Automobile safety continues to advance with the assistance of cameras and video technology. Backup cameras for most vehicles will become mandatory in the United States in 2018. Blind spot cameras (and alarms) in automobiles are becoming more mainstream as well. (See attached picture #1)
One dangerous safety issue that is not being addressed are left turns at busy intersections. According to the U.S. Department of Transport's Federal Highway Administration:
"Left-turning movements are generally acknowledged to be the highest-risk movements at intersections. An estimated 27 percent of all intersection-related crashes in the United States are associated with left turns, with over two-thirds occurring at signalized intersections."
When drivers wait for a left turn at an intersection there are often vehicles traveling in the opposite direction turning lane that block views of oncoming traffic. When views of the oncoming traffic are blocked it makes it difficult and dangerous to make left turns. In addition, cars in the left turning lane often take longer to turn than necessary which leads to increased gridlock.
Install a camera in the driver's side exterior rear view mirror with the lens that faces forward. The lens would be placed at the furthest point on the driver's mirror away from the vehicle. The extra 10 to 12 inches (estimated) of viewing angle would help drivers to see around vehicles in the opposing turning lane. To ensure an unobstructed view, the camera lens could be attached on to a telescoping base (similar to periscope type car antenna) located within the mirror (see attached pictures 3 and 4). Using an control switch in the vehicle the driver could extend the camera lens telescoping base out the left side of the mirror an additional 10-12 inches which would give a complete view of all oncoming traffic.
When the switch to activate/extend the camera is turned on, the video screen on the dash will display the view of oncoming traffic. The camera could also automatically be turned on when the left turn signal is activated. Similar to current right mirror camera activation.
Extending the antenna/camera lens should probably be on a timer and/or sound an audible alarm to retract after 30 seconds or so to ensure drivers don’t leave the telescoping lens base extended out of the side of the mirror.
Ability to Manufacture
Mirror cameras, power antennas/telescoping bases, in-car video displays are all currently in production. With minor tweaks to current materials, a left-mirror front facing camera and/or telescoping lens system could easily, efficiently and with only marginal extra costs be incorporated in to current mirror production.
Left turn video technology is a game changer for left turn safety that is not being addressed at this time. Once the advantages to this video system are realized it may very well become a law for new vehicle manufacturers to incorporate a left turn camera system in much the same way as rear view cameras are becoming mandatory by 2018.