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Could Letting Drivers Communicate via LED Screen Help Quell Road Rage? (lamag.com)
17 points by 80mph 37 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 50 comments

Candidate buyers:

1. Ragers. Not known for their apologies. So screw them. They don't need another tool to communicate their rage.

2. Recipients of rage. Is this so they can offer an apology? Surely nobody believes they need to apologize for their driving frequently enough to buy and install such a device. And if they want to respond to the rager with a plausible defense message, well, that's not going to quell a rager!

3. Those who want to broadcast an undirected opinion. Mod the device to bypass the 50 sanitized preset messages and you can show everyone your political beliefs, meme, or pithy quote. So basically dynamic LED bumper stickers. Free speech, fine, but more distraction. Yawn.

Maybe earn some money by running ads on it? Big mistake / many make / rely on horn / instead of brake. Burma Shave

Adblockers (black tape) sold at intersections in 3... 2... 1... :+)

edit: and trolling messages through black tape with profanities using the same fonts.

I could have used this today. I was travelling up a single track road near Glastonbury in Somerset when I came across a very large camper van stuck blocking the entire road. There was nothing else for it but for me to reverse for 1/4 mile back to the main road where the road widened. However every car that came up behind was flashing their lights angrily and couldnt get what I was trying to do. Some LED's with a message relayed back to the first car could have saved a lot of anger and time.

Trouble is, the UK Police and authorities are against even hands free phones (https://inews.co.uk/news/technology/hands-free-mobile-phones...) , let alone a mechanism to communicate visually with other drivers. I could see it getting banned here before it even takes off, which is a shame.

>> I could see it getting banned here before it even takes off, which is a shame.

Maybe in the UK, but there are some interesting legal debates to be had. This is a freedom of speech issue. This is an electronic bumper sticker, one that can be changed on the fly but still a form of speech.

See Kovacs v. Cooper, 336 U.S. 77 (1949) for the debate re "sound trucks", vehicles with PA systems for making public announcements. They upheld the ban, but it wasn't a simple case. Freedom of speech goes a long way. A silent sign that can only be seen by a handful of cars behind you? Imho the 1949 court would have allowed it.

The only reason why it would be banned in the EU is if the display was made out of Red or Blue LEDs - you cannot have any lights in those colours that are not already part of the factory equipment(that law exists to prevent people from having flashing red and blue lights and impersonating police cars).

If the display was made out of white or green LEDs then I can only assume there would be no issue using such device.

Just get out of your car and tell them if they aren't moving. It's not that scary. I don't get why people don't just get out of their car except in extreme anger. You'd really sit there and type something up to communicate with a person ten metres behind you?

Perhaps he did that. And then a third car arrived behind them both. By the way, the driver of he third car might be not able to read the message on the LED. So what.

I predict this would lead to “road trolling” which would probably end up causing more road rage. A better solution, without giving up privacy, might be a social system of flagging people for unsafe driving, aggressive driving, etc. Set the threshold really high. You don’t want to take action against the old lady who inconvenienced everyone by breaking down in a turn lane one day, you want the ones who day after day get flagged. I imagine everyone would drive a lot nicer if there were consequences to aggressive driving. Just like everyone wants to play nice suddenly when the cops are around. Boldest speed demon in the world suddenly finds he can drive 55 after all.

> A better solution, without giving up privacy, might be a social system of flagging people for unsafe driving, aggressive driving, etc. [...] I imagine everyone would drive a lot nicer if there were consequences to aggressive driving.

And what's the consequence if you got flagged? I find it disconcerting for the government to dole out punishments based on (what is essentially) downvotes from random people. How can you ensure those flagged people are getting due process?

There are several things that can be done without too harsh of consequences that it'd need a watertight due process.

First is positive reinforcement, let people "upvote" others for good driving etiquette, then give the top 0.1% or whatever a special decal to display on their plate, or a special plate. Fakes are enforced by when, if you're ever pulled over, the officer looks up whether you were entitled to that decal and then a hefty fine if you faked it. Or maybe even officers just randomly noting down the plates to later check if it was legit, can even enforce it via existing traffic rules enforcement cameras and in both cases, fines are imposed like redlight cameras do now. Maybe even allow the driver to share the designation with their insurance company which may decide to reduce their rates.

Another way would be to send some nastygrams via snail mail to the worst 1% or so, "you were voted the worst 1% of drivers by your peers". However without any other negative consequences, this might be gamed i.e "I'm so badass that I got this letter", leading to some people trying to get those letters. Since the tagging is by car, maybe give access to the insurance companies to the very worst offending cars to raise the rates for insurance on that _car_, not the driver associated with it, since someone else could be driving it.

Nice, so then we need a social score for drivers similar to the chinese model, if you will?

Sort of like Black Mirror S3E1? Or China's social credit system?

If the signs are a fixed set (like emoji) trolling can be avoided.

I want a sign that keeps flashing "YOU ARE TOO CLOSE" when someone comes closer than N meters, where N is roughly my speed in km/h divided by 10. My number one annoyance on roads in Poland is that a lot of drivers don't give a damn about safe distance. It's not fun when you're driving 90 km/h with a small kid in the back and have another car stuck 2 meters behind you.

This is about as dumb as training kindergarteners to hide during a school shooting. It doesn't address the root problem, angry people who can't handle their emotions in public.

A proximate cause is that other drivers are depersonalized since you see them “embodied” as a car. I think if these could be used to humanize other drivers that would help address that issue. For example, using these signs to say what you are doing eg “going to grandmas!” or who you are eg “just a tired parent, sorry for any bad driving!” would lighten the mood and hopefully trigger empathy in other drivers.

>as dumb as training kindergarteners to hide during a school shooting

Duck and cover seems to be the time tested favorite go to nonsolution solution of the human race.

Wrt. the original post - how availability of instant communication between strangers affects civility of the discourse one can just look at Twitter... At least Twitter users usually don't have a 2 ton deadly device right in your immediate vicinity which they can use to substantiate their angry tweet.

It doesn't appear to be using LEDs intended for outdoor brightness. I suspect it won't be very readable during the day, especially given most cars have tinted rear windows.

BP is currently distributing a thumbs up display along these lines in New Zealand [0]. I've yet to see one in the wild.

[0] https://www.bp.com/en_nz/new-zealand/home/products-and-servi...

It'd probably just used to give people a giant ascii finger.

I'd expect "8======D" more often tbh, but it's not going to end well either way.

I think the idea is to only let people use preprogrammed messages (this also helps with the language barrier). So only inane, pleasant sentiments like "Go for it!" "My fault." "Wow!" "Oops." "Whew!" "What a save!" No one would manage to be passive-aggressive using a system like this. No, sir or madam. It would be impossible.


We will communicate purely in emojis, obviously. No words necessary. A square of LED hieroglyph expressing annoyance, sorrow, gratitude, yes I want fries with that, etc.

Imagine it. Doesn't it feel totally natural?

I have tought of this before. Maybe a "HuD" display (with dash mounted lcd as an alternate) where not just other drivers but the road and traffic authorities communicate things to the driver. Like tell them what lanes to stay on based on destination,real time info about the current lane,notify users when they drive too slow/fast for their lane and communicate other drivers intent and much more...except define it as international protocol standard.

If it’s just a button that flashes “Sorry!” then maybe. Anything beyond that will a) create distraction for the driver and / or b) just be used to say “go fuck yourself”

Don't know about other countries, but in Russia we say sorry all the time flashing hazard lights briefly. Pretty much every driver on the road knows that.

This is a great idea. Every once in a while, I want to say "I'm sorry" to someone in another car, and I'm not sure how. Currently, I wave and grimace, but I'm not sure that gets the message across.

I wonder what it would take for something like this to spread across the globe as the standard way to say "I'm sorry" to someone in another vehicle.

I would say about 75% of people that give me a non-verbal "sorry" or shrug have just knowingly been arseholes i.e. really not sorry at all.

Perhaps a "thank you" is the right tone - something that encourages better social interactions.

Although you can get thumbs up "thank you" from arsehole drivers too: it's not just angry drivers that are selfish. One of my favourite stories is a little old lady that prangs into my stopped vehicle - and then does a runner - bless her.

Someone is smoking their socks.

Car twitter is the last thing we need both from distraction point of view & just de-escalating situations.

Drivers need less distractions, not more. Unless cars start requiring copilots to operate, stop adding "features".

This is highly unsafe and possibly illegal. You cannot have a metal box (or anything with more mass than a few sheets of paper) suction cupped to the window as it will detach and smash the back of your head in an accident, probably killing you.

I've often thought that it would be nice to have a chording keyboard on my steering wheel or shifter so that I could type while driving. Sending those messages to a screen, or to the car directly via radio transmission would be an interesting advancement.

I could see a use a screen saying, I'm travelling as fast as the guy after me, so back off. It's so annoying to be after those drivers that can't seem to understand it's not your fault that you're driving so slow.

That's only OK if you do actually plan to overtake the guy in front of you. If not you should leave enough room for the guy behind you to overtake you. It's really annoying when people sit with no space but don't overtake.

Bumper sticker: sorry in advance.

Front bumper sticker in reverse font to be read bu rearview mirror:

“Please get out the way/this lane/go faster”

Bonus points if you're breaking the law, as seen in most "fast" drivers. Easily seen as "idiot on the lane, get out".

Ooohhh i have an idea:

Put a bunch of actual police plate numbers on bumper stickers...

(Recall police plate numbers never contain letters) just numbers.

Put these numbers all over your bumper and see if you get a tocket going through a toll

(Keep your actuallly legal plate and tags on the car, just tesf which ones they pickup first)

this isn't anything new - see CarWink[1] from 2 years ago for example. I didn't become a backer of that kickstarter iirc because one couldn't make their own graphics or translate the text for non-English speaking countries etc.

[1]: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/503429569/carwink-makin...

Have these people never seen Twitter?!?

I would just like a horn that can blow to the car in back of me. thanks.

Can't wait to see someone mod this and display expletives on it.

"Messages include common driving phrases and an option you can customize."

Looks like no modding needed, unless the thing has a profanity filter, in which case boo

Have you seen a Facebook thread recently? This can only end poorly.

How about training drivers to not be dumbasses instead?

There was one of these for sale years ago. You put it in rear window and you could scroll messages along it.

Well, letting hackers communicate on a moderated HN still doesn’t quell nerd rage.

So what we really need is rude driver shadow-banning, using “SEP Field” technology from the Hitchhiker’s Guide:

”An SEP is something we can't see, or don't see, or our brain doesn't let us see, because we think that it's somebody else's problem. That’s what SEP means. Somebody Else’s Problem. The brain just edits it out, it's like a blind spot.”

PS. See also, Betteridge’s Law of Headlines.

Betteridge's Law of Headlines strikes again!

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