Imagine for a minute that you’ve been put in charge of a special car safety committee. You have the power to influence regulations car manufacturers have to adhere to. What small things, easily and cheaply achievable using current technology would you mandate in all future cars?
Here are some of my ideas:
1. A warning light for bad bulbs
This is such a simple thing that I’m completely baffled as to why it’s not more common. If certain manufacturers (Mercedes, BMW, MG, Volvo and more) can implement one of those, why can’t the rest? Mandating a warning light like this on all cars would weed out all the people who are simply oblivious to their cars having problems with lighting. No more cars with no brake lights, no more “stealth” cars that are barely visible at night. Those who still choose to drive with bulbs out would deserve a nice, fat ticket.
2. Tiered brake lights
A sightly more radical, but also reasonably simple idea. Why not make brake lights show how hard a car’s braking? In a 3 tier system we could have lights showing that the person ahead is just touching the brake, that they’re braking normally and that they’re making an emergency stop. Even a simpler 2 tier system would be an improvement. This would put an end to being scared by people riding their brakes on motorways or by those who can’t seem to drive smoothly in traffic.
3. Mandatory physical controls for HVAC and radio
I really hate the current trend of cramming all the possible functions of your car into a touchscreen infotainment system. While it’s nice that this seems to have solved the problem with way too many small buttons on the centre console that many cars in the mid 00's suffered from, we seem to have now arrived at the other extreme. I believe that all cars ought to have a way to operate the most used functions through physical buttons. Physical buttons are nice. They’re always there (unless you drive something French or Italian, in that case they may have fallen off) in the same place as usual, and you don’t even have to browse through any menus to find them! The functions I’d force manufacturers to bind to proper, physical controls are: radio volume, switch radio station/song, cabin temperature, and air recycling. I do not want to have to look down to a screen to find any of those.