By on March 6, 2015

Chrysler_300_chrome_tail_light_b-1

In the past, I’ve written these “Question of the Day” columns with an open-ended question in mind; a question that invites serious participation from you, the highly educated TTAC reader. Well, today, I’m going to try a different approach: I’m just going to tell you what I think, and hope you’ll agree with me. The topic is combination turn signal-brake lights, which are the stupidest thing that currently exists in the auto industry.

Yes, folks, that’s right: stupider, even, than the Jeep Compass.

For those of you who aren’t exactly sure what I’m talking about, allow me to explain myself. I’ll use the Chrysler 300 as an example, although it certainly isn’t the only offender.

Here’s what happens: you get behind a Chrysler 300, and it’s slowing down, so the brake lights come on. Suddenly, the driver – who is undoubtedly trying to locate the Uber rider who hailed him – puts on the turn signal to make a sharp right turn. And what happens? The right brake light goes away entirely.

The reason for this is that the Chrysler 300 still uses rear lamps that combine the brake light and the turn signal. So if you’re in a 300 and you have your foot on the brake and your right turn signal on, you only have one working brake light – on the left side – plus the third brake light in the center. On the right, your brake light is blinking. I have no idea if this is a cost-cutting measure or a retro styling cue, but by God it sure reminds me of cars from the 1970s.

This especially came to my attention the other day because we got this big snowstorm here in Philadelphia, and I got up behind a guy in a late-1990s Buick Century who had his hazard lights on. Now, I’m not totally opposed to hazard lights in a severe snowstorm, because they create an extra layer of visibility for other drivers. But there was a problem with this particular hazard light decision. And that problem was? You guessed it: his brake lights were also his turn signals!!!

So this guy is driving down the street in a major snowstorm with his turn signals blinking and absolutely no brake lights at all! And the worst part is, he has done this as a safety precaution! He truly believes he is creating more visibility for himself and his Buick Century. When in reality, nobody behind him has any idea whether he’s accelerating, or slamming on his brakes, or merely confused about which direction he wants to turn.

The interesting thing about all this is that these brake light-turn signal combinations aren’t outlawed. If you’re an automaker, not only does it not matter if your turn signal is orange or red, but it doesn’t even matter if your turn signal reduces the amount of brake light power on the back of your car by one-third. Mind you, this regulatory decision comes to you from a federal government who dictates that a Lotus Elise must have an emergency inside trunk latch, even though its cargo area can barely fit a power drill.

Now, I get why this brake-light-turn-signal combo platter went on in the 1960s and 1970s. It made cars simpler, it made them cheaper, and it made them easier to engineer and build. Plus, back in the 1970s, nobody cared about safety. Back in the 1970s, if you ran out of cereal, you’d just reach into your wall and eat some asbestos. That’s how things were back then.

But in modern times – in a world where every car has a backup camera, and side airbags, and front airbags, and knee airbags, and stability control, and traction control, and a system that will unlock your doors using a signal from space – I must ask how the hell it’s possible that we’re allowing brake-light-turn-signal combinations to run rampant on our society.

And so, today’s question is this: how the hell are these brake-light-turn-signal combinations still legal? Why doesn’t somebody do anything about it? For the love of God, can’t we put a stop to it? And, most importantly: what does asbestos taste like?

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227 Comments on “Question Of The Day: Why Are Automakers Still Allowed to Use Combination Turn Signal Brake Lights?...”


  • avatar
    energetik9

    I personally agree. And while the mandate for the 3rd blake light has mitigated this some, I have always favored independent brake lights. In the end, the brake light should always take precedent over the turn signal. I was always fond also of BMWs approach. A seperate brake light and in the event of forceful brake application, additional brake light space was activated, which essentially doubles the amount of light.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      I always hated the third brake light. It looks completely tacked on and out of place. I still call it the impulse engine, because it looks just like the little sublight engines they have on ships in Star Trek.

      My thinking is that if you can’t see two BIG brake lights, why would a small one be visible, just because it’s up higher? Plus, the requirement to have them on the car leads to design idiocies like a third brake light in a factory wing, with a redundant third brake light in the rear window.

      The point is visibility, right? So if the assumption inherent in the very existence of the third brake light – that it’s the location, rather than the size, of the brake lights that matters – is a valid one, why have the big, regular brake lights at all?

      Why not just eliminate them entirely in favor of high-mount stop lights? Why not have two brake lights going up the trailing edges of the sail panels, or a big strip of a brake light along the top edge of the trunk lid? Either way, it’s aesthetically cleaner and does the same job.

      • 0 avatar
        cirats

        I always assumed the point of the 3rd brake light was not visibility, but rather to make putting on the brakes more distinguishable from simply having your lights on.

      • 0 avatar

        The third brake light is useful in lines of cars. It lets you look through the car ahead of you and see what the car ahead of he/she is doing. Of course, these days everyone drives huge-ass SUV and you really can’t look through them anymore, but back in the mid-80s when they mandated them, most people were still in cars and the worked well.

        That said, the other day I was following a car where the center mount brake light worked but the two “regular” brake lights didn’t. I damn near rear-ended the the guy. More brake lights are better.

        As for Doug’s complaint that the brake lights don’t work when the flashers are on, in the old days at least, the brake lights interrupted the flashers. If you stepped on the brake pedal, the lights came on and the flashers quit. Pepridge Farms remembers….

        • 0 avatar
          WheelMcCoy

          +1

          I was following 2 SUVs, and the cyclops of the lead SUV was visible through rear window of the 2nd SUV. The third light is a good thing.

          “Pepridge Farms remembers…”

          I remember when Pepperidge Farms tasted better than asbestos.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          The theory of the third brake light is that it would reduce crashes because it would be more noticeable.

          When they were new, they had some immediate short-term impact. But over the long run, they didn’t accomplish much of anything because drivers find new ways to not pay attention. (People learned to tune them out.)

          While there is no point in reversing the mandate, it isn’t doing much good, either. Active safety doesn’t work because people adapt to it; they find other ways to crash into each other.

        • 0 avatar
          ppxhbqt

          In the old days, it was a matter of make. Chrysler products with fixed steering columns had flashers that overrode the brake lights. Most other makes were the opposite, as well as Chrysler products with Saginaw tilt wheels. But that changed in the mid-80’s it seems. When the third brake light came about, it seems all Chryslers were made that the flashers overrode all brake lights but the third. At first, GM and Ford showed third brake lights that flashed with the flashers, but that quickly changed and many GM cars starting using a separate switch for the 3rd light. It seems now that it’s also illegal for the center light to come on at any time except when the brake is pressed. Not sure if it was the law from the beginning.

        • 0 avatar
          andreroy55

          I think I followed the same guy. No regular brake lights, but the centre one worked. So that wasn’t too bad.

          And I don’t recall the brakes overriding the turn signals at all. Ever. At least not since about 1960. (get off my grass! :) )

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        The “3rd” brake light exists because it is in line of sight. People spot it more readily. I do believe that if rear brake lights were separated from turn signals there would be less need for them.

        In Canada we have daytime driving lights and interestingly enough what I’ve found with Ram trucks is that once you turn on your signal you loose your headlight on that side.

        There definitely has to be a better and safer way to set up turn signals in the front and rear.

        I do love the addition of turn signals in the mirrors of pickups.

    • 0 avatar
      rodface

      I am such a fan of the BMW hazard-flash-under-hard-braking, that I manually simulate it whenever I make a hard stop in traffic. The feature ought to be mandated in parallel with banning the “feature” that is the subject of this article. They need to make an exception for Mustang turn signals, ’cause those are seriously cool.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Also hit the flashers when having to follow traffic below the speed limit. (It’s a “hazard.”) 50mphs into freeway traffic behind some idiot, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      Waftable Torque aka Daniel Ho

      I’m always perplexed to see cars accelerating from a stop…with the brake light still on. And it seems like it’s a mix of seniors and 20-something’s who ride their brakes. Maybe the latter would rather be texting.

    • 0 avatar
      Joss

      Mountain out of a mole hill. Some don’t use brakes they slow by easing off gas, combine that with CVT on a downgrade.

      I like the euro extra-bright rear fog brake light. Over 4-ways of any color. Amber/red arguement is kinda akin to blue/red police light.

      Let there be variety, let there be orange & red. Non-users & over-users.

      Pop’s Fedora and a non-cancel in a metallic green Cutlass Supreme – there’s an 80’s NA icon.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        “Some don’t use brakes they slow by easing off gas”

        ^^^ Hear, hear!

        Here, let me make it even better for you:

        *Smart* people don’t use brakes to slow down, they ease off the gas.

        Brakes should be for stopping *or* when you misjudged the traffic; pay attention, look ahead, and ease off the gas pedal to slow down. If you’re using your brakes a lot, either you’re really bad at judging the traffic or you’re stuck behind a brake stabber who sucks at judging the traffic.

        And doesn’t anybody understand gearing down on long, steep grades anymore? Old rule of thumb was same gear down as you’d use going up- it saves you from riding your brakes for 1-2 miles at a time. And no, that doesn’t wear out your transmission (that’s an old wives’ tale).

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Can remember following someone down a WV incline, driving an 18-passenger van, using all brakes! They were smoking at the bottom of the grade, and may have been nearly red-hot!

          I put the vehicle I was driving into 2nd, and no problems!

    • 0 avatar
      justgregit

      BMW’s have turn signals?

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I can’t answer that question, but let me pose one of my own:

    Why is it not a requirement that cars with electro-luminescent dashboards have automatic lights? I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve seen a car go down the road in complete darkness (or with just the DRL’s on, on cars so equipped) because the DRIVER can see just fine. They have no idea their taillights are utterly dark. (And, on city streets, no headlights either if they don’t have DRL’s.)

    Implementing automatic lights is a fifty-cent sensor on the dashboard and a few feet of wire; it is not a complicated or expensive feature to add.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      +1.

      I saw at least two cars pulling out of a mall parking lot last night without the headlamps on. And don’t get me started on drivers who don’t turn them on during a heavy snow.

      To add to this: Why, oh why, doesn’t some manufacturer rig the headlamps to come on whenever the wipers are on? This can’t be all that difficult to do these days, given the way that all electrical functions seem to run through some sort of computer (or is “bus” the appropriate term to use here?).

      • 0 avatar
        Car Ramrod

        Agree completely about the headlight/ wiper link idea. I’m pretty sure my late 90’s Grand Cherokee did exactly this, but I haven’t owned a car that did since then.

      • 0 avatar

        I have definitely seen that wiper-turns-on-headlight feature as an option in some of the higher end rental cars (usually enabled by default). I want to say it was an ATS? But it could have been a Chrysler as well. It definitely exists, though.

      • 0 avatar
        clkimmel

        I think about this every time I use my wipers, it should be automatic on every car to have the headlights come n when the wipers are on. Seems too easy not to do it.

      • 0 avatar
        Exfordtech

        2008 Taurus X with automatic headlamps, headlights come on with wiper use regardless of ambient lighting conditions provided you have selected the autolamps function on the headlight switch. 2001 and later Crown Vic/Grand Marquis/Town Car had this feature as well.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        Fords equipped with autolamps do this (or at least, mine does):

        “If the vehicle is equipped with autolamps, it will have the windshield wiper rainlamp feature. When the windshield wipers are turned to low- or high-speed wiping during daylight, and the headlamp control is in the autolamp position, the exterior lamps will turn on after a brief delay and will remain on until the wipers are turned off.”

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        +1

        The fact that, for all the bureaucratic auto regulations we already have and/or proposed but this one still slipped past the goalie: Instrument lights that don’t turn off when all the exterior lights are off. Let’s not dive into crap like mandatory backup cameras just yet, at least while the oh-so-helpful gubmint still messes up basic stuff like this!

    • 0 avatar
      ejnaz

      A 50 cent sensor will double the budget for the dashboard. Don’t get me started on the Uconnect to nothing disaster they have created.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      sirwired – agreed but with a manual setting if you want them on outside of the sensor’s pre-programmed range.

    • 0 avatar
      HD1974

      This post and Sirwired’s reply touch on two of my pet peeves: no independent blinkers and DRLs.

      It’s just not acceptable that EU carmakers – MB, BMW, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Audi… EVERYBODY – is now fully on the *why bother with a turn signal, let’s just make the brake light flash* wagon. In Europe this is not acceptable so why would they do it to cars coming to the USA? Because they can, because our government doesn’t care and buyers don’t either. What is simply unfathomable to me is that they actually have to change their cars before bringing them here from Europe. Funny enough some US brands, after decades of doing the same, appear to be going in the opposite direction. Proof – the new Corvettes. Nicely done.

      And on a semi related subject: DRLs. Living in Miami my record is 5 cars with their lights off and their high beam DRLs in a single commute. There’s a special place is hell’s lowest level reserved for the person who first thought of this safety gimmick.

      I feel physically sick whenever I see a car with DRLs and no real turn signals (independent and yellow please) in the back.

      That’s why I drive an Altima: no DRLs, yellow blinkers. And why Nissan has a captive customer in me.

      • 0 avatar
        OliverTwist

        It is due to the moronic quirkiness in the US DOT regulations.

        The author, Daniel Stern, is highly respected automotive lighting engineer and very knowledgeable in this field. He explained succinctly about the minimum size requirement as the reason for the ‘wholesale conversion’ to red colour on European imports.

        http://www.acarplace.com/cars/turn-signals/

    • 0 avatar
      Illan

      my 2010 malibu disables DRL mode and enables full headlamp when the wipers are turned on- takes about 20-30 seconds to engage.

    • 0 avatar
      cpthaddock

      Automatic headlamps have a significant weakness: Folks who work on your car (wash / service / valet) will frequently turn the switch from the auto setting to off. I usually notice this quickly, but older drivers can be unaware of this for quite some time.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Newer Hondas have auto headlights on quite a few models. (To answer a poster up-thread, they’ve also linked the wipers and headlights when the “AUTO” mode is set. And the algorithm for dimming the IP to the night setting is perfect!)

      The last two generations of Accords are a bit more obvious from the inside if the lights are out, but the 7th-Gens (2003-2007) had an IP which “disappeared” when the ignition was off, similar to early Lexi. That, combined with the DRLs, caused me to drive w/o the headlights several times on my last car (though I didn’t ever get a “reminder” from the po-po of same).

    • 0 avatar
      S1L1SC

      Even better – lights should come on when the car is started. Period – Solves the need for a sensor.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    Agree with you as well. It’s been mentioned that folks don’t like the look of amber as part of the lamp assembly, but for a safety issue I think it’s worth having.

    If it’s a potential money saving measure that’s still allowed, it seems like the domestic automakers are the ones that will take advantage the most.

    Btw, I would like to punch in the face the person who decided to put those tail light louvers on the Chrysler pictured above.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      I can understand that amber might be sub-optimal, cosmetic-wise, in the lamp assembly, but they could instead just add an amber bulb to the clear part of the assembly used for the reverse lights.

      • 0 avatar
        Car Ramrod

        There are even amber bulbs out there that appear silver until they illuminate– I’m looking into them to eliminate that “egg yolk” look that my car’s white background turn signal housing has. These bulbs are expensive, but that’s probably because it’s currently a low-volume specialty bulb. Mass production would bring prices to a reasonable level.

      • 0 avatar
        TangoR34

        Sirwired: The UK spec 300C had amber and fog lights in the taillight cluster which makes me wonder why they don’t use it on USDM 300s as well…

        http://www.netcarshow.com/chrysler/2008-300c_srt_uk_version/1024×768/wallpaper_0b.htm

        • 0 avatar
          S1L1SC

          Wild Guess here – Different lighting requirements / rules between Europe and the US, so they designed two different assemblies – might have been cheaper then to design one that meets all criteria?

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      “Btw, I would like to punch in the face the person who decided to put those tail light louvers on the Chrysler pictured above.”

      May I please hold them down while you do so?

      And would you mind please returning the favor as I do the same to those who install smoked lens covers?

    • 0 avatar
      Nick 2012

      With cars being globalized, I don’t see (and can’t imagine) there is much cost savings from continuing to maintain a USDM and EU set of tail lights.

      Amber makes lane intentions so much more visible. And I posit that the picture below demonstrates amber signals look just fine. Didn’t Sajeev do a Vellum Venom on the MK4 Jetta with the red-smoked amber turn signal?

      http://www.diseno-art.com/news_content/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Jaguar-E-Type-Eagle-Speedster-15.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        BuzzDog

        +1 on globalization.

        Check out my (barely) earlier comment, which mentions the new Mustang as an example (see below).

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        I concur on amber signals looking just fine; all you need is a designer who, well, designs them in properly.

        Like on, well, just as high a proportion of cars with them as without them; brake-cluster fail is its own problem unrelated to amber-or-red.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      The amber (or even red) doesn’t have to look amber until it’s illuminated. I have a factory black with dark blue trim package with blue logos. The tail lights are in a blue tinted clear housing. You don’t see red or amber until the lights are actually activated. In fact, after six months of owning the car, I didn’t realize I had amber turn signals until I checked them today because of this post. They’re LED, so that might be the reason they can disguise them so well.

  • avatar
    RangerM

    Last time I looked, hand signals are still legal. Perhaps you’re too young to know that left hand up means right turn, left hand out means left turn, and left hand down means slowing or stop.

    Seems to me so long as you know that the left-and-center brake light on and right-hand brake light blinking means this person is slowing down for a right-hand turn (or moving to the shoulder), it’s working.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Last time I looked, horses are also still legal on most public roadways, provided the carriage has an SMV sign. Us filthy Millennials were taught the hand signals, but never with the intention that we’d actually use them.

      I’ve never seen cyclists use hand signals, either, but that’s not something we need to get into.

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        There is never an inappropriate time to talk smack about bicyclists. Just remember, a bicycle is the trifling conveyance of a child.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          zamoti – and cycling reduces your sperm count and the performance of your man sausage…………

          well, that is what Jeremy on Top Gear said ;)

          • 0 avatar
            zamoti

            After encountering an irate bicyclist or two, I would thoroughly enjoy a bumper sticker featuring a Jeremy Clarkson head quoting “Work harder, get a car” as noted in his proposed advertisement aimed at cyclists.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            zamoti – that was a funny episode

      • 0 avatar
        RangerM

        Horse/Carriages aren’t legal on most highways (and not at all on interstates). Nor are bicycles.

        Hand signals are legal everywhere, and you’ll be glad you know them if you ever get a motorcycle. Maybe they’re a dying art with us filthy Gen-Xers.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    As lamps get more and more complex with LEDs and what not, you’ll see the old 1157s go by the wayside.

    As for Doug’s question, that’s why 3 brake lights (also on the back of the car) are mandated.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    I seem to recall that the last time we debated this, some basement-dwelling teen (or an adult with the mentality of one) made me spew a mouthful of coffee in a fit of laughter. His comment was something along the lines of, “I didn’t even consider buying a (fill in the blank) because it lacked amber turn indicators.” Yeah, right; I can see that being a deal-breaker that likely applies to an overwhelming majority of new car buyers, most of whom barely understand how their vehicles work (sarcasm off).

    That being said, I get a kick out of the sequential turn signals on my Mustang, but that had nothing to do with my purchase decision. I haven’t had the chance to see what Ford has done with this feature, given that the latest Mustang will by sold in the EU; I’m guessing that they’re using amber LEDs for turns, and red for stop in Europe, and all-red in North America.

    I agree that it’s a mystery as to why combination lamps still exist, and can only hope that moves toward more global commonality will help.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      I agree that the Mustang’s turn signals are pretty boss.

      Previous gen Euro-Mustangs (they’ve always been available over there in some number) had an amber segment replacing one of the red ones. On the newer sequential signals, they just flash amber.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      Yep, love the Mustang sequential turn indicators. The drivers do too because they are among the few nowadays who still bother to signal.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    Funny you use the 300 as an example, because it has an even worse fault involving the lights…. How come all Chryslers turn off a HEADLIGHT when you put on the turn signal? If having the lights on is supposed to be safer, I fathom it would be for safety reasons to turn one of them off?

    Perhaps this is unique to Canada, I’m not sure.

    Perhaps TTAC could get an official answer on that one?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      This isn’t a defect believe it or not. It’s a designed in feature to make the turn signal more visible by reducing the glare from the headlamp. It turns out a lot of people thought it was a fault and didn’t like it, so they removed the feature.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        TDIGuy – that is a phenomenon I have noticed too. I thought it was one more quality issue at Chrysler the first time I noticed it. It is a truly odd system.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        That reminds me of a design (I think; maybe it’s aftermarket idiocy) I hate.

        Turn signals that aren’t visible very well from the side or a 45 degree angle, and that are too dim to see well in bright sun or with the lights.

        The *entire point* of turn signals is to, well, signal other drivers.

        If they’re hard to see operating, they have failed in their design.

    • 0 avatar
      BunkerMan

      It’s done because the way the headlight units are designed it makes it difficult to see the signal light with the DRLs on. It only applies to the DRLs, though. If the headlights are turned on, they work as expected. I think it’s a good idea, honestly.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m with you TDI. Several car companies do this and it’s visually distracting and retarded. I can think of very few times when someone coming head on needs to know that I’m turning. Many more times I’d like my headlights on so people can better see my car and the space it’s taking up. The above comment on amber lights being a deal breaker I thought was a stretch, but I wouldn’t take a car that had this “feature” unless I felt I could over-ride it. It bothers me far more than it should.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “I can think of very few times when someone coming head on needs to know that I’m turning.”

        Intersections.

        • 0 avatar

          Why? If you’re going straight then you have right away. If you’re going right, you have the right away. If you’re going left, then you ought to be paying attention to more than just a blinking light on the front of my car.

          And I’m bad at right and left…. so edit…

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Did you mean “right-of-way”?

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Not everyone is well versed in the rules of the road. being able to understand the intentions of other drivers via turn signals is helpful in avoiding collisions in intersections.

          • 0 avatar
            Occam

            I ride a motorcycle. If someone is oncoming on a two lane road and preparing to turn left, I want to know that far in advance as I plan for necessary evasive actions.

            By that logic, there’s no need for rear turn signals. After all, I have the right of way if you intend to enter my lane, and if you are slowing for a turn, your brake lights will already signal that.

            I’m far, far, FAR more concerned about the announced intentions of a vehicle coming my way than one traveling away from me!

      • 0 avatar
        JW1

        Turning off one DRL so the signal can be seen seems like the wrong fix to the problem. Makes more sense to require the signal be spaced farther from the DRL.

      • 0 avatar
        Mr. Orange

        Doesn’t the fact that you find it distracting mean you would possible pay more attention to the intended action of that driver. And aren’t we all safer when we pay more attention to the drivers around us.

      • 0 avatar
        Silverbird

        Actually, I find this helpful, near my home there is an intersection where I need to go left, and the lane directly ahead of me is a combination straight/left turn lane.

        Retarded lay out, but I need to deal with the fact that 80% of them are turning that I can make my left on, but there is the small percentage that I need to wait to come straight through.

        Doesn’t help for those that can’t be bothered to use the turn signals though.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          and it all goes by the wayside when the driver leaves the turn signal on forever expecting the self cancellation feature to do the work for them.

          With that being said I find it odd that most motorcycles do not have self cancelling turn signals.

          • 0 avatar
            Mr. Orange

            Anecdotally. I don’t see those persons with the blinker on for 15 miles all that often. Maybe 4 times a month in the locations I drive.

          • 0 avatar
            izzy

            I don’t quite understand those who leave them on.
            The sound alone drives me crazy.

            BTW, I know I am home when an article about break light gets 100+ comments.

            Not sure if it is good or bad.

            Regarding motorcycle self cancelling signals. I wonder if it because it is a hard engineering problem. Considering how to turn a bike.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            izzy – a simple timer would work okay and most modern bikes have traction control which monitors lean angles.

          • 0 avatar
            Brian P

            I have a 1990 Yamaha FZR400 with a simple self-canceller that cancels the signal after the (mechanical) odometer indicates that the bike has gone a certain distance. It drives me nuts. The amount of distance that it gives you is just short of the normal distance ahead of an intersection that I start the signal, and you can’t change it.

            Re traction control with lean angle measurement; I wouldn’t say “most” bikes have it yet, and if your turn is at a very low speed, there may not be enough lean angle for the system to discern it.

            The old Yamaha distance-based canceller would be okay if they doubled the distance, so that it only cancelled if I genuinely forgot to cancel it myself.

    • 0 avatar

      This applies to the LED DRL, and I think it is actually mandated by law. Note that Audi’s do the same exact thing.

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      Audi does this too…still catches me off guard once in a while.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    People in the 70s cared about safety, they just weren’t hilariously, disgustingly obsessed with it the way the modern world is. The modern world has no sense of perspective regarding the concept of safety.

    I often wonder what it must’ve been like to live in a world where people didn’t have a self-righteous, where’s-my-fainting-couch?, she’s-a-witch-burn-her! reaction to drunk driving, not wearing seatbelts, littering, street racing, doing burnouts and shooting at road signs from a moving car.

    Even though modern cars are virtually tanks compared to 1970s-vintage iron, we’re constantly bombarded by messages of how it’s not enough.

    It’s never enough. It will never be enough. We can never, ever stop. For the children, for the environment, for whatever.

    The funny thing is, “Safety” is kinda like “Fairness,” in that nobody can tell you exactly what it IS, but everyone can tell you when something ISN’T.

    Safety, like Fairness, means something different to everyone because it’s a subjective, emotional and highly flexible concept.

    I’ll just say it. Cars are safe enough. Let’s declare victory and move on.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      There’s an entire industry, public and private, based solely around pushing safety. Declaring victory ain’t gonna happen any time soon.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        Yeah, I know. Follow the money. But it’s not an industry, it’s a crusade full of Church Ladies.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Safety is a popular selling feature these days. Many of the high tech safety features available today aren’t included by mandate, so I’d argue that a lot of the increases in safety are consumer driven. Automakers won’t stop improving safety if they can sell someone a “safety tech” package for $2,000.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Well you lost just about every reader when you included drunk driving.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        He lost me with “People in the 70s”.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        And shooting at signs from a moving vehicle.

        (Vandalism AND firing a gun when you’re in motion and necessarily relatively unsure of what’s behind the target?

        Negative, Houston.

        That stuff gets people *killed*.)

        (I mean, I’m pretty sure both of those were intended as something like hyperbole, but still…)

        • 0 avatar
          OneAlpha

          Just pointing out examples, folks.

          Take it easy.

          But you’re making my point for me.

          • 0 avatar
            CRConrad

            Oh, so promoting drunk driving and firing guns while driving weren’t humorous hyperbole on your part, but the actual point you were trying to make?

            Yeah, well, thank you for making the “Safety Nazis\'” point for them.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      I can understand putting a “hold” on the quest to make cars ever-more-crash-worthy, but it’s pretty darn harmless to deem that minor styling cues should not take precedence over a simple common-sense safety measure.

      (And really, you long for the days when drunk driving wasn’t a big deal? And littering is A-OK with you too?)

    • 0 avatar
      Mr. Orange

      No. They are not safe enough.

      I like the fact that cars are still becoming safer. If the car I buy is 10% safer than the last car I bought and that 10% means I don’t have to spend a night in the hospital. Or have to deal with any additional medical bills afterward it would be entirely worth it imo.

      If a small safety enhancement means I won’t have a broken foot or bloody from cuts and scraps from the interior exploding on impact it is worth it. It should be seen as an improvement in quality of life to not having to handle medical injures or bills that were created in a crash. And to say what we have today should be acceptable is just crude and shortsighted.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        When will it be enough? At what point will the average car be “safe” enough? Does such a point even exist?

        If there is no such point, then we must ask if efforts to make it to such a point are justified, because the effort to reach that point is not without cost – in time, money and liberty.

        For you, that extra 10% is worth it. For me, it’s not. And I should have the freedom to make that choice for myself, without being forced to use YOUR fear threshold as MY guide.

        How much do these safety improvements cost? Is the risk of any particular crash scenario high enough to justify the installation of these systems?

        Are you prepared to pay $100,000 for a Ford Focus? Or a $1,000,000? Because that’s what it would cost to build a “safe” one.

        It’s demonstrably false that “if it saves one life, it’s worth it.”

        That’s the sort of attitude used to justify DUI checkpoints, bicycle helmets, the Federal jihad against Skylines and no-knock SWAT raids.

        At some point, one must acknowledge that there are no unlimited resources and that something has reached the point of acceptability, given the money and time available.

        Modern cars have crossed that threshold in regard to safety. Enough is enough.

        • 0 avatar
          Mr. Orange

          The present rate of safety improvements have not led to the cheapest cars of today being too expensive to buy. In fact the compact and subcompact cars starting prices have no outpaced inflation. Your argument was made 5, 10 and 15 years ago and yet our present cars have not become these things we can’t afford.

          And you are aware that it is much cheaper for your car to be safer and decrease your chances of minor or serious injury than your possible loss of income or medical bills. If you want to drive something that will cause you to break a femur because of a 25 mph t-bone you will be free to do so.

          The rest of society shouldn’t have to pay the cost of your ideals that cars are safe enough. Especially when we can still notice the safety perfomance of vehicles between different brands.

          • 0 avatar
            OneAlpha

            Society should also not have to pay the price (in actual dollars and in freedom) for the belief held by some that there’s no such thing as too safe.

            Yes there is, because safety costs money.

            Besides, I don’t want MY car to weigh three tons and have two dozen airbags and traction control just because that’s what some bedwetting nancy FEELS, not THINKS, is safe.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        We’ve got pretty much all the low-hanging fruit of normal impacts; that’s why the fatality rate per passenger mile is so low (especially for non-DUI drivers).

        We’re deep into incremental, marginal territory now, like the fixed partial offset impact that IIHS is pushing lately – that’s a *rare* one, at least for non-suicidal* drivers.

        At some point that 10% becomes very expensive for a trivial gain; 10% safer than “very, very safe” is … still only “very, very safe”.

        (* I mean that literally; some unknowable but non-zero percentage of those fatal crashes are people deliberately trying to die. And hitting an overpass with the driver’s side of your car at speed does a good job of that.)

        • 0 avatar
          WheelMcCoy

          “the fixed partial offset impact that IIHS is pushing lately – that’s a *rare* one”

          Indeed, it is very rare. But when it happens, it is supremely costly in life, physical therapy, and materials. This safety feature was pushed for by the insurance companies, who would rather not pay out if they don’t have to, and not pushed for — to quote @OneAlpha — by a bedwetting nancy.

          In this case, it’s the “free market” where the insurance companies are pushing auto makers for higher safety standards to reduce their own costs.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @Mr. Orange

        I agree with you to a point, but at what cost does this 10% increase come?

        If I as a buyer am interested in safety (which I am), I already have excellent options available at a higher cost (namely Volvo) and also on the used market (again, Volvo and its epic depreciation). If I as a buyer am more interested in a price point (i.e. C segment domestic sedan) do I care about your 10% increase in safety if it costs *me* 15% more in transaction costs and maybe 10% less fuel economy due to weight on a new platform? If the 10% safety can come at a reasonable cost increase per unit due to economies of scale, sure it sounds great. But on the same token I can understand OneAlpha’s point about buyer preference and being “nannied” by the state.

        Anecedotally for both of you, my brother the LEO recently related a tale where a brand new Corolla owned by pizza delivery man was involved in a serious car accident. He compared the airbag inflated interior to the fictional car wrecked in Demolition Man where the interior filled with foam to protect the occupant. Toyota was able to deliver multiple airbags (including a knee airbag) on a price point using economies of scale which I say is a general improvement for all drivers. Although I believe there is no standard auto, the Corolla still offers a manual in some trims, to Toyota’s credit giving buyers some option despite other safety related weight drawbacks.

        “Securefoam crash” from the film Demolition Man.

        youtube.com/watch?v=RnyhkBU1yaw

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Fatalities per capita are less than half now what they were in the 70s, and that still amounts to over 30,000 per year in the US. Given that manufacturers have largely managed to keep inflation-adjusted prices flat, massively improved performance and efficiency, AND reduced pollution and made the cars that much safer, I’d say that priorities are fairly well-sorted.

      But you know, being allowed to shoot off your gun at public property is a right we should all support for you.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        I think you missed the point, which is that the world is not a safe place, but it can be a comparatively free one, and that’s better anyway.

        I’m not encouraging drunk driving or shooting at road signs.

        Nailing a yield sign with a McDonald’s chocolate shake, released with just the slightest flick of the wrist, is quite the satisfying conquest of physics, however. Give it a try sometime.

        I’m pointing out that the modern world is a place full of shrill, annoying obsessives who think full-throttle activism is some sort of honorable activity, and that adults need to be told how to live for their own good.

        Back in the 70s, my dad used to go to a bar in New Jersey that had a pistol range out back. Nobody cared, and nobody ever got hurt.

        Nowadays, the very IDEA of such a place would give people the vapors, and the torch-and-pitchfork safety mob would burn the place down.

        A World of Apathy beats a World of Activism hands down, because the former treats grown men and women like adults. The latter infantilizes people on the grounds that because some will abuse their freedom, no one can be allowed to be free to make their own decisions.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      I’d call it a problem of perspective regarding risk, not safety. In 2015, citizens of developed countries live without fear of certain large risks that in the past were present for all humans. We are not risk-free, but the risks we face are orders of magnitude beyond what most people can intuitively understand. In my opinion, it’s a problem of inummeracy in conjunction with the fallacy that risk can be eliminated.

      Risks can be mitigated, but never eliminated and the cost of mitigation is not linearly proportional. I agree with you in the sense that a rational society mitigates risk to an acceptable level, or allocates resources to leveling risks.

      Many of the safety crusades are rooted in personal loss and tragedy and the false idea that ‘this should never happen again’. Thus, they are irrational and should be treated as such. Sadly, numerate folks who study risk are a vanishing minority with little voice.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The vehicle fatality rate per mile today is about one-third of what it was in the 1970s.

      If we had the same fatality rates today that we did in the 1970s, then there would be another 60-70,000 more deaths every year.

      During that time, vehicle prices have generally kept up with inflation, so saving those lives hasn’t really cost us anything.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        Exactly – the fatality rate is lower and falling.

        A cause for celebration.

        But instead, all we hear is how cars need to be made safer, as if the fatality reduction never happened.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          It’s fortunate that whiners with low expectations aren’t creating the policies. Perhaps we should have stopped improving medicine when they discovered penicillin, since that saved lives — why bother to make improvements?

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      shooting at signs from a moving car?

      why the f^ck would one consider that EVER safe and secondly why the f^ck would one consider that a needed skill?

      You live in East LA or sumtin’????

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        And actually a World of Apathy is far more dangerous than a World of Activism.

        In order for democracy to continue it requires active participation from its citizens.

        Lenin demonstrated that when the population is apathetic it takes only a small group of committed radicals to enforce their beliefs. There are numerous other examples of similar coups and/or revolutions, including quasi legal ones such as the demise of the Weimar Republic.

        We also used to routinely kill, maim or inflict terminal illnesses on workers. Would you suggest that mandatory occupational health and safety laws be eliminated or that there is an acceptable level of industrial accidents?

        Your logic is eerily similar to the alleged computations (urban legend?) of Ford accountants regarding the cost of improving the safety of the Pinto.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “Your logic is eerily similar to the alleged computations (urban legend?) of Ford accountants regarding the cost of improving the safety of the Pinto.”

          It not an urban legend in the literal sense, it was a generally accepted calculation at the time using the value of a human life set forth by the government. The urban legend is that it was Ford who decided the value of the human life.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            By the government or by the insurance industry or by the courts?

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            NHTSA required them to do risk/benefit analyses in situations like that. NHTSA provided the auto industry with the number of $200,725 per fatality to be used. The math didn’t work out in favor of the part change, so they didn’t do it.

            Here’s a good link,

            http://users.wfu.edu/palmitar/Law&Valuation/Papers/1999/Leggett-pinto.html

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @danioo,
            Thanks for the link Learned Hand (what a great name for a judge) was one of the most respected of American legal scholars. However, as per your link (which I am posting below) this formula was set by judicial decision not by an Act of the government.

            Christopher Leggett
            Law & Valuation
            Professor Palmiter
            Spring, 1999
            Abstract
            The cases involving the explosion of Ford Pinto’s due to a defective fuel system design led to the debate of many issues, most centering around the use by Ford of a cost-benefit analysis and the ethics surrounding its decision not to upgrade the fuel system based on this analysis.
            ISSUE
            Should a risk/benefit analysis be used in situations where a defect in design or manufacturing could lead to death or seriously bodily harm, such as in the Ford Pinto situation?
            RULE
            There are arguments both for and against such an analysis. It is an economically efficient method which has been accepted by courts for numerous years, however, juries may not always agree, so companies should take this into account.
            ANALYSIS
            Although Ford had access to a new design which would decrease the possibility of the Ford Pinto from exploding, the company chose not to implement the design, which would have cost $11 per car, even though it had done an analysis showing that the new design would result in 180 less deaths. The company defended itself on the grounds that it used the accepted risk/benefit analysis to determine if the monetary costs of making the change were greater than the societal benefit. Based on the numbers Ford used, the cost would have been $137 million versus the $49.5 million price tag put on the deaths, injuries, and car damages, and thus Ford felt justified not implementing the design change. This risk/benefit analysis was created out of the development of product liability, culminating at Judge Learned Hand’s BPL formula, where if the expected harm exceeded the cost to take the precaution, then the company must take the precaution, whereas if the cost was liable, then it did not have to. However, the BPL formula focuses on a specific accident, while the risk/benefit analysis requires an examination of the costs, risks, and benefits through use of the product as a whole. Based on this analysis, Ford legally chose not to make the design changes which would have made the Pinto safer. However, just because it was legal doesn’t necessarily mean that it was ethical. It is difficult to understand how a price can be put on saving a human life.
            There are several reasons why such a strictly economic theory should not be used. First, it seems unethical to determine that people should be allowed to die or be seriously injured because it would cost too much to prevent it. Second, the analysis does not take into all the consequences, such as the negative publicity that Ford received and the judgments and settlements resulting from the lawsuits. Also, some things just can’t be measured in terms of dollars, and that includes human life. However, there are arguments in favor of the risk/benefit analysis. First, it is well developed through existing case law. Second, it encourages companies to take precautions against creating risks that result in large accident costs. Next, it can be argued that all things must have some common measure. Finally, it provides a bright line which companies can follow.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Yes, the amounts were determined by court rulings, but it was NHTSA (effectively a government body) that told the auto industry to use it.

            Obviously, lessons were learned from the Pinto cases and things are done differently now.

        • 0 avatar
          OneAlpha

          It ain’t the general population that causes the problems, it’s the committed radicals agitating for laws they can twist to their own purposes.

          Those occupational hazards were acceptable at the time, given the existing ability to mitigate them. Besides, it’s not like companies made their employees sick just to be evil. The real world isn’t an episode of Captain Planet.

          While unfortunate, those illness and injuries, like pollution, were the ugly but necessary byproducts of productive activity that made everyone’s life better.

          And actually, I would repeal of all the OSHA laws. Such concerns are too important to leave to the heavy-handed, uncaring Leviathan. Leave it to the free market – at least outraged people can put an irresponsible COMPANY out of business.

          Try that with the IRS and see what happens.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            I like where this is going. I’d pop some corn, but I already had lunch.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Safety equipment destroys lives! (Well, except for the thousands of lives that are saved each year.)

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Unfortunately you solution has been tried many times and failed each time.

            Compare the safety and environmental regulations in China or Bangla Desh to those in North America.

            And those companies are thriving under the free market system that you have so much faith in.

            So is it OK to kill, maim and destroy the health of those workers merely because they are not North American?

            It is actually much easier to change a government or the actions of a government than those of a multi-national corporation. It is accomplished by voting! And you get to do this on a regular basis.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            OneAlpha – “And actually, I would repeal of all the OSHA laws”

            Care to come and explain that one to the workers and families of dead workers from a few major sawmill explosions in my region in the past few years?

            I’ll pay air fare but I’ll leave security to you and post mortem repatriation up to your family.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Lou BC

            Obviously the OSHA laws did no good for those people, the laws were not followed and the explosion happened.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            PonchoIndian – workers and unions had been complaining about dust.
            Even Occupational Health and Safety was looking at the effects of milling dryer than normal pine beetle killed wood as opposed to normal moisture content wood. They succumbed to business pressure since upgrading to standards used in explosion prone industries like oil and gas is expensive.

            Employers felt that dust mitigation was adequate and maintenance of equipment was adequate.

            Employers were wrong on both counts.

            Leaving it to the free market side of the equation was a factor in the mill explosions.

            Industrial death rates would climb if left to market pressures. There will always be those willing to work at a less safe job.

            There needs to be a balance between regulatory oversight and free market determinants.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          “Activism” is not the same as “participation” or “being active” at that level, though.

          Apathy here means “not trying to Fix Everything”, and Activism means “trying to Fix Everything”, I believe.

          (Certainly that’s my interpretation of the terms in context.

          A “World of Apathy”, thus, is great, in that it’s not a world of interfering busybodies, contra the “World of Activists” in the same sense.)

          • 0 avatar
            OneAlpha

            Yes! Exactly! You got it!

            When I said “Activism,” I meant obnoxious, nannying busybodies on a crusade to “make the world a better place.”

            “Apathy” just means, “I’m not bothering you, so leave me alone.”

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            perhaps someone needs to look up the definition of empathy.

            I can see the reply…..

            I don’t know and I don’t care.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        Come on, man. You know gangbangers can’t hit shit with a pistol.

        They’d have to contact-shoot that Stop sign execution style.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “People in the 70s cared about safety”

      I think people in the 70s were more concerned about getting a good seat in the Colosseum and avoiding being fed to the lions.

  • avatar

    Just don’t follow closely behind me.

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      I guess I’ve noticed this but it’s never really been a problem for me. A little more distance and you can deal with the un-expected in a much more relaxed manor.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “Just don’t follow closely behind me.”
        Agreed……..but……. I’ve noticed that when travelling in big cities with more congested roads that everyone tends to “tailgate”. If you back off to allow a safe distance you get cut off by someone squeezing in front of you.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Behind you, or in the next lane, I guess, since we are talking about turn signals.

      Is your point that all these safety precautions would be irrelevant if roads were empty?

  • avatar
    JW1

    This has bugged me for years. Especially when the Euro and Japanese brands who used to be better switched to red or combo.

    Nice examples of all the other regulation for more costly safety features when this rather common sense item is left decades out of date. Let’s just bite the bullet and mandate separate amber rear turn signals, mirror/fender turn signal repeaters, and maybe rear fog lights (although some driver training would be needed for that last one). It can’t cost much at this point.

    And please ban the use of amber front turn signals running full time as DRLs. That makes no sense at all.

  • avatar

    Growing up I had hand me down (as well as some lovingly purchased) 80’s cars with and without the Dole light. I remember almost getting rear ended by my younger brother because he didn’t notice my brake lights brighten and there was no Dole. As for the turn indicators, I don’t think it’s a factor too much. About the only time I get confused by turn indicators is when tractor-trailers put their 4-ways on in heavy traffic. I can’t tell if he wants over, or just decided caution was warranted. I realize fractions of a second matter, but in most cases, the concerns would be fixed by indicating in enough advance. Funny things happen when you use your indicators as a way to communicate to other drivers rather than a last second response to drivers ed training.

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      Tractor trailers have the benefit of not having combined brake and turn signal lights. You’ll notice every truck has two red lights. This is because the people who make and order the truck are cheap. One red lights is technically the marker light and brake light. The other is a clearance light and turn signal though one would think its a rear marker. Brake lights cannot be combined with marker lights so the truck end up with two lights on each side in the back.

      Now if one wanted to switch to amber lights on a tractor trailer the lamp can be switched to amber just by changing the lap. But, the clearance light needs to be disabled and alternative clearance light added in some cases. But, some trailer already have their clearance lights mounted up high.

  • avatar
    jrmason

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen hazards stay on over brake lights. Now I’ll have to start watching this more closely. Even older vehicles I owned from the 70s and 80s that shared the same bulbs would “pause” the hazards when the brake pedal was depressed.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      If the car isn’t equipped with a CHMSL then the hazards will “pause”. Otherwise the CHMSL will be lit and the other lights will continue to flash.

      The really bad offenders are the manufacturers that cut costs for “domestic” cars. Chrysler was really bad at this with a few models losing the separate turn indicator but the housing stayed the same. (Ford’s E Series vans comes to mind as well) Or you have to “upgrade” to a higher trim. The 300 shown above if it was a “C” then you would have a separate amber turn indicator. So at least 3 different lamps (Base, C, Export w/rear Fog)…what a waste.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @SC5door alludes to something that I fully agree with. Decades ago while driving across France on a rainy, foggy night we were pulled over by the Police.

        After many tries, I finally understood what they were trying to tell me. That in France cars are equipped with a rear fog light. This makes a great deal of sense. It allows those behind you to see, be more aware of your car, even in dense fog.

        This is something that I would like to see as mandatory (along with amber turn signals and day time running lights). Certainly a far more useful than those aftermarket forward facing fog lights we see in North America that are rarely aimed properly and are often left on regardless of the weather.

        • 0 avatar
          Silverbird

          Agreed, but then there would need to be education.

          I’ve got an Audi with rear fogs and love them in thick snow, but I’m careful to turn them off if someone catches up to me.

          I see a lot of people with them on when they don’t need them on. Way worse than useless front fogs, at least you have passed by that guy in a few seconds, instead you are stuck behind the guy trying to not get blinded by the fog light for a few minutes.

          Basically I was told the rule of thumb is that if you can see headlights behind you, you shouldn’t have the rear fog light on.

        • 0 avatar
          JuniperBug

          I love the idea of fog lights, but am very glad that few cars have them in North America. Drivers here are too lazy and ignorant to handle the use of their headlights properly. Giving them rear fog lights would just guarantee that they’d be permanently on, just like they do on the front ones. You see this already on some of the European models that do offer them in North America – Minis, Saabs, Mercedes.

          In Europe, the rear fog light will often replace one of the white backup lights, so you have the left one red, and the right one white.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          Yeah, too many people confuse “fog light” with “auxiliary driving light”.

          Is for fog. Is only for fog.

          Want more driving light? Install aux driving light; is legal most if not all states.

          (I’ve checked OR, WA, and CA, and IIRC they all allow a pair of driving lights linked to the highs.

          And if you’re not in a place you can use the highs you don’t need a spare driving light set anyway.)

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        If the vehicle has separate turn signals the brake lights will function completely normal when the hazards are on. If the vehicle has a S/T/T set up the hazards will stop blinking when the brake lights are activated. Not really anyway to do it differently with the way a turn signal switch is built for a S/T/T vehicle.

  • avatar
    Mr. Orange

    So your telling me that Thummalia who could accidentally get stuck in the storage compartment of a Lotus is deserving less safety because of here diminutive size. How could you justify such a stance?

  • avatar
    TW5

    C.R.E.A.M – Cheap Rules Every Thing Around Me. Save the money. Dolla dolla bills, ya’ll.

    I grew up on the cheap side, the Walmart Greet side.
    Trying to keep my chive was no jive.

  • avatar
    convenienttruth

    Doug. I think we should take this energy and start a movement to legalize the use of Trafficators, the one true god of turn signals.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trafficators

  • avatar
    Exfordtech

    In many states, driving with your hazard lights on is illegal. The reasoning behind this is if there is something wrong with your vehicle that requires the use of hazard lights, you should not be driving it whatsoever.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    What bugs me the most are the VAG products. I’m in Germany on a weekly basis, and the A4/A5, as well as the Mk7 Golf, and probably others, have this lovely, thin, orange-lit LED strip across the width of the taillight, that’s both very eye-catching and cool. In North America, even though you can still see the clear strip where these LEDs would be (or maybe they’re even installed), the entire red taillight flashes, a la 1980s GM.

    The reason: the LED strips don’t meet the requirements for DOT regulations for surface area. The regulations were made back when the only lights available were weak incandescent bulbs, and the government refuses to update them for what’s available today. The result: companies need to spend extra money developing inferior solutions to what they use in other parts of the world.

    Another thing that bugs me is when OEMs change from orange to red, or vice-versa, during a model facelift. Honda is an egregious example of this. Off the top of my head, they’ve done it on the S2000, last-gen Integra, the Accord, Odyssey, and EP3 Civic.

    And then you’ve got German marques that change only the lens colour from orange to red for the North American market, simply because I guess they assume that’s what we prefer. Late model BMWs do this, and Audi has been guilty of it since at least the early 90s.

    • 0 avatar
      rodface

      This must be the explanation for why the brand-new M3/M4 have incandescent rear turn signals, which is hilarious at that price point.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      US lighting regulations are in serious need of updates. Both the area requirements for turn signals and lack of requiring Amber rear signals and the headlight regulations that prevent us from getting LED matrix lights and laser headlights. “safety” regulations shouldnt be preventing us from getting the latest and greatest lighting technology but they are. And that’s an utter joke.

    • 0 avatar
      superchan7

      The European cars having red North American tail lamps is probably a cost-cutter.

      It’s much cheaper to injection-mold a single-colour lens. If your car sells tens of thousnds of units in the US, it’s worth saving a $10-20 per unit. Wild guess there, somebody please correct me.

    • 0 avatar
      izzy

      When I first came to the US, I had to get used to cars having red turning lights. That and pricing everything withing a dollar/cent of an even number.

  • avatar
    Mike N.

    Having recently rented a Jeep Patriot (the Compass’ more butch looking twin) for a cross country trip, and which, despite being unibody, displayed all the vices of a body on frame vehicle (poor packaging, handling, ride, fuel economy) without any of the benefits, I would still agree that combo turn signal/brake lights are even stupider.

  • avatar
    ScarecrowRepair

    There’s a more common, but probably less dangerous, problem. If someone in a long line of cars pumps his brakes, flapping his foot on the pedal, drivers in the neighboring lanes usually only see the one brake light, and it’s not always easy to distinguish that from a turn signal wanting to change lanes. I have seen too many drivers who bang the brake pedal in too regular a rhythm.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    This is a great follow-up to some of the discussion that came from Sajeev’s recent LED bulb post.

    It seems that vehicle lighting in general could use more attention and consistency, particularly when it comes to dumb-ass modifications that impact lighting.

    One curiosity I observed after moving to the US was the availability of localized models of cars here where the cluster including amber turn signals available overseas was replaced with a different red on red US cluster. Is this a triumph of aesthetics over safety?

    • 0 avatar
      Mike N.

      Foreign automakers would probably love to sell us Americans the exact same car they sell in Europe. I think the lighting thing is probably regulatory compliance (though it varies).

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      US turn signals if amber need to meet the same size and emissions requirements of brake lights. This usually makes them large. Where as Rest of World regulations don’t require insane size / emissions requirements. They can get away with much smaller amber signals.

      The plus side is when we do have amber signals they are quite good.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    two thoughts on the initial story following the buick century:

    the hazards will override the brake lights but the 3rd brake light should override the hazards. that is, with the hazards on when the driver applied the brakes the 3rd light should illuminate. right? if so, then there is no problem. you see the hazards and watch the 3rd light for the brakes.

    in any state i’ve been in, it is the responsibility of the driver in the rear to not hit the driver in front of him/her. if that is true, and the hazards are on, then you must accommodate any eventuality that the front driver decides to do. truth be told in heavily snowing conditions, most officers at the scene of an accident are not going to assign blame with a ticket unless there is an egregious action by the 2nd vehicle. they are more interested in getting the roads cleared and letting the inconvenience of the accident serve as a future warning.

    or is that just because i’ve lived in no-fault states?

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    It gets even stranger when the manufacturer exports a car to a place that will have none of this combo lamp crap. Yet, they insist on making two different versions of tail lights.

    Case in point: This Camaro should look strange to anyone in the U.S.
    http://i132.photobucket.com/albums/q33/blasst/Camaro/IMG_9030.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      I’d argue that they did a great job on that Camaro. I think it looks better than the NA-spec.

      There are some retrofits that look odd in Europe, though. I remember seeing an early 90s Buick in Switzerland that looked all wrong with the amber lights they tacked on there. Corvettes also look a little awkward with half their circles amber.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Oh how I hate red turn signals, it reeks of cheapness and poor understand of the purpose of indicators. The turn signal should be a totally separate light in both color and position from the brake light. It only make sense. Lights are designed to communicate. Blinking is used to catch attention. Red indicates stop. Even a 4 year old kid understands this. Red and blinking? Sorry that two messages in one… and thus confusing. Just watch what happens at an intersection where the light is blinking red – chaos! Automakers really need a course in HIG (human interface guidelines).

    However since nobody uses turn signals properly (or at all) these days why bother. Nothing like that moron that forgot to turn his/hers off making me think they are trying to get in my lane for miles and miles without moving, but then suddenly jumps over a lane cutting me off in the process.

    This goes along the same lines as people who ride their brakes or tap them randomly to scrub speed because they can’t lift and coast when appropriate. Seems to be a bigger issue with automatic transmissions. In slow moving traffic with a manual I can just downshift, but AT drivers are forced to be on/off the brakes constantly. This creates that accordion effect that causes people to get rear ended at 20 MPH in stop/go traffic. The constant blinking of brake lights lulls them to sleep because its like the boy who cried wolf. I going to STOP, no… wait I’m going again… nope STOP now… sorry still moving… wait STOP NOW. I wish brakes illuminated at different brightness levels based on how HARD they were being applied, this way I could ignore faint lights as those equals downshift for me.

    • 0 avatar
      Occam

      “This goes along the same lines as people who ride their brakes or tap them randomly to scrub speed because they can’t lift and coast when appropriate. Seems to be a bigger issue with automatic transmissions. In slow moving traffic with a manual I can just downshift, but AT drivers are forced to be on/off the brakes constantly”

      In a manual, you can easily leave it in 1st or 2nd, and lift off the throttle to scrub speed. I have driven for miles at a time in creeping traffic, and only had to touch the clutch occasionally, and the brake rarely. Meanwhile, I’ve had people who are having to alternate gas/brake/gas/brake complaining that a manual is too exhausting to drive in heavy traffic. I’ve always just assumed that they tried to bring their two-pedal bad-habits to three-pedal cars.

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      “However since nobody uses turn signals properly (or at all) these days why bother.”

      This really gripes me. How difficult is it to tap a lever which is within reach of your left hand if you have it positioned properly on the steering wheel? That and the morons who want to drive expressway speeds on congested urban roads.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Traffic safety experts have figured out that active safety doesn’t really work, but passive safety does.

    Changing the lights won’t matter because they won’t reduce the behaviors that cause crashes. In the final analysis, virtually all crashes occur because drivers are inattentive, overly aggressive or too intoxicated to moderate their own behavior. Changing the lights won’t fix this.

    The guy who rear ends other cars isn’t doing so because of a lack of better data (i.e. the lights on the car ahead of him), but because he is driving too closely behind them. The solution is to have technology that forces him to brake and keep his distance, not to change out the lighting in the hopes that he will do a better job — we already know that he won’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Pch101 – valid point and true. Statistics bore that out with the advent of ABS. Fatality rates did not change. The reason was ABS wasn’t enough to save you in the case of a catastrophically stupid driving error.

      I read a study done in Europe with teaching new drivers winter skid control and accident avoidance techniques. The training had little impact (no pun intended) on accidents and in many cases was found to make drivers more aggressive and overconfident (young males mostly).

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Is a separate turn signal and brake light THE deciding factor for me in purchasing an automobile?

    No.

    Is it a factor?

    Yes.

    I was happy that my 2nd gen Highlander has amber turn-signals and red brake lights because I think that it helps to get the other drivers attention with the orange flashing in a sea of red. My wife’s 2005 Vibe is from before the restyle that took away the amber bulb and I do believe amber rear signals make her safer too.

    My first car (1982 Celebrity) had the separate orange rear turn bulb and I thought that it was a good thing. My stupid G-body 1987 Cutlass Supreme had a single bulb with three (THREE) filaments to do brake/turn/taillight. Freaking annoying when one filament would break and you’d have to replace a bulb that by all accounts still had 2/3 of its usefulness left.

    • 0 avatar
      Onus

      You sure? Most brake / turn bulbs have only two filaments. One is dim for the marker lights and the other is bright for the turn and brake. The brake switch is wired through the turn signal switch. But, the connector would have 3 wires. Ground, hot dim, and hot bright.

  • avatar
    Occam

    There are three main taillight setups we see today:

    1. Combined Red brake/running/signal: The old American model. If brake lights and turn signals are engaged at the same time, the signal overrides the brake lights. Both messages are transmitted satisfactorily to other drivers – two brake lights (center and other side) are lit, and signal is flashing.

    2. Red Brake/Running, Amber signals: This is the world standard, and works well. If the brake lights are unusually bright, or the signals are located too close (say, a ring-shaped brakelight encircling the signal), the flashing effect is lost, instead becoming a muddy red/reddish-orange/red/reddish-orange cycle.

    3. Red Brake/Running, Red Signals: This seems to be a cost-saving measure by global manufacturers who want to make their car look more “American.” The amber lens is replaced with red on the three-element light housing. Simultaneous braking and signaling becomes three lit brake lights, with one light very slightly cycling in intensity.

    I don’t mind #1. Just red and white lights on the back look old-fashioned, like pin-stripes and tape decks, but if that’s what people want, whatever. The trend of aping this look with #3 is, however, awful.

    #2 is the best, but it should have a good degree of physical separation between the red and amber elements. Preferably, the red should cover a large area, and the amber a smaller point – this allows the amber to very clearly pierce the glow of the red.

    Headlights are another matter – putting front signals millimeters away from the headlights makes them impossible to see at night. They should be returned to the lower bumper as they were before around 2000 or so. Fog lights are useless – just put them in place of the fogs to keep the aesthetic appearance of fog lights.

    • 0 avatar
      S1L1SC

      Agreed with #2 being best.

      I would love to see a requirement for side-mounted (fender) turn lights, but I think those are only required in Europe…

      All of these suck though when the idiot driving the car doesn’t replace their burnt out bulbs…

      I actually like the bulb out warning in some of the newer vehicles for this reason – I wish it cam with an annoying dinging noise that got longer for each start-stop cycle where the bulb does not get replaced…

  • avatar
    gasser

    Cars need to continue to be made safer, because new drivers continue to be dumber.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      This is called “risk homeostasis”. As cars become “safer”, drivers become less so because the cars are “safer”.

      See above where drivers trained in accident avoidance reportedly became more aggressive drivers due to their sense of increased skill.

      The classic counterexample is to say, “If you want drivers to pay attention, eliminate seat belts and air bags and put a large, steel spike in the center of the steering wheel.”

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Great post.

        Personally I believe that making manual transmissions mandatory would improve overall driving. It would eliminate those who are incapable of concentrating on the road and increase their understanding of physics and how their vehicle operates.

        From the March 6, 2015 edition of the National Post, Automotive section where they asked their auto columnists to recommend the safest car possible for ‘new’ drivers:

        Roundup: Driving picks the best cars for new drivers
        National Post/ March 6th 2015

        We asked some of our expert contributors “What new vehicle would you recommend for a brand new driver?” Here’s what they said:

        Lorraine Sommerfeld: I’ll get blowback on this, but I don’t care: something with a standard transmission. I know they’re tougher to find, but if you want a new driver to truly engage with a vehicle, this is the way to go. Anyone can point and shoot, as evidenced by the number of whackjob drivers already on our roads. Even entry-level cars these days put a lot of torque under your right foot, and that power can quickly overcome the experience level of the pilot. A manual car lets the driver understand how the engine actually works, forces them to be attuned to it, and reminds them that third pedal gives them more degrees of control. Chimps can stomp on the gas and brake; I like a reminder of the awesome power right at a driver’s fingertips, and that respecting it will make them appreciate driving as a true skill.

        Graeme Fletcher: Any car equipped with a manual transmission. I know this thinking is outmoded and rapidly becoming passé, but if you can shift a stick, you can drive any automatic. Yes, it means the driver has more to think about in the beginning, but once accustomed to shifting it becomes second nature and gives the driver more control over the car. Just make sure you use a rental for practice! Aside from the ability to use the gears to set a car up for a corner with engine braking, a manual transmission has one unspoken advantage. With insurance becoming an ever-increasing financial problem for novice drivers’, having three pedals on the floor and a manual shifter sitting between the seats might just be enough to dissuade a joyrider from taking liberties with your newfound freedom!

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          danio3834: A manual transmission Hellcat Challenger. They’ll have to concentrate so hard on not killing themselves with raw power that they won’t ever have a chance to post “YOLO” via their Facebook mobile app while driving.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        319583076 – exactly. We get complacent. We think we are safe in our automotive barrel as we are floating down the Niagara towards a crude lesson in Newtonian Physics.

        • 0 avatar
          319583076

          I taught physics labs in college and always tried to use auto-related examples to get kids thinking about the forces involved when driving. Vectors when ascending and descending hills, kinetic energy proportional to mass, but proportional to the velocity *squared*. Usually, you never know if you’re reaching them, but one student told me that after that class he couldn’t drive up or down a hill without thinking about the sum of forces acting on his car.

    • 0 avatar
      S1L1SC

      Disagree – Let Darwin do his work… Too many people on this planet as it is.

  • avatar
    honda_lawn_art

    What kind of quivering milquetoast entitlement fest is this? Ever driven behind a trailer? Or a horse and carriage? Or a car with their reverse lights stuck on? Or some leaves?
    Until reading a few of these articles on this site that complain about the injustice of braking-turning unions, I hadn’t taken much notice to the phenomenon. Apparently I belong to a new adaptation of human kind that sees one blinking light as a clue that a change in trajectory is taking place.

  • avatar
    superchan7

    This has been somewhat mitigated with LEDs as they provide far superior contrast between bright and dim.

    Shared brake/turn indicator lamps with filament bulbs are the worst. You can barely see them flashing as it is, and on top of that you’ve got a brake light on the other side to add to the confusion.

    The fact that the US still allows this is incredible.

    Another incredible omission in US regulations is side indicator repeaters. These are critical at high speed and in lane changes. Again, mirror signals in upmarket cars have somewhat mitigated this, but it needs to be on the fender at the very least.

  • avatar

    The latest Grand Cherokee has combination brake/indicator lamps, but I think they’re very noticeable. Ditto for Audi and some other automakers. I normally don’t like amber taillamps (even though my own car has them). But one of the few luxury cars that has amber taillamps—the Lexus GS—looks especially good IMO.

  • avatar
    bcboat

    I didn’t read all the posts but this is a pet peeve of mine also.
    Anyone notice the new Focus RS has (Europe/Asia only) a flashing rear fog light. Won’t see it on an american Focus.

  • avatar
    mingo

    I couldn’t agree more. It’s my biggest pet peeve about vehicles sold here.
    What drives me crazy is seeing German cars with red LED turn signals, when they sell them everywhere else in the world with amber turn signals. Why on earth do the Germans (VW, Audi, Merc, Porsche) go to the expense of creating red LED turn signals when it’s cheaper to just have one set of turn signals in amber, which is legal everywhere.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I drive around the world and I’ve found that driving in the US is different. Not driving habits, but adjusting to the differences in lighting, road signage and markings.

    I really don’t know why the US has so many differences in it’s standards. Are they required? The US should model itself on what is the most successful system.

    I do believe that the current system used by most every modern and not so modern nation outside of the US is a better and safer driving environment.

    An amber indicator is the best for indicating and as an advisory or precaution. Amber is used because the colour represent caution. So, if you are turning you use your indicator (supposed to) to provide all vehicles, not just the vehicle behind you a precautionary sign of your intent.

    Even hazard lights are a precautionary signal.

    Red on the other hand means danger/stop.

    Signage also uses colour as either a warning, precaution or general information. Road markings are the same.

    It’s incredible that the US can use international maritime and aviation signals and signage that are a global standard, but yet can’t make it’s vehicles comply to a global standard.

    Humans are creatures of habit or process. We become atuned to what is the norm. Driving is an exceptionally habitual skill.

    It’s these habits that kill. Lighting, signage and road markings to save and preserve life.

    They are one of the most important aspect of operating a vehicle safely.

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      Big Al

      Why should the US change just to please those who don’t live here? Not only would these changes be extremely expensive, they would do nothing in fixing anything other than pleasing you and people like you.

      • 0 avatar
        cpthaddock

        Al presents a sound and intelligent hypothesis neatly summarized by the principle:

        “The {insert name of country} should model itself on what is the most successful system.”

        Poncho highlights why this principle rarely prevails.

        I’ll wager anyone who has lived in different country long enough to establish more than a passing familiarity has experienced the same phenomena.

        How many of us who have assimilated multiple cultural influences can point to things that are done better in one country versus another. Not just a little bit, but massively better. Blindingly better. Beat head against wall better.

        Sadly, the notion that something “foreign” might be better frequently elicits a highly defensive “why do you hate {insert name of country}” rejection. As a body politic, human beings seem to be wired against open mindedness.

        • 0 avatar
          PonchoIndian

          I’m all for doing things better if they are actually “better”.

          To me his suggestions more more along the line of telling us that the US should start driving on the left side of the road because xxx does it.

          I would put money on all those differences being a non issue if someone took the time to put a study together.

          As he said, humans are a creature of habit. You can’t tell me that the same pattern of poor behavior would be reduced if we suddenly changed things to a “global” standard. I can tell you right now, it hasn’t work with Hazardous Materials labeling and shipping labels.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Actually the Globally Harmonized System of identifying hazardous materials only comes into force in the US on June 1, 2015.

            So you can’t say that it hasn’t worked because it hasn’t been implemented.

          • 0 avatar
            cpthaddock

            The objective isn’t global standardization.

            Nor is it “telling us that the US should start …”

            The point is open mindedness and the general lack thereof among countries in general, not the US specifically.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Arthur Dailey,
            You are very correct regarding the HAZCHEM situation.

            In the aviation here in Australia we must comply and conform to certain standards.

            We operate US aircraft. What a problem it was to have US manufactured product identified for us to use, even though we knew what it was. It cost money to transfer those ridiculous “US only” standards to an international standard.

            As a manager my response was to my guys, if it’s made in the USA don’t buy it, buy EU. Because there was no red tape.

            How many industries not just aviation did what I had done.

            So, with the US going it alone is costing the US money and exports.

            In other words jobs. Why? Just like the auto industry “To Protect American Interests”.

            As I have shown it protects nothing it is costing the US to be insular.

            I suppose the unions/industry and their lobbiest want it that way.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Arthur Dailey

            Actually the GHS system began coming on line last year when all employees had to be trained. The implementation from manufacturers and distributors isn’t required intil this year, strike 1.

            The GHS confuses because the DOT and NFPA is still using their system that only confuses things with the GHS system. Strike 2.

            Not all of the GHS was adopted and the US also added sections that the rest of the world doesn’t use, so it still isn’t truely a global system. Strike 3.

            The GHS system is no better and has a complex system of warnings using words and somewhat cryptic pictograms, some meaning more than one thing. Strike 4.

            The implementation of the system has brought out all the consultants (vultures) to train on a system that doesn’t have a set training method, only comfusing things further. So far the GHS system has been a disaster. I could add more but this is a car forum.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Big Al from Oz – It is a case of societal mores and norms or more simply put each tribe has its own way of interaction.

      I’ve always marveled at the fact that large businesses and institutions go to great lengths to establish official policy and procedure as well as hierarchical lines of communication but totally miss the fact that there is ALWAYS an unofficial under-culture dictating how things actually run.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @BAFO – Ambers are clearly the better way to go, but all markets could improve safety by looking to foreign regulations for the best out of all.

      Except there is no “global standard”. There are more markets influenced by the EU, but that doesn’t mean their regs are “global”.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Unbright, How hard is it for you to use Google? Simplistic rural type, definition: Rustic.

        The United States and Canada are the two significant exceptions; there UN regulations are generally not recognised and UN-compliant vehicles and equipment are not authorised for import, sale, or use in the US.

        Read on Lantern, definition; not quite bright enough to be a light.

        Most countries, even if not formally participating in the 1958 agreement, recognise the UN Regulations and either mirror the UN Regulations’ content in their own national requirements, or permit the import, registration, and use of UN type-approved vehicles, or both.

        The first signatories to the 1958 Agreement include Italy (March 28), Netherlands (March 30), Germany (June 19), France (June 26), Hungary (June 30), Sweden and Belgium. Originally, the agreement allowed participation of ECE member countries only, but in 1995 the agreement was revised to allow non-ECE members to participate. Current participants include European Union and its member countries, as well non-EU UNECE members such as Norway, Russia, Ukraine, Croatia, Serbia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Tunisia, and even remote territories such as South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia.

        The good stuff most of the world is doing;

        UN Regulations[edit]

        As of 2012, there are 128 UN Regulations appended to the 1958 Agreement; most regulations cover a single vehicle component or technology. A partial list of current regulations applying to passenger cars follows (different regulations may apply to heavy vehicles, motorcycles, etc.)

        §General lighting[edit]
        R3 — Retroreflecting devices
        R4 — Illumination of rear registration plates
        R6 — Direction indicators
        R7 — Front and rear position lamps, stop lamps and end-outline marker lamps
        R19 — Front fog lamps
        R23 — Reversing lights
        R37 — Filament lamps (bulbs) (See: Automotive lamp types)
        R38 — Rear fog lamps
        R48 — Installation of lighting and light-signalling devices
        R77 — Parking lamps
        R87 — Daytime running lamps
        R91 — Side marker lamps
        R119 — Cornering lamps
        R123 — AFS lamps
        R128 — LED light sources

        http://www.unece.org/trans/main/wp29/wp29regs121-140.html

        §Headlamps[edit]
        R1 – Headlamps emitting an asymmetrical passing beam and/or a driving beam, equipped with R2 or HS1 bulbs (superseded by R112, but still valid for existing approvals)
        R5 – Sealed Beam headlamps emitting an asymmetrical passing beam and/or a driving beam
        R8 – Headlamps equipped with replaceable single-filament tungsten-halogen bulbs (superseded by R112, but still valid for existing approvals)
        R20 – Headlamps emitting an asymmetrical passing beam and/or a driving beam and equipped with halogen double-filament H4 bulbs (superseded by R112, but still valid for existing approvals)
        R31 — Halogen sealed beam headlamps emitting an asymmetrical passing beam and/or a driving beam
        R45 — Headlamp cleaners
        R98 — Headlamps equipped with gas-discharge light sources
        R99 — Gas-discharge light sources for use in approved gas-discharge lamp units of power-driven vehicles (See: Automotive lamp types)
        R112 — Headlamps emitting an asymmetrical passing beam and/or a driving beam and equipped with filament bulbs
        R113 — Headlamps emitting a symmetrical passing beam and/or a driving beam and equipped with filament bulbs

        §Instrumentation/controls[edit]
        R35 — arrangement of foot controls
        R39 — speedometer equipment
        R46 — rear-view mirrors
        R79 — steering equipment

        §Crashworthiness[edit]
        R11 — door latches and door retention components
        R13-H — braking (passenger cars)
        R13 — braking (trucks and busses)
        R14 — safety belt anchorages
        R16 — safety belts and restraint systems
        R17 — seats, seat anchorages, head restraints
        R27 — advance-warning triangles
        R42 — front and rear protective devices (bumpers, etc.)
        R43 — safety glazing materials and their installation on vehicles
        R94 — protection of the occupants in the event of a frontal collision
        R95 — protection of the occupants in the event of a lateral collision
        R116 — protection of motor vehicles against unauthorized use

        §Environmental compatibility[edit]
        R10 — electromagnetic compatibility
        R15 — emissions and fuel consumption (superseded by R83, R84 and R101)
        R24 — engine power measurement, smoke emissions, engine type approval
        R51 — noise emissions
        R68 — measurement of the maximum speed
        R83 — emission of pollutants according to engine fuel requirements
        R84 — measurement of fuel consumption
        R85 — electric drive trains — measurement of the net power and the maximum 30 minutes power of electric drive trains
        R100 — approval of battery electric vehicles with regard to specific requeriments for the construction, Functional Safety and hydrogen emission.[6]
        R101 — measurement of the emission of carbon dioxide and fuel consumption
        R117 — rolling sound emissions of tyres

        So, what was your dumbass comment?

      • 0 avatar
        Brian P

        Yes, there is. The Vienna Convention on Road Traffic is a global (except USA) standard. It’s not just Europe. The UN-ECE regulations are global (except USA) standards.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      The reason that road signs and rules are different in Canada and USA from almost the rest of the world, are that Canada and USA for whatever reason, are not contracting parties to the Vienna convention on road traffic. For whatever reason, the USA opted to stay out of this, and certainly Canada stayed out because the Americans stayed out.

      “Not invented here syndrome” is the most likely reason … even though this came from the United Nations, which the USA is obviously part of. So if the United Nations (which the USA is part of) came up with the set of rules, why could the USA not use them in the interest of making the rules (and signs) the same everywhere?

      Would it have really troubled the USA so much to make speed limit signs circular with a red outline and the speed number written in the center, like every other country does?

      The international road sign system is based on symbols, so that people can understand the restriction or requirement regardless of their native language. Obviously this is important in Europe, but it’s also important in Canada where we have two official languages (and many immigrants).

      Some of the principles in the Vienna convention are followed even though the countries are not signatory parties. Ontario road signs are decent for using international symbols rather than words, Quebec is even better, but the USA is a mess. A non-English-speaker will get in trouble.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Have you been outside the US? I’m thinking that you haven’t.

        Road signs vary quite a bit from place to place. Different fonts, different colors, the use of all caps vs. title case, etc., etc. Even within Europe, there is quite a bit of variation.

        Incidentally, signs in Australia and NZ largely resemble US signs (although the Aussies also borrow some of their signs from the Brits, plus they have a few that are unique.) They both use the US FHWA “Highway Gothic” font, with white letters on green backgrounds. (The Australian speed limit signs used to resemble US signs until they went metric; now, those are quasi-European.)

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @Pch101,
          When were you last in Australia or Kiwiland?

          I drive in the EU. There signage is the same. The font and the language is different but the symbology, signage colour, size, and even numbers are essentially the same or exceptionally similar.

          Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Japan the same again.

          You don’t look at the fonts, you don’t need to as the symbology gives the required information. Line marking are essentially the same as well.

          Ever been on an apron and taxiways at an airport? They are the same globally as well.

          We only need to have an understanding of numerals, symbols and colour, not language.

          Have you ever been outside of the US or are you a DenverMike who makes many claims that are unsubstantiated?

          • 0 avatar
            mkirk

            Hasn’t the US green signage on interstates been proven to be easier to see than the EURO Blue style? I have driven in the US, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Iraq, and Afghanistan. I prefer our signage (US), but that is probably because I am used to it, but nothing will get your attention like a red hand in Baghdad…Don’t stop for that at your own peril.

            I have never had an issue seeing the one color lights. Why do people care so much. My taillights could light up like the Vegas Strip and you are still going to rear end me if your updating your twitter feed and chugging down a mocha.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @mkirk,
            I find in any country that once you have more than 3 lanes of traffic flowing tightly and you are on a unfamiliar road with off ramps everywhere and 2 or more highways intersecting it is more awkward to read the signage.

            As for the colours of signs I have noticed that France has two standards of autoroutes.

            They use different colours, 130kph autoroute uses blue for direction and 110kph autoroutes use green.

            In Australia we use green for highways, blue for hospitals, airports, etc and brown for tourist routes and places of interest.

            Another difference I noticed is in France they use white diamond signage for things like deers, cattle, sheep, etc and we use yellow. But we have identical symbology.

            By the use of white the French might view the potential of an incident as an general advisory and our use of yellow as a precautionary warning.

            Falling rocks, curves (with the recommended speed), school kids, pedestrian crossing, etc are the same as here as it the posted speed limits with a white, sign black border, red circle with the speed limit within the red circle.

            France does have a lack of distance signage even on the autoroutes. I have found here in Australia and the US there is ample distance to location on large signs in a tabulated or logical format.

        • 0 avatar
          Brian P

          The international standards do not concern themselves with trivial details such as the exact font to be used.

          A speed limit sign will be circular with a red boundary and the number centered in it. The American rectangular format is allowed but not used in any Vienna-convention country that I’ve been to. Furthermore there are default speed limits for urban, rural, and motorway conditions that are assumed unless signs indicate otherwise.

          A no-left-turn sign will be circular with a red boundary and an arrow pointing left, with a diagonal red slash-through … not the English words “NO LEFT TURN” which are as gibberish to someone that speaks Thai as their language (probably) is to you.

          A “go on this side of this obstruction” sign will be blue with an arrow pointing downward at an angle towards the side that you are supposed to go to.

          And so forth. They are all easy to figure out even if you don’t know the local language – and that’s the idea.

          And don’t forget the differing rules – like no right turn on a red traffic signal.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I’m thinking that you got your knowledge of this from skimming Wikipedia, then taking it out of context.

            For one thing, the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic deals primarily with driver license reciprocity and allowing vehicles to cross borders. Incidentally, the US ratified the earlier 1949 version of the agreement.

            For another, many countries did not ratify the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals, which is a different agreement from the Road Traffic agreement. It is far from a US vs. the world agreement.

            Again, I would suggest that you actually research this stuff before commenting on it. If you want to geek out on road signs, then check out the SkyscraperCity.com website, where you’ll find plenty of photographs that will show you the differences.

            And as I noted, your claims about US-style signs being unique to the US and Canada are completely false. Signs in Australia and NZ are largely similar to US signs, and some of the US signing conventions such as yellow diamond caution signs are common in Latin America.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Brian P,
            You are correct and incorrect in some ways regarding what you are stating.

            The US, Australia and New Zealand have very similar systems of the administration and management of signage.

            I do think we have a smaller system of categories that our sign are classified than the Vienna Convention.

            The biggest difference between Australia and the US is we use more symbology that is used in the Vienna Convention for signage, like most of the world.

            US signage is overly complex with the use of language, ie, no symbology and only words.

            This makes it unusable for a competent foreign operator of a motor vehicle to accurately comprehend and make a balanced assessment of requirements. This is what is termed a hazard.

            To mitigate this hazard what would you do? You would do what everyone else is doing. Like I mentioned even though we use a management system similar to the US in signage, we use more symbols.

            One symbol can tell a story as the old adage goes “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Maybe outside of the US this is true.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @BAFO – You’re just talking uniformity codes, early on, so there wasn’t a clusterfuk at the parts store when consumers needed replacement lighting, tires, fluids, etc. We were doing the same, going back 100 plus years.

            Then came UNECE regs focused on safety and emissions regs, but only *AFTER* US DOT and EPA regs. Of course UNECE regs have to zig everywhere US regs zag as technical barriers and product protection from US competition.

            But I’m not saying US regulators aren’t stubbornly sticking to their own, but the same could be said for UNECE regs.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @DiM,
            What is uniformity?

            What is standardisation?

            What is harmonisation?

            Not much difference, just a play on words.

            Instead of using a thesaurus try and use Google.

            Hmmm……..

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            BAFO – That’s a weak reply, even for you. The words have slightly different meanings, so no they don’t mean the same. But try to say on topic.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    This is the thing I liked least about living in America. Stupid and dangerous, driven only by fashion.

    • 0 avatar
      cpthaddock

      C’mon now, Spike – that’s not true of all 100% of the population ;)

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      Right, when did the first Aussie walk on the moon? You’re all so smart and rational compared to us stupid, dangerous, Americans.

      But you’re right about the other part, Aussies have *never* been fashionable.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @319583076,
        Australia had never placed a man on the moon. But Australia did play a significant role in the Apollo Moon landing.

        The US needed help for it to make the first moon landing. When and if you ever come to Australia go to the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex. It’s a very educational and interesting place. Read the link below.

        Believe it or not our last satellite we placed into orbit was in 1971. Well before many nations even placed satellites in orbit other than the US and USSR. Not bad for a nation of under 10 million people back then.

        Australia played a very large role in the 40s and 50s in the development of the telemetry used to put rockets into space. The US needed this information.

        Actually the US and USSR wouldn’t have made the progress they had done without the Germans.

        Projects as large as the Moon landing takes massive resources that require many nations.

        Of all of man’s quest space exploration I hope will bring us closer together. Space so far has done this, even during the depths of the Cold War the US (West) and Soviets worked together in space.

        It’s sad to see some of our closest allies in the US end up like yourself. Blinded by a lack of knowledge with much bravado.

        Put that excess energy to good use and go to college and travel around the world.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canberra_Deep_Space_Communication_Complex

        • 0 avatar
          shaker

          “Of all of man’s quest space exploration I hope will bring us closer together. Space so far has done this, even during the depths of the Cold War the US (West) and Soviets worked together in space.”

          And the Internet will tear us apart with endless pissing contests. (IMHO)

          “Can’t we all just get along?” – Rodney King

  • avatar
    2kriss2kross

    As mentioned in a number of previous comments, I too dislike how foreign brands (the Germans notoriously) remove amber turn signals for the North American market instead of using the same thing they use everywhere else. What’s the reasoning behind it?

    Audi is the worst offender by having the whole taillight flash blinding the person behind. I find it so tacky. It screams “We’re too cheap to put in another bulb” and for a premium brand it’s inexcusable. Meanwhile BMW and Mercedes take it to a lesser extreme by just replacing the amber unit with a red one. One thing I find funny is how now more domestic cars are coming with amber turn signals while the Germans are getting rid of theirs. Just recently I remember being behind the current Escalade and being surprised how it now has an amber turn signal.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I think most are overthinking this. I don’t care how turn signals are implemented, as long as drivers actually use the damned things!

  • avatar
    outback_ute

    I definitely noticed this on US highways, there was always a second of uncertainty when seeing a red light come on several cars ahead (when you could only see one side of the car) before you could know if it was a turn signal or brake light. Just unnecessary.

    @319, wow imagine if Spike had insulted American people instead of just American turn signals!

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      If there’s uncertainty, let off the gas at least. Start the braking process when in doubt. Brake pads are cheap. And you’re following too close if it’s an issue anyways.

      We’re splitting hairs because the big stuff has been dealt with.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @DiM,
        A comment like you just made makes sense.

        But you are very inconsistent. Here’s comment you made on TTAC a couple of years ago.

        And, now we are telling others’ about vehicle safety? Boy what a hide you have.

        It show who or more specifically what you are;

        “DenverMike
        February 15th, 2013 at 4:22 pm
        It’s the east coast that doesn’t export, but I didn’t get my truck to commute and have low miles. I don’t know anyone that uses their full-size for commuting, but my friends that have mid-size trucks do, and haul ass with a bed full of air both ways. Of course they fly under the radar or get a pass while getting the same mpg as my full-size. I get better mpg actually because I drive like there’s an egg under my foot. I have got 19, 20 and 21 mpg averages because of how I drive. It’s a 2wd extra cab as is most full-size in the US, but I cheat by running up to 50 psi in the tires (depending) and a zero toe alignment which I don’t recommend for the average driver.

        I didn’t know there was a sqft minimum for 106 yo houses, but my next new work trucks will be gas V10s in up F-650 configurations. Why do you ask?

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          @BAFO – Who’s to say how safe I don’t drive? I almost always have my dogs with me, and they’re like unseatbelted babies to me, so I always drive with lots of extreme caution. But wouldn’t my driving advise and expertise still be relevant if I didn’t follow my own advice?

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    I’m not going through 194 comments to see if someone already said this.

    When I was a boy many vehicles had a light that said Brake on the lens and was totally separate from any other lighting system.

    Progress!

  • avatar
    mechaman

    As soon as a politician, friend or family gets in an incident that can be tied to the light function, then something will get done. Party unimportant…

  • avatar
    shaker

    I was quite pleased to see that the 2013 Malibu that I bought not only got rid of the flattened rear end with the “bat-wing” taillights of the previous generation, but adopted the yellow turn-signals as well. They are simply more logical than the combined signals, and (to me) don’t detract in the least from a vehicle’s styling.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Here is an out-of-the-box suggestion for the B&B:

    Relocate to an area where a significant portion of the local populace is so inbred that they are incapable of understanding these newfangled “turn signals” and other concepts like “stop signs” or “right of way…” and a lot of them are driving on suspended, revoked, or never existed driver’s licenses. You’ll get a PhD in defensive driving and you won’t worry about amber or red rear turn signals anymore!

    ;)

    We now resume your regularly scheduled programming.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    I’m from Atlanta, so the real question is if a turn signal comes on, does anybody give a damned…not what color is it.

  • avatar
    Dynasty

    Lot’s of passion for brake lights and turn signals here.

    I can honestly say red, amber, brake light/turn signal lamp combo.. whatever, I’ve never had a hard time telling if someone was intending to turn, stop, or not. Assuming everything was working as designed and the driver had their signal activated.

  • avatar
    thetallguy

    My Park Avenue’s lights turn on automatically whenever I start the car at dusk or later and it also has rain sensing wipers. Do the brake lights work independently of the 4 way flashers? I have no idea. Yesterday, I too almost rammed a car that only had one working 3rd brake light bulb! Check your brake lights people!

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