The Newest In Collision Avoidance: Cars That Talk To Each Other

Our cars aren’t flying yet, but soon they could be talking to each other. And this is no idle gossip or chitchat about how awful potholes are on the old chassis, but new technology that would let vehicles warn each other when they could be heading for a collision.

Drivers can be distracted on the road, but the government thinks a car is less likely to miss the signs of an impending collision. It’s mulling whether or not to require automakers to equip new vehicles with the technology, reports the Associated Press, though that is still at least a few years away.

Federal transportation officials said yesterday in a news conference that the vehicle-to-vehicle technology has “game-changing potential” to cut collisions, deaths and injuries.

Here’s how it works: A radio signal that’s continually transmitting a car’s position, heading, speed and other info will send all of that to other vehicles around it, allowing the vehicles to effectively communicate what’s going on.

If another car’s computer gets word that something is wrong, it could alert drivers by way of a flashing message or audible warning, or even hit the brakes itself.

Is the guy in oncoming traffic about to run a red light? The car would tell your car. Did someone make a quick stop up ahead? Your car will know, at a distance up to about 300 yards.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been in cahoots with automakers to work on the new technology in recent years, and estimates that it could stop about 80% of accidents that don’t involve drunken drivers or mechanical failure.

And our wise elder siblings at Consumer Reports are also in favor of the technology after testing it out from a number of automakers, “and came away impressed with the effectiveness and potential safety benefits of the systems.”

We’re pretty sure there’s a “Car Talk” joke in here somewhere, but c’mon, who doesn’t love listening to those guys talk about cars for an entire hour, until you suddenly realize what you’ve been doing and the fact that you don’t even own a car? Just delightful.

Car-to-car talk: Hey, look out for that collision! [Associated Press]
Vehicle-to-vehicle communication coming soon, will prevent collisions [Consumer Reports]