Congratulations to Palani, Ian McL and Howard for their award of £195k from the Road Safety Trust Company for a project to improve the design of brake lights. If this project is successful, it could have real impact. Or reduce real impacts.
What this project is all about?
More than half of all road accidents are caused by either lack of driver attention or insufficient gap between vehicles. Collision from the rear is actually the most common cause of road accidents in the UK, yet should be among the most avoidable.
Brake lights indicate to a following driver that a vehicle is slowing down or stopping, to provide a warning to prevent accidents from the rear. Lamps historically used incandescent bulbs, but light emitting diodes (LEDs) are becoming increasingly common.
However very little research has been conducted on assessing the effectiveness of brake light design, and almost none has considered the effect of their design on brain perception. Yet a brake light must be noticed before it can be acted upon, and with so many accidents caused by the inattention of following drivers, the perception of new light designs is obviously extremely important.
Hence, in this project, we study the influence on LED brake light design on how quickly the signal is noticed – enabling the future design of improved brakes to reduce response times.
The aim of most research is to achieve impact. This project is exactly the opposite – we aim to reduce impacts.
Funder: Road Safety Trust
Project Title: Using Cognitive Responses to Assess and Improve Vehicle Brake Light Designs
Length: Two years
Team: Dr Palaniappan Ramaswamy, Professor Ian Mcloughlin and Professor Howard Bowman
[Photo credit: Road Safety Trust homepage]