Feroleto Law, Buffalo NY

Your Car: Talking to Other Cars?

Your car may be talking before you know it. To other cars. Last month, the Federal Government proposed safety rules requiring all new cars and small trucks have technology allowing the vehicles to talk to one another. As an attorney that sees far too many car accidents and truck crashes due to distraction or inattention, I am all for technology that will reduce motor vehicle accidents.

The Transportation Department proposed rules which require that cars have the ability to wirelessly communicate. A dedicated band of radio waves would be available to identify whatever available vehicle is around the corner or hundreds of yards away moving at high speed or headed for a crash. Already, many cars are equipped with technology to apply the brakes to ward off a rear-ended collision with a vehicle in front, or a T-bone crash with a vehicle crossing a roadway.

The vehicle to vehicle technology is different than driverless car technology. It is expected to be more effective in reducing auto accident injuries and deaths. Some people involved with vehicle safety, and in the industry believe the technology can reduce crashes by as much as 80%. This is good news as driver distraction in vehicles is causing increasing number of needless injuries.

Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx said theagency is “carrying the ball as far as we can to realize the potential of transportation technology to save lives.” Mr. Fox further provided the communication would provide the vehicles “360° situational awareness of the road and will enhance vehicle safety.” If the safety requirements are enacted, all the more so, the vehicle to vehicle communication technology should be required in all big rigs such as tractor-trailers, 18 wheelers, dump trucks, and other commercial vehicles using our highways and streets. This is because of their weight and mass which can easily cause catastrophic collisions.

The rules were first discussed two years ago by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the NHTSA. The long term vision is to connect smart cars to one another. In theory, driverless cars, by the use of GPS, cameras and radar will be able to distinguish and speak to different cars. The NHTSA proposed rules will be open for public comment through March, 2017. If enacted, the rules will be applied to the new vehicles only, and manufacturers will have to establish how to integrate the information among all vehicles.

Before the technology is mandated, we need to be extremely cognizant on a national level of cyber security dangers, as well. Cyber attacks could wreak havoc on transportation. you may recall car company Tesla realizing its vehicles’ software could be hacked and intercepted from an independent computer; a rougue operator could lock and unlock the vehicle remotely, among controlling numerous functions. Also, the FCC needs to test for potential problems, including interference with other wireless users, such as Wi-Fi.

The American Automobile Association, the AAA, supports the wireless technology in vehicles. It’s managing director, Jill Ingrassia, referring to the plan provided “we need redundancy” and “critical mass for this to be effective.”

in the short term, technology, such as cell phones, texting and other distractions while driving have made our roads more dangerous, hopefully, in the long-term technology will make our roads safer. The the the