DOT Steps on the Gas for Vehicle to Vehicle Communication

By Eric G Braun, Senior Writer, USRW

It’s not quite jet packs yet, but the technology in cars and light trucks may sound like something out of the Jetsons. Even though it won’t have a direct impact on trucking in its infantile stage, those driving near you may know more about you than you think.

Citing an enormous potential to reduce crashes on U.S. roadways, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a proposed rule this month that would advance the deployment of connected vehicle technologies throughout the U.S. light vehicle fleet. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology on all new light-duty vehicles, enabling a multitude of new crash-avoidance applications that, once fully deployed, could prevent hundreds of thousands of crashes every year by helping vehicles “talk” to each other.   

If this makes you nervous as a Professional Driver, it probably should.

The proposed rule announced today would require automakers to include V2V technologies in all new light-duty vehicles. The rule proposes requiring V2V devices to “speak the same language” through standardized messaging developed with industry.

NHTSA estimates that safety applications enabled by V2V and V2I could eliminate or mitigate the severity of up to 80 percent of non-impaired crashes, including crashes at intersections or while changing lanes.

V2V devices would use the dedicated short range communications (DSRC) to transmit data, such as location, direction, and speed, to nearby vehicles. That data would be updated and broadcast up to 10 times per second to nearby vehicles, and using that information, V2V-equipped vehicles can identify risks and provide warnings to drivers to avoid imminent crashes. Vehicles that contain automated driving functions—such as automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control—could also benefit from the use of V2V data to better avoid or reduce the consequences of crashes.

V2V communications can provide the vehicle and driver with enhanced abilities to address additional crash situations, including those, for example, in which a driver needs to decide if it is safe to pass on a two-lane road (potential head-on collision), make a left turn across the path of oncoming traffic, or determine if a vehicle approaching an intersection appears to be on a collision course. In those situations, V2V communications can detect developing threat situations hundreds of yards away, and often in situations in which the driver and on-board sensors alone cannot detect the threat.

“We are carrying the ball as far as we can to realize the potential of transportation technology to save lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This long promised V2V rule is the next step in that progression.  Once deployed, V2V will provide 360-degree situational awareness on the road and will help us enhance vehicle safety.”

“Advanced vehicle technologies may well prove to be the silver bullet in saving lives on our roadways,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “V2V and automated vehicle technologies each hold great potential to make our roads safer, and when combined, their potential is untold.”

What was not discussed was the downside of such technology.

I hate to be a “Debbie Downer’, but there is cause for concern that more technology could lead to distracted driving and relying on computers instead of common sense. There is a saying amongst Paramedics, “Treat the patient not the heart monitor”, that same logic would be served well with this new technology.

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