Bern trio patent front brake light

Could front brake lights improve road safety? Keystone

Last summer, standing at a busy pedestrian crossing in Bern, businessman, Thomas Mischler, asked an obvious question. Why don't cars have front braking lights?

This content was published on March 7, 2001 - 18:50

Nine months on and Mischler and two friends, Mario Imhof and Simon Sigg, have worked on the project and filed a patent with the European Patent Office in Munich.

Imhof explains how the idea was born: "Last summer, the three of us were crossing the road together when Mischler said: 'Why on earth can't you see from the front that a car is braking? It would be a lot less dangerous crossing the road'.

"We had a laugh about it and didn't think anything more of it. Then in January, Thomas raised the idea again and said: 'What are we doing with our front braking-light idea?' So we sat down and worked out the advantages.

"There are benefits for drivers as well as pedestrians. For example if you've got traffic going in the opposite direction which is turning across your lane, it's helpful to know if they're braking or not."

The idea of brake lights on the front of vehicles has received a cautious welcome from the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention.

"Basically we think it is a good idea," says vice-president, Raphael Huguenin. "It's easier for the pedestrian to interpret what the driver is doing, especially in front of a zebra crossing but this kind of information could be misinterpreted because sometimes the driver is going to brake not because of the pedestrian but for a different reason and this could lead to a fatal collision."

The trio have spent about SFr8,000 filing the patent. They expect a nine-month wait before the case is considered.

by Vincent Landon

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