Position of car indicator lights affects safety

March 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: If we can beat Ebola, why not sleeping sickness too?

Related Stories

If we can beat Ebola, why not sleeping sickness too?

November 7, 2017
The man sits on the edge of the bed, feet touching the floor but incapable of supporting his weight. He doesn't speak and his eyes stare vacantly ahead, despite the eight or ten people who have crowded in to see him. His ...

Tackling childhood obesity is about more than just diet and exercise

October 23, 2017
A recent World Health Organisation report revealed that the number of obese children and adolescents – aged five to 19 years – worldwide has risen tenfold in the past four decades.

New gesture control tech turns any object into a TV remote

October 2, 2017
Imagine changing the channel of your TV simply by moving your cup of tea, adjusting the volume on a music player by rolling a toy car, or rotating a spatula to pause a cookery video on your tablet.

Startup looking to make car rental as easy as using Uber

June 15, 2016
(Tech Xplore)—A new startup based in Paris, France has created a service called Virtuo that allows customers to rent a car without having to visit a rental office—instead, they can do everything they need to do to rent ...

Pure Jaguar, pure EV, watch for it in 2018

November 16, 2016
(Tech Xplore)—Have we got the concept car for you. Say Jaguar and a lot of car fans adoring the Jaguar look already. The special nuance here is that this is a batter powered sport utility vehicle (SUV).

Self-parking chairs at conference tables show Nissan's auto push

February 15, 2016
An amusing video has surfaced about an intelligent parking chair inspired by Nissan; the video shows the chairs swinging into action, self-guiding to finally park at a table in response to a person's claps.

Recommended for you

A walk at the mall or the park? New study shows, for moms and daughters, a walk in the park is best

November 17, 2017
Spending time together with family may help strengthen the family bond, but new research from the University of Illinois shows that specifically spending time outside in nature—even just a 20-minute walk—together can ...

Risk of distracted driving predicted by age, gender, personality and driving frequency

November 17, 2017
New research identifies age, gender, personality and how often people drive as potential risk factors for becoming distracted while driving. Young men, extroverted or neurotic people, and people who drive more often were ...

When male voles drink alcohol, but their partner doesn't, their relationship suffers

November 17, 2017
A study of the effect of alcohol on long-term relationships finds that when a male prairie vole has access to alcohol, but his female partner doesn't, the relationship suffers - similar to what has been observed in human ...

Spanking linked to increase in children's behavior problems

November 16, 2017
Children who have been spanked by their parents by age 5 show an increase in behavior problems at age 6 and age 8 relative to children who have never been spanked, according to new findings in Psychological Science, a journal ...

Multiplayer video games: Researchers discover link between skill and intelligence

November 15, 2017
Researchers at the University of York have discovered a link between young people's ability to perform well at two popular video games and high levels of intelligence.

Generous people give in a heartbeat—new study

November 15, 2017
Altruistic people are said to be "kind hearted" - and new research published in the journal Scientific Reports shows that generous people really are more in touch with their own hearts.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

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

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.