Skip to comments.Life-Saving Technology: The case for a green front brake indicator light.
Posted on 02/13/2021 3:10:03 PM PST by Melinator2
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Green Front Brake Light
Theoretical Analysis and Proposal for the Adoption of a Universal Green Front Brake Light for All Roadway Vehicles.
It is the purpose of this document to analyze and advocate the case for the adoption of green colored front brake indicator lights, for use on all roadway vehicles.
It has been estimated that 1 in 4 vehicles will be involved in a collision over its lifetime.
Transport Canada advises Canadians in its 2002 Annual Report on Road Safety Vision 2010, that "In 2001, 2,778 road users were killed in traffic collision and almost 17,000 suffered serious injuries (defined as requiring hospitalization for 24 hours or more). Collectively, almost 224,000 road users, or more than 600 per day, became casualties who suffered some for of injury... ...Estimates of economic losses alone range from $10 billion to $25 billion depending on the calculation method used.
In the U.S., the NTHSA, reports that "In the year 2000, the total economic cost of motor vehicle crashes in the United States was $230.6 billion. This represents the present value of lifetime economic costs for 41,821 fatalities, 5.3 million non-fatal injuries, and 28 million damaged vehicles. These figures include both police-reported and unreported crashes."
The most current estimate by the WHO is that the annual worldwide vehicle collision rate is 50,000,000 with an accompanying fatality rate of approximately 1,200,000 .
A 1% decrease in the present worldwide collision rate means avoiding the injuries, costs and property damage associated with approximately 500,000 collisions per year. It means saving or at least extending the lives of 10,000 people per year. That is correct: something as simple as a seatbelt and as elegant as an airbag can save tens of thousands of lives.
One might attempt to estimate the number of collisions avoided and lives saved through the advent of roadway vehicle signal lights, brake lights, reverse lights, etc., using various statistical means. However, it is easy to predict that the collision rate has been greatly and obviously reduced by more than 1% as a direct result of their incorporation into modern vehicles and traffic systems. Without any one or more of the electronic lighting and signaling systems currently found upon roadway vehicles, rear-end and intersection collision rates would greatly increase; roadway travel at night would virtually cease to exist; and daytime travel would slow to a crawl. It is the ability for drivers to efficiently signal their intentions and communicate numerous forms of visual information using these signal systems that makes modern roadway travel safe enough to continue.
Millions of traffic collisions and millions of hours of crash analyses over the last 80 years have convinced vehicle manufacturers, insurance companies, businesses, drivers and road and vehicle safety legislators the world over, not only to use modern vehicle lighting and signaling systems themselves, but to make their use mandatory for us all. In North America, driving on a public roadway without the full spectrum of operating vehicular lighting and signal systems will attract fines or other legal sanctions for the mere act of driving without them. Should a driver crash or cause an accident as a result of failing to use or keep his signal and lighting systems operative, he will be found civilly liable, if not criminally so.
Vehicular signaling and lighting systems are proven to reduce the number and severity of vehicle collisions on our public roadways. While such safety systems are not perfect, they reduce by orders of magnitude the numbers of crashes, injuries and fatalities on our roadways.
Introduction to electronic signaling systems on motorized road vehicles
When motorized highway vehicles were first invented, they were built without electronic signal systems. The number of vehicles on the roads before that time was minuscule by comparison to today’s standards. Electronic signal systems had not until then been perceived as strictly necessary. Signaling was most often accomplished by hand and driving safely at night was all but impossible by today’s standards. It was not even law in the United States that vehicles use red brake lights or turn signals until 1950.
Today, we cannot imagine modern transportation without electronic signaling. Running lights, tail lights, headlights, brake lights, reverse lights and turn indicators are permanent and necessary features for every highway vehicle in North America, and in almost every other country in the world. Together, these lights and signaling devices comprise a universal communication system upon which almost all modern transportation systems rely; a system upon which hundreds of millions of drivers depend for their safety, each and every day.
How vehicular signal and lighting systems reduce the number of collisions
Current vehicle signaling and lighting systems reduce our overall collision rate by reliably, efficiently and clearly communicating our driving intentions and activities. Since other drivers cannot read our minds, we must necessarily communicate using hand, eye, and our vehicle signaling and lighting systems. Illuminated signals combine high visibility with efficient, unambiguous conveyance of crucial information to other drivers. They are more reliable and visible than hand gestures, particularly at night. Turning, braking, preparing to advance, reversing - all of these driving actions are made safer through illuminated signal systems. They increase our ability to instantaneously and near simultaneously perceive what other visible drivers are doing, what they are not, what they intend, and vice versa. In short, they allow us to communicate at the speed of light.
On our modern roadways, the importance of increasing driver reaction time: the ability to correctly and safely react to expected and unexpected roadway events, using driving skill and various lighting and signaling devices to send and receive reliable visual data, cannot be overstated.
Driver reaction time has become an enormous field of study, encompassing millions of hours of painstaking research. Research which makes it more than clear that operational brake lights allow much quicker reaction times for observers. In his most recent analysis of all existing major studies in this area, opthamalogist and reaction time specialist Marc Green notes the following:
"...there are several studies that used the slowing of a lead car with an inoperative brake light. The test driver responded to change in velocity, which is more difficult to detect than the onset of a light or the sudden appearance of an object. I have excluded those studies from the table because they produce a much higher range of RTs [Reaction Times] than those found using other signals."
Sallama is a Norwegian reaction time researcher and academic who, with the help of numerous others in a series of well designed, tested and peer reviewed studies, has concluded that the standard average reaction time to expected signals, such as a brake light, is approx 1.3 to 1.7 seconds. Reaction time to unexpected signals, such as a stationary object suddenly appearing in the roadway, rises to 1.8-2.0 seconds. In another study Sallama found that driver reaction time, to a vehicle ahead unexpectedly slowing, rose an average further 2.0 seconds when no brake lights were visible. In other words, it takes another driver an extra 2 seconds on average to notice that you are braking if your brake indicator lights don’t work - more than double the normal reaction time. Without the brake lights, observing drivers can also lose the warning time normally associated with their use.
The amount of warning time an observing driver may have, from the moment when a brake indicator is lit to the point at which enough braking pressure to visibly slow the vehicle, is highly variable. Anywhere from fractions of a second in an emergency to many seconds warning of pending deceleration is given. That warning time is lost when brake lights or other signals are eliminated from the spectrum of information normally provided to other observers. Accordingly, lack of a brake signal (at least) not only increases observing driver reaction time by an average 2.0 seconds, it also eliminates any warning time normally associated with a brake indicator. Sallama’s figures are widely accepted in the literature. Where they are not, acknowledgment remains that lack of brake lights increases overall reaction time in observing drivers. Particularly at night.
Similarly one can predict an increased reaction time in drivers and pedestrians toward vehicles without working turn signals. Purposely crossing paths with such a vehicle would be terribly dangerous. Possibly, the dearth studies on that particular traffic dynamic is a testament to both the danger of purposely enacting such a test, and the obviousness of the anticipated result: turn signals reduce overall roadway vehicle accidents in both frequency and magnitude.
At 110 km/h (66 mph) a vehicle is traveling approximately 30 metres (33yards) per second. Most vehicles can decelerate at approximately 10 metres per second in an emergency. One should require no further mathematical presentation than that to conclude that a few seconds of increased warning and reaction time, such as those provided by braking and turn indicators, are crucially important to modern drivers given the potential consequences of a collision. Certainly our North American courtrooms know the difference: failure to have operating vehicle signal and lighting systems most often means a finding of liability against the offending driver.
Furthermore it is not just other drivers who benefit from the increased reaction time, visibility and communication inherent in modern vehicle lighting and signal systems. Every year there are tens of thousands of pedestrians killed by vehicles in collisions worldwide. If modern vehicles were not equipped with forward signal lights far more pedestrians would be killed and injured as they "guessed wrong" about turning drivers intentions. This is especially so at night when visibility is greatly lowered. The point is that modern vehicular lighting and signal systems work increase safety and reduce accidents.
Why modern vehicular lighting and signal systems work
New drivers do not automatically understand all of the rules with respect to operating and interpreting the operation of vehicle lighting and signaling systems. Accordingly they are first educated and then allowed to practice under mandatory supervision. This is as it should be: we don’t want them killing themselves or anyone else while learning to drive. Ultimately the operation of the vehicle and its signal systems becomes "second nature" for most drivers. Like walking, it starts as learned behavior and evolves into an almost unconscious motor skill. Hence we see the relatively high reaction times of 1.3-1.7 seconds for the average driver confronted with a recognizable and pre-programmed signal such as a brake or indicator light on a roadway where such signals might normally be expected to occur.
Proper instruction in vehicular lighting and signal systems is certainly advisable, but was not always a common practice amongst new drivers a generation ago. Fortunately the signal systems themselves were designed to be as universal, obvious, unambiguous and as intuitive as possible. Running lights advertise our position and speed. Yellow turn signals flash to the left or right of the car indicating that we have triggered them and possibly intend to turn in the direction indicated. Red illumination indicates the back of the vehicle. Brake lights are also always red. Brake lights show when a driver intends to slow or stop his vehicle; when he does not; and even when he’s prepared to start or accelerate again. White lights on the rear of the car mean the driver is prepared to back up; brake indicators and car movement communicate the rest. These signal and lighting systems are so efficient that modern drivers are able to receive and distribute messages of light, to and from all in sight, practically simultaneously.
Are Modern vehicle lighting and signaling systems adequate?
Modern vehicles accelerate and decelerate much faster than those which travelled our roadways 30 years ago. Improving and evolving vehicular lighting and signal systems, taken in conjunction with modern high speed roadways and controlled intersections, have vastly increased both driver reaction time and the speed of traffic flow. With ever increasing numbers of vehicles navigating our crowded roadways comes increased collision numbers, injuries and deaths. We have numerous government, academic and industry interests tasked with finding and implementing new ways to increase vehicular and roadway safety. It is clear they take their work seriously: such are the stakes involved. Accordingly, the search for new, intuitive, unambiguous signal systems, that further increase the state of communication and reaction times amongst drivers, continues.
Kenworth has recently started equipping its new trucks with forward indicator lights that signal by illuminating when another vehicle is traveling too close in front. Cadillac embeds yellow turn indicators into the back of its side view mirrors for greater signal visibility. Foreign and domestic automakers continue to increase the number and visibility of rear brake indicators. Many vehicles now come complete with satellite navigation systems and computers - a testament to just how important information and communication systems have become to our safety, driving behaviors, and our vehicles.
In the midst of this all, on is left to wonder: if turn indicators are worth putting on both front and back of roadway vehicles, why not put brake lights on the front as well...?
While the current state of our vehicular signal and lighting systems is good at communicating numerous crucial pieces of information to observers, is it possible there is a gaping hole in the available data stream?
It seems so obvious... Everyone agrees that we need yellow turn indicator lights on all 4 corners of our vehicles. Two on the rear of the vehicle, are simply not as visible as lights on all 4 corners. In fact, if you cause an accident because one or more of your front turn indicator lights was inoperative, you are legally liable. The same is true of brake lights. If someone hits you from behind because your brake indicators are not working, or cannot be seen, you are liable at least contributorily in negligence. It will profit nothing to argue that the other driver should have been paying closer attention to your vehicle movements. Those communication systems are crucial for everyone on the road. If yours are not working, you should not be driving.
No one will argue but that we need illuminated signals on the front of our vehicles: amber turn indicators visible from every direction, and red brake indicators on the rear. As drivers we want other drivers and pedestrians around us to know in advance when and where we intend to start braking, turning, or accelerating, or any combination thereof. Further, we demand this same information from them.
As a frequent driver and pedestrian, I want to know in advance when a driver, whether traveling in front, behind, or coming toward me, intends to brake or turn across my path. Illuminated signal systems, which we already know greatly improve reaction times in observing drivers and pedestrians, are already a critical element in delivering this information. However, if we truly want to know when oncoming drivers are braking, front mounted brake indicator lights are necessary.
Presently, we put turn signals on all 4 corners of our vehicles as a warning to all, but keep the brake indicators hidden in the back: a place where they cannot possibly be seen by oncoming cars or pedestrians, day or night. In my respectful submission, herein lies the crucial gap in the information stream. In my further respectful submission, it is a gap which can be neatly filled by a front brake indicator
Why on earth would I want a Front Brake Light?
A front brake light assembly appears on the surface to have the potential to convey information at least as important as that conveyed by front turn indicators: information that oncoming drivers and pedestrians definitely use. We definitely watch oncoming drivers, looking for clues as to their intention, direction of travel and states of braking and acceleration. We already augment our abilities to perceive this information with front turn indicators and running lights. Why then would we not wish to augment our abilitiy to perceive braking information from the front using similar means?
Given what has already been established in the literature concerning increased and decreased driver reaction time to rear brake lights and front turn signals, a front brake light assembly immediately suggest itself as a reliable, easily understood and highly important additional signal system. Knowing when an oncoming driver who is signaling to turn across your path has his foot on and off the brake is just as important as knowing the exact same information about the driver travelling ahead of you. Unfortunately, we have no present means by which we might see the oncoming driver’s braking information. An oncoming vehicle’s state of braking information is crucially important to pedestrians as well. From behind, other drivers see that very information, in high relief and precise detail, every time traffic brakes and prepares to slow or stop for a pedestrian. The pedestrian currently sees no such thing. The same holds true for oncoming vehicles. In short, the lowly pedestrian and oncoming vehicles must guess as to the state of any one or more oncoming vehicle’s braking information and driver’s intention. Therein, perhaps, lies a clue to the seemingly higher rates of left turning and vehicle pedestrian collisions.
Will a front brake light confuse people?
A front brake indicator assembly is unlikely to confuse an observer, unless it illuminates a color which the observer has previously come to know as meaning something else.
Obviously, a practical front brake indicator should be no more startling or confusing than any other vehicle lights. For that reason, no one should ever propose putting a red brake indicator assembly on the front of their vehicle. Though it would visibly and reliably communicate braking data, the potential for confusing the front of an oncoming vehicle for its rear is more than sufficient reason to discard red as a front brake indicator color.
Flashing blue and red lights are typically associated with police and emergency vehicles, again raising the spectre of confusion. Seeing blue or red brake lights in ones rear-view mirror gives rise to the real possibility that the observing driver will slow down to let the vehicle pull him over or pass. White or yellow lights could be too easily confused with emergency flashers, turn signals or high beam flashing to warn other drivers of danger, blockades or overtakings. Purple might suffice as a non-confusing color, since it is not currently used in any road traffic communication systems, but therein also lies its potential weakness. There is another color, however, which is already widely used in traffic control devices, is instantly recognizable, and can confuse only to the extent that it brings the observer to the appropriate conclusion. In short, if it caused any confusion, it would confuse an observer to "go". The color is, of course, Green.
Green on the front, red on the back
When a pedestrian intends to cross the street and sees green lights from the front of an approaching car, if they are unfamiliar with a green front brake light and do not immediately recognize it as a sign that the driver’s foot is on the brake, they are likely to pause and take caution. It is also possible that the pedestrian could reflexively interpret the signal to mean that he or she may proceed. If so, he or she would be correct. The driver has his foot on the brake and is slowing to stop. If the driver lifts his brake, the light goes out.
So too, when a driver first encounters an oncoming car signaling to turn left across his path which then illuminates its green front brake lights as it slows or stops at the corner. It is possible (though unlikely) that the driver might be confused into thinking the light means go. Again, he would be correct: the left turning driver has his foot on the brake and is stopped or preparing to stop before turning. If the left turner lifts his foot from the brake, the light goes out.
Is it possible that oncoming drivers and pedestrians could be confused if green front brake lights were only found on half or some of all vehicles? Consider the current state of front braking indicators: they don’t exist. While an observer can understand more clearly what the driver of vehicle with front brake indicators is doing behind the wheel, he is left in the same sorry current state with respect to vehicles without: he must observe closely, guess, and hope that the left signaling driver, stopped and waiting to turn, is not just then taking his foot off the brake before hitting the accelerator to cut across. If he sees no green brake light, then he must hope for the best. If he sees one, near, far or intermittently spaced throughout a line of traffic he will know what the green front brake light driver(s) are doing. If he cannot understand the green lights, they remain as unintelligible to him as any other non-signal light in his field of vision.
We cannot just start putting green front brake signal assemblies on vehicles without first testing them
It is worthwhile considering that brake indicator lights are not an esoteric concept. No one would seriously suggest that we need to exhaustively test front turn signal or rear brake light signal concepts before allowing people to use them. The actual lights yes, but not the very concepts themselves.
We know from long experience that multiple vehicle signal systems save lives and lower collision rates. Drivers use the data contained in vehicle lighting and signaling systems to inform their driving decisions and reactions. Traffic flow itself is made significantly more efficient using such systems. While green front brake indicators do not suggest themselves as a foolproof solution to pedestrian and oncoming vehicle accidents, they can be expected to provide at least as much of an improved communication and safety factor as rear brake lights and other signal indicators currently do. And while there may not be any law which requires brake indicator lights to be placed on the front of a vehicle, there are none to prevent it. The greatest difficulty The greatest difficultly in deploying a universal green front brake light signaling system lies not in any lack of the ability to predict its benefits. Rather, it lies in the fact that no vehicle is currently manufactured to feature such lights. Green lenses alone are not currently made in sufficient quantity to outfit existing vehicles with them, and aftermarket front brake signal assemblies suited to the task are manufactured nowhere in the world. Thus, in order to make a green front brake indicator assembly a reality, we need the following:
1. Preliminary studies indicating with a high degree of reliability that universal green front brake indicator lights will lessen the total number of collisions;
2. Privately and publicly funded green front brake indicator pilot projects and educational campaigns;
3. A inconspicuous, inexpensive, durable, universally adaptable, permanently affixable, aftermarket, LED green front brake indicator assembly, designed to splice into or work precisely in conjunction with vehicles’ existing rear brake indicator assemblies (see Appendix "A").
4. Incorporation of the GFB concept into all new vehicles on the assembly lines worldwide;
5. Transportation and safety legislation ultimately making green front brake lights mandatory.
If the green front brake indicator concept reduces collisions and is ultimately adopted worldwide, authorities who dismiss it or work against it now, may ultimately have to answer when it one day becomes as obviously necessary as rear brake lights. If the idea proves imprudent and never amounts to anything, it’s supporters can certainly never be accused of attempting to withhold lifesaving signalling technology from the driving public. If it proves useful, its detractors and obstructors certainly could be so accused.
It is important for our Governments and their transportation and safety legislators to have this information in their possession as soon as possible. It starts the clock ticking concerning the date upon which they first knew or ought to have known of the emergence of the green front brake indicator concept. The same is true for vehicle manufacturers and their in-house legal departments. Auto insurers also seemingly have every reason to be interested in this concept. Fewer collisions means fewer paid claims, regardless of the premiums collected. It may also be incumbent upon Government , automobile manufacturers and insurers to at least test the concepts set out and developed herein. Doing so now and finding out that the universal green front brake indicator concept would have no positive effect on collision rates is a relatively quick and inexpensive exercise. Failing to do so, and finding out later that the concept is workable, could prove far more expensive by a variety of measures, including tens of thousands of lives lost. Testing now and finding out that the concept saves lives and reduces collisions will make heroes of those who first make the system a reality.
As the sole originator of the green front brake indicator system and assembly concept, I claim international copyright and all other continuing legal and equitable rights as I may have and retain in such intellectual property as may be contained herein. This document may not be reprinted or distributed. The concepts and analyses contained herein may not be used for any purpose without the author’s prior written permission.
Should any reader wish to contact me with respect to the above proposal, my name is Mark Lesniak. find me at greenbrakelight.com
Please imagine for one moment you are driving down a lonely highway at dusk. Suddenly, in the oncoming lane, green front brake lights begin snapping on in rapid sucession. You are alerted to the bull moose crossing from their side and instead of smashing into it and dying like so many before you, you manage to brake, swerve and avoid the animal entirely. ..
Imagine you are crossing at a pedestrian light and you see a vehicle coming at speed. For an instant you wonder whether he has a foot on the brake? Then his green lights come on. Yes he has a foot on the brake. Is that oncoming vehicle about to turn left in front of you? Or does he have his foot on the brake? Yes he is stopped and his front brake light is green. It will go out once he proceedsl...
I hope that all freepers will feel free to read and consider my paper. I would gratefully welcome insightful and carefully considered analysis both for and against the proposition that green front brake lights would save lives.
So you can pull out in front of oncoming traffic that appears to be braking, only to find out they were just riding their brakes but not really slowing down.
Green means go.
If you want to make cars safer remove the seat belts and air bags. Replace them with a 10 inch long stainless steel spike in the center of the steering wheel pointed at the drivers chest.
Author Mark Lesniak must be paid by the word. That is the longest, most jumbled, incomprehensible mess of an article I’ve read in a long time.
Cut to the chase. “Put a green light in front of cars that goes on when the driver steps on the brake.”
My #1 Rule for crosswalks — DO NOT assume the driver is slowing down or stopping. Do NOT cross until the cars have come to a complete stop.
I don’t need a green light in front of the car to tell me that.
This verbose article is a waste of time...
It serves to obfuscate the idiocy of a green light on the front of a car...
There must have been a “satire” alert that was supposed to be in the title...
Wow. Talk about your tl;dr.
I nearly fell asleep NOT reading this article.
Author and poster looking for a payday.
Yeah no kidding. This article reads like a bunch of overpaid educrats spending tens of thousands of dollars on a government grant who came up with some stupid solution to a problem no one‘s even heard about.
Sorry your time was wasted.
Much like rear brake lights yes
Thunderbirds are go!
stolen comedy routine. Why have any indicator lights at all?
Never mind. Tags are closed now.
Do you need any lights on a car to tell you things? If some forgets to signal or has a brake light out, I bet you start fapping like a madman!!
All right. I thought I was the only one looking at the italics being left on. What the what?
I read halfway through the article and they never got to the point.
Sorry your time was wasted. Should we forego all signal lights on roadway vehicles because you are super? Or just the ones that seem normal to you. It is indeed a good thing someone thought of signal lights and rear brake lights in your world? but thinking outside the box is forbidden... or did you just want to sound dismissive and insulting
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