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.

Source: NHTSA

  • Brian

    Sorry, but all I can see with this effort is more trouble. People will become reliant on it. When it fails to work (and it will — nothing wireless is 100% reliable), people will take the absence-of-warning as an all-clear. No need to think, no need to head-check. Bam. “Sorry, didn’t see you.”

  • paulus

    It starts with ‘warning’… then how long before ‘active intervention’?

    I don’t want anything messing with the controls of my motorcycle. (I appreciate TC+ABS for those who want it, but personally I choose not to).

    This type of system is the next step in revenues… not safety.

    Anything that broadcasts can be monitored. Speed, location, vehicle attitude etc.
    In the UK speed cameras are not safety tools, they are revenue generating tools. Now average speed cameras are being implemented. How long before this V2V broadcast data is linked to average speed fines, used as evidence to avoid insurance payouts, sold to marketing companies, used to void manufacturers warranties….?

    It is not wanting to hide criminal behavior. It is avoiding a ‘Big brother/Nanny state’ mentality.

  • paulus

    … regardless of US implementation, if it makes money for the government, other countries will follow suit.

  • ADG

    Learn how to drive, learn how to ride a motorcycle and grow the hell up idiots. No need for this crap if people actually took responsibility for their goddamn actions.

  • TexusTim

    This is more about “tracking you” than safety, another way big brother can keep and eye on you and place balme for accident’s then of course be a revune stream…I am sick of goverment intrusuion in our live’s. In there view we need them a lot more than we actually do but the younger generation’s embraces this intrusion so I belive it’s here to stay.
    I wont accept it nor have a model that has this type of device in it.

  • TWDay

    The author was right. I counted at least 3 tinfoil hats in the responses.

  • bw

    Wow, that tin foil hat comment by the author was really uncalled for! It is a generalization of AMA members, and while I can see it being uttered by visitors to your site, I think you should have thought twice before writing it. There are bad apples in every group, everywhere. We deal with enough generalizations by the public, such as sportbike riders being all hoodlums, or Harley riders being all gang members. You should be careful not to alienate your visitor base, many of whom probably are AMA members. We all share one passion and have to deal with being misunderstood by those who don’t have a clue.

  • Andrew

    @TexusTim: well, in that case I hope you like walking, because once such systems appear it won’t be long before they are made mandatory.

  • bw, re-read it. I didn’t make any generalizations about AMA members. All I said was that the AMA has begun pandering to a particular segment of motorcyclists.

    As for that neo-libertarian group, it slays me when I read Luddite-level paranoia on a website. At least I know my audience.

  • digi

    It’s all fun and games until your bikes ECU snitches on you for speeding whenever you take it in for inspection. That’s if future ECU’s even allow you to travel faster than posted limits. I imagine out of date inspections going unnoticed will become a thing of the past as well with this new technology. Won’t it be nice to have your bike wirelessly begging to be pulled over by every passing cop the day after your inspection runs out. Sounds like freedom to me.

  • paulus

    @ Mr Beeler

    Technology is not feared… it is the uses that people may put it to. This is not Luddite thinking.
    Without technology, my hyper-sports bike would not be possible… However, I would still appreciate being to ride it in the future.

    Do you truly believe that in 10 years the riding freedoms will be the same as today, or more regulated?
    That the world’s government will not find more creative ways to fine and/or charge you?

    When do you resist that change? After it is already in place, or before?
    Who are the people lobbying for this change? Is the same people who manufacture the technology? The car industry that will benefit from the additional revenue they can charge for the mandatory hardware? The government party which can use it as a platform of ‘safety’ to convince voters?

    The NHTSA statement is the proposal as now… that is to get it approved. Version 2.0 can always be different.

  • Norm G.

    re: “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.”

    welcome to the world of aviation transponder data. all commercial aircraft are equipped with a warning system known as TCAS. ie. Traffic Collision Avoidance System. it’s the last line of defense for planes outside of radar control. think trans-atlantic or ocean crossings.

  • TexusTim

    @ Andrew…well I dont have to walk just not buy into the latest…if it comes I just wont buy that paticular model…doenst mean I have to walk…get real man.

  • Geraldo

    The first step in big brother controlling your every move all in the name of safety. No more speeding no more road rage no more riots they just shut us down.

  • Starmag

    Tin-foil hats = disparagement from those who trust big brother despite his proven lies. Iraqi WMD, Snowden, “transparency”, etc. The folks who say government shouldn’t be trusted started in America with Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the democratic party. He seemed pretty smart despite the fact he never saw a Super Bowl.

    “…in questions of power then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution…” Tommy J

    V2V seems like a pretty onerous power.

  • DareN

    I am somewhat dissapointed with your article. On the second thought,the state of California is on the the front line of opressing your own citizens. You just practically chased away the firearms out of the state, so motorcycles may be next…Here is a quote from great Californian Ronald Reagan:
    “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'”

  • John Mith

    Likely this will only be for new vehicles and will take many years to take hold if it does at all. Retrofitting such devices to every single vehicle out there would be difficult if not impossible especially motorcycles. I do however worry in a few years time after the release the effect of the “stupid driver” that’s been driving a nanny car for their entire time on the road being helpless without the system in place. I find it simply amazing people are unable to control 4 wheeled vehicles at standard road speeds and get into so many accidents. If this was not a cash grab (imagine the data mining revenue) a better approach would be to improve the driver training and licensing requirements. Driving around a parking lot and parallel parking a car is hardly a good measure of driving skill. Make the test harder and get some of the bad drivers off the road. Of course that’s not a revenue generator so it will never happen.

  • BRC

    It’s funny that the government would invest in technology to solve a problem that could easily be remedied with more aggressive driver training. Although allowing the drivers to be responsible for their own actions is becoming dated and even out of the question. Too many people would solely rely on the accident avoidance technology and blame the creator when it fails to protect them in a easily avoidable incident.

  • Singletrack

    Mandated V2V. Oh oh. I’m going to skip the tinfoil and go straight to a more durable mixing bowl ;)

    I was concerned when the insurance companies started touting mileage based insurance with their on-board vehicle monitors. Once that system gathers enough users, ‘discounts’ for using it will convert to ‘surcharges’ for those not using it.

    But perhaps V2V will be an end run around it. Municipalities, state agencies and insurers would love access to all that data. Whichever agency handles it shoulders a huge responsibility to use it appropriately.

    I think V2V will only be useful for autonomous cars though. On a busy road, a driver could never process all the alerts that could potentially be received. The car’s computer would have to control the brakes (& steering??) in order to avoid collisions.

    But why not put all that money into high speed rail and better public transit in dense urban areas? Many people willingly admit to not enjoying driving. Give them options to get around, and leave the driving to those that must, or actually enjoy it.

  • John Mith


    I agree with your sentiment. Get these people on the bus or on the train but those disinterested drivers are worth about $20K a head every 3-5 years to the automakers as mindless consumers that will buy any plastic garbage you send their way as long as they have electronic toys to play with rather than drive.

    Fortunately those drivers are pretty easy to spot. Typically they are driving Kia’s, Hyundai’s, Honda’s and other catastrophically boring brand new “commodity” vehicles. I always assume those are the drivers not paying attention to the road. Although that’s not a rule carved in stone. I almost had some guy in a classic 80’s Porsche 911 completely take out myself and my Tamburini because he was more interested than his phone call than where he was driving.

  • Mariani

    ‘Mandate’ is what got my attention here.

    Well, isn’t that just great? If they really wanted to improve road safety, they’d educate drivers properly!

    Like mentioned above, speed cameras do not make things safer, and I’m willing to bet that neither will this.

    And as icing on the cake, it’ll be mandatory.
    Which means that – just like ABS – it will be everywhere, like a cancer.

  • John Mith

    To those who are worried. Take a look at this paragraph from the press release. Notice “new vehicles”. So if you don’t want V2V technology just stop buying new cars. Plenty of reasons not to buy new anyway such as the absolute disposable garbage they are calling cars these days.

    “NHTSA is currently finalizing its analysis of the data gathered as part of its year-long pilot program and will publish a research report on V2V communication technology for public comment in the coming weeks. The report will include analysis of the Department’s research findings in several key areas including technical feasibility, privacy and security, and preliminary estimates on costs and safety benefits. NHTSA will then begin working on a regulatory proposal that would require V2V devices in new vehicles in a future year, consistent with applicable legal requirements, Executive Orders, and guidance. DOT believes that the signal this announcement sends to the market will significantly enhance development of this technology and pave the way for market penetration of V2V safety applications.”

  • John

    Jensen, considering that you are typically a very technically minded writer, I am a little surprised at your enthusiasm for something like this. Personally as an engineer who works extensively with wireless machine-to-machine communications, a press release and decision like this is EXTREMELY concerning to me.

    I don’t see any way for this to end well. A M2M communication system like this is a spectacularly hard problem to solve from an engineering standpoint, let alone the issues with standardization and cost-effectiveness. Additionally, the concept of using it as a driver-aid is mindbogglingly shortsighted; it will take decades to become mature, widespread, and affordable… probably about the same time self-driving vehicles will reach the same state of maturity.

    If any effort is spent on this at all, it needs to be done with the intent of being an augmentation to self-driving systems. The necessity or extent of M2M comm needed for driverless cars is debatable and another issue entirely, but a M2M system intended to serve as a crutch for already insufficiently trained and inattentive drivers is a waste of resources.

  • John Mith


    I’m actually looking forward to the trainwreck here. I’m an engineering person as well and the problem here that nobody has really mentioned is the possibility of someone doing something nefarious. Even a well secured system could easily be reverse engineered with physical access to the hardware. It’s just a question of time before a bunch of teenagers pull a V2V transmitter out of a wrecked vehicle and connect it to a laptop and sit by the roadside causing all sorts of mayhem sending out false V2V data. I can already see the shock and horror on the drivers of these cars faces as their “smart” car performs an automatic panic stop when false V2V data tells them there’s a Semi heading straight at them. At that point then your playing the cat and mouse game of patching and doing “Windows update” on your Toyota while the “wardrivers” stay one step ahead of scaring the bejezus out of people just trying to get to work safely. :)

  • shinigami

    If this were really about safety, it would be about implementing and enforcing a higher standard for driver certification. The “if they can fog a mirror give them a license” mentality is the biggest contributor to the carnage on roadways, and “fixing” it with yet another technological infringement on our lives is hardly the solution.

  • This is exactly why I have disdained the propagation of “electronic rider aids” since their inception. The real reason for these systems is to control all of the vehicles on the road- which means removing the driver/rider’s input from the equation. All of this is being done under the guise of “safety”. What it will result in, though, is the removal of the privilege to operate a vehicle on public roads. V2V transmitters are the final step in connecting the coming autonomous vehicles, which in turn marks the final step in removing human control from vehicles. Anyone who enjoys the freedom of operating their own vehicle on a public road should not be in support of this- they should extremely concerned.

    Complicated electronic systems have their own challenges, but the issue here is what can be controlled by big business and government, and what can’t. By requiring complicated electronic systems to be integrated into all vehicles, big business wins financially and government wins by adding another level of control over the population. It’s all about controlling the unknown element- the person operating the vehicle. Make the vehicle work without them- and there you go.

    How can one not see the conundrum being created here where the autonomous vehicles become “safer” than those piloted by “dumb” humans, and the resulting outcry to keep “dangerous” humans from getting behind the wheel. Big deal, some may say- because driving is a chore. But where does that leave motorcyclists? Know any riders that think riding is a chore? I have watched as computer controls on motorcycles have increased to where the next step is a motorcycle that can’t crash- because the computers step-in and take control. All that says to me is they have successfully removed the rider from the equation, and made the rider a passenger on his/her own bike. Well, that’s anathema to me, but it’s exactly what the V2V crowd is pushing us towards- automated motorcycles. Do you want to live in a world of automated motorcycles? Doesn’t that go against the very core of everything riding is about? Keep up with this V2V/autonomous computer vehicle systems and that’s exactly where this is going to end up.

    Got any vintage or classic cars or motorcycles? Where exactly do you plan to drive/ride them when they are no longer allowed on the “autonomous highway”? Or worse, if we don’t control our “own” vehicles then someone else does- and that “someone” might decide when and where people will be allowed to travel. Who can foresee what kind of “emergency” might require the shutdown of “free” travel in a particular area. No matter how you look at it, it really does not bode well for those who desire the freedom to RIDE.

    que Rush: Red Barchetta…

  • L2C

    I just chime in and say that Rush is one of my all-time favorite bands. So, yeah.

  • L2C

    I’ll just chime in and say that Rush is one of my all-time favorite bands. So, yeah.

  • Norm G.

    re: “Do you want to live in a world of automated motorcycles?”

    no worries, motorcycles will have long been banned completely.

  • Starmag

    Thanks for that ray of sunshine Norm. I’m guessing your coffee cup is half empty.

  • paulus

    As a realist; my coffee cup is twice as big as it needs to be…. however, the future potential for monitoring, tracking, charging and data mining my every ride HIGHLY concerns me.

    No tin hat – Just a good crash helmet.

  • digi

    When they outlaw superbikes, only outlaws will ride superbikes.