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GAO: Vehicle-to-vehicle technology to offer significant safety benefits

The DOT believes that if widely deployed, V2V technologies could provide warnings to drivers in as much as 76 percent of potential multi-vehicle collisions involving at least one light vehicle, such as a passenger car.

The Trucker News Services

11/1/2013

WASHINGTON — Development of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technologies has progressed to the point of real world testing, and if broadly deployed, they are anticipated to offer significant safety benefits, the General Accounting Office said in a report issued Friday.

The GAO conducted the study as part of the federal government’s efforts to find methods to reduce accident, injuries and fatalities on the nation’s highways.

In 2011, 5.3 million vehicle crashes in the United States resulted in more than 2.2 million injuries and about 32,000 fatalities.

In addition the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that motor vehicle crashes had economic costs — including productivity losses, property damages and medical costs — of $230 billion, or about $304 billion in 2013 dollars.

The report said efforts by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the automobile industry have focused on developing:

• In-vehicle components such as hardware to facilitate communications among vehicles

• Safety software applications to analyze data and identify potential collisions

• Vehicle features that warn drivers, and

• A national communication security system to ensure trust in the data transmitted among vehicles.

The DOT believes that if widely deployed, V2V technologies could provide warnings to drivers in as much as 76 percent of potential multi-vehicle collisions involving at least one light vehicle, such as a passenger car.

While the report does not mention commercial vehicles, trucking industry experts involved in developing CMV safety systems believe the V2V technology can be extended to big rigs.

All in all, the report said, the level of benefits realized will depend on the extent of the deployment of these technologies and the effectiveness of V2V warnings in eliciting appropriate driver responses.

“The continued progress of V2V technology development hinges on a decision that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) plans to make in late 2013 on how to proceed regarding these technologies,” the report’s authors said, adding that one option would be to pursue a rulemaking requiring their inclusion in new vehicles.

The GAO said the deployment of V2V technologies faces a number of challenges, which DOT is working with the automobile industry to address.

The GAO study was requested by Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology; Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, ranking member of the committee; two committee members — Ralph Hall, D-Texas, and Randy Hultgren, R-Ill. — and Rep. John J. Duncan, R-Texas, who is vice chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The report listed the challenges based on information provided by “experts,” DOT officials, automobile manufacturers and other stakeholders GAO interviewed as part of the report:

• Finalizing the technical framework and management framework of a V2V communication security system, which will be unique in its size and structure

• Ensuring that the possible sharing with other wireless users of the radio-frequency spectrum used by V2V communications will not adversely affect V2V technology's performance

• Ensuring that drivers respond appropriately to warnings of potential collisions
• Addressing the uncertainty related to potential liability issues posed by V2V technologies

• Addressing any concerns the public may have, including those related to privacy.

The GAO said the DOT was collaborating with automobile manufacturers and others to find potential technical and policy solutions to these challenges and plans to continue these efforts. Although V2V technologies are being tested in a real-world pilot that will end in February 2014, DOT officials stated that they cannot fully plan for deployment until NHTSA decides how to proceed later this year.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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