High tech warning system aims to reduce car crashes - WNEM TV 5

High tech warning system aims to reduce car crashes

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More than 30-thousand Americans were killed in traffic crashes last year but new technology is hoping to change that.

That new technology allows cars to actually communicate with one another and the roads they're traveling on.

If you've been in an accident or know someone who has, it can be a traumatic experience. What if a high tech alarm system could alert you if you were about to hit another vehicle? There's research happening right now that promises to cut risk of being in a wreck by 80 percent.

"The safety pilot model deployment is the largest connected vehicle and infrastructure deployment in the world," says Debbie Bezzina, Senior Program Manager, University of Michigan Transportation Institute.

Bezzina says many cars already have special antennas that enable them to communicate with each other. There are 2,800 of them in Ann Arbor. It's all done through simple radio signals.

"Vehicle to vehicle is using dedicated short range communication. It has our vehicle position, speed, and heading. So other equipped vehicles can do a threat assessment on our position with their position to determine if there's any chance of collision," says Bezzina.

It's called vehicle to vehicle technology. It's designed to warn the driver if they're taking a curve too fast, if there's ice on the road, or if another vehicle could hit them.

"It should be able to address the majority of collisions that are prevalent with the exception of things like drunk driving," continues Bezzina.

That means many potentially deadly car accidents including distracted or drowsy driving could be prevented. Bezzina says these innovations would eliminate eight out of ten wrecks! just imagine how much safer our roads would be for all of us if eight out of every ten crashes didn't happen.

These cars just don't communicate with each other. They also interact with specially equipped intersections throughout the city.

"When a vehicle heads to an intersection, the system will start showing what phase the vehicle is in. The system shows what lane the vehicle is in and what the color of the signal is and then the timing. So the signal phase and timing," says Bezzina.

Bezzina also says the technology allows the driver to know if someone is running a red light as they approach an intersection. We all know how tragic accidents caused by red light runners can be. That's something researchers believe they can prevent.

"It's very beneficial because then you don't have to know all of these intricacies of a road. You'll be told what it is and how you need to drive," says Bezzina.

This is the third year of the safety pilot model deployment. It's part of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Intelligent Transportation Systems safety research program. USDOT wants to determine the effectiveness of connected vehicles in a real world setting. So far, researchers have collected more than 40 billion pieces of information.

So is the program working? Based on what Bezzina is being told, the answer is a resounding yes.

That means the days where cars communicate with everything around them could be just around the corner.

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