U.S. DoT Proposes Vehicle-to-Vehicle Safety System To Lower Crashes

Intersection crashes — namely ones involving turning across the flow of traffic and T-bone collision at four-way intersections — account for countless vehicular accidents every year.

Yet Vehicle-to-Vehicle communication (V2V) technologies like Left Turn Assist (LTA) and Intersection Movement Assist (IMA) could help prevent many of them, and now the U.S. Department of Transport is considering making both them and V2V mandatory in all new cars.

V2V systems could help warn drivers of impending collisions long before they occur (image: U.S. DoT)

V2V systems could help warn drivers of impending collisions long before they occur (image: U.S. DoT)

In a public announcement made yesterday, the U.S. DoT, working alongside the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), detailed proposed new legislation which would require all new cars to be fitted with both LTA and IMA V2V systems. It follows the successful completion of a year-long test-vehicle pilot project in Ann Arbour, MI, which ended last fall.

Left Turn Assist and Intersection Movement Assist technologies rely on anonymous vehicle-to-vehicle connections using a proprietary local wireless protocol. As well as relaying its speed and position to other vehicles, a car fitted with LTA and IMA can detect the presence of other cars in the close proximity and warn drivers if its own path is likely to cross that of an approaching vehicle.

It’s particularly useful in situations where there’s a blind junction, but could also be useful in busy urban environments where it’s not always easy to tell which direction a car is headed.

The driver can then take appropriate action by either slowing down, stopping, or taking evasive action, long before a collision occurs, even if the driver can’t see the vehicle they’re at risk of hitting.

From a privacy standpoint, only basic vehicle information is transmitted between cars; no personally identifiable information is shared and the proposed legislation would not require either technology to have direct connection to any vehicular control systems. Despite this however, V2V systems could encompass a whole new set of specialised messages designed to enhance road safety, from sending Do Not Pass messages from emergency vehicles through to enhanced lane change warnings and perhaps even super-advance collision warning.

V2V could be initially used to prevent against intersection collisions, but has other uses too, especially in busy cities.

V2V could be initially used to prevent against intersection collisions, but has other uses too, especially in busy cities. (image: U.S. DoT)

Announced via an official advance notice of proposed rule making (ANPRM) the change in legislation would require each and every new car going on sale in the U.S. to be fitted with both LTA and IMA technology.  Like airbags, rear view cameras and tyre pressure monitoring systems before them, the two new technologies would hopefully decrease the number of accidents and fatalities on the roads of the U.S. 

Like many other safety technologies however, LTA and IMA only work when the human behind the wheel pays attention to them. Because neither system have any active control over the direction or speed of the car, the driver is ultimately responsible for heeding — or ignoring — their advice.

Official DoT figures calculated from its initial study into the subject of vehicle-to-vehicle suggests implementing LTA and IMA as the first of many V2V technologies could prevent upwards of half a million crashes every year, as well as saving more than 1,000 lives annually.

Requiring all new cars to have basic V2V capabilities would also make the deployment of semi-and fully autonomous cars easier.

Requiring all new cars to have basic V2V capabilities would also make the deployment of semi-and fully autonomous cars easier (Image: U.S. DoT).

But where the technology shows real promise is the potential it shows for integration between human-operated and self-driving vehicles.  By standardising a mandatory set of V2V protocols, the automotive industry would be give self-driving and human-driven cars a more advanced, enhanced view of the road ahead, reducing congestion, increasing intersection efficiency and of course, improving safety for all.

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  • CDspeed

    How about something to stop us from using our smart phones while driving hmm? That would be a better idea.

  • Joe

    This seems totally doable today without any technology advances required. In a way it’s a fancy side mirror; use it to avoid hitting someone or ignore it and drive like you’re in Michigan. I would definitely be concerned about giving these systems control over vehicle motion, though. Imagine thousands or millions of cars “listening” for a standard wireless signal warning of an impending collision. Someone then broadcasts that signal in traffic and causes every car in the area to swerve to the left. Still though, it’s hard to imagine automotive technology NOT moving in this direction. Nice article, Nikki!