NTSB calls for system to prevent intersection accidents

Technology has made cars safer. From seat belts, unibody construction with crush zones, airbags, ABS brakes and collision avoidance systems have all combined to make cars safer and crashes more survivable than ever before.  These advances, along with better-engineered highways and stricter enforcement of drunk driving laws have helped reduced highway fatalities to their lowest level ever. Fewer people die in traffic accident today than died in 1949, even though we drive about 3 trillion miles every year.

But that does not mean there isn't a great deal of room for improvement. Annual highway fatalities still average more than 30,000 people, the equivalent of half the population of Warner-Robins dying every year. With a goal of further reducing car accidents and the death and injuries that accompany them, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended that cars be equipped with systems that would allow them to communicate and provide an advance warning of potential accidents.

These systems would send the vehicles velocity, its location, direction and speed, to other vehicles, and the computers could determine if a collision is likely. Because the computers in cars can analyze this information 10 times per second, it would recognize dangerous situations long before a human could recognize and process the threat.

The NTSB made its recommendations after review two fatal school bus accidents last year. Both occurred at intersections and this system holds great potential to prevent these types of crashes. The auto industry argues the recommendation is premature, but the NTSB believes this technology holds "great promise" to save lives.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Technology for cars to talk to each other urged," Joan Lowy, Associated Press, July 23, 2013

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