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Vehicle to Vehicle Technology – A Safe but Bad Idea

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1.The Next Generation in Car Safety
Photo credit: NCinDC / Flickr

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced that it will begin enabling vehicle-to-vehicle technology for light vehicles. The DOT expects this technology to enhance safety on the roads by giving cars the ability to electronically communicate with each other.

This communication ability is meant to prevent a lot of crashes as cars exchange data with each other, such as their speed and position on the road compared to other cars. This information is exchanged with nearby cars ten times per second. Drivers do not have to do anything to engage this technology, as it is set up to operate automatically.

The Next Generation in Car Safety

The DOT believes this technology is part of the next generation in car safety. Since we have the technology to enable such communication between cars, DOT leaders see car-to-car communication as a natural extension of other previously implemented safety features on cars, such as seat belts, air bags, and child safety locks. They are also hoping the use of this technology with solidify the position of the United States as a leader in automobile innovation.

Vehicle-To-Vehicle Technology Drawbacks

The technology is perfectly safe and may very well prevent some crashes. However, it does have its drawbacks. These drawbacks actually make it a bad idea for this technology to be implemented. First, cars that have these communication capabilities will alert their drivers if any risks or unsafe conditions are coming up on the road.

This can be quite distracting to drivers, and may cause an accident as drivers try to quickly interpret and respond to these messages from their vehicles. Further, the cars only provide alerts; they do not control the car in any way. It is up to the driver to do that, and drivers can often respond to road conditions a lot better on their own, without a distracting message from their car.

Further, the technology is only applicable to light cars right now. It will do nothing to help drivers of light cars avoid crashes with larger cars that do not use this technology, as these cars will not be broadcasting information. Oftentimes, the worst crashes are ones in which a small car crashes with a large one. Until the technology is rolled out to all vehicles, it will be useless in preventing the worst crashes. It also won’t help those on motorcycles or drivers approaching motorcycles.

Too Much Information

Vehicle-to-vehicle technology provides 360 degree information for a driver. It lets a driver know if it’s safe to pass on a 2-lane road, if it’s clear to make a left turn across oncoming traffic, and if upcoming intersections have a potential crash situation. The information is recorded so frequently that it can provide information overload to a driver and cause a driver to be more tense on the road than necessary. This can actually lead to more accidents.

The Verdict

While vehicle-to-vehicle technology may seem like a good idea in theory, it has potential drawbacks that are similar to using a cell phone while driving or texting while driving. It is distracting. While a driver who is paying little attention to the road may be assisted by this technology, most drivers are going to find it a huge distraction that is more likely to cause additional crashes than prevent them.

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