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(WASHINGTON) — In what top transportation officials are calling a “moon shot” for drivers on American highways, the Department of Transportation is hoping to improve vehicle safety by having cars talk to each other.

The DOT estimates this new vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology could cut down on crashes by as much as 80 percent, with the potential of saving as many as 20,000 American lives each year.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a press conference Monday the communication technology would be the next revolution in auto-safety improvements, akin to the introduction of air bags or seat belts.

Officials said while the department has been working for years to develop technology that increases survivability in the event of the crash, V2V could be the key in preventing crashes from happening altogether.

V2V wireless technology would alert drivers of “imminent crash situations,” using a communications beacon that emits a safety message analyzing vehicle speed, direction and relative position 10 times per second.

DOT Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology Greg Winfree called it a “signal-sending announcement” to the auto industry, in an effort to start a conversation towards implementing the emerging technology.

The DOT launched a test project of the V2V technology in Ann Arbor, Mich., in August of 2012. The department said the 3,000 test vehicles have so far shown the technology could potentially prevent as much as 80 percent of crash scenarios where the drivers are not impaired.  

According to the DOT, the V2V technology wouldn’t compromise personal privacy because the data-gathering process doesn’t involve the exchanging or recording of personal information.

Scott Belcher, the president of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, said the technology could bump car production costs up by $100-200, and drivers could expect to see V2V-equipped vehicles on the road within the next two to five years.

Belcher said the cost would be well worth the advantages afforded with the technology, with around 30,000 accident-related deaths in the U.S. each year, V2V would be the next step in eliminating the primary cause of all accidents: humans.

Foxx said the department will release results of an initial study into the technology in the coming weeks, which he said he hopes will start movement towards policy and rule-making discussions with industry leaders.

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