News

‘Talking’ cars mandated by early 2017

‘Talking’ cars mandated by early 2017

Traffic is at a standstill on Interstate 65 northbound as officials work to clear abandoned vehicles Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 in Hoover, Ala. Overnight, the South saw fatal crashes and hundreds of fender-benders. Jackknifed 18-wheelers littered Interstate 65 in central Alabama. Photo: Associated Press/Hal Yeager

By Elvina Nawaguna

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. regulators are crafting a rule that would require all new vehicles to be able to “talk” to one another using wireless technology, which the Department of Transportation said would significantly reduce accidents on U.S. roads and alleviate traffic congestion.

A rule mandating so-called vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology should be put in place before President Barack Obama leaves office in early 2017, DOT officials said on Monday.

“When these technologies are adapted across the fleet, the results could be nothing short of revolutionary for roadway safety,” said David Friedman, acting administrator of the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The details of implementation are still unknown.

Mandating the use of technology once thought to be science-fiction will “pave the way for market penetration of vehicle-to-vehicle safety applications,” the DOT said in a statement.

This “V2V” technology allows cars on the road to trade basic safety data, such as speed and position, at a rate of ten times per second. This exchange of information might help avoid or reduce the severity of 80 percent of crashes that occur when the driver is not impaired, NHTSA said.

“Think of all the everyday situations that this technology could help with; when folks pull up to a four-way stop, driving behind a big truck or an SUV that limits your visibility or even making a lane change and a car moves into your blind spot,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told a news conference.

This data does not include personal details about the driver or vehicle, the DOT said. Vehicles or a group of vehicles can be identified through a defined procedure “only if there is a need to fix a safety problem.”

The announcement comes as NHTSA finishes its analysis of data gathered during its year-long pilot program of V2V technology in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

In that program, U.S. officials and the University of Michigan outfitted nearly 3,000 cars, trucks and buses with wireless devices that tracked other vehicles’ speed and location, and alerted drivers to congestion.

Those findings, as well as a preliminary estimate of the costs of this technology, will be published in coming weeks.

An industry trade group aligned with auto manufacturers said it is willing to explore the idea but that a lot of questions remain. “Many pieces of a large puzzle still need to fit together,” said Gloria Bergquist, head of communications for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

“What remains to be addressed is security and privacy, along with consumer acceptance, affordability, achieving the critical mass to enable the ‘network effect’ and establishment of the necessary legal and regulatory framework,” she said.

“Automakers have invested significantly in safety technology and systems, and we will review today’s announcement and engage with NHTSA in next steps.”

(Reporting by Elvina Nawaguna in Washington and Deepa Seetharaman in Detroit; editing by Matthew Lewis)

Recent Headlines

27 mins ago in National

Making headlines this week

Fresh
A couple is seen through an American flag as they walk to a polling place for the New Hampshire primary, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in Nashua, N.H. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

A look back at some of the week's biggest headlines and the stories you may have missed.

54 mins ago in Local

Firefighters extinguish house fire in City of Ithaca

Fresh
washington fire

The fire happened in the home along Washington Street in Ithaca around noon; no one was home at the time.

1 hour ago in Entertainment, National

Roses and roaches: Cold-hearted Valentine’s Day ideas

Fresh
valentines

With the coldest air in more than a decade forecast to grip the United States this Valentine's Day weekend, the holiday dedicated to love is flashing its frigid side.

2 hours ago in Local

Draft pilot proposal circulates for backyard chickens program

Fresh
chickens

A new program for chickens would establish a pilot group of 20 households in the City of Ithaca.

2 hours ago in Local

Cuomo revises plan to change juvenile court and prison system

prison-142141_640

The plan would try juvenile offenders in different courts and keep them out of adult prisons and jails.