Gratuitous suggestions for car brake lights

I don’t know anyone in the automobile design industry, but just in case someone stumbles onto this post in that position, I have two suggestions that I think would dramatically reduce rear-ending:

1.  Tapping the brakes should activate rear red “braking lights” (as they do now) but the other lights should not be red.  It’s truly stupid to have the running lights (they probably have a better name) the same color as the brake lights.  Application of breaks should “pop” to driver following you, and having “more red” simply doesn’t transmit that information.

2.  Brake lights should blink. Just like those blinking red traffic lights that are going up at  intersections–they really get your attention. I’m sure there are ways to mod your vehicle to display blinking lights, but it should be a basic car design law. It would be extra nice to vary the blink rate with the percentage of braking applied.  E.g, when brakes are fully depressed, the blink rate is super fast to indicate to followers that car is stopping really fast.  But when driver is gently slowing the blink rate is more subdued. I’m sure drivers with epilepsy will have opinions about blink rates to avoid, but in general it would be a good thing, I think. Especially with everyone texting and all.

Blinking brake lights

3 thoughts on “Gratuitous suggestions for car brake lights

  1. Amit

    Hi Colin, I really enjoyed your article on academic poster design. So, I thought I’d dig a bit more and came across this.

    In India rules require that a third light – a bar, inside the car, behind the rear window, light up with the brake lights. This is really an ESSENTIAL feature since the position is almost in the straight line of sight of the driver behind. It lights up only when the brakes are pressed.

    Furthermore, in bumper-to-bumper traffic sometimes the entire rear light cluster is hidden, but the rear window is always visible if you are behind a car. If it isn’t, then you are probably too late to brake anyway.


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