Nightly News   |  February 03, 2014

‘Talking’ Cars? It Needs to Happen, Feds Say

Experts say cars that are able to communicate with one another – warning about road dangers or an impending crash – could reduce fatalities.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we are back with something the fed says cob a game changer in reducing the fatalities on our road. the government announced it is working on requiring all cars to talk to each other to warn of road dangers ahead or crashes about to happen. our report tonight from nbc's tom costello.

>> reporter: after decades of focusing on surviving a car crash , the government today announced a dramatic shift in focus. beginning the process to one day require new cars to come with technology to avoid a crash before it happens. much like collision avoidance systems used in planes. on the ground, it is called vehicle to vehicle or "v" to "v" communication. each car, truck, or bus on the road constantly transmitting a 360-degree status report through a wi-fi system to every other nearby vehicle on the road. constantly updating its position, it's speed, whether it is turning or breaking. if a car ahead suddenly breaks, everyone behind it gets an alert.

>> i had an led screen across the front to warn me. my seat is rumbling.

>> we were in ann arbor , michigan, with ford engineers for a one-year dot test involving three cars. a flashing light warns of a car in your blind spot . if you signal you are going to change lanes any way, an alarm goes off and the seat vibrates.

>> the rumble catches your attention.

>> reporter: all the warnings went off when i pulled to the green light . a car on my left was moving too quickly to stop at his red.

>> if i hadn't hit the breaks, he would have tee boned me.

>> reporter: while air bags have helped cut the fatal accident by 22% over the past ten years, 30,000 people still die on the roads each year. today, the government said b to b technology could cut by up to 80% the number of unimpaired accidents.

>> it is the game-changing potential to avoid a crash in the first place. many cars come with kren soursensors and radars. technology helps reduce the chance for human error . tom costello, nbc news, washington.