At every DVN Workshop and lighting congress, there are lectures and demonstrations and expositions of new lighting functions for cars to communicate with the equipped driver (width guidelines, lane keeping guidelines, etc) and with others—drivers and VRUs (turn signal and reversing lamp projections, road condition and looming-hazard warnings on the back of the vehicle, etc), to communicate with the surroundings; as well as other new lighting functions for styling and marketing and other nontraditional purposes (welcome and farewell light-fanfares, new decorative lights all over the outside and inside of the car).
So we have more and ever more new lighting functions developed by automakers and their suppliers, mostly without any research into their safety effects, whether directly or by distraction.
Even just a brief survey could at least provide a general suggestion about the potential risks and/or benefits, but there have been only a few studies started by the likes of TU Darmstadt and ELS/KIT—so far, these are scant exceptions to the general rule.
We should eagerly welcome them for their own worth as well as to encourage more work along this line, and now we have just such an opportunity with a study Audi started on the potential for distraction created by welcome/farewell lighting displays. You’ll find the work in this week’s In-Depth report.
For our part, we at DVN are working with major lighting experts on a study to better understand these new functions and prepare for their arrival.