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Europe has it right

One of the things that has led to our economic superiority over the rest of the world, in my opinion, is the fact that we tend to regulate our businesses much less severely than other nations. For example, Europe has much tougher controls on industry than we do.

But I've discovered there's one area where Europe has demanded action from an industry where we haven't, and I really think they've got the right idea. And that's a painful admission.

In Europe, it is required that a car's rear directional lights be amber and separate from brake lights. Here, we let them be red and do double-duty as brake lights. And that has thrown me off more than a few times.

I'd really like it if the United States adoped the same regulation. It can't be that much more expensive, and I really think it'd be a serious safety improvement, possibly since the Center High-Mounted Stop Light (CHMSL), brought about by Elizabeth Dole when she was Ronald Reagan's Secretary of Transportation.

And while they're at it, why can't they come up with a decision of which side of the vehicle to put the gas tank filler?


Comments (26)

And while they're at it,... (Below threshold)
wataazu:

And while they're at it, why can't they come up with a decision of which side of the vehicle to put the gas tank filler?

Because there is no single "they" and it's not important enough to be regulated.

What is so tricky about the rear lights in the US? I've been driving for a long time and have NEVER had a problem distinguishing brake lights from running lights.

What about daytime running ... (Below threshold)

What about daytime running lamps? While it is easier to see a vehicle equipped with these than it is to see a MOOSE, from what I understand, this is actually one regulation that GM wants to have enacted, since most of their vehicles have them and the other car companies do not have them as standard equipment.

Good idea. An engineer fri... (Below threshold)
Steve:

Good idea. An engineer friend mentioned another useful idea once--mount a series of small lights on the rear of the car that can light up in sequence to let people behind you know how hard you're braking.

Good idea. An engineer f... (Below threshold)

Good idea. An engineer friend mentioned another useful idea once--mount a series of small lights on the rear of the car that can light up in sequence to let people behind you know how hard you're braking.

Better yet - how about a digital display on that back that shows your indicated speed?

It's "for the children" after all...

Tsk tsk tsk. Never use ... (Below threshold)

Tsk tsk tsk. Never use your signal! It only teleraphs your next move to the other drivers who will cut you off just to spite you!

How about an electronic gov... (Below threshold)
mcg:

How about an electronic governor that prevents the car from exceeding 60mph? How about a breathalyzer that forces you to blow below 0.04 before you can start driving? How about a cel phone jammer? How about a Clockwork-Orange style device to force your eyes open and focused on the road?

Let's keep thinking, guys!

Have you considered that ha... (Below threshold)
thomas:

Have you considered that having amber front turn signals and red double duty on the rear also aids in telling orientation of a vehicle from the side.

There was a time in the USA... (Below threshold)
htom:

There was a time in the USA when rear turn signals were required to be amber. (Note that front ones still are.) I don't know when it changed, or why; I presume because it was cheaper to make single-color rear lenses.

It should be changed back to requiring rear-amber turn signals. These make it more obvious that the person is signally a turn, lane change, or that his vehicle is disabled.

Those who've never had a problem have probably never been driving in a bad snow storm where all you can see of the car in front of you is the tail lights.

A blinking single red light ahead is
a) motorcycle itermittently braking
b) left turn from right lane
c) right turn from left lane
d) someone tapping his foot on the brake with only one working brake light
e) defective rail crossing crossarm

Amber rear turns eliminates -some- of the confusion.

ClancyBMW has alre... (Below threshold)
Palmateer:

Clancy

BMW has already adopted an "indication of how hard the car is braking" feature.

Good idea. An engineer f... (Below threshold)
KBiel:

Good idea. An engineer friend mentioned another useful idea once--mount a series of small lights on the rear of the car that can light up in sequence to let people behind you know how hard you're braking.

Um...if you can't perceive relative speed, then you shouldn't be driving. If you are following so close that you can't avoid a collision in a hard breaking situation, then having nice little indicator lights that tell you that you are about to park your car in someone else's trunk are not going to save you.

As for the amber lights, it's a nice to have but definitely not necessary since we do have the high mounted center break light. Let's see, flashing red means turn or hazard. Solid red means their lights are on and/or they are breaking. Red center break light on means they are breaking. I don't find those rules too confusing.

Not all cars and trucks hav... (Below threshold)
htom:

Not all cars and trucks have center brake lights, and not all of those that do have them working.

That is why they added the ... (Below threshold)
Josh:

That is why they added the center brake light. As a small L libertarian, I was a little upset at the time. It was good regulation. I personally think that was good enough.


I assume your kidding about the gas cap.

All passenger cars and ligh... (Below threshold)
KBiel:

All passenger cars and light duty trucks do have the center break light if they were manufactured after the mid-1980's. There is no garentee that they will work, but then there is no garentee that any light on a car you see on the road is working or working properly. That's what safety inspections are for or, alternatively, tickets and fines. No law or regulation will change the fact that some will not maintain their vehicle. You can require people to put on amber, red, green, and hyper-intellegent shades of blue and yet none of them may work because the owner refuses to waste 5 mintutes and $.99 to have them repaired.

There are a few other thing... (Below threshold)
cancon:

There are a few other things the Euros do right - I was told that auto manufacturers have to have a plan to be able to recycle every piece of every car and yet there is one thing you will not see in Europe - unsafe beater cars on the road. The Euros are also big on incinerators for their trash because they don't have the luxury of landfills for garbage and yet everytime they propose building incinerators in Canada, esp Toronto that has a problem with its garbage (they ship it to Michigan right now, how smart is that) the tree huggers and such whine but I shake my head, if the environmentally conscience Euros have no problem with incinerators why are North American environmentalists so up in arms.....but I digress.

Why don't we just mandate t... (Below threshold)
JohnG:

Why don't we just mandate that cars be built like tanks. As far as I know, the most advanced tank, the M1A1 Abrams only has head lights - no tail lights, no brake lights, no turn signals. How many tanks do you ever hear about being in accidents? See, it's all those "improvements" that lead to accidents.

To heck with legislating a ... (Below threshold)

To heck with legislating a better vehicle with all these requirements. What's needed is some way to legislate a better DRIVER.

One who doesn't tailgate, uses turn signals, and dies of a brain hemorrhage the instant I see that he/she is devoting more attention to the cell phone than to driving (okay, that last one may actually make things more dangerous).

It is expectable that the l... (Below threshold)
htom:

It is expectable that the lights will burn out,aquire wiring faults, bad sockets, accident damage, ... or be covered with mud, snow, or guano. Expecting rules, regulations, and inspections to fix these occurances is hubris. Design the system so that it works in spite of the expectable failures.

I heard of a tank that was ... (Below threshold)
Noumenon:

I heard of a tank that was in an accident. I actually watched it on the helicopter feed as it crashed into the median wall... and through the median, over several cars, and into the wall of a house. If a tank even has headlights it's only to warn people that an accident is coming and they are the only ones who will be hurt.

Nearly all the imports do t... (Below threshold)
Red Five:

Nearly all the imports do this. Also, I think that GM has been moving in this direction, and Chrysler has separate red stop and turn indicators (same color, but separate bulbs, so a little better).

Toyota also has the blinking center-mount stop light on some higher-end cars and trucks.

Personally, I think that everyone should move to LED elements for all light positions, and HID low and high beams for head lights and fog lights. The LED systems use much less power and almost never burn out. Plus, you can save some money by using simpler reflectors and there's less need for tinted lenses. HID systems put out much more light over a wide, even area, last really long, and it's easier to control the beam pattern.

Jay, if gas pumps were just... (Below threshold)
JohnG:

Jay, if gas pumps were just turned 90 degrees so they face sideways from their present positions, it seems hoses could go to either side equally well. So, it wouldn't matter which side the gas filler tube was located on a car.

You know, I have to whole-h... (Below threshold)

You know, I have to whole-heartedly agree with you on this point. I have always hated the hybrid blinker/brake light combinations, and will never purchase a vehicle that uses them. It is simply idiotic to combine two different indication systems into one display unit, especially when the indication systems could (and very often are) active at the same time.

That being said, I also believe headlights should automatically come on if the windshield wipers are engaged.

That being said, I also ... (Below threshold)
KBiel:

That being said, I also believe headlights should automatically come on if the windshield wipers are engaged.

But do you want that to be required through regulation? That is the key question here. I believe that all cars under 2000 lbs. should get 50 miles to the gallon, but I don't want the government regulating that into reality.

For the added degree of saf... (Below threshold)

For the added degree of safety, yes. I am tired of the complete retards hauling arse down the road in 50-foot visibility rain with no headlights on. Sure, Darwin might get their genes out of the pool, but, unfortunately, they are likely to take others with them too...

Oh so much could be done in... (Below threshold)
McCain:

Oh so much could be done in the name of safety. Why not require every person to wear a crash helmet. And require roll bars. Radar with warning systems in each vehicle. And red is statistically proven to be an unsafe color -- ban it. White is best -- require it. And by all means, ban convertibles. Smoking is distractive -- ban it. So are girlfriends. Obviously Jay is on to something very important here.

You know, you are right. S... (Below threshold)

You know, you are right. Seatbelts? Who needs them. Airbags kill more little kids than we would like, so let us get rid of them. Headlights are useless, with all the street lamps there are out there now. Windshield wipers? Hell, drive fast enough, and the rain will just slide off your windshield.

(for the clueless)

W00t for more strawman arguments... Methinks Wizbang needs to move off the farm, sometime soon.... ;)

Hm. There was supposed to ... (Below threshold)

Hm. There was supposed to be a "[/sarcasm]" right before "(for the clueless)", except that it had the HTML tags around it. Whoops.




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