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Talking Cars May Decrease Car Accidents

Accidents occur for any number of reasons. Basic driving errors, drunk driving and distracted driving are all contributing factors to a car accident. Our ability to make common sense driving decisions is important to all drivers but there are some times when a crash simply just happens. As long as fallible human drivers are operating vehicles, we will continue to experience car accidents.

Many futurists believe we will have access to self driving cars at some point. In fact, many prominent researchers have been working on this idea but it is still several years from being mass produced for the public. 

Until the momentous day when we can purchase self driving cars, we do have alternative, cars that talk to each other. Many automotive manufacturers are now installing programs on their cars that are a mixture of wifi Internet and GPS system. Vehicles with this program installed can emit a signal transmitting their movements, location and speed. These vehicles can also read other car’s signals.

When cars make dangerous and unexpected moves that could possibly cause a collision, the cars around it on the road are alerted, allowing the driver to react accordingly. Every second counts in a car accident and even just a few seconds can make the difference between a fatal accident and a bad one.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has already issued high praise for this new car technology. They issued a statement saying that car to car communication can possibly prevent up to 80% of all accidents not related to drunk driving or driving under the influence. Roughly, that amounts to almost 5 million crashes a year.

Plans are being made to address traffic congestion and other road problems with this technology. Ford has shown researchers that this technology works as it was intended. Their crash avoidance system allows cars to talk to each other within a 900 feet area. The GPS and WiFi signals are emitted 10 times per second in order to supply a 360 view around the car. Once a risk is detected, for instance a car runs a red light; the driver of the Ford is alerted.

Volvo also released some interesting ideas. They recently tested a road train idea. A road train is where a fleet of cars tunes into a lead cars speed and direction distance and mimics it on their own. The semi-autonomous cars are virtually tethered to the lead car and follow along.

Tom Robinson, leader of the project Safe Road Trains for the Environment, says that road trains can provide comfort for the driver on long trips, better road safety and road space utilization as well as decreased gas usage and CO2 emissions.

Audi is not to be outdone and have launched a similar project. The Audi Urban Intelligent Assist promises to link drivers to other cars on the road to reduce congestion, save time in traffic and increase safety on the road. 

Cars are very literally talking to each other these days and it is only a matter of time before they are driving themselves as well.