Thursday, April 2, 2009

Visibly Dangerous - 2

Another area of regression in modern vehicles also concerns safety & vision, but is thankfully not general.

Vehicle lighting has been improving steadily for decades and European lighting in particular is excellent.
For instance, orange flashing turn-indicators are clearly better than the red & white indicators still found in USA.

But recently, some new models, particularly from VW group, for example Polo & Passat, have taken to diffusing the turn indicator lamps concentrically round the outside of the rear lamps & brake lamps.
Presumably this is a new possibility offered by LED lighting, which stylists have jumped at because it produces very pretty lamps.

The result is that when rear lamps & brake lamps are on (not an unusual situation) then the turn indicators get lost in the general glare & it is only too easy to fail to see them.

Similar effects are appearing at the front of some new vehicles, where the turn indicators are being integrated closely into a compound front lighting unit, so that they are much too close to the headlamps and therefore invisible when headlamps are on.
At the same time as drivers are being encouraged, or compelled, to drive with headlights on all the time.

In hindsight, it seems obvious that turn signal lamps should be physically separated from headlamps & brake lamps.
By some minimum distance which no doubt could be established scientifically.

The best-ever rear turn signal lamps were on the Citroen DS where they were put at the upper corners of the rear screen.
Immediately visible even in traffic & nowhere near other lights.
That should be compulsory.
Like the third brake lamp has become & for the same reasons.

Again, where is the pressure going to come from, to counteract economic & styling pressures which are leading us to pretty & economical but unsafe solutions?

Parting thot: "To me success can only be achieved through repeated failure and introspection." – Soichiro Honda

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