DOT testing crash-avoidance systems

July 15, 2011 12:00 AM

Electronic crash-avoidance systems are one of the most promising pieces of vehicle safety technology that automakers are working on, but they're still a fair ways away from showing up in commercial vehicles. The systems can automatically detect imminent crashes and alert drivers, or stop the vehicle completely if the situation calls for it. When multiple cars are fitted with the technology, they can actually communicate with each other and send warnings.

One of the first steps toward widespread acceptance of the technology is now underway, reports The New York Times. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has begun the Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Program, which will use real drivers to test how the technology would function. Researchers are hoping to determine how drivers will react to warnings and alerts from the cars.

Testing will take place in Michigan, Virginia, Florida, Texas and California, with 24 vehicles in the fleet. Although the eventual goal is to bring the technology into the real world, for now the tests will be conducted on closed speedways.

Similar detection systems are already offered on some vehicles, although they cannot yet communicate with other cars. Drivers selected for the program will have no experience with these types of systems, and will be asked to fill out a detailed survey about their impressions once the trial is complete. 

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