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New wireless technology that allows cars to talk to each other should be required in new cars and light trucks, the Obama administration said Monday, arguing the change would prevent thousands of car accidents each year.

New vehicle-to-vehicle technologies, which allow cars to automatically detect each other in order to avoid collisions, could prevent up to 592,000 crashes a year and save more than 1,000 lives, according to a new study by federal transportation officials.

The technologies use wireless signals in vehicles to transmit speed, position and other information to cars and trucks around it that also have the safety systems installed. The transmissions allow the vehicles to warn drivers of possible collisions so they can make adjustments to avoid an accident.

Federal transportation safety officials studied the possible benefits of two such wireless safety technologies. One helps drivers turning left avoid turning in front of another vehicle coming from the opposite direction. The other monitors movement near intersections and can warn a driver if it may be unsafe to enter.

Obama administration officials said Monday they’re working toward formally proposing a requirement next year that such technology be installed in new cars and light trucks in coming years.

“This technology could move us from helping people survive crashes to helping them avoid crashes altogether — saving lives, saving money and even saving fuel thanks to the widespread benefits it offers,” Transportation Department Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.

The extra cost to consumers for having such technology installed in their new vehicles would be about $329 per vehicle in 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated in a 327-page report. Those costs would decrease with time as the wireless safety systems became more common, federal officials say.

Car makers have generally been supportive of new wireless safety technologies, although they have historically been somewhat reluctant to support federal mandates that increase their production costs.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an industry group representing major car makers including Ford, Toyota, GM and BMW, said the proposal “holds the promise of being one of the most significant advances in driving safety in this generation.”

But the automakers carefully didn’t weigh in on whether the feds should mandate the safety technology, instead calling on federal regulators to reserve some airwaves for future auto safety uses.

Comments about the proposal can be made here.



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