Position of car indicator lights affects safety

Mar 22, 2007

People find it harder to make rapid decisions about which way a car will turn if its amber indicator lights are inside the headlights (i.e. nearer the middle of the car) than if the indicator lights are outside the headlights, according to research published today in the Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology.

The indicators on cars are critical safety features that enable pedestrians and other road users to predict where a car is likely to go in the next few seconds. The difference in reaction times is enough to make a significant impact on safety.

"Several modern cars position the right indicator to the left of the right headlight and the left indicator to the right of the left headlight, and this study shows that this design feature could reduce their safety," says Andrew Bayliss, who carried out the research.

The research was carried out using two groups of 15 young adults at the School of Psychology at the University of Wales, Bangor where Dr. Bayliss works. They were shown pictures of the fronts of cars and asked to press a button on the left of the keyboard as quickly as they could if the light on the left of the car flashed, and a button on the right if the right light flashed. [See Figure 1 - attached]

The students responded significantly faster to cars where the indicator lights were outside the headlights, than when they were placed inside.

Furthermore, Bayliss believes that the effect could be greater for older people or for people in real world situations that have more distractions than the students faced in the trials.

"Designers obviously want to create good looking cars, but this should not be done at the expense of compromising safety. The position of lights on the car should be guided by safety considerations – not aesthetics," says Bayliss.

Source: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Explore further: Three of four California children with mental health needs don't get treatment

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How Google and friends aim to block patent trolls

Jul 14, 2014

Google, Canon and other information technology corporations last week announced they're banding together in an attempt to fix an allegedly broken patent system and squash the wave of patent trolls and privateers ...

Recuperating waste heat under the hood

Jul 09, 2014

For his semester project in mechanical engineering, Eliott Guenat studied the best way to recuperate waste heat from a car's engine. The challenge is figuring out how to incorporate the heat exchangers micro-turbomachines.

Recommended for you

A blood test for suicide?

3 hours ago

Johns Hopkins researchers say they have discovered a chemical alteration in a single human gene linked to stress reactions that, if confirmed in larger studies, could give doctors a simple blood test to reliably predict a ...

Could summer camp be the key to world peace?

19 hours ago

According to findings from a new study by University of Chicago Booth School of Business Professor Jane Risen, and Chicago Booth doctoral student Juliana Schroeder, it may at least be a start.

Gender disparities in cognition will not diminish

Jul 28, 2014

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, investigated the extent to which improvements in living conditions and educational opportunities over a person's life affect cognitive abilities and th ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Bob_Kob
not rated yet Jul 21, 2009
fig. 1?