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Slippery Condition Brakelight Flasher

Brake lights should flash when the ABS (anti-lock braking system) kicks in.
  [vote for,

Whenever your ABS is activated due to slippery conditions, your brake lights should flash quickly to indicate to the driver behind you that the road is slippery. This would provide a bit of warning to let the other driver slow down, and may reduce the risk of a rear-end collision.
AntiQuark, Feb 12 2004

Photosensitive Epileply http://www.epilepsy...aupdate/vol9-3.html
Info about which flash rates are likely to cause a seizure. [AntiQuark, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]


       Great idea!
KLRico, Feb 12 2004

       Just when I was thinking that lights on the back of cars was completely mined out, here's a good one.
krelnik, Feb 12 2004

       Would be nuts if it could engage the ABS on a car within a certain distance+   

       AntiQuark -- just curious, do you pronounce it AntiKwork or AntiKwark?
theircompetitor, Feb 12 2004

       I always say "AntiKwork". Funny, it never crossed my mind that there could be more than one way to pronounce it.
AntiQuark, Feb 12 2004

       I like the idea. I think it would also be possible for this device to work on vehicles without antilock brakes. I assume that sensors could determine when a certain level of "ohmygod" braking is being applied. By the way, I always pronounced it "an-TICK-you-ark."
K-Rodd, Feb 12 2004

       How is the driver behind you going to slow down any faster if your lights are flashing than he/she would if they came on solid... particularly if it's slippery enough to trigger your ABS? Poorly thought out.
waugsqueke, Feb 13 2004

       It might do some good if they aren't following too closely and are paying attention to the brake lights far enough ahead. Hey, it could happen.
half, Feb 13 2004

       I always thought Antikvaark. Like the curdled dairy product.
squeak, Feb 13 2004

       [waugs] - the whole point is so that people behind you can get early warning of slippery conditions. Then they can start braking even before they reach the slippery spot. This is more usefull to people a ways away than people right on your ass.
KLRico, Feb 13 2004

       Waugs got it right.
python, Feb 13 2004

       [waugs] is right in that the application of ABS depends on far too many factors that may not be the same from car to car: The state of the tyres, the state of the breaking system, the setup of the ABS, the force used to break (which may be excessive or too little depending on driver reaction).
You should be aware as a driver of the conditions on the road. You should not rely on spurious cues from the person in front to tell you what you should be doing. I gotta fishy this.
gnomethang, Feb 13 2004

       //You should be aware as a driver of the conditions on the road.// Not of the road a few hundred yards ahead. The flicker would give you the info that something serious is happening ahead. Instead of wasting valuable time trying to brake smoothly you can slam into the brakes   

       Good idea.
kbecker, Feb 13 2004

       It may not help, but I can't see it hurting.   

       //the whole point is so that people behind you can get early warning of slippery conditions. //   

       How is a flashing brake light going to warn people any earlier than a solid brake light? Brake lights don't trigger any "earlier" with ABS. You're not making sense.
waugsqueke, Feb 13 2004

       This is not about warning people earlier, it is about giving them more information than a simple binary braking/not braking signal can give them.   

       A brake light coming on ahead of you can mean almost nothing (the person just tapped the break to disengage the cruise, or they thought they saw a cop on the side of the road) to something highly critical (an accident is occurring). This proposal just adds a little bit more information at the high end of the scale.   

       //How is the driver behind you going to slow down any faster if your lights are flashing//
If you follow that specious argument out to its conclusion, we should abolish brake lights entirely. After all someone could be following so closely that the lights will not help them.
krelnik, Feb 14 2004

       I'm sort of with [waugs] on this one. This idea is mostly redundant with the bar-graph brake lights and brake lights that glow brighter under heavy braking.
It is more logical to display a brighter light than to have one that's flickering on and off. I'm sure the association of epileptic drivers may have cause for concern too; if they actually exist.

Now if the flashing brake light was one of those rotating ones, usually found in amber hues on construction vehicles...
silverstormer, Feb 14 2004

       I'm not sure whether it would be useful or not. But if the flashing lights could be mentally processed in a timely enough manner by following drivers, it could be an indication that slippery conditions exist or that the driver ahead has executed a "panic stop". To me, this condition, i.e. the other guy's ABS going active, does indicate that something more than an ordinary stop is going on ahead of me and I might need to be a bit more alert and at the ready than when I just see casual brake lights.   

       I'm not sure that the flashing of ordinary brakelights would be sufficient indicator though. I think to be effective as an additional warning, it would need to use strobes or something more intense and urgent looking than the blinking of standard incandescent bulbs.
half, Feb 14 2004

       I like it. It would be unusual enough (at least in the early stages) that it could at least prompt the following driver to lift their accelerator foot while they ponder "what's up with those brake lights?" Maybe if they slow just a little they won't plow into the car ahead when they hit the same patch of ice.
gardnertoo, Feb 14 2004

       This is not a question of "lights for slippery surfaces that you do not know about".
This is an idea about flashing a brake light whenever ABS is employed on a car (that has the facility). The corollary (for some) appears to suggest that a flickering brake light means 'slippery road up ahead' and you can brake earlier to avoid it

       This is not the case.   

       I submit most humbly that nobody here knows exactly when their ABS is going to kick in.
I also submit that most of the times when ABS *DOES* kick in the road is not 'slippery' per se and that the driver has made a misjudgement and must steer under braking or brake more heavily than expected. The misjudgement may only be (as my driving instructor told me) relying on the car in front to gauge the traffic.
To add a non universal sign to the back of a car to tell you that ABS is being used does not make sense to me, appearing, as it does, to be an excuse for sloppy driving practices.
gnomethang, Feb 14 2004

       You mean like brake lights in general?   

       Who said that anyone knows when their ABS is going to kick in?
half, Feb 14 2004

       Nobody said it [half], but the premise is there. I am suggesting that the fact that ABS has been used is meaningless particularly as it is not a standard feature on all cars.   

       ..and yep! for brake lights in general. Better forward vision mitigates the need for extensive braking.
gnomethang, Feb 14 2004

       Oh. I didn't see it as being material to the idea at all whether the driver expected or didn't expect their ABS to activate.   

       I'm not sure that this idea would be good or helpful. I'm just raising some talking points.   

       Smoke from the tires ahead is generally a pretty good indicator that something's afoot and I need to pay more attention.
half, Feb 14 2004

       Indeed, and I see lots of that as well. Usually from unladen trucks with good brakes and light rear wheels. It is a symptom of something that should have been picked up on earlier.
gnomethang, Feb 14 2004

       I agree. I now own a car with ABS but have never experienced it going active. I follow at a safe distance. I agree with the argument that we shouldn't rely on the next guy to judge the road ahead, not everyone is an excellent driver like me. ;)
half, Feb 14 2004

       I thank you!
gnomethang, Feb 14 2004

       ABS activates when the computer, using sensors that measure the rotation rate of the wheels, detects a condition under braking in which a wheel is turning some amount slower than the other wheels. This indicates an impending skidding of at least one wheel. If the wheels are still rolling then you can steer the vehicle. If the wheels are not rolling, steering has virtually no effect.   

       It works by modulating the pressure on the brakes, releasing then reapplying braking pressure to allow the wheels (and therefore the vehicle) to decelerate at the theoritical maximum rate without sliding the tires.   

       I've been a passenger in an ABS equipped vehicle that had to make a quick stop due to the stupidity of another driver. You can hear and feel the pulsing.
half, Feb 14 2004

       as for the thing about epelleptic drivers, which i had seen unanswered, they do exist.....   

       in my state, (Alaska), if they have a seikzure, they have to go something like 6 months without another before they can drive again.   

sbEr_X, Feb 15 2004

       I've added a link to a page about photosensitive epilepsy. The page has a graph showing the relationship between flash rate and probability of an epileptic seizure. As noted in the page, "96% of people with photosensitive epilepsy are sensitive to lights flashing at between 15 and 20 flashes per second."   

       If the brakelight flashing rate is kept low (relatively speaking), say at about 2 or 3 flashes per second, then light-induced seizures should not be a problem. Besides, if two flashes per second will cause seizures in a person, then the typical turn signals on a car will be enough to trigger a seizure, and such a person would most likely not be driving.
AntiQuark, Feb 15 2004

       This might be a decent feature, and wouldn't add that much in complexity or cost. Downside: I don't know if I would tie it to ABS, as it's going to eventually train the following driver to expect a flashing light in case of emergency braking, when it may or may not occur.   

       I know of people that ride their brakes too often for comfort of following with no real intention or need of slowing down. Hence, the person following can't really figure out exactly whether the person in front is really stopping or not.   

       I think you should propose it to the people at Delphi lighting or similar. Heck, if I find the right desk at work at Jeep, I'll drop an anonymous note off.   

       I was following a vehicle the other day with all LED brake lighting. Bad choice of LED colors. Bandwidth was so narrow and harsh it hurt my eyes to look.   

       When the ABS kicks in in my Pontiac, it sounds like someone just ripped a juicy one.
RayfordSteele, Feb 15 2004


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