Car Hazard Lights
Can someone tell me why car hazard lights flash at the same rate as indicator lights? Before someone tells me that is is because they are bimetallic bulbs, therefore have an inbuilt cycle frequency, this can not be the case any more. Surely indicators are controlled by a computer keeping time not a electro-mechanical phenomenon. So who on earth would think it sensible for a hazard light to flash with the same pattern and frequency as an indicator. Just from the thought of it a hazard light should be a little more in-your-face in order to make a statement. But my main reason for this annoying me is that, if you can't see BOTH indicator lights of a car, say due to it being partly obscured by other cars, you have NO IDEA if the car is indicating or has its hazards on.
Dear Car Manufacturers,
Please set a standard for hazard warning light flashing pattern. I suggest a simple double flash rather than the current single. This would immediately distinguish between hazard and indicator in the event that an observer can only see one side of the vehicle.
Dr Nick Bailey
External Ambient Sound Through Stereo at Low Speeds
The second thought concerns electric vehicles, particularly the issue that have regarding their lack of noise. This idea has been on my mind for about a year now, but since March there has been some media attention in the UK, in particular this advert by the charity Guide Dogs (for the Blind) alerting people to the danger of electric cars to blind people. I found out about this via Robert Llewellyn (aka Kryton from Red Dwarf)'s excellent YouTube channel Fully Charged. In this recent video on the subject he performs a little experiment with a blind friend and they find out that at very low speeds electric cars are indeed very quite and difficult for a blind person to hear coming. Indeed they make the valid points that this is akin to a road cyclist and furthermore that it is very much one the responsibility of the driver to be aware (we've been warned about kids running into roads long before electric cars).
My idea fits this problem precisely and it stems from me being a cyclist first and driver second. When I cycle I rely heavily on my ears to build a picture of the world around me that I'm cycling through. When I drive I feel drastically deprived of this sense. Cars have long had stereo systems which increase the volume at higher speed when road noise is loud. So, as a first step do the very opposite in electric cars - turn the volume down (or off?) at very low car-park type speeds. But more than that, my suggestion is to attach a microphone to each external corner of the vehicle and then use the in-built speakers to literally pipe the sounds of outside inside. I realise that this will not make blind people visible (unless they are particularly chatty), but it would heighten the awareness of the driver to the environment they are driving through. What better way to use technology that exists, and take advantage of the very issue - the silent nature of electric cars at low speeds - to enable the driver to hear the outside making the walls of the vehicle effectively disappear. We have rear view cameras for parking, now think exterior-ambient-surround-sound.
Dear Electric & Hybrid Car Manufacturers,
Would you very much mind considering my suggestion to implement an exterior ambient microphone array to bring exterior sounds inside the electric vehicle at low speeds, much akin to how a rear-view camera allows the driver to "see" behind them as they reverse. This could greatly assist in heightening the drivers awareness of the environment through which they drive and could have the potential to prevent accidents by allowing the driver to "hear" someone or something outside their car that they might otherwise collide with.
Dr Nick Bailey