There may come a day in the not-so-distant future when every car sold in the U.S. will be able to communicate with every other car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced this week that it intends to require all new vehicles to have built-in wireless technology that's aimed at preventing collisions. "The system senses cars all around you that also have the system, and will detect impending accidents, etc," says KTRH Car Pro Jerry Reynolds. The government has been working with automakers on the technology for several years now, and estimates it could prevent up to 80% of accidents that don't involve drunken driving or mechanical failure.
Government officials say the technology has "game-changing potential" to prevent collisions, but there are still many concerns, starting with the cost. "The U.S. government is estimating that it would add around $200 to every car made, and I just can't see it being that cheap," says Reynolds. He notes that similar safety technology developed in recent years for high-end vehicles has cost over $1000 per car. Beyond the cost, there are questions about how the wi-fi technology will be used, since it will essentially allow the location of any vehicle to be tracked and monitored at any given time. "I think the privacy concerns of cars being tracked are going to give a lot of people heartburn," says Reynolds.
Despite the announcement this week, government officials say no orders or directives about the technology have gone out to automakers yet, and it could still be years before the system actually comes on the market. Even then, it would take several more years for the nation's vehicle fleet to turn over so that every car on the road would have the technology. Reynolds believes the technology has the chance to be a positive thing, but it shouldn't be forced on people. "I think it's like any other option on a car, you ought to be able to decide whether you want it or not without the government mandating it," he says.
Listen to the Car Pro Show with Jerry Reynolds Saturdays from 11am to 2pm on Newsradio 740 KTRH