Brainy Bike Lights May Save Cyclists' Lives

New Design Of Bike Lights Backed By Researchers To Save Lives

20.10.2014

A new 'brainy' design of bike lights could help reduce the number of serious accidents involving riders after dark, its inventors believe.

Britain will switch from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time in the small hours of October 26th and that means the afternoon sunset will be an hour earlier. According to research by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), the hours between 15:00 and 18:00 GMT are the worst for accidents.

However, the answer may have been delivered in the shape of Brainy Bike Lights, which were devised by a team of designers in Oxford and use the internationally recognised symbol for a rider against a dark background, meaning drivers can recognise that there is a rider in front of them more easily on dark nights than before.

They use LED lighting and come in two colours, with a white light on the front and red for the rear.

Key to the theory of the lights is that most drivers operate on 'autopilot' for much of the time, particularly on familiar routes, often failing to recall any details of their journey after it finishes. This means they are more prone to failing to recognise many lights swiftly, making accidents likely. However, the recognisable symbols help combat this by penetrating the subconscious faster.

Researchers at the University of Oxford have endorsed the use of the lights after tests, with Professor
Charles Spence at the Experimental Psychology Lab at the institution commenting: "The use of a highly recognisable symbol, one that is deeply imbued with meaning, constitutes an extremely clever and effective means of creating greater awareness and faster reactions from drivers of other vehicles."

The issue of the dangers to cyclists and other road users after dark is a reason RoSPA actively campaigns for the adoption of 'double summer time' (DST) in Britain. This would mean being one hour ahead of GMT in winter and two hours ahead in summer. Its research has suggested dark afternoons carry a higher risk than dark mornings and the adoption of DST would save 80 lives a year.

Expert Opinion
With evenings getting increasingly darker, it is important that all road users recognise the inherent risks that such conditions can create. It is key that while motorists remain as vigilant as ever, cyclists should also do what they can to ensure they remain highly visible on the roads.

"We're supporting the Child Brain Injury Trust’s first Glow Day this week in order to raise awareness of this issue, with its campaign message being the important, simple statement of ‘Be Seen, Not Hurt’.

"Lights of this nature are a new, innovative and interesting way for cyclists to ensure that is the case and drivers are fully aware of their movements around them.

"Our work on behalf of those seriously injured in road traffic accidents means we have seen the terrible consequences of collisions in darker conditions, so it is vital that all road users do what they can to ensure they and others stay safe on their routes."
Stephen Nye, Partner