By Steve Schaeber, MACS Technical Editor
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released an advance notice of proposed rule making (ANPRM) and a supporting comprehensive research report on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications technology. The report includes analysis of the Department’s research findings in several key areas, while the ANPRM seeks public input on these findings to support the Department’s regulatory work to eventually require V2V devices in new light vehicles.
Safety is of course the top priority when implementing programs such as these, the most important benefits of which is saving lives and reducing injuries. But there could be others as well. Expecting that these systems will help to avoid collisions in the first place, they should also reduce the number of damaged vehicles, in both high- and low-speed crashes.
The agency estimates there are approximately five million annual vehicle crashes, with attendant property damage, injuries, and fatalities. While it may seem obvious, if technology can help drivers avoid crashes, the damage due to crashes simply never occurs.
In terms of safety impacts, NHTSA estimates annually that just two of many possible V2V safety applications, IMA (Intersection Movement Assist) and LTA (Left Turn Assist), would on an annual basis potentially prevent 25,000 to 592,000 crashes, save 49 to 1,083 lives, avoid 11,000 to 270,000 injuries, and reduce 31,000 to 728,000 property-damage-only crashes by the time V2V technology had spread through the entire fleet.
With respect to those of us working in the mobile air conditioning and collision repair industries, the implications of V2V will become evident in the likely lower number of crash repairs performed in the coming years as the technology is rolled out. Less front-end accident damage will mean less damage to HVAC components found in the front of vehicles, including condensers, radiators, lines and hoses, receiver driers, etc. Beyond that, there will also be decreased instances of vehicles losing their refrigerant charge to the atmosphere as well as a reduction in the amount of engine coolant lost as well. In broader terms, it could save countless amounts of fuel wasted, not only in the manufacture and transport of replacement components, but also in the use of emergency and recovery vehicles, as well as the sometimes miles long traffic back-ups that occur following a collision.
Does this mean an end to vehicle accidents? Not completely, but if NHTSA’s estimates are correct, and V2V technology proves to be the next biggest safety feature since seat belts, air bags, traction and stability control systems, we’ve only to wait for time to tell.
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Mobile A/C professionals should plan to attend 35th annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Training Conference and Trade Show, Meet me at MACS Make Connections that Matter, February 5-7, 2015 at the Caribe Royale, Orlando, FL.