Judging the speed of an approaching car can be tricky, even for an experienced driver. This important skill is used frequently in daily driving situations such as pulling into a busy street, merging into fewer lanes, entering on-ramps, passing into oncoming traffic on a single lane road, or switching lanes after a quick glance in the rearview mirror. With inattention or the inexperience of a younger driver, these common situations can turn treacherous.
The Automotive Speed Indicator will improve vehicle safety by taking the guesswork out of estimating another driver’s speed. This concept adds a new signaling component to a vehicle’s exterior lighting system (see Figure) that would automatically change color to indicate the vehicle’s travel velocity. As an example, at speeds less than 35 mph the lights would glow white; from 35-49 mph, the lights would glow amber; from 50-64 mph, the lights would glow red, and from 65–89 mph the lights would glow blue. At speeds in excess of 90 mph, the lights would flash blue, signaling an undeniable hazard to other drivers. This particular example is meant to be illustrative of the Automotive Speed Indicator concept. Whatever the final color scheme and speed ranges may be, it will soon become second nature for drivers to identify the Speed Indicator signal colors just as we instantly understand the meaning of a red brake light or recognize the three colors of a traffic light today.
The Automotive Speed Indicator is easily integrated into modern vehicular design and should be fairly inexpensive to manufacture. The small size, high reliability, and fast switching speed of existing LED lamp technology should provide a viable solution to implement the concept. LED lights can also be made to change color and the light intensity can be varied so the Automotive Speed Indicator can be made bright enough to also function as a daytime running light system. In addition, public acceptance should prove to be widespread since exterior LED lights are already becoming more common in stylized automotive applications today.
The Automotive Speed Indicator will add a much-needed safety enhancement to many vehicle types and give drivers the confidence to make informed driving decisions.