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Your Car Could Know When To Brake Before You Do

Rear-end crashes are the most frequent type of car crashes, responsible for 30% of injuries and 29.7% of property damage, according to a federal study.

Approximately 29.7% of all crashes in 2000 were rear-end crashes, according to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that also found that young males under 18 years old were the most likely to be involved in such crashes.

Better brake lights may help solve some of that problem — for all ages — as engineers and automakers are coming up with new ways for brake lights to warn drivers of hard braking by something more than the red brake light going on.

An intelligent brake light being developed by Ford could allow your car to know when to brake long before you do. The light transmits a wireless signal to illuminate a dashboard light in vehicles behind it, even if they’re around a corner or behind other traffic.

Ford is testing the new technology in Germany, where researchers found it could help drivers brake sooner and potentially avoid an accident altogether. Ford has a patent on the rear collision warning system.

Some new brake light technologies aren’t allowed in the United States. Strobe brake lights that Mercedes-Benz sells in cars in Europe aren’t allowed in the U.S. by government regulators, who say brake lights should only glow more brightly than the taillights and shouldn’t flash.

Mercedes in Europe has cars with brake lights that flash quickly when hard brake pressure is applied, warning drivers behind them of a sudden stop. In an online video, driver reaction times were reported to be shortened by up to 0.2 seconds and reduce the stopping distance.

If the “adaptive brake light” is activated at high speeds, it remains active until the vehicle comes to a halt, and the hazard warning system is automatically switched on when the vehicle stops. The hazard lights can be turned off at any time, or if the car stops in dense moving traffic and then slowly starts moving again, the hazard lights are turned off.

Mercedes was allowed to begin a trial program for the flashing brake lights on a few cars in the U.S., according to Popular Mechanics.