By Caleb Larkin
Capital West News
SALT LAKE CITY – A new bill would allow Utah vehicle owners to add optional flashing brake lights which have been shown to improve driver responsiveness.
HB302 legalizes a pulsating brake light for cars. The House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standing Committee passed the bill unanimously.
“This is brought out of a safety concern,” said Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, adding that with one more second of warning, 90 percent of rear end collisions can be avoided.
A Utah-based company patented a new brake light system. Brake lights using this technology have a flashing rear light. Perry explained that most individuals’ natural reaction when someone follows them too closely is to tap their breaks. It “let’s them know we are there and not going as fast as they think we are,” he said.
Safety First Brake Light designed the flashing brake light to capture a driver’s attention quicker than a solid light. The third brake light is the only light that flashes using this system.
The Department of Transportation performed a study that found a pulsating or flashing light increases the driver’s reaction times by almost 50 percent.
The brake light design catches a driver’s attention without distracting them. “The light doesn’t keep flashing. You have to have your foot off the break for a full 5 seconds and then push again to get it to flash again,” said Perry.
Safety First Break Light brought the studies to the attention of state legislators. The Utah Highway Patrol determined state law would need to be changed to make the brake light system legal.
“Sixty-nine percent of distracted drivers are more likely to see the pulsating light [than the current braking system],” said Bill Brimley, a sales manager for Safety First Brake Light.
The new brake light technology has been in the market for the last two years. While several states have already adopted the new system, Safety First Brake Light is currently trying to pass federal legislation to make the flashing brake lights legal across the entire country.
“It’s not going to flash like an emergency vehicle, but the bill allows an exemption for motor vehicles to have this kind of flashing light. The bill also provides for certain trailers and semis to use a flashing light option for brake lights,” Perry said. “The Utah Highway Patrol also believes this [new braking system] may help prevent rear end collisions.”