Car technology seems to get better and better, and none is more evident than car-to-car communication systems that allow vehicles to “speak” to one another on our roadways, thereby reducing the risk of car accidents. Reports at Technology Review at MIT indicate the technology to be a significant stride in road safety, and it may be coming soon to a road near you.

Now that the U.S. Department of Transportation has funded the new technology – a $14.9 million dollar award – the University of Michigan will now aim to bring the latest in car safety on its roadways in what it hopes to be the latest innovation in saving lives.

Car-to-car communication will aim to reduce car accidents with special note to what the DOT estimates to be 80 percent of preventable car accidents. From fender-benders to rear-end car accidents, the technology will aspire to reduce needless car accidents with sophisticated “talking cars” – a quick signal can mean instant braking, which can go miles in terms of increased safety.

“This is the next major safety advancement, one that’s comparable to seat belts, air bags, and electronic stability control,” said the president and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America.

In addition to faster braking, the technology will also alert a “driver when it is unsafe to pass, and when someone is approaching an intersection at a speed that could cause a collision.” Using radio technology, the car will also use GPS to determine speed and direction and transmit such data to other cars on the road.

As a part of the testing process, the University of Michigan is partnering with eight car manufacturers who have already been working together to implement the technology since 1995. Tests will include 64 cars equipped with radios, plus a group of unequipped vehicles, for a total of 3,000 cars which will undergo evaluation.

Data will be carefully evaluated by the DOT’s National Highway Safety Traffic Administration in what hopes to be a successful test run of “car-to-car communication.” If approved, the technology will be rolled out across the United States over the course of the next ten years.

Until then: tips for smart travel today

Ten years is still a ways to go; until then, use the following precautionary advice for today’s technology as you bare the open highway.

Don’t fully trust your GPS device

Of course, GPS devices are wonderful technology to have since it helps thousands of people get to their intended destination safety. But for a small percentage, GPS devices can be instantly dangerous if not updated, or if you are in unfamiliar territory. There have been dozens of cases throughout California and San Diego where unaware drivers have trusted their GPS devices to the point of danger: driving onto one-way streets, railroad tracks, and closed exits. Use your common sense when trusting a GPS device.

Keep your car maintained

It’s a good habit to keep up on oil changes, tire rotations, tire inflation, and updated brakes. Doing so ensures your car is performing at tip-top shape which can help you save gas money, car troubles, and most importantly, even your life if you can avoid a looming car accident.

Use Bluetooth technology

Put down your cell phone once and for all and pick up a user-friendly, lightweight Bluetooth device so you can stay concentrated on the road, not on the phone call. Many cars even have Bluetooth installed directly into the car’s dashboard, allowing drivers to easily take calls if necessary without having to fumble for a portable Bluetooth device.

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