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Will 'Talking' Cars Lead to Fewer Collisions?

The U.S. Department of Transportation is launching the biggest study ever done on vehicle-to- vehicle communication in hopes of developing technology that could prevent thousands of crashes.

Image Source | Stewart Cohen Pictures | Getty Images

The goal is to see if cars communicating with each other can alert drivers early enough to help them avoid accidents.

"A year from now we will know a lot more about how we are going to save injuries and save lives," said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.

The study will involve 2,800 vehicles in Ann Arbor, Michigan equipped with sensors and technology allowing them to constantly send out and receive signals showing their position, speed and other data. 365 vehicles in the study will have technology to warn drivers when they about drive into another car. For example, the driver’s seat may vibrate on the right side if the driver is about to change lanes into another car. (Related Link: Government Pushing to Make Cars Connected.)

The Department of Transportation believes cars "talking" to each other could address and potentially eliminate 80 percent of the estimated 4.5 million accidents every year involving drivers who are not impaired.

In 2010, 32,885 people in the U.S. were killed in auto accidents, while 2.2 million were injured. (Related Link: Inside an Armored Car.)

Eight automakers — including General Motors, Ford, and Toyota — have been working on vehicle to-vehicle communication systems. Their vehicles will be part of the one-year study which will be overseen by researchers from the University of Michigan.

Secretary LaHood believes this study is the start of developing collision avoidance systems that will be standard in all vehicles 5-10 years from now. "These are real cars manufactured right here in our country and real people who have volunteered to be a part of this study for the next year and have the opportunity to see if this technology really works," said LaHood. "If vehicles are talking to one another through technology that hopefully will send a signal to them that they need to avoid an accident."

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-By CNBC's Phil LeBeau
Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.comand Follow me on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews

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