Safe driving currently relies on the driver’s ability, experience and focus on the task. Still, technology like sensors that warn you when it is unsafe to change lanes and automated headlights help prevent car accidents. Meanwhile, researchers are working on something even more incredible: a system that lets your car “talk” to the road you are driving on to let you know if there is danger ahead. And much of the research is happening right here in Ann Arbor.

How does this work?

This proposed system is called vehicle-to-everything, or V2X. It would work by installing special radios in each vehicle. The radio would transmit data several times per second about what the car is doing to sensors embedded on the side of the highway. The data would include things like how fast the vehicle is traveling, whether the windshield wipers are engaged, and how good the tires’ traction is. The sensors would collect this data from all the vehicles that pass by and transmit it to vehicles further back on the highway so that drivers can interpret it and prepare themselves.

For example, if you were driving 65 miles per hour and you got an alert that traffic ahead was stopped, you would know that there is a traffic jam before you could even see it. You would be able to slow down instead of being surprised and having to slam on the brakes at the last minute. The chances of a rear-end car crash would be much lower.

Nationwide experiments

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes that V2X technology would reduce non-impairment-related car accidents by up to 80 percent, or at least ease the severity of many collisions. However, the technology is still in the testing phase. It could be a while before V2X is commonly used.

Ann Arbor is a part of that testing. Researchers have placed 75 roadside sensors around the city and equipped about 2,200 vehicles with the transmitting radios. Meanwhile, Utah and Georgia have begun highway testing.

Human error is still a danger

Some day, inventions like V2X and self-driving vehicles may eliminate most auto accidents. Until then, negligent motorists will still put the rest of us in harm’s way. After getting seriously injured in a car accident, you should consider speaking with a personal injury attorney. It is likely that the insurance company’s initial settlement offer will not sufficiently cover your damages. An experienced personal injury lawyer will help you work toward a fair result.