To the general public, vehicle lights have long been thought of in rough binary terms: effective or ineffective, stylish or ugly, novel or conventional. Likewise, the regulations that govern them are generally pondered only when a driver gets a ticket for improper lights, and then it's another simple binary: legal or illegal. Those of us in the lighting community know the reality is far more nuanced and vastly more complex. This is particularly the case when a new way of providing a required safety lighting function comes forth for regulatory consideration. Ours is a field wherein science, law, economics, international trade, and politics all converge. The necessary discussions involve enormous amounts of scientific research and debate on the technical details, the safety performance, the indirect effects and consequences, and the cost-effectiveness of a new technique not previously envisioned. Moreover, political considerations are a prominent factor; every proposal to do something in a new and different way will inevitably entail potential boons and advantages to some interested parties and disadvantages and hardships to others—commercial and otherwise.
Effectively managing and wrangling these scientific, technical, and political proceedings is a difficult job requiring thoughtful consideration and informed, patient, fair-minded, cooperative, skillful negotiation. Our community is most fortunate to have keenly able minds at the head of our working groups and technical committees. They selflessly place themselves at the epicentres of multidrectional tug-o'-wars for the betterment and advancement of traffic safety via vehicle lighting.
We at Driving Vision News, in turn, have crucial responsibilities as the journal of record for vehicle lighting and driver assistance matters round the world. If we're to be of credible service to our community, our responsibilities run much deeper and broader than just reporting facts accurately to high journalistic standards. We must heed and delineate the boundaries between established fact and knowledge on the one hand, and opinion and speculation—even by accomplished experts—on the other. Furthermore, the political sensitivity involved in regulatory negotiation demands our observance and respect. We must take care to report from an open- and fair-minded, even-handed, appropriately skeptical, yet neutral position. We must strive to inform without inflaming.
A particularly important kind of distinction we must always carefully and accurately maintain is the difference between conclusions suggested by theoretical research and laboratory studies, versus conclusions established by tabulations of actual real-world data. The simulation and theoretical analysis techniques so directly applicable when developing regulations for vehicle crashworthiness (e.g., seat belts) and post-crash survivability (e.g., fireproofing) are much less directly apposite in the crash-avoidance realm.