And they will instantly make cars a whole lot safer.
There's nothing quite as scary as getting stuck on the side of the road after a crash or a breakdown and seeing cars flying past you, especially at night. According to a company called Emergency Safety Systems, part of the reason why an immobile car is so hazardous is that, regardless of whether its lights are on or not, the rate at which cars flash their hazards at the moment has not evolved since hazards were invented in 1951.
ESS wants to change that because while clever new safety systems are great, they can cause complacency. Hazard lights that blink faster could grab the attention of other motorists much better.
The current hazard system in most cars is based off the one invented almost 70 years ago and hasn't really evolved, but with LED technology, things could be improved. Speaking with Car & Driver, Stephen Powers, the co-founder of ESS says: "When you flash a red or amber light faster than 4 Hz, or four times per second, human beings pick that up in our peripheral vision. We can't help but notice it. It's an instinct."
With the technology that ESS is proposing to be rolled out everywhere, being alerted to an immobile car a little earlier can make all the difference in saving lives. Companies like Volvo have been revolutionizing safety tech but the hazard light hasn't been touched. There's no reason for this since the new tech - called Hazard Enhanced Lighting Package - would be very cheap to integrate.
The company's demonstration on a Tesla Model 3 shows just how much difference quicker hazards can make. It's caught the attention of the NHTSA, and there's a good chance that we could see this tech become obligatory very soon. "It's not a request that is sitting somewhere on the bottom of a stack and they just haven't gotten to it yet," says Powers. "They are actively working on it now. Could it be done by the end of this year, in terms of our U.S. regulatory work? Yes, that's very possible." The quicker flashing can be activated by a second push of the hazard button, as well as automatically in the event of a crash. We can't see why this hasn't been thought of sooner, really.