What Public Officials Need to Know About Connected Vehicles
May 04, 2017

The following is a selection of excerpts from the USDOT's ITS JPO Fact Sheet on Connected Vehicles, posted with permission from the USDOT.

Connected vehicles have the potential to transform the way Americans travel through the creation of a safe, interoperable wireless communications network — a system that includes cars, buses, trucks, trains, traffic signals, cell phones, and other devices. In the past, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has focused on helping people survive crashes. Connected vehicle technology will change that paradigm by giving people the tools to avoid crashes. Connected vehicles can help drivers anticipate potential crashes and significantly reduce the number of lives lost each year.

Connected Vehicles Can Dramatically Reduce Crashes in Your Community

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 5.6 million crashes and 2.36 million injuries in 2012. The number of fatalities from vehicle crashes is falling but still accounted for 33,561 deaths in 2012. A recent NHTSA report found that wireless vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications has the potential to address crash scenarios involving non-impaired drivers. In part, this is because connected vehicles feature safety warnings that alert drivers of potentially dangerous situations — impending collisions, icy roads, and dangerous curves—before the driver is aware of them.

By exchanging anonymous, vehicle-based data regarding position, speed, and location (at a minimum), V2V communications enables a vehicle to sense threats and hazards with a 360-degree awareness of the position of other vehicles and the threat or hazard they present; calculate risk; issue driver advisories or warnings; or take pre-emptive actions to avoid and mitigate crashes.

Pivotal work is being conducted to guarantee that these driver warnings will not be a distraction and that people will only be made aware when they are approaching danger ...

The preliminary estimates of the safety benefits of V2V technology show two safety applications — left turn assist (LTA) and intersection movement assist (IMA) — could prevent up to 592,000 crashes and save up to 1,083 lives per year. LTA warns drivers not to turn left in front of another vehicle traveling in the opposite direction, and IMA warns them if it is not safe to enter an intersection due to a high probability of colliding with one or more vehicles. Additional applications could also help drivers avoid imminent danger through forward collision, blind spot, do not pass, and stop light/stop sign warnings.

Connected Vehicles Can Make It Easier to Travel in Your Community

According to the Texas Transportation Institute, U.S. highway users wasted 5.5 billion hours stuck in traffic in 2011 — nearly one full work week (or vacation week) for every traveler. While the primary goal is safety, connected vehicle communications are also significant in improving mobility and environment by reducing delays and congestion caused by crashes, enabling wireless roadside inspections, or helping commercial vehicle drivers identify safe areas for parking.

Connected vehicles transmit anonymous signals that will help generate new data about how, when, and where vehicles travel — information that transportation managers will then analyze to help make roads safer and less congested. The same signals could also be shared among mobile devices and roadside sensors. Connected vehicles also include buses, trains, and other forms of public transit. So, by providing real-time information, travelers will have a realistic idea of when transit vehicles will arrive. They will also be able to improve bus and train connections, and this will help make public transportation more appealing to the average traveler.

Connected Vehicles Can Help Curb Local Pollution

According to the Texas Transportation Institute, the total amount of wasted fuel topped 2.9 billion gallons in 2011. In addition, the transportation sector contributes 27 percent of the country's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks. Connected vehicle technologies will generate real-time data that drivers and transportation managers can use to make green transportation choices.

One example is how real-time information about traffic conditions will help motorists eliminate unnecessary stops and let their vehicles reach optimal fuel-efficiency. Informed travelers may also be able to avoid congestion by taking alternate routes or public transit, or rescheduling their trip — any of which can make their trip more eco-friendly.

Data generated from connected vehicle systems can also provide operators with detailed, real-time information on vehicle location, speed, and other operating conditions. This information can be used to improve system operation. On-board equipment may also advise vehicle owners on how to optimize the vehicle's operation and maintenance for maximum fuel efficiency.