Feds Kick Off First Roadway Tests of Car-to-Car Technology

Thousands of vehicles outfitted with crash-avoidance technology began tests by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today as federal officials applauded the kickoff of a yearlong pilot project.

The kickoff begins the project’s second phase that federal officials call the first-ever, “largest road test to date” of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology that utilizes wireless networks and allows cars to “talk” to each other.

V2V technology could impact and estimated 80 percent of “unimpaired” crashes by reducing their severity or helping drivers avoid crashing altogether, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The technology can aid in avoiding hazards including blind intersections, blind spots and vehicles that stop suddenly.

The technology sends and receives data, translating them into electronic messages and warnings to the motorist.

Before this second phase of the V2V project, the DOT surveyed drivers about V2V technology, finding that a vast majority favored it and would equip their own vehicles with such features.

Insurance Implications of V2V Technology

Insurers back those sorts of advancements in the vehicle industry and V2V technology “holds great promise,” according to Loretta Worters, vice president of communications for the Insurance Information Institute (III).

“Any technology that can improve safety and efficiency on the road, help to save lives, reduce auto accidents is lauded by the insurance industry,” Worters said in an email. “Insurers value safe vehicles because they keep occupants safer and keep claim costs low.”

Some industry experts say the growth of technology could have a significant impact on consumers who purchase car insurance. A May report from consulting firm Celent predicted that fewer crashes would spark a steep drop in the price of insurance premiums and an overhaul of the market as insurers face shrinking revenue.

But the technology would first need to first be outfitted on millions of vehicles and prove itself an effective deterrent of crashes for that scenario to play out.

“Vehicle-to-vehicle technology holds great promise; whether it will result in a reduction in the number and severity of claims is too early to tell,” Worters wrote. “Usually it takes several years before insurers can determine whether a technology does indeed reduce loss before a discount is offered.”

“New technology is not a panacea for every driving situation,” she added.

Federal officials will use data from the pilot project’s two phases and decide by 2013 whether they will pursue developing V2V technology further and possibly begin creating regulations for it.

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for Patch.com and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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