Connected Vehicle technology scores safety points

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Connected vehicle technology offers tremendous promise for improving safety, so it’s encouraging to see that most drivers who have experienced this technology agree and want it in their cars.

If you were behind the wheel and considering changing lanes, you would want to know if a vehicle in your target lane was traveling in your blind spot. Armed with that information, you would avoid an ill-advised lane-change.

And, if you were traveling at speed on a busy highway, you'd also want to know if a car you couldn't see, two or three vehicles ahead, had slammed on its brakes unexpectedly. An early alert--one that signaled the rapidly changing situation before your own eyes could see it developing--would allow you to slow down at a safer rate and avoid trouble.

In both cases, the principle is simple: armed with more complete information, drivers can make safer decisions.

Drivers from six communities across the country agree. This week, the Research and Innovative Technology Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the results of Driver Acceptance Clinics where 688 drivers had the chance to test “vehicle-to-vehicle” communications.  The six-clinic program showed that an overwhelming majority of drivers would like to have the features included in their own vehicles. And most of these drivers believe the new technology will improve road safety.

During my three years as Transportation Secretary, I have watched the development of Vehicle-to-Vehicle communications with great interest. Through the work of eight major automakers and the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership--supported by RITA and NHTSA--we are rapidly approaching a point where V2V-equipped cars can help improve safety with Lane Change Warnings, Forward Collision Warnings, and other key alerts.

I was impressed when I got behind the wheel of a car equipped with this technology, and I know that Deputy Secretary John Porcari and other senior DOT officials were equally enthused after test driving vehicles that only a few years ago might have seemed like science fiction. As RITA Deputy Administrator Greg Winfree said, "The life-saving potential for safety technologies that enable communications between vehicles is too great to ignore."

And NHTSA Administrator David Strickland agrees: “As we look at the future of auto safety, these technologies may prove to be the next game-changer.”

In a few short months, we'll launch a larger pilot study in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and that promises to be very exciting. Partnering with the University of Michigan, we'll equip 2,800 cars, trucks, and buses for volunteer residents and public employees to see how the new technology works and how drivers respond in a real environment.

This technology is creating an opportunity for significant safety improvements on our roadways. At DOT, where safety is our number one priority, that's something to get excited about.