Report: NHTSA Studying Vehicle-to-Vehicle Systems, Alcohol Interlocks to Reduce Driving Fatalities

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is studying whether technologies can help further reduce driving fatalities. The research projects come after NHTSA announced guidelines to prevent distracted driving, and are being undertaken even as the nation enjoys its lowest rate of traffic deaths since 1949.

The first project is development of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) systems that would detect and warn drivers if a collision was imminent. When approaching intersections, for instance, a car could warn the driver of another vehicle that had failed to stop for a red light. The same systems could work to reduce or prevent collisions caused when people change lanes and hit another vehicle.

NHTSA plans to test a fleet of 3000 vehicles equipped with V2V this summer. However, the agency reportedly thinks it’s equally important to determine how drivers will respond and react to such warning systems.

The safety agency also is seeking comment on its recent proposal to make brake-override features standard in all cars. As proposed earlier this month, “Brake-Throttle Overrides” would require cars with an electronic throttle (which encompasses nearly every vehicle currently on sale) to automatically cut engine power if both the accelerator and brake pedals were depressed. The idea is to prevent “unintended acceleration” incidents if the gas pedal gets stuck under a floor mat or other object.

NHTSA wants to crack down on drunk driving with a proposed Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety. A prototype version of DADSS is expected to be ready by the end of next year; it would reportedly prevent engine starting if the driver had a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 or higher — typically the legal limit for drunk-driving laws. NHTSA says alcohol impairment was involved in 31 percent of fatal crashes in 2010.

DADSS vehicles would reportedly use either a breathalyzer or a touch system that measures alcohol concentration in skin. The safety agency hopes these devices could be standard in production cars in the next eight to ten years.

Finally, NHTSA will continue to fight against distracted driving by proposing rules to prevent drivers from using cell phones or other electronic devices. For instance, the agency would reportedly like all messaging functions to be disabled unless the car’s transmission was in park.

What say you? Are these features welcome in the modern automobile, or useless nannies designed to coddle inattentive drivers? Send your thoughts in the comments section below.

Source: Wards Auto

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