Idea #16: External speedometers

As a driver, I can testify to the (somewhat subjective) fact that the road isn’t a safe place. People make wrong turns, get flustered, and have trouble thinking. They make mistakes. They drive too slowly. They exceed the speed limit. There are all sorts of problems, and their peers on the road are relatively clueless as to each dangerous drivers’ situations. We already have turn signals and brake lights so that drivers can anticipate each other. While they’re surely effective, these are merely the bare essentials of reading into other drivers’ intentions.

The Concept:
Incorporate another aspect into driver-to-driver communication. On the back of each new car, install a display that allows drivers behind the car to see the speed at which it is traveling. This display can exist as either a traditional, dial-like speedometer or a digital display that shows the exact speed and nothing else. It can even be as simple as adding an acceleration light, akin to the brake lights that cars already have.

The Pros:

  • If this works, it will save lives. Drivers will be better able to anticipate each others’ movements.
  • Unlike turn signals (and like brake lights), this would require no extra effort on behalf of the driver.
  • Installing such a system, whether before or after the manufacturing process is over, should be relatively easy. I imagine that it would just read the same data as a dashboard speedometer.

The Cons:

  • To some, this may be just another distraction on the road. A system like this may come under fire for this reason.
  • Though I doubt it, it’s possible that we may have already reached a critical point where we can’t discern yet another type of signal from the rest. Brake and turn signals may be just enough, and more than that may be too much.

While I’m at it, I feel that now may be the opportune time to suggest adding an external display of GPS instructions (if a GPS navigator is in use). It can merely state the distance until the driver will have to make a turn. There are, however, some obvious flaws with this, such as the fact that drivers don’t necessarily follow GPS systems’s instructions invariably. In these cases, only confusion will result from a system like this. Regardless, I think that if the kinks can be ironed out, this might do more good than harm.


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