car accident"Connected vehicle" technologies that could help drivers avoid approximately 80 percent of vehicle crash types are being tested at clinics being hosted by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

Analyses by the DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show connected vehicle technology could prevent a majority of non-impaired crashes, such as those that occur at intersections or while switching lanes -- about 80 percent of all crashes that involve non-impaired drivers.

The four-day "Driver Acceptance Clinic" at Walt Disney World® SPEEDWAY in Orlando is part of a six-month program that includes similar research clinics across the nation. The driver clinics are the first phase of a two-part research program jointly developed by the NHTSA and Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) in coordination with other DOT agencies.

The driver clinics are designed to evaluate cars equipped with "vehicle-to-vehicle" communications systems in a controlled environment where researchers can observe the drivers' responses. The technologies being tested include in-car collision warnings, "do not pass" alerts, warnings that a vehicle ahead has stopped suddenly, and other similar safety messages.

Treasury Secretary Ray LaHood said the technologies could be "the next major safety breakthrough."

RITA Acting Administrator Greg Winfree said, "The past several decades of auto safety have been dedicated to surviving crashes, but the future will be about avoiding crashes."

Driver clinics have already been held in Michigan and Minnesota. Future clinics are planned for Virginia, California, and Texas and are expected to conclude by January 2012. Following the clinic program, the DOT will deploy 3,000 vehicles to further test connected vehicle technology in a year-long effort from summer 2012 through summer 2013. The model deployment will operate on roads in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and test a limited number of vehicle-to-infrastructure applications in addition to continuing the research on vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems.

Eight major automotive manufacturers are providing support for the Department's research through partnering agreements: Ford Motor Company, General Motors LLC., Honda R&D Americas, Inc., Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center, Inc., Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America, Inc., Nissan Technical Center North America, Inc., Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. and Volkswagen Group of America.

The information collected will be used by NHTSA to determine by 2013 whether to proceed with additional vehicle-to-vehicle communication activities, including possible future rulemakings.