Big news dropped today in the world of automobiles and motorcycles. The US Department of Transportation (DOT), along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has announced that the vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) is a step closer to becoming a reality in the United States.
The DOT has decided to move forward with plans to mandate V2V systems for light on-road vehicles, i.e. cars and presumably motorcycles as well. The technology is complex to implement, but the concept is fairly simple: vehicles broadcast their direction, speed, and relative speed to one another — 10 times every second — in an effort to avoid collisions.
V2V enables other vehicles near by to gauge whether or not a collision or safety concern is about to happen between the two vehicles, and alert the drivers to avoid an accident. In essence, V2V is the first active safety system for automobiles — i.e. we are now enabling safety systems that prevent accidents, rather than just lessening the severity of them.
We have talked at great lengths here at Asphalt & Rubber about what V2V can mean for motorcyclists, especially as autonomous vehicles use the communications system and become more prevalent on the road. In the long-term, V2V will introduce a huge shift in our driving culture, and it is not clear what the means for motorcyclists.
That change in technology will take decades to come about though, but in the short-term, V2V is an exciting advancement that motorcyclists should welcome. Street-going riders are already far too aware of how difficult of a time automobile drivers have in “seeing” us. The issue isn’t one of visibility, but of conditioning.
This is important because car drivers, especially those in the United States, are trained to look for and anticipate the movements of other cars. Motorcyclists, too far in the minority, are outliers in these mental heuristics.
We change our position in a lane as the road presents itself, and we accelerate and decelerate more quickly — quite frankly, our traffic patterns vary greatly from cars and trucks, and our few numbers on the road mean other motorists do not take those different traffic patterns into account.
In a world with V2V though, our motorcycles could alert an automobile driver that we are in their blind spot, in that lane next to them, or approaching while legally splitting lanes. The excuse of “I didn’t see him/her” when a car collides with a motorcyclist will become a passé statement, which means a safer riding environment for motorcyclists.
According to DOT research, V2V technology can address a large majority of crashes involving two or more motor vehicles. With safety data such as speed and location coming from nearby vehicles, vehicles can identify risks, and provide drivers with warnings to avoid other vehicles in common crash types such as rear-end, lane change, and intersection crashes.
The DOT says that these safety applications have been demonstrated with everyday drivers under both real-world and controlled test conditions.
You can read more about V2V technology on the US DOT’s blog regarding the subject, and the NHTSA press release specifically deals with the subject more deeply, including the issues regarding privacy and data storage.
Of course, the no helmets, anti-government, two-wheeled contingency that the AMA continually panders to should start showing up with their tinfoil hats in 3…2…1… Brace yourselves for the storm.