Ford Motor Company researchers on July 10 unveiled one of the first privately funded “smart intersections” in North America. The technology communicates with specially equipped test vehicles to warn drivers of potentially dangerous traffic situations, such as when a vehicle is about to run through a red light, according to a news release from Ford.

Ford called the smart intersection a key step toward leveraging GPS technology and wireless infrastructure-to-vehicle communications to reduce traffic accidents and ease congestion.

The smart intersection, established near Ford’s Research & Innovation Center in Dearborn, Mich. is outfitted with technology that can monitor traffic signal status, GPS data and digital maps to assess potential hazards, and then transmit the information to vehicles.

Once the in-vehicle computer receives data indicating a potential hazard, it can instantly warn drivers through visual and audio alerts.

The smart intersection project will accelerate Ford’s research into proprietary “active safety” technologies as it continues development of a common architecture and standards for smart intersections together with General Motors Corp., Honda Motor Co., Daimler AG, Toyota Motor Corp., the federal government, and local and county road commissions. The joint public-private effort is known as Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP).

The active safety initiative comes as research shows that 40 percent of all traffic accidents and 20 percent of crash-related fatalities occur at intersections according to Ford.