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For a long time, I wondered why is there not a separate indication to signify a u-turn, e.g. the rear lights would have two segments for flickering lights - one spaced on top of the other - as to indicate such intention.

I've always felt that u-turning should have its own indication, as drivers should be notified on such a particularly risky maneuver.

Well, is it really a good idea? And, are there any car manufacturers out there already implementing such a notion?

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    Considering the fact that current turn signals often aren't even used when they should, what would make someone use a different signal in a situation that is even less common than taking a corner? – Marjan Venema Feb 5 '14 at 10:27
  • good point, mister. – Eliran Malka Feb 5 '14 at 10:29
  • Car developers are chiefly looking at vehicle-to-vehiclecommunication. Knowing the wheel position, speed & position of the pedals, a car can predict quite well where it will be. Already cars are starting to incorporate automated braking, with V2V communications this will become even easier. U-turns are characterized by strong wheel deflection & low speed, which should be sufficient to warn other cars. So adding different signals is just designing for obsolescence. – MSalters Feb 5 '14 at 11:52
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Nobody considers it necessary. Why is that?

First of all, the number one cause of traffic accidents is still speeding. Followed by drunk driving.

Source: What are the most common causes of road accidents? (Sorry I couldn't find one in English)

U-turn accidents are in fact so rare that german police put them together with normal turning ("abbiegen") and driving backwards ("ruckwartsfahren").

Source: Traffic accident statistics - Significantly fewer deaths than in 2011

Also, you should not forget that adding more signals wouldn't be necessarily more safe since it adds a lot more complexity and makes it harder to judge situations.

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    that is not the case in my country - the number one cause for fatal injuries due traffic accidents is speeding, yes - but the number one cause for traffic accidents is lane crossing. – Eliran Malka Feb 5 '14 at 10:01
  • i agree with you on the redundancy on this due adding more complexity. +1 for the citations - thanks for putting the time and effort to look it up. – Eliran Malka Feb 5 '14 at 10:04
  • @EliranMalka interesting. The problem with the statistics is indeed, that it is very different from county to country. Example: in germany, if it's dangerous to turn, you probably can't do it anyway because of physical barriers... – Lovis Feb 5 '14 at 10:30
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I haven't seen anything like that, which means that if somebody has implemented, I didn't understand the signals.

I'm not sure if that would be a good idea, not because of the novelty, but because it would make more cramped the signalling area of the car and so more complex to understand and prone to misinterpretations, not to mention that many countries don't allow U turns, which would introduce more changes on car design to be sold here and there.

I travel a lot and I have had to be on the road in different countries, with good and bad drivers, U turns, roundabouts, etc, and I find a lot more congestion on roads with U turns, at least on the places where I have been. I can only speak about my experience as driver.

  • Could it not be easily done by making the signals that are already there just light up differently? For example, within the same light they could use a U-shaped light pattern to designate a U-turn and a solid light pattern to designate the directional turn. – Code Maverick Feb 5 '14 at 4:07
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    the thing is that there are hundreds of light designs on cars, trucks and bikes, so you can't assume you can combine different lights. On one light, one block of colours, made of, for instance leds, you assume that you can manipulate those with a computer/chip and only light part of them, but, what happens with all the cars that don't use that kind of technology? what happen with bikes? In an arrangement of three rows of leds, leaving only the middle one off would be visible from a far or at night? – PatomaS Feb 5 '14 at 5:15
  • It could be a thought going forward, not necessarily for existing designs. New lights could have it, and they could make aftermarket parts that were backward compatible if they could be. Just a thought. – Code Maverick Feb 5 '14 at 5:33
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    I'm in favor of improvements, and may be one day we will use it, who knows. Plus somebody still can answer more on the line of what you expect. – PatomaS Feb 5 '14 at 5:37
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    It's definitely an interesting topic for sure. I know I've always just wished they'd build better roads, more equipped to handle u-turns. A lot of roads in the US have u-turn only lanes at lights that allow the bypassing of the light, but that's obviously only on one-way streets. Still though, a lot of improvements could be made in making the u-turn safer. – Code Maverick Feb 5 '14 at 7:18
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I believe that this could one day be possible, but like others have mentioned, it would require a lot of hardware / legal restructuring, etc. unless there's a huge shift in car lighting technology.

With that said, I do know that Audi has prototyped amazing OLED lights which they call "The Swarm". In my eyes, I find them beautiful and almost organic as if it were alive. I don't see how this couldn't be used to make a new lighting pattern or a U shaped design to indicate u-turns on audis. Again, it would first require all major automobile brands to adapt this new tech.

I do agree, that this idea would help make roads a bit safer, but then again, eliminating u-turns could do that to a much greater degree.

There is another way of going about this, that could reach the market much faster, without requiring any hardware changes. Similar to how bike trail lighting works, such as BLAZE, a user could attach a small laser device to the bottom front and back end of a vehicle or bike, and either through bluetooth, etc, with the press of a button (from within the car) the device can light up. This device would project an animated u turn symbol in front of the car (for when stopped at a red light, to notify oncoming traffic), and a symbol in the back to let those behind you, know your intentions.

I made a quick animation to showcase what I mean by laser trails. I did it quickly, so it might look a bit ehh. Hope this helps!

Link: http://s30.postimg.org/6e4r1xhn3/Cars.gif

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    The image isn't visible... – Lovis Feb 5 '14 at 8:08
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    Oh that's strange it works on my mac... hmmm. Here's the link: s30.postimg.org/6e4r1xhn3/Cars.gif – VAlexander Feb 5 '14 at 8:21
  • your idea is nice, but i'm more concerned about the cars behind the turning car. often there are micro unpredictable maneuvers that can confuse the hell out of the driver behind... that's my initial trigger for asking this. – Eliran Malka Feb 5 '14 at 9:58

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