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Transportation Department clinics to test connected-vehicle communication

Fri, 13 May 2011

Usually communication between cars on the road consists of expletive-ridden road rage or “hey, your headlight’s out!” Thanks to new technology, the exchange of information could soon be far more productive.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced that it will be holding Driver Acceptance Clinics in six cities across the country to assess how well drivers respond to vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology.

It’s hoped that this intercar dialogue will help vehicles avoid crashes by conversing with nearby cars, traffic signals, dangerous road segments and other parts of roadway infrastructure and issuing warnings accordingly. These could be collision sensors, “do not pass” alerts or notifications that a car ahead has stopped suddenly.

“Connected-vehicle technology has the potential to address 81 percent of all unimpaired driver-related crashes,” said Peter Appel from the Research and Innovative Technology Administration.

After the clinics are completed, the Department of Transportation hopes to put thousands of vehicles equipped with the technology on the road to see how it functions in a real-world setting. If it meets effectiveness standards, the technology could one day be required in new cars.

The first Driver Acceptance Clinic will be held in Brooklyn, Mich., in August. Remaining clinics will take place in Minneapolis, Orlando, Blacksburg, Va., Dallas and San Francisco.

By Julie Alvin