Federal Decision on New Automobile Safety Technology

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/feds-announce-decision-new-automobile-safety-technology/

Today, the feds plan to announce whether or not new cars will be required to be equipped with technology that will allow them to communicate position, speed, etc.  This technology can already be found in many new cars on the road, but does not come as a standard feature.  Automakers would be required to put a transponder in each car that would transmit the vehicle’s position, heading, speed, etc., at about 10 times per second in every direction.  The cars would use a radio signal that is a bit like Wi-Fi, and send the signal to all surrounding cars, thus alerting drivers to oncoming accidents or collisions.  According to the Department of Transportation, “officials estimate the technology could prevent up to 80% of accidents that don’t involve drunken drivers or mechanical failure.”  If those numbers are correct, then this new implementation will be a great benefit to all motorists.  The impact will not be seen immediately if the feds approve the implementation because automakers estimate that it will take around “15 years or more for half of the cars on the nation’s roads to be equipped.”  Research has proven that there are benefits from only 7% to 10% of the automobiles in a given area who have the technology however, meaning that hopefully the impact will be seen sooner than later.  Amazingly, the cost would be no more than $100-$200 per car, thus making inexpensive to the consumer.

The article also discusses a way that may speed up the process of implementing the technology.  Nearly 45% of Americans nowadays use smartphones and that number is constantly growing.  The article talks about how the GPS that is already standard on smartphones can come with a chip that could “retrofit vehicles already on the road.”  The phone would be placed into a cradle that would sync with the car and transmit the information to other equipped smartphones and cars.  The interesting part is that the information sent from the phone can be transmitted from and to bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians that also have the equipped smartphone.  The ability to use the smartphone to not only protect motorists but pedestrians as well is a huge step in decreasing fatalities from motor vehicles in the United States.

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