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The wrong-way-driver alert uses car-to-x technologies for its warnings(Photo: Technical University Clausthal)

Each year there are roughly 1,800 reports of drivers heading the wrong way on Germany's autobahn network. When this leads to accidents, they are often serious. One in six people involved in a resulting collision is killed.

The Technical University Clausthal in northern Germany, working with consultants c4c Engineering, has developed a prototype for an app that can provide early warnings of a wrong-way driver. The app uses car-to-x technologies to be faster than current warnings, which are sent via radio and are based on other drivers' reporting in by cellphone.

The Clausthal project envisions using the emergency telephones that are positioned every 2 km along all German highways. That's sufficiently close to guarantee almost full WiFi coverage of the entire autobahn network. The researchers would use the emergency telephone stations to collect and analyze positioning data transmitted by drivers' cellphones. When the system recognizes that a particular car is heading in the wrong direction, all active cellphones in cars that are nearby - including the wrong-way driver - are immediately alerted.

The researchers showed a prototype of the app at the CeBIT high-tech fair in Hanover.