Vehicular Ad-hoc NETworks (VANETs) have attracted a lot of attention in the research community in recent years due to their promising applications. VANETs help improve traffic safety and efficiency. Each vehicle can exchange information to inform other vehicles about the current status of the traffic flow or a dangerous situation such as an accident. Road safety and traffic management applications require a reliable communication scheme with minimal transmission collisions, which thus increase the need for an efficient Medium Access Control (MAC) protocol. However, the design of the MAC in a vehicular network is a challenging task due to the high speed of the nodes, the frequent changes in topology, the lack of an infrastructure, and various QoS requirements. Recently several Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA)-based medium access control protocols have been proposed for VANETs in an attempt to ensure that all the vehicles have enough time to send safety messages without collisions and to reduce the end-to-end delay and the packet loss ratio.
In this paper, we identify the reasons for using the collision-free medium access control paradigm in VANETs. We then present a novel topology-based classification and we provide an overview of TDMA-based MAC protocols that have been proposed for VANETs. We focus on the characteristics of these protocols, as well as on their benefits and limitations. Finally, we give a qualitative comparison, and we discuss some open issues that need to be tackled in future studies in order to improve the performance of TDMA-based MAC protocols for vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communications.