Following a pair of fatal school bus accidents that occurred last year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended a performance standard for new safety technology that would enable vehicles to better communicate with each other. The proposed suggestion would require these new safety devices be installed in all new cars, buses and trucks.
Any vehicle that is equipped with the technology would be able to continuously communicate information like speed, location and direction over a wireless network for a range of roughly 1,000 feet. This data would be analyzed by the vehicle’s computer and issue warnings to drivers before they are able see the oncoming danger.
The technology has been tested for the past year, including on heavy duty vehicles, by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Officials for the organization may make a decision on whether to continue to set standards or carry on with the research by the end of 2013.
The goal is to protect people from serious injury or death, which is what happened in the two school bus accidents.
A dump truck smashed into the rear left side of a school bus in the New Jersey accident in 2012. The force of the collision caused the bus to spin around until it hit a pole, killing one student and seriously injuring five others.
The following month in Florida, a semi tractor-trailer hit the side of a school bus, causing it to spin out of control, killing one student and seriously injuring four others.
The NTSB met to determine the likely cause of the accident in New Jersey and provide safety recommendations going forward. Their findings from Florida accident were also considered because of the parallels in the two crashes. They determined the New Jersey accident occurred when the school bus driver pulled into the intersection and failed to note an oncoming dump truck.
The driver continued into the intersection and the board concluded he experienced “inexperienced blindness.” This occurs when someone doesn’t register what they are seeing because of fatigue and other sedating effects.
Approximately 87,000 people were killed in accidents at intersections during 2002-2011, which accounted for 22 percent of traffic fatalities.
The NTSB is hoping that the new technology will greatly reduce this total and keep drivers safe from dangers in the road they may not be able to register on their own.