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Some cars have red turn signal lamps, while others have an amber hue. Big deal, right? The National Highway Traffic Safety Association thinks it is, after finding that amber lights are 5.3% more effective at preventing crashes than the red blinkers. NHTSA came to that conclusion after comparing crash data of vehicles that switched from one color to another. Europe already mandates the amber turn signal, and NHTSA says that data from other agencies supports their findings. As it is, American cars sold in Europe already receive legal turn signal units – even if they aren't sold that way in America (see Chevrolet's C6 Corvette as an example).

NHTSA is now asking the public whether it should mandate amber turn signals for all vehicles sold in the States. Unfortunately for automakers, amber turn signals aren't exactly high fashion here in the U.S., as the vast majority of the signals are of the red blinking variety, likely because of cost considerations. While it's true that the auto industry is probably suffering from a case of far too many regulations, anything that can improve safety by up to 5.3% without costing an arm and a leg is probably worth considering. If NHTSA gives automakers a reasonable amount of time to implement the changes, automakers may be able to fit the change into the next design cycle.

[Source: Kicking Tires]


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  • 123 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wouldn’t using amber turn signals actually lower costs? Having the same housing for Canadian, European (I’m sure Latin countries too) & now US would make it better since car manufactures can buy more of the same part (thus lowering its cost per part). But also less inventory of different parts for same more or less function. No?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Costs are going to skyrocket because everyone knows that amber turn signal fluid is more expensive that red turn signal fluid.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow, it sucks that style would matter more than safety, cause I always wondered what was taking so long for amber turn signals to be mandatory.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I say if President Obama wants to get rid of useless federal bureaucracies, NHTSA is a perfect place to start.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I totally agree with this. I hate it when some idiot steps on the brakes repeatedly while one of his brake lights is burned out. You don't know if he's braking or signaling.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Imagine how crappy some cars would look. Dont let this pass.
      • 5 Years Ago
      They should make it standard ages ago... Also side markers should also be standard!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Amber makes it much easier to differentiate if someone is stopping, signaling for a turn, or both simultaneously. This will help in rush hour traffic when cars are bumper to bumper and the third brake light is obscured from view.

      I would like to see more adoption of turn signal lights on sideview mirrors.

      As for the aesthetics, I think orange turn signal covers are hideous. I rather have clear covers with orange bulbs or LEDs.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Meh. I don't mind red turnlights - *as long as it's a SEPARATE light*.

      I get incredibly annoyed at turn signals which are the same as the brake light. It gets worse when you get behind someone who has one tailight out...

      "oh, they're braking... oh wait, nevermind, they're just changing lanes."

      "oh, they're just changing lanes... OH NO THEY'RE STOPPING! OH SH..."

      It really affects the people who depend on brakelights to drive (the people who cannot judge bumper distances), and people like me who really appreciate people using their turn signals to signal turns or lane changes.

      There's no reason that you have to do that. Red or amber, I don't care, but at least keep the turn signal separate. Oh, and that stupid mod I see on some Mustangs where the light "flows" from the inside of the tailight to the outside for the turn signal is even stupider. As if it's not bad enough that its a single brake light/turn light, you have a signal that is so slow for a driver to determine whether the guy is braking, or actually signaling. I need to able to determine instantly whether it's a signal or not. There's no time to sit around and look at your cool looking, but completely impractical mod to see whether I need to back off a bit or speed up to ease your lane changes.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Good point. I wonder if any studies have looked at the separate (red) turn signals to see if they are equally effective.

        Interestingly my 14 year old Jeep has amber turn signals, but my 1 year old BMW does not. The BMW turn signal is a separate bulb.

        Not that it maters here in Atlanta...no one uses them!
      • 5 Years Ago
      not a big deal to me, i prefer red turn signals, still got to get people to actually use them
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm for it.
      I was driving behind a black Infiniti G sedan (can't recall if G35 or G37) the other night. It was about 8PM so he had his headlights on (meaning taillights were illuminated), but there was still some sunlight left. When he was slowing down to make a turn it was very hard to tell that he actually had his blinker on since it isn't a different light.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I always liked amber turn signals better, but I don't think the "5.3%" improvement is enough to have a law though. Especially since other studies show that not driving a car has a 100% improvement in preventing a car crash.

      I'm joking! Actually, it doesn't matter to me one way or another.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Does it matter? No one in US uses them anyway.
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