Some Vehicle Safety Suggestions for the Auto Industry

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

I submit for review several simple design ideas for anyone associated with the auto industry to consider. Most are software defined so implementation should be of low cost.

Horn Loudness Commensurate with Speed

At highway speeds, wind and engine noise within vehicle cabins often dampens the ability to hear other vehicles’ horns. I especially noticed an analogue of this regarding sirens while operating emergency vehicles. When responding with sirens on highways, other drivers do not hear the siren until I am right behind them.

In addition to better audibility at high speeds, at low speed horn volume can be reduced to aid in urban quieting.

Flashing 3rd Brake Light Upon Rapid Deceleration

One datum not conveyed to other drivers upon braking is the speed at which the vehicle decelerates. Current design shows only a binary state–no braking and brake pedal pressed. Drivers rely on depth perception and an internal sense of timing to determine the rate the ahead vehicle is slowing.

A rapid and unexpected braking is a significant cause of rear-end collisions, especially on highways on approach of traffic jams. Using accelerometers on board to sense a rapid stop at a certain threshold would cause a rapid flashing of the 3rd brake light to warn oncoming drivers from the rear of a sudden stop or slowing.

I noted a similar practice used by drivers in Germany on the Autobahn. To warn other drivers when a rapid braking is occurring, drivers will hit the Hazard button to cause the rear lights to flash in warning other drivers that they need to  immediately slow down (due to a “Stau”).  An automatic version of this will be beneficial but in only using a flashing third brake light it will not cause the turn signals to be overridden by using the Hazard Warning lights.

A Feature to Detect the Traffic Signal Pre-emption Device of Oncoming Emergency Vehicles

A Traffic Signal Pre-emption Device is one typically mounted on the emergency lights of a police, ambulance or fire vehicle that flashes ultra-violet light at a rapid, measured rate that causes traffic signal aspects to change to a setting that better allows the emergency vehicle to pass through an intersection while at the same time making other vehicles stop.

In the United States many cities and urban counties have this equipment. While the system is primarily designed for changing traffic signal aspects, the same system can be utilized to warn drivers of vehicles equipped with cameras, such as the Subaru EyeSight system.

The basic functionality of the system would be if the vehicle is equipped with front and rear cameras, upon detection of a rapidly flashing light in the ultra-violet range and above a set rate of flash, the system would announce to the driver the approach of an emergency vehicle and the direction, based upon camera position of that approach. Preferably voice command will be used such as a tone, then “Emergency vehicle approaching from the rear”. The language used would be localized to whatever the user configured their dash display.

While oftentimes emergency vehicles use sirens, that is not always the case, especially at early hours in the morning or when police are responding to in-progress calls when they do not want the suspect to hear the sirens and flee. Moreover, and especially in urban settings, the sound frequency used by sirens has a tendency to echo and reflect, making it difficult for the listening public to determine direction.

Flashing Headlights Upon Horn Activation

This provides an additional aid to draw attention to a vehicle sounding a warning horn.

Activate Backup Camera When Using Turn Signals

Proper lane changing avoids most collisions, that is using both rear and wing mirrors coupled with a head check prior to signaling and changing lanes. Yet there do exist some blind spots at forty-five degrees from the back of the car. Backup Cameras usually have wide fields of view and provide an extra perspective that shows objects in close proximity to the rear.

Device to Drop Small Tags Having Vehicle Identification Number If Collision Detected

This is not so much a safety device as it is an aid in identifying Hit and Run drivers. If the system detects a collision as evidenced by Air Bag deployment or other detection means the vehicle pops open a device that scatters VIN tags onto the ground. In the event of a hit and run, law enforcement or other drivers can obtain the tags to facilitate locating fleeing drivers.

Make Engine Compartment Cleaning Part of Regular Maintenance Schedule

Aside from the obvious virtue of cleanliness, regular and proper cleaning of the engine compartment and engine forestalls the buildup of flammable oils and chemicals that can lead to vehicle fires caused by electrical faults and other ignitions. Adding a cleaning schedule will serve as public interest to generate awareness to the problem.

By Darren Smith

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

10 thoughts on “Some Vehicle Safety Suggestions for the Auto Industry”

  1. Peugeot’s activate the hazard lights if the vehicle detects heavy deceleration/anti-lock breaking. Citroens sound the horn as well!

    Ron, I’m pretty sure these features are software controlled. ‘Flashing Headlights Upon Horn Activation’ and ‘Activate Backup Camera When Using Turn Signals’ would be as well. The latter, however, may take your attention from where it should be.

  2. I like the idea of the self-revealing car leaving its ID behind in an accident. I would leave it to the experts how best to implement this idea. The same idea, if applied to firearms and ammo (making the bullets traceable to the purchaser) would put a real dent in the weapons black market, and bring a new level of deterrence to drive by street shootings.

    1. pbinca. “would put a real dent in the weapons black market, and bring a new level of deterrence to drive by street shootings.”

      Beeecaauuussee ………. gang-bangers buy all there ammo legitimately and don’t use stolen stuff? Perhaps it would just expand the existing black market.

  3. How about an electronic signal on emergency vehicles with a range of about 200 yards that turns on a flashing light on the dash board of nearby cars, because with the air and radio on and the windows you can’t always hear the siren. And a no phone operating in the drivers seat

  4. great ideas that seem to be simple ( low tech) in nature but perhaps not so easy in practice?

    As always, the cost factor will be cited by manufacturers as to why this couldn’t be done, but insurers would be very interested in implementing these measures

  5. Thanks Darren, I really like them. I really like the idea of a warning for rapid deceleration. I know when I’m tired and in traffic, this really can catch me off guard.

  6. Haha, we can tell you have no automotive engineering expertise. None of these can be easily fixed with software, on most cars, these features are hard wired, not run through a computer.

    Might want to check federal safety laws, some of these suggestions would required a change in current law.

    But, the suggestions seem good on their face.

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