Being tailgated by an inconsiderate or aggressive driver is frustrating, and many drivers feel a strong urge to let the offender know their feelings. In the normal run of events, the only choice is to gesture, shout or blow your horn in the hope that they will notice, but 9 times out of 10 the action goes straight over their heads, and the driver in front thinks it’s meant for them. Frustration with other drivers is the number one cause of road rage incidents, and it’s a good job that carrying guns isn’t so commonplace in the UK as it is in some other countries, where bad manners can lead to a shooting.
A few years ago, an enterprising electronics genius came up with a way of sending a message to the vehicle behind by using an array of LEDs in a panel that fitted across the entire rear window of a car. The driver could choose one of several pre-set messages to flash to the following vehicle, including gems such as ‘keep your distance’, ‘driving slowly and ‘turning’. However, the pre-set messages were not meant to be the whole story – it was intended that the driver could personalise the message to allow them to fully express their feelings.
Basically, the array consisted of a network of LEDs which were spaced two centimetres apart and connected together on a wire grid. Although the grid covered the whole of the rear window, the gaps were wide enough not to disrupt the driver’s view in the rear view mirror. The size of the array meant that you could display very simple messages, typically 2 words, which would scroll across in a similar way to a ticker.
The personalisation of the messages did prove problematical – the inventor intended that the driver could update the message via a Bluetooth receiver from a smartphone. The problem with this approach becomes immediately apparent when you consider that hand held phone usage is illegal while driving. Assuming a driver wanted to comply with the law, they would find it necessary to pull over before programming their message into the array. Unless the offending driver was prepared to wait around to read the message, they would be long gone before it was ready. On the other hand, if the driver broke the law and programmed a message while on the move, you can only imagine the chaos that would ensue, and the road rage incidents this could provoke.
LED Emoticons & Messages
It doesn’t look as though this particular spark of genius ever made it to the shops, but there are similar devices currently available for you to install in your car rear windscreen. For example, there are displays that show short messages or emoticon-type smiley, winking or frowning faces for a driver to use to let other motorists know what they think of their driving. To maintain a quiet life, perhaps it’s better to simply ignore other driver’s bad behaviour, rather than try to teach them good manners on the move!