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The UN Economic Commission's Statistics of Road Traffic Accidents report of 2011 shows that every year, about 150 000 human beings lose their lives on the roads of the western world. Although it is a common belief that this figure could shrink with the use of new sensor and communication technologies, unfortunately, none such systems have hit the road to date. Ideally, if such technologies were put into place, vehicles could be part of a vehicular ad hoc network (VANET) capable of spreading relevant information about dangerous events (e.g., car accidents) to all approaching drivers. However, all this is mainly supported by simulation studies, as no practical results have been published to date, revealing the effective performances of such systems at work. In this paper, we fill this gap, presenting a detailed description of the greatest experiments (a few thousand throughout the streets of Los Angeles), to date, ever performed with an accident warning system specifically devised for highway scenarios. In particular, among all the possible candidate schemes, we ran a few thousand experiments with the accident warning system algorithm that was proven to be optimal in terms of bandwidth usage and covered distance in realistic scenarios. Our experiments confirm what has been observed before in theory and simulation, i.e., the use of such a system can reduce, by as much as 40%, the amount of vehicles involved in highway pileups.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2013