Should Autonomous Cars Flash Lights for Truck Drivers So They Can Move Back Into The Lane?

When trucks pass each other on the highway it is considered proper protocol to let the passing driver know when their truck has cleared the slower truck so that the passing truck driver can merge back into the slower lane. This helps four-wheelers (regular cars) and faster moving traffic as it frees up that lane for them to pass. Thus, it speeds along traffic and makes it safer for the passing truck to know it has cleared the slower truck(s). As personal motor coach (on a truck chassis) with fifth-wheel driver, I’ve been extended this courtesy by other large vehicles and commercial truck drivers.

On occasion personal cars would flash their lights to let me know I’ve cleared their slower moving car as well, perhaps they are seasoned long-distance commuters or truck drivers by profession themselves, either way it makes things easier, more efficient and safer too.

Now then, because autonomous cars have sensors telling the artificial intelligent software speeds, and safe distances, these autonomous vehicles should also extend this courtesy and this should be required ‘rules of the road’ for autonomous cars and trucks both. Luckily, this would not be hard to implement into an autonomous over-the-road truck or autonomous car’s software.

As soon as the truck had passed and was 10-feet per 10 mph past the autonomous car, the car’s system would merely flash the lights. If the truck didn’t move over it would try one more time 2-3 seconds later. If the truck still didn’t move over the autonomous car has completed its courtesy obligation and would just continue down the road whether the truck came back into the slower lane or not. The only additional equipment need of the car would be a small intermittent off-on switch at a cost of only a few dollars, which would be activated whenever such an event occurred.

Further, if all autonomous vehicles report their driving data to a central network, then artificial intelligence might determine a more optimal safe distance between vehicles over time. This would have implications and applications in military logistic convoys or for large number of tractor trailer trucks moving down the highway in close proximity to alleviate a good portion of the wind resistance, thus lowering the coefficient of drag and therefore reducing fuel consumption without lowering safety standards.

In the case of two autonomous vehicles communicating together on a single network, the flashing light signal to merge back wouldn’t be necessary as the lead vehicle would be prompted remotely when it was safe to re-enter the slower lane. Still, until all these systems are synchronized, hack proof and proven, this light flash signal on autonomous transportation is a nice, simple and safe feature which costs very little to install; or for other vehicles whether driven by a human or computer to interpret and act upon. Please consider all this and think on it.


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