Sunday, August 22, 2010

Speed-Monitoring Radar-Activated Brake Light Offers Half A Second More to Stop in an Emergency

Steve Thorne (Oakland, CA) earned U.S. Patent 7,774,137 for a speed-monitoring radar-activated brake light. The device would offer drivers an extra half a second to stop at highway speeds in case of an emergency.

 The operator of a third vehicle trailing a second, host vehicle is alerted of a potentially hazardous deceleration of a first vehicle forward of the host vehicle. The road-speed of the first vehicle is ascertained by the host vehicle. Any significant deceleration of the road-speed of the first vehicle is determined. A luminous signal is provided to the third vehicle by the host vehicle when such significant deceleration has occurred. According to some methods a radar device carried by the host vehicle may be used to determine the relative speed between the first and second vehicles.

Thorne teaches incorporating a radar device into a host vehicle that monitors the speed of a forward vehicle and automatically alerts the driver of a trailing vehicle when that forward vehicle decelerates. Because that device operates automatically without dependence on the driver's level of attentiveness or the speed of their reactions, it alerts trailing drivers of the need to brake at least a half-second sooner than any prior art brake light device. At freeway speeds, that typically gives trailing drivers an extra fifty feet to avoid a collision

The operator of a third, trailing vehicle is alerted of a potentially hazardous deceleration of a first, leading vehicle forward of a second, host vehicle. The road-speed of the first vehicle is continuously ascertained and monitored by the host vehicle. When any significant deceleration of the road-speed of the first vehicle is determined, a luminous signal is provided to the third vehicle by the host vehicle indicating that a significant deceleration has occurred. A radar device carried by the host vehicle may be used to determine the relative speed between the first and host vehicles. 

Thorne’s invention relates to the fields of vehicular flow, radar devices, and alert mechanisms. Specifically, this invention relates to devices used to alert the driver of a moving vehicle of sudden changes in traffic speed for the purpose of reducing the likelihood of a collision.

Each year in the United States, rear-end vehicular collisions cause over $18 billion dollars in property damage, cause over 1 million injuries, and over 4000 deaths. The major reason for such collisions is that vehicles travel at separation distances too short to allow sufficient braking time when forward traffic suddenly slows. With the higher percentage of larger vehicles on the roadways, clear view of the road has been increasingly obstructed--further reducing the time a driver has to react to sudden reductions in traffic speed. 

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