Monday, November 24, 2014

Red indicator lights - there's no excuse.

It's 2014, right? Then there's no excuse for any manufacturer to still be using red indicator lights on the back of their vehicles. I can understand back in the 50's when it saved 38c to use the same bulb for brake, tail light and indicator, but today it's unnecessary and it's dangerous.
The problem is that, being red, it doesn't provide useful information to the driver behind. Being brought up in Europe, I've been conditioned that bright red lights on the back of the vehicle in front mean brake lights. Here in the US, they could be brake lights, but equally they could be indicators. Ok yes I understand brake lights typically both come on at once, but that moment of confusion can be costly. Is the person in front braking and has one brake light out? Are they indicating? Are they driving with the foot resting on the brake pedal?
Orange indicators are orange for a reason - they're a different colour to every other light on the car, designed to attract attention. It's why cars like Audis switch off the front DRL LEDs when the indicators come on - to draw MORE attention to the orange light. Yet American manufacturers continue to build vehicles where the brake lights and indicators use the same bulb, at the same brightness. The worst scenario is when the person in front starts to brake and THEN begins to indicate. At this point, you've really no idea if they're about to just park in the middle of the road for no reason (in Utah, this happens all the time) or if they're about to turn. And because the turn signal is the brake signal, it's extremely easy to miss if one of the brake lights starts to wink. Worse, if that happens to be the one that catches your eye first, there's a moment of confusion where you can be led to believe they've stopped braking because apparently one of the brake lights just went out.
Even though I've lived here for 14 years, red indicators still catch me out. I regularly sit behind apparently parked traffic for a good second or two before realising one of the brake lights is blinking.