Electric cars prove we need to rethink brake lights

Electric cars prove we need to rethink brake lights

Truly, this is a pressing issue. I hope somebody at the helm is watching.

Links ‘n’ stuff:
The mentioned turn signal video

My other vehicular-lighting related content:
On how we used to require all cars to have the same headlights

On why you can’t get turn signals to synchronize (except now you can)

Technology Connextras (my second channel where stuff goes sometimes)

Technology Connections on Mastodon:

The TC Subreddit

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00:00 Intro
01:47 Demonstration
03:15 Regen braking and one-pedal driving
09:17 Somebody forgot about the brake lights
12:25 One solution that GM came up with
15:12 Adaptive cruise control
16:25 US regulations
21:15 The Boy who Cried Wolf problem
21:50 Europe’s previously terrible regulations and their fix
25:47 An earnest call to action
28:38 Bloops

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48 Responses

  1. Technology Connections says:

    It appears I should have had more faith in the land of amber turn signals! Apparently you’ve had a quite sensible regulation on the books since 2015. The thing that was just approved in March was a UN thing not adopted by the EU – oops! Apologies from this American, I shouldn’t have doubted you. Here’s the current in-force regulation:

    • Nelson Stack says:

      I still want a 4 wheel steering electric clutch for my cybertruck. warthog.

    • Mr Quackers says:

      I h@t3 that they made my cars turn signal in the rear red so much that i replaced the clear bulb with a green led behind the red lens that equals something close to amber. But you know whats worse than combining the brake signal with the turn signal, those new cars that have it when the front turn signal is on, the headlight turns off, like who thought that was a good idea

    • steveman1982 says:

      Three consecutive utterances of “aluminium” and “autumn”, and you are duly forgiven.

    • Mike Harris says:

      This is the same issue that Manual transmissions have. With my ’05 GTO with a 6 speed manual… I do 90% of my driving with NO brakes… even in rush hour traffic… I can drive with “1 foot” as well, well, 2 because – clutch. But yes, manual transmissions have had this issue since the beginning of time…. so this is not new…

    • Ulf Zimmermann says:

      @Mr Quackers Or the front turn signals all clear with a tiny amber light, which is not visible in sun light.

  2. Tim Seguine says:

    As a software engineer I feel qualified to say that one man’s software can also be the same man’s nightmare.

  3. AG311215 says:

    Having driven manual transmissions all my life (30+ years and now having an EV) made me aware of two things:
    1) Don’t expect the driver behind you to see you’re slowing down just because you’re slowing down. Don’t overly use compression braking if someone’s too close behind.
    2) EV’s one pedal driving is easier than I thought to be accustomed to!

    • Kostas Tsakalidis says:

      As a 20 years manual transmition driver and a 1 year Polestar 2 driver, halleluiah

    • CrownRock1 says:

      I always find it a little jarring to drive an automatic. It takes me a few miles to get used to going from three pedals to two.
      And you made the leap straight to one pedal. You have my respect, sir.

    • phl says:

      As a manual driver, I can shift down to slow down. Guess what, no break lights as well.

    • MonkeyJedi99 says:

      This one-pedal driving seems to me to be the first length of a path that will lead to drivers who don’t know how to drive other vehicles.
      Much like how manual transmissions today are almost an anti-theft device.

    • MonkeyJedi99 says:

      @phl I used that once in a Bronco against a state cop who was tailgating me at 40MPH so closely I couldn’t see his windshield in my rear-view mirror.
      After he swerved into the breakdown lane, he stopped tailgating me.

  4. Flybert says:

    You keep reading my mind when you make these videos. Heat pumps, EV brakes, the color brown. I can’t wait to see what you make next because it’s going to be something else that’s on my mind.

  5. Albert Kilger says:

    I am an engineer for the Wisconsin DOT, however I work in the materials unit – so there’s nothing I can directly do about it. I will see if I can start to build some awareness of this either via a US DOT contact or through the Federal Highway Administration. If I reach a dead end here, I will remember to try bring up this topic at our annual national Transportation Research Board conference in January 2024. Otherwise excellent video and thank you for bringing awareness to this issue!

    • MURD3R3D says:

      This has been a problem for other cars as well. I have 2 gen 1 Chevy volts and they DO NOT use the brake lights until you use the brake pedal. In Low gear (1 pedal mode) it doesn’t even matter if you let off the gas pedal as it does in the Hyundai he demonstrates. No brake lights until you press the brake pedal.

    • radishpineapple74 says:

      Please also bring up the following:
      * Wis DOT keeps standing in the way of cities like Madison who are trying to move away from car dependency by forcing cities to keep high-speed stroads which cut cities in half and mow down pedestrians, all the while doing nothing to provide those users the ability to safely cross via underpasses and overpasses
      * stop thinking that “just one more lane” will solve anything
      * completely arbitrary and socially unequal decisions on which neighborhoods deserve noise protection from freeways and which do not
      * please fix the pedestrian signal timing for crosswalks across US-route interchanges, whereby law-abiding citizens are forced to press 3+ beg buttons and wait for more than 4 minutes
      * SUV and light truck safety ratings must also take into account their increased danger to sedans and especially pedestrians and cyclists
      I get it that engineers are a generally conservative bunch, but the old brass in your profession are standing in the way of progress and artificially prolonging our necessary transition away from car dependency.

    • Luke Griswell says:

      You should run for president this is more awareness than anyone in office

    • Ali the Radikal says:

      @radishpineapple74 Of course Madison had to be involved…
      You know, the place would be better named if they dropped everything after the 3rd letter

    • Quill Clock says:

      bless you

  6. Brennan Harris says:

    I’ve been driving an EV6 for the last few months, (best car I’ve ever driven) but shortly after purchasing I noticed exactly what you’re talking about, and tbh it’s a bit concerning. Whenever using i-pedal I’m always weary of rear traffic. I’m no software engineer but it seems like a fairly simple update could be implemented to fix this. Thanks for bringing attention to the problem!

  7. Intel Core i7 7700k says:

    As a avid motorcyclist, I experience this issue regularly; engine breaking is very strong, especially in lower gears and I end of having to pulse the brakes just enough to get the taillight to come on. Creating a sort of red flash.

    • SuperSpy says:

      I was recently doing a trip through mountains on the highway and a similar thought occurred to me. I drive a pickup with a pretty strong engine/transmission combination, and when my cruise control was doing engine braking just by pulling the throttle all the way out I could decelerate (relative to the slope) just as strong as the other cars around me that were using their brakes.

      It made me think “Should my brakes be lighting up too?” I wasn’t technically slowing down, but my vehicle definitely wasn’t acting like you would expect from a strong (IIRC it was 8%) downhill grade.

    • Sir James W. V. Savile, OBE says:

      Several years ago, I saw a device that was on kickstarter that would light up similar brake lights when a motorcycle decelerated at a certain rate. No idea if the concept ever went anywhere or not.

    • RidinDirtyRollinBurnouts says:

      ​@SuperSpy engine braking isn’t necessarily an intent to slow down as much as it is deceleration as a side effect of the engine’s condition. Jake brakes don’t make tail lights come in iirc and that’s intentional deceleration

    • werdwerdus says:

      ​@Sir James W. V. Savile, OBE yep, i have one! it’s called Brake Free

    • VestedUTuber says:

      Same thing with manual cars.

  8. phil dittrich says:

    I’m an automotive lighting, safety engineer, and just shared this with my team. Keep up the good work 😇

    • SirBlastalot says:

      If you’re at one of the manufacturers that does this, could you ask the team to stop doing the thing where brakelights FLASH every time you press the brake? It bothers me when I see it, because flashing your brakes already means “back off,” and sending that message every time you brake is like leaning on your horn every time you have the car in gear; it just leads to alert fatigue and reduces your ability to actually communicate with the drivers around you.

    • reef tank says:

      @SirBlastalot in DFW area in Texas a lot of the dealers do an aftermarket device that flashes the brake lights.

    • blasiankxng says:

      @SirBlastalot I think this happens for safety reasons, a lot more noticeable that someone is braking at night, though i’m not entirely sure how true that may be

    • NeuralNoise says:

      Also turning on reverse (white) lights when unlocking a car needs to stop. This makes it appear as if a car is about to back up, but it’s just being unlocked in a dark environment. It adds alert fatigue which means when someone really is backing up, you might think they’re just getting in the cars. I think Chevrolet does this and it drives me nuts.

    • 747simmer says:

      @SirBlastalot its a safety feature so you have no excuse but to notice them braking. in motorcycle academies they advise you to, albeit manually, flash the brakes before fully braking so you can be seen. your sadly a minority

  9. BananaJoe says:

    In Germany we are taught NOT to follow cars too closely so you can coast the vehicle down instead of using the brakes all the time.

    • corail53 says:

      Most of the world gets taught that – this comment section is full of people who probably should not be driving.

    • Someone says:

      @corail53 The streets are full with people who should not be driving so this adds up.
      Sadly losing your license is a “unalive penalty light” without public transportation. The car industry knows how to make countries dependent.

    • Woods Gebbia says:

      In any US city if you leave more than a car length between you and the car in front you end up with another car taking that space

    • OkenWS says:

      I feel like only in Germany would you find other drivers who don’t immediately take that as an invitation to fill the space because they MUST GET IN FRONT.

    • Brad Snider says:

      An ex-girlfriend had me 80% talked into moving from USA to Germany. She was labeling my life with P-touch German words. Light switches, appliances…. The biggest attraction for me, in all sincerity, was the way Germans seem to take pride in their driving.

      Driving a proper car in Germany is a bucket list thing. So many excellent pieces of tarmac to choose from.

  10. Jacob Sexton says:

    Had no idea this is possible! Thank you for bringing awareness to this issue

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