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Is Your Car Talking to Other Cars About Your Driving?

Computers, cell phones, televisions and even some kitchen appliances now enjoy many expanded capabilities thanks to advancements in wireless technology over the last decade. Interestingly, it appears as if this wireless innovation might soon be spreading to the hundreds of thousands of automobiles traveling the roads here in Tennessee and across the U.S. every day.

However, this advancement in wireless technology in automobiles won’t have anything to do with improving the capabilities of in-dash touch screens or communications systems, but rather with preventing potentially deadly car accidents.

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently completed a $25 million project in Ann Arbor, Michigan to examine the strengths and weaknesses of vehicular wireless systems. These wireless systems are designed to emit broadcast data packets or Basic Safety Messages over a 5.9 GHz band every ten seconds.

These Basic Safety Messages, which relay such basic information as GPS positioning, are then picked up by the wireless systems of other automobiles within a 1,000-foot radius. If the wireless message received indicates that the car is about to sideswipe another car or be involved in a rear-end collision, it emits a message (flashing lights, loud alarm, vibrating seat, etc.) indicating that the driver needs to pay closer attention.

“At every opportunity for an accident, technology prevents you from having that accident,” said former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

While the results of the DOT research — which outfitted nearly 3,000 cars with wireless systems designed to emit Basic Safety Messages and 300 cars with wireless systems designed to receive these messages — are still pending, it’s highly likely that this technology will someday become a standard safety feature on all new cars.

Until such time, however, drivers must continue to watch their speed, check their mirrors and keep both eyes on the road in order to avoid potentially deadly car accidents.

Source: Wired, “To prevent crashes, your future car will chat with other vehicles,” Matt Jancer, August 14, 2013

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