We all hear plenty about the driving distractions posed by electronic devices that increase the likelihood of car crashes and truck accidents. However, there is also a major upside to wireless technologies, and automotive industry experts predict that all new motor vehicles will eventually be equipped with “connected car” systems that will allow cars and trucks to communicate with each other and inform drivers about imminent hazards.
Using wireless transmitters that broadcast a car’s position multiple times per second, researchers at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) have launched a study that will equip 3,000 cars and trucks with connected car technology. UMTRI officials point out two basic reasons why promoting enhanced motor vehicle safety is important: car and truck crashes are the number one cause of death for Americans between the ages of five and 34, and most accidents result from human error.
Vehicle-to-vehicle technologies can give drivers several precious seconds of extra warning when a vehicle ahead has had to slow or stop suddenly or veer to avoid an obstacle. Those extra seconds gained to implement a crash avoidance strategy will eventually save thousands of lives every year.
Driver demand is one clear inspiration behind the interest in connected car technology development, given that the vast majority of drivers who participated in a pilot program conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that they would want the wireless positioning indicators in their own vehicles. For that reason, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai-Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen have all pledged support for ongoing studies.
Minimizing Driver Error as a Cause of Car Accidents
Connected car technologies that help drivers become more aware of common dangers on the road will pay big dividends in future generations. Due to previous improvements in vehicle safety, from traction control systems to passenger restraints, traffic deaths in the U.S. have fallen to pre-1950 levels. But that still means more than 30,000 traffic fatalities every year, and a steep cost in terms of both finances and personal tragedy.
While accident causes as varied as drunk driving or defective tires and other parts mean that fatal motor vehicle accidents will never be eliminated, a future where they are significantly less common is an achievable dream much worth aspiring toward.