The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has taken a big step toward requiring future vehicles to talk to each other to prevent possible collisions. NHTSA has released an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and a Supporting Research Report on Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) Communications Technology and expects to deliver notice of proposed rulemaking by 2016. “This could make it a little more interesting to install glass,” says Sam Shipley, owner of Maryland Auto Glass.
“Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications is the dynamic wireless exchange of data between nearby vehicles. By exchanging anonymous, vehicle-based data regarding position, speed and location (at a minimum), V2V communications enables a vehicle to: sense threats and hazards with a 360◦ degree awareness of the position of other vehicles and the threat or hazard they present; calculate risk; issue driver advisories or warnings; or take pre-emptive actions to avoid and mitigate crashes,” according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Research and Innovative Technology Administration.
“Safety is the biggest issue in anything automotive,” Shipley says. “We already have side-view mirrors that light up, marker lights on the mirror to let someone know a car is there [in the blind spot] and more. Blind spot technology is a good thing. Anything that can help is good. I don’t see [NHTSA’s potential rule] having a lot of impact on the windshields, perhaps in the form of a rain sensor, but if there is a camera that looks out through the backlite that could impact us.”
Shipley is all for technology that recognizes an obstacle or a stopped vehicle ahead and slows a vehicle down to prevent a crash.
“I have a daughter who is 19 so if NHTSA end up requiring this on new vehicles, I’m all for it. I want her to be as safe as possible,” he says.
Some vehicles, especially in the luxury category, already have this type of technology in place.
“I just bought a new Audi A7 and I paid extra for technology features,” says John Morris, of Jack Morris Auto Glass in Memphis, Tenn. “If it sees a car stopped ahead of me or if I’m following behind a car and not watching and it stops, the car will do whatever it needs to do to stop to prevent a collision. If the car senses there is an accident ahead, it will slam on the brakes and close the windows and sunroof. I’ve tested it and it works.
“It also has lane assist and will not let me drift out of my lane. If I were fall asleep, it will keep the car in the lane and not let me drift across the median. Who knows what cars will do five years from now.”
This type of technology won’t have a big impact on automotive glass replacements over the next five years, though, Morris notes.
“I’m a five-year kind of guy, so I worry about five years not 10 years,” he says.
Jack Morris Auto Glass’ percentage of business that is replacing windshields from wrecked vehicles is relatively low.
“We certainly do this work, but it isn’t the majority of our business. So if this [NHTSA] ruling comes about, I don’t really see much impact to our company—not to the degree that it is something I need to worry about,” Morris says.
Speaking tongue in cheek, “I think it will make more crashes,” says Tommy Barron, of Register’s Auto Glass in Wilmington, N.C.
“We love new technology, specifically with windshields because it means we get more and more money for them,” he says. “Windshields get more expensive. Also, maybe the new technology will weed out the guys who don’t know what they are doing.”
NHTSA’s new report includes analysis of technical feasibility, privacy and security, as well as preliminary estimates on costs and safety benefits of V2V technology. The administration is seeking public comments on these findings to meet its goal to soon require V2V devices in new light vehicles.
“Safety is our top priority and V2V technology represents the next great advance in saving lives,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This technology could move us from helping people survive crashes to helping them avoid crashes altogether—saving lives, saving money and even saving fuel thanks to the widespread benefits it offers.”
The research report features preliminary estimates on the safety benefits of two V2V safety applications, left turn assistant (LTA) and intersection movement assist (IMA). NHTSA research found that these two applications could help prevent up to 592,000 crashes and save 1,083 lives per year.
“Put another way, V2V technology could help drivers avoid more than half of these types of crashes that would otherwise occur by providing advance warning,” according to NHTSA’s statement. “LTA warns drivers not to turn left in front of another vehicle traveling in the opposite direction and IMA warns them if it is not safe to enter an intersection due to a high probability of colliding with one or more vehicles. Additional applications could also help drivers avoid imminent danger through forward collision, blind spot, do not pass and stop light/stop sign warnings.”
By releasing this report, NHTSA is looking to gather input from the public as it works to deliver a notice of proposed rulemaking by 2016.
“By warning drivers of imminent danger, V2V technology has the potential to dramatically improve highway safety,” says David Friedman, NHTSA deputy administrator. “V2V technology is ready to move toward implementation and this report highlights the work NHTSA and DOT are doing to bring this technology and its great safety benefits into the nation’s light vehicle fleet.”
In terms of privacy, “The information sent between vehicles does not identify those vehicles, but merely contains basic safety data,” according to NHTSA’s statement. “In fact, the system, as contemplated, contains several layers of security and privacy protection to ensure that vehicles can rely on messages sent from other vehicles.”
The advance notice of proposed rulemaking and the research report are available at the Regulations.gov docket (NHTSA-2014-0022). The window for public comments on the report is open for 60 days.