Feds Propose Language for Autos – Car Talk

Automobile accidents play a huge role in accidental fatalities every single year. In fact, 2013 alone saw over 35,000 deaths related to vehicular accidents. Luckily, motor vehicles have consistently been becoming more safe over the years, and a new announcement by President Obama’s administration may prove to make them even safer. Countless science fiction movies, such as iRobot have portrayed a world where vehicles can detect other automobiles and use this information to keep their drivers safe, but with this new announcement, this world may not be science fiction for much longer.

New Technology

The Obama administration stated that they were currently analyzing a new technology that will allow passenger vehicles on America’s highways to “communicate” with each other. A recommendation is said to be on the way that will require auto manufacturers in the country to put this technology into all new motor vehicles. Amazingly enough, vehicles with this technology will be able to “see” other vehicles that are also equipped and alert drivers of potentially hazardous events that may be seconds away from happening.

This idea of implementing this technology hasn’t merely come on a whim. In fact, studies have shown that it could reduce accidents, deaths and injuries on America’s streets. Many law firms will attest to the fact that most accidents which cause personal injury are caused by negligence and human error. It’s been estimated that the new technology could prevent around 80 percent of all auto accidents that don’t involve mechanical failure or drunken driving.

How it Works

The technology that will make this safety feature work seems easy enough, but in reality, it’s some of the most complex thinking to ever go into motor vehicle safety. The system will work by continuously sending out radio signals that contain a vehicle’s heading, speed, position and other vital information that could prove important to surrounding drivers. These signals will be sent out at a rate of 10 times every single second.

The system will be able to recognize if other drivers are acting negligently, such as going too fast towards an upcoming intersection, and alert other drivers of the potential impending accident. In fact, some vehicles will actually be able to apply the brakes themselves in order to prevent these collisions. Automatic braking is already standard in some models of newer vehicles, so combining it with this new technology could revolutionize the auto industry.

Critical Mass

While this technology sounds brilliant on paper, it’s important to remember that it will not automatically show a reduction in auto accidents. After all, even if all new cars are equipped with the technology, there will be countless vehicles on the road that were sold before its implementation that won’t be able to communicate with other vehicles.

Luckily, this won’t be a problem forever. It’s estimated that an area will be able to see these safety benefits when only 7 to 10 percent of vehicles are equipped with the system. Even more promising is the fact that Qualcomm, a technology company, has predicted that it will only take around 15 years for half of American vehicles on the streets to have the technology. The “critical mass” is assumed to be the number of vehicles that will need to be equipped to show a marked difference, and if half of America’s vehicles have these systems in 15 years, this critical mass could be reached within relatively quickly.

While this technology may seem too futuristic to be true, one must only remember that, at the beginning of the 1900s, man didn’t have the ability to fly or even commute at the level that he does today. Any future technology portrayed in stories, films or television is only a prediction of what will likely one day exist. While it definitely seems cool that vehicles will be able to “see” what’s going around them, the overriding benefit of it all is the lives that will be saved every day in America.