July 24, 2013, 1:08 PM — The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is calling for motor vehicles to be equipped with "connected technology," machine-to-machine communications tools that could help drivers avoid accidents.
The accident occurred on February 16, 2012, when a Mack truck struck the left rear of a bus carrying 25 students. One student was killed in the crash and and five others were seriously injured. The truck driver was not injured.
Among its conclusions, the NTSB found that connected vehicle technology could have provided active warnings to the school bus driver of an approaching truck and possibly prevented the crash.
"Effective countermeasures are needed to assist in preventing intersection crashes," the NTSB stated in its report on the crash.
"For example, systems such as connected vehicle technology could have provided an active warning to the school bus driver of the approaching truck as he began to cross the intersection. Although the bus driver was adamant in his post crash interview that he had pulled forward sufficiently to see clearly in both directions, he failed to see the oncoming truck and proceeded into its path," the NTSB said.
Researchers are currently developing machine-to-machine (M2M) communication technology that would allow the exchange of data between vehicles, allowing each to know what's going on around them.
A car, for instance, could "see" the velocity of nearby vehicles and react when they turn or brake suddenly. Using computer algorithms and predictive models, the car could measure the skills of nearby drivers -- and ensure you're safe from their bad moves -- and predict where other vehicles are going.
"We're even imagining that in the future cars would be able to ask other cars, 'Hey, can I cut into your lane?' Then the other car would let you in," said Jennifer Healey, a research scientist with Intel.
Intel is working with National Taiwan University on M2M connectivity between vehicles as a way to make roads more predictable and safe.
"Car accidents are the leading cause of death for people [age] 16 to 19 in the United States. And 75% of these accidents have nothing to do with drugs or alcohol," said Healey, who delivered a TED Talk on the subject in March.
The NTSB's animated reenactment of the school bus collision in New Jersey.