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A car safety regulation that will save billions

Often, the car industry complains loudly when government regulators put forward requirements for new safety features for automobiles. The adoption of the now standard airbag was long delayed by the car manufacturers recalcitrance. There is frequently much outcry concerning the cost of the new safety feature, as if a $100 is going to make much difference in the price of a $35,000 car.

So, it is somewhat surprising that the announcement by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to require vehicle-to-vehicle communication to prevent car accidents was described as potentially "one of the most cost-efficient safety initiatives in automotive history." 

Analysts noted that the implementation of the system would "deliver a large potion of the $500 billion accident savings" that the industry expects from autonomous vehicles. Personal injuries from car and truck accidents cause billions of dollars in damage every year.

The system would allow cars to communicate and interactively work to prevent vehicle collisions. The electronic would send singles that would warn other cars of a too close approach and the need to apply brakes.

At first, the systems would warn the driver of dangers or threats posed by other vehicles, but eventually, the system could make active adjustments to a vehicle's movements to intervene and prevent car accidents.

Some cars currently have detection systems, but this new integrated communication system would allow the vehicles at an intersection or on a congested highway to work together to minimize the likelihood of a collision.

The Department of Transportation estimates that car-to-car communication systems could prevent 80 percent of fatal traffic accidents. NHTSA plans to have the regulations ready by 2017. 

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Why NHTSA's car-to-car communications plan is game-changer for safety," Jerry Hirsch, February 5, 2014

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