Wrong way accidents are almost always head-on collisions. They occur often at highway on-ramps or off-ramps, or on highways. They are frequently high speed crashes, and they are often fatal or cause serious and permanent impairing injuries. Prevention of these types of crashes is essential to saving lives.
Dayton Daily News recently reported on new technologies which could help to reduce the risk of wrong-way accident fatalities. These technologies are currently being tested, with the goal of requiring installation in new vehicles at the end of this year.
Drivers need to ensure they continue to be cautious, even if this technology does come to fruition, as it ultimately remains the responsibility of every motorist to follow road signs and safety rules and prevent wrong-way car accidents from happening.
Could This Technology Help to Save Lives By Preventing Wrong Way Crashes?
The technology which is currently being tested to prevent wrong-way crashes is a communication system which would allow communication between vehicles on the road. The communication system could be used to warn oncoming traffic of a vehicle going in the wrong direction. The system would also alert transportation agencies to cars going the wrong way so a prompt response by emergency personnel could occur.
The technology not only aims to allow communication about wrong-way drivers but would actually make it possible for drivers in different cars to receive warnings about all kinds of hazards and potential risk factors of collisions. The system has not currently been deployed yet, but apps allowing vehicles to send messages back and forth are in the testing phase.
The technologies work via a special radio frequency which has been designated by the Federal Communications Commission. It is referred to as connected technology. While there has been no final app approved yet, the Department of Transportation is aiming to move quickly to get the technology into vehicles. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is a DOT agency, has already begun moving forward with a rule expected to be finalized towards the end of 2016. The NHTSA's proposed rule would require connected vehicle technologies to be installed on all new light duty vehicles and trucks.
DOT is moving fast with promulgating rules allowing vehicle-to-vehicle communication because it has been working on communications technology like this for cars for around a decade. DOT's research has shown crash rates could be reduced by as much as 80 percent when cars can communicate with each other.
Unfortunately, even with this technology, some wrong way accidents are likely to continue occurring. Many of these crashes are caused by impaired drivers, who could ignore the warnings which are given by the vehicle to impending collisions. There is little that can be done to prevent crashes when drivers choose to engage in such dangerous behavior, short of completely automating vehicles. At least the technology will be a step in the right direction, but the bottom line is drivers need to make smart choices to prevent crashes.