Researchers are monitoring a project underway in Michigan that involves about 3,000 people driving cars with the ability to communicate with each other on the road. The technology allows cars to alert other vehicles with similarly equipped technology about an impending collision. For example, if a driver three or four cars ahead of you slams on the brakes, the car will send a message to your car to avoid the rear-end crash. You may hear a warning sound or in some cases a computer-generated message telling you to slow down.

The technology could reduce car accidents involving sober drivers by as much as 80 percent, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Researchers will analyze the year-long study to determine if the technology should one day be required in all new vehicles.

As personal injury lawyers in Harrisburg, representing injury victims throughout Pennsylvania, we have seen how the devastating impact of car accidents can turn lives upside-down. The Harrisburg car accident attorneys at Metzger Wickersham stay on top of studies that could lead to traffic safety improvements. Unfortunately, a negligent action by a driver can have catastrophic consequences. We look forward to seeing the results of the study. Any technology that can reduce the risks of injury or death on the road should be seriously considered by government regulators.

The Ann Arbor, Mich., test, overseen by researchers from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, is funded with $25 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The cars have electronic gear that tracks the location of other similarly equipped cars. The sophisticated technology can warn drivers about a pedestrian ahead or a car moving into an intersection from the side, according to media reports.

A Department of Transportation official said the system could ultimately reduce the number of distracted driver accidents. “the idea is to give that driver who might possibly be distracted – maybe by talking to another passenger or fiddling with the radio – that extra little buffer to get his attention back on the road and react accordingly,” program manager Mike Schagrin, of the Department of Transportation, was quoted in Scientific American.

Researchers plan to analyze the year-long study and determine whether future cars should be equipped with the smart technology. They want to see how drivers in Ann Arbor react to the real world conditions before making a recommendation.