In the future, we might all have cars that talk to us. I'm not talking Knight Rider circa 1985, but I am talking about technology being tested this summer right here in Michigan. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is testing nearly 3,000 cars, trucks, and buses with technology that allows vehicles to communicate with each other to warn drivers of impending danger.
When it comes to reaction time, notice is the key. It's well understood by safety experts that a driver's reaction time before he or she can apply the brakes on a vehicle is 1.5 seconds. At 60 miles per hour you will travel 132 feet in that time.
Imagine if your car was equipped with technology that would give you an additional second or two of warning before you see the impending danger, essentially mitigating the lag you are going to have in reaction time? The vehicles being tested in Ann Arbor are hoping to accomplish just that task. They communication systems use wireless networks to share information on location, speed, and direction as many as 10 times per second.
The net result, according to David Strickland of NHTSA will be "our next evolutionary step … to make sure the crash never happens in the first place." The goal is to create systems that would warn drivers not only about cars that run red lights, but also when it would be unsafe to make a left hand turn because of too much traffic or unseen vehicles coming around corners.
Experts, however, still acknowledge that the technology is only going to be as good as the driver's response to the warnings – so I'm sure some debate will take place into how those warnings will be displayed or registered to the driver. More advanced systems of vehicle to vehicle (V2V) technology would even allow the vehicle to override the driver if he or she is too slow to respond.