ment of Transportation’s Nation­al High­way Traf­fic Safe­ty Admin­is­tra­tion (NHTSA) issued a notice of a pro­posed rule mak­ing that could require vehi­cles pro­duced after 2020 to be equipped with V2V tech­nol­o­gy. Not men­tioned, but quite pos­si­bly, vehi­cle-to-road­side com­mu­ni­ca­tion (V2R) might also be includ­ed in the rule mak­ing.

NHTSA’s pre­lim­i­nary esti­mates of safe­ty ben­e­fits show that just two safe­ty appli­ca­tions — Left Turn Assist (LTA) and Inter­sec­tion Move­ment Assist (IMA) – could pre­vent up to 592,000 crash­es and 1,083 lives could be saved per year. Put anoth­er way, V2V tech­nol­o­gy could help dri­vers avoid more than half of these types of crash­es that would oth­er­wise occur by pro­vid­ing advance warn­ing.

LTA warns dri­vers not to turn left in front of anoth­er vehi­cle trav­el­ing in the oppo­site direc­tion and IMA warns them if it is not safe to enter an inter­sec­tion due to a high prob­a­bil­i­ty of col­lid­ing with one or more vehi­cles. Addi­tion­al appli­ca­tions could also help dri­vers avoid immi­nent dan­ger through for­ward col­li­sion, blind spot, do not pass, and stop light/stop sign mak­ing

The full ben­e­fits won’t be achieved until all vehi­cles are capa­ble of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with each oth­er and with the road­side. That could be decades away, but there are many ben­e­fits even in the inter­im for cars that are equipped. The FCC is in charge of the broad­cast spec­trum and is being urged by NHTSA, and the auto­mo­bile indus­try to make band­width avail­able to V2V.


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