The idea here is pretty simple. Attach to trucks a laser beam, similar to what might be used at laser shows, or even just a good strong light with some filters and lenses, that projects a pattern on the road in front the moving truck to dissuade cars from merging into the danger zone in front of the truck. The cost to produce such a device is likely much less than the cost paid out by trucking and insurance companies every year for accidents caused by improper merges, and the fact that it would probably save lives is pretty sweet.
Key Benefits: Likely relatively low cost for saving lives. Reasonably low impact to the transportation system. Central payers, namely insurance companies and trucking companies would make marketing such a device easier.
Perceived Challenges on top of design, development and testing: Highway board approvals, informing motorists to avoid the projected pattern, determining what to project to be deterrent but not distracting, ensuring it works in adverse conditions like snow and fog, etc…
Features to Consider
- Pattern to project should be obvious but not distracting, language neutral to work in multiple countries, and intuitive for motorists. In the attachment, I propose a pattern of red X’s (possibly flashing?).
- Depth of projection would be best served if tied to cargo weight and speed (i.e. stopping distance) so if the truck is empty, the field projected would be much shorter than a fully loaded semi.
- Driver configurable: Should be able to turn on, off, and adjust as needed with minimal assistance.
Taken from http://www.ntsb.gov statistics page, 12/26/12: “The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a cost-benefit analysis of forward collision warning systems for the trucking industry in February 2009, estimating that between 8,597 and 18,013 rear-end crashes could have been prevented from 2001 to 2005 had these systems been on trucks. With such promising potential to improve highway safety, this technology should be robustly deployed throughout the passenger and commercial fleets.”