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"Talking" cars hitting the road in Ann Arbor

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is in Michigan today touting a major advance in Smart Car technology.

By October, three thousand cars, trucks and buses outfitted with a special Wi-Fi system will travel around Ann Arbor as part of a one year test of the system.

A few hundred are already on the road.

LaHood says the Smart Car system allows vehicles to “talk” to each other and hopefully avoid accidents.

“Today we’re taking a major step forward in understanding…cutting edge technology tools that offer real promise for making our roads safer and more efficient,” says LaHood.

LaHood says the Smart Car technology could help prevent up to 80 percent of non-impaired driving accidents.

LaHood compares the Smart Car system to the effect on safety that the air bag had when it was introduced. 

“Cars talking to cars is the future of motor safety,” says LaHood,  “It opens the possibility of not just reducing the number of crashes, but preventing them all together.”

The federal government has spent 25 million dollars developing the Smart Car technology.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute is installing the devices on cars and collecting the data.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.