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How the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s V2V Mandate Will Change Massachusetts’ Car Accident Cases

Cars CommunicatingChanges in technology change the practice of Massachusetts’ law. In recent years, the evolution of social media and smart phones have changed how lawyers communicate with each other and their clients. Before long, the practice of law will be changed by how cars communicate with each other.

On Monday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) announced plans to move forward with V2V technologies. The press release comes just ahead of a year-long NHTSA study and pilot program into V2V technologies. The NHTSA will be opening up V2V discussions to public comment, including its proposal to mandate V2V technologies in new vehicles.

V2V is short for “vehicle to vehicle” communications, which involve vehicles sending wireless messages to each other. The messages can include information about a vehicle’s position, direction, and speed. When received the V2V system processes the data allowing for predictions that can warn drivers of potential hazards.

According to a 2012 Consumer Reports study, V2V technologies produce faster and more accurate vehicle warnings than current systems that rely on radar technologies. Radar systems utilize radar to measure another vehicle’s position, direction, and speed. This added layer in radar systems leaves room for incorrect calculations. The Consumer Reports’ study lists several areas where V2V technologies have had the greatest success in reducing accidents:

  1. Intersection Assist: A V2V system can predict and warn a driver that another vehicle may be running a red light. It can also warn its own driver when he or she is about to run a red light.
  2. Left-turn Assist: The V2V system receives communications from oncoming traffic to indicate when a left hand turn is safe.
  3. Do-not-pass warning: On two lane roads, the V2V system can tell a driver when it safe to pass a vehicle.
  4. Advanced warning of stopping vehicles: Traditional brake lights only work when a driver pays attention. A V2V systems do not get distracted or look away.
  5. Blind-spot/lane-change warning: When using a turn signal or moving the steering wheel, the V2V system can warn a driver that a vehicle is in a blind spot.

V2V systems have the potential to drastically reduce vehicle accidents. Rae Tyson, a NHTSA spokesman, has stated that 95% of all car crashes are due to human error. A 2010 NHTSA study analyzed the number of traffic accidents V2V system would address. The study found that 79% of all vehicle accidents involving unimpaired drivers could be addressed with a V2V system; about 4,409,000 of all annual police reported crashes.

If these predictions are accurate, car accident lawsuits could drastically change. However, as with all cutting edge technologies, they solve one set of problems while creating new issues. Many cases may shift from driver negligence to products liability. The production of a technology does not guarantee its proper function. NHTSA reported that in 2012 auto manufacturers filed more than 650 safety recalls affecting over 17.8 million vehicles. There will likely be cases about false positives as drivers learn to ignore, or even disable, inaccurate V2V warnings. Some drivers may be lulled into a false sense of security as they become reliant on their V2V systems that do not warn them of pedestrians, animals, or vehicles without V2V systems. The turn over rate for most cars can be from 15 to 20 years so vehicles without V2V systems will be around for some time.

Just as smart phones have created laws and new legal fields with distracted driver lawsuits, it will be interesting to see what V2V technologies bring to the personal injury practice. We sincerely hope these new technologies will reduce the human and financial costs of motor vehicle accidents. In the meantime, the possibility of being in a car accident still comes with driving on public roads.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, you should consult with an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve.

Local attorney, John C. Manoog III, has extensive experience handling motor vehicle accident claims. For a free initial consultation, call the office at 888-262-6664 or reach us by email. There is always someone available to talk to you about your case.

Additional Resources:
U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Decision to Move Forward with Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication Technology for Light Vehicles , Feb. 3, 2014, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Website

Vehicular communication systems, 2014, wikipedia.org

Frequency of Target Crashes for IntelliDrive Safety Systems, Oct. 2014, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Related Blog Posts:
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rules Auto Accident Victim Should Have Received MedPay Coverage — Golchin v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., Dec. 5, 2013, Cape Cod Injury Lawyer Blog

National Transportation Safety Board Urges States to Reduce Allowable Blood-Alcohol Limit, May 16, 2013, Cape Cod Injury Lawyer Blog