My objective in this page is to point out that, in my opinion, the NHTSA has been, and remains, inexcusably negligent in its refusal to do meaningful testing of the RLMS* approach to automotive rear lighting.


* RLMS stands for "Red Light Means Stop"


Consider what you see when you drive at night: a plethora of red colored rear lights on the rear of vehicles in front of you. While some of those vehicles might be stopping, most are usually simply driving forward ahead of you. Most of the red colored rear lights (the so called "running lights") are simply marking the position of a vehicle ahead. You can immediately tell that a vehicle ahead is being braked only when you see the red colored rear lights get brighter, or of red lights that seem brighter are accompanied by illumination of a high-mounted, center brake signalight. Many vehicles are not equipped with a high-mounted, center brake signal light. The rate of failure in the high-mounted brake signal light is much higher than in other automotive rear lights. This is especially unfavorable because if you think the red colored lights are brighter than the running lights, but you can see a high-mounted center light that is NOT illuminated, the non-illumination of the high-mounted brake signal light is in direct contradiction to your opinion that the red colored rear lights seem to be brighter and should therefor be regarded as brake signal lights. Maybe your first thought, that the red colored rear lights are brighter than running lights, is simply wrong. At adverse moments encountered by all drivers in Real-world driving, the brake signal provided by current automotive frear lights can be very uncertain ...

Now consider what you could see if the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) would allow use of RLMS rear lights: most of the rear lights on vehicles ahead would be amber colored rear lights to replace the currently red colored running lights. You could still easily recognize the presence of a vhicle ahead, AND you could immediately tell that the vehicle is being driven forward, not being braked.


It is disturbing to see that the NHTSA has chosen to simply ignore the RLMS approach to automotive rear lighting. To do nothing is, of course, the easiest thing to do. But to do nothing is NOT the reasonable or responsible thing to do.