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NHTSA: Future is about preventing collisions not surviving them

Federal transportation officials are taking a new approach to car accidents.

Up until now, the goal has been to make serious car accidents survivable by requiring the use of seatbelts and airbags. But now the feds want to focus on accident prevention and say new technology will help make this possible.

This week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that it will soon be requiring auto manufacturers to install technology in new cars that could potentially cut car accidents by as much as 80 percent.

The technology uses radio waves to allow vehicles within a certain radius to communicate and warn drivers when it was likely that a collision was about to occur. It could also alert drivers when another car was about to run a red light or if someone slammed on the brakes several cars ahead, the NHTSA said.

NHTSA officials said the technology has "game-changing potential" when it comes to cutting serious car accidents. Though they acknowledged that it probably wouldn’t be able to prevent drunk driving accidents or accidents caused by mechanical defects.

At this point, the NHTSA has not established when it will begin telling auto makers to install the technology in new cars, but orders are expected to come within the next few years.

The president and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America said the change will be significant, not only for safety reasons, but also because it will impact the way auto companies design cars.

"Automobile makers will rethink how they design and construct cars because they will no longer be constructing cars to survive a crash, but building them to avoid a crash,” the president and CEO said.

Source: Associated Press, “Car-to-Car Talk Offers Warning on Collisions,” Joan Lowy, Feb 3, 2014

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