94 out of 100 auto accidents are caused by simple human error. New communication technology lets cars and trucks and other vehicles send warnings and prevent accidents.

How V2V and V2X Communication Can Prevent Accidents on the Road

For more than a decade now, federal safety officials with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and other government agencies have been working with automakers to develop new technology to prevent auto accidents.

One such technology is vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, which enables vehicles near each other on the road to “communicate” with each other. Also in the works is the intimately related vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication technology.

Avoiding Accidents, Easing Congestion

V2V-equipped cars and trucks will be able to exchange data about risks on the road by using a dedicated two-way wireless communication channel. A segment of the electromagnetic spectrum was set aside for this purpose by the Federal Communications Commission in 1999.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

“Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication’s ability to wirelessly exchange information about the speed and position of surrounding vehicles shows great promise in helping to avoid crashes, ease traffic congestion, and improve the environment. But the greatest benefits can only be achieved when all vehicles can communicate with each other. That’s why NHTSA has been working with the automotive industry and academic institutions for more than a decade to advance V2V communication’s lifesaving potential into reality.”

In 2015, 6.3 million vehicles were involved in crashes in the United States. The NHTSA estimates that widely implemented V2V technology might have slashed the number by 615,000. Safety officials also reckon that up to 94 percent of traffic crashes are due to human error—errors that V2V technology can help prevent. V2V communication would, for example, warn a driver to slow down if incoming signals show that a vehicle just ahead has suddenly braked or that a currently unseen vehicle is fast approaching an intersection you’re about to cross.

The success of V2V requires many participants. If only a few scattered vehicles have the technology, it will only rarely prevent an auto accident. Eventually, though, as the tech becomes standard on new vehicles and as older vehicles leave the road, a tipping point will be reached. When a sufficiently high percentage of vehicles can alert each other about looming threats, the chances of avoiding formerly unavoidable accidents will improve dramatically.

From Cars to Everything in Colorado

A wider step in the technological mission of making roads safer is Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technology, which seeks to weave data exchange between vehicles (V2V) with data exchange between vehicles and the cell phones of pedestrians (V2P) and data exchange between vehicles and infrastructure like traffic lights and parking spaces (V2I). The DOT recently sought public comments on the challenges of applying the technology.

One state involved in V2X research is Colorado. The Colorado DOT is working with partners like Ford, Panasonic, and Qualcomm to test the technology in various regions of the state. Full implementation is still a ways away, but much work has already been done, with some vehicular communication rolling out as early as 2020 or 2021.

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