The biggest road test of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) crash avoidance technology began Aug. 21. About 3,000 vehicles equipped with transmitters and receivers designed to communicate with each other in real time and with a central infrastructure entered the streets of Ann Arbor, Mich.

The test — which is the second phase of a yearlong safety pilot program led by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute — uses cars, trucks and buses driven by volunteers to gather data about system operability and its effectiveness at reducing crashes.

“Vehicle-to-vehicle communication has the potential to be the ultimate game-changer in roadway safety — but we need to understand how to apply the technology in an effective way in the real world,” said National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator David Strickland. “NHTSA will use the valuable data from the ‘model deployment’ as it decides if and when these connected vehicle safety technologies should be incorporated into the fleet.”

Instances of real-world scenarios that the system could be used to prevent include an impending collision at a blind intersection, a vehicle changing lanes in another vehicle’s blind spot, or a rear collision with a vehicle stopped ahead.

During the first phase of the project, the DOT conducted “driver acceptance clinics” that concluded 90 percent of drivers have a “highly favorable” opinion of the safety benefits of V2V technology and would like to have the technology on their own vehicle.

The information collected from the yearlong project will be used by the NHTSA to determine by 2013 whether to proceed with activities involving V2V technology, “including possible rulemaking,” according to a press release.