It's lights out for Mercedes-Benz brake light idea as U.S. regulators
HARRY STOFFER | Automotive News
Posted Date: 6/7/05
WASHINGTON -- Sometimes the roles get reversed. Automakers want to add
safety devices. Regulators object.
Mercedes-Benz sought to equip its vehicles with brake lights that would
rapidly flash on and off when a driver stopped suddenly. But the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rejected the proposal.
Mercedes argued that the flashing lights would allow motorists to
ascertain whether the driver ahead was making a panic stop or braking
normally. Mercedes says it has evidence that motorists would hit the
brakes more quickly and avoid a rear-end crash.
But the agency replied that Mercedes had not proved that flashing
lights would yield a major safety gain. So a federal rule that requires
steady illumination of brake lights will stand.
"The company was disappointed by the decision," says Barry Felrice,
director of regulatory affairs in DaimlerChrysler's Washington office.
The European Union will allow flashing brake lights to indicate panic
stops, Felrice notes.
Rear-end collisions account for more than 20 percent of all crashes,
NHTSA says. They cause more than 1,600 deaths and nearly 700,000
injuries a year.
Federal regulators are studying possible remedies. They include
adaptive cruise control devices that automatically slow vehicles that
get too close to vehicles in front of them. Other systems would provide
larger or more intense lights to signal emergency stops.
Says NHTSA Associate Administrator Steve Kratzke: "Some signal
enhancements may have greater potential than simple flashing brake