Detroit, Michigan – New technology being developed by General Motors could alert drivers in advance to potentially dangerous driving situations by using small portable devices to create a wireless “safety net.”

The devices are designed to gather information from other vehicles and infrastructure to warn drivers about slow or stalled vehicles, hard-braking drivers, slippery roads, sharp curves and upcoming stop signs and intersections. Known as vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication systems, the technology could help avert nearly 81 per cent of all vehicle crashes in the U.S., according to a study by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“These safety systems could provide a significant leap in automotive safety, but their effectiveness goes up dramatically as more people use them,” said Don Grimm, senior researcher for GM’s Perception and Vehicle Control Systems group. “By putting the technology into portable devices, we could make this potentially life-saving technology widely available and more affordable.”

GM has been testing the technology in a transponder about the size of a GPS unit, and a smartphone application that can be tied to the vehicle’s display unit. The smartphones also have the potential to be used by pedestrians and bicyclists who could download a special application to let drivers know their locations. The portable devices would also have the advantage of retrofit into older vehicles.

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