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Potential safety effects of a frontal brake light for motor vehicles

Potential safety effects of a frontal brake light for motor vehicles

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The number of pedestrian casualties in crashes with motorised vehicles is still alarming. Misunderstandings about the other road users’ intentions are certainly one contributory factor. Especially given recent developments in vehicle automation, informing about ‘vehicle behaviour’ and ‘vehicle intentions’ in the absence of any direct interaction between the driver and the outside world is becoming increasingly relevant. A frontal brake light which communicates that a vehicle is decelerating could be a simple approach to support pedestrians and other road users in the interaction with (potentially automated) motorised vehicles. To assess the effect of a frontal brake light on the identification of vehicle deceleration, the authors conducted a video based lab experiment. The brake light facilitated the identification of decelerations considerably. At the same time, the fact that only half of the decelerations were accompanied by the brake light resulted in increased identification times for decelerations in which the frontal brake light was absent compared to a control condition in which none of the decelerations was indicated by such a light. This finding points towards an increasingly conservative approach in the participants’ assessment of deceleration, which could be interpreted as an indicator of a potential safety effect of the frontal brake light.

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