Car firm's tiny triangles designed to cut collisions

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Indy Lifestyle Online

As a safety measure, Honda Motor Co.'s latest concept is breathtakingly simple. But then the best ideas often are.

While other car manufacturers invest millions in cutting-edge technology to protect vehicles and their drivers, Honda has added two small triangular marks to either side of the driver's windscreen.

The two triangles point towards each other just above the driver's line of sight, according to the company, and tests have shown that they encourage drivers to subconsciously stabilize their line of sight when they carry out a maneuver.

The triangles also give the driver a better sense of the width of his vehicle, making it less likely they will be involved in collisions with another vehicle or when completing a turn into a small space, Yuki Watanabe, a spokeswoman for the company, told Relaxnews.

To date, the company has installed the triangles - which are applied as ceramic tiles that measure just 5 millimetres along each side - to eight models that are sold in Japan. The Freed, Odyssey, Life, Insight, StepWGN, Acty truck, CR-Z and the latest version of the Fit are all benefiting from the new devices, which Watanabe said are being incorporated into all its vehicles, including versions sold abroad.

Honda carried out tests on more than 1,000 drivers, monitoring their line of sight as they completed road maneuvers. The company's scientists were able to determine that more capable drivers maintain a relatively "flat" line of sight and scan the road ahead horizontally. Poor drivers, however, have a tendency to scan ahead of the car in a vertical path as well as horizontally, a habit that is likely to distract them from the task of driving.

After installing the triangles on the windscreens, even poor drivers were better able to maintain a steadier line of sight, the company said.

Honda's concept is a new take on the age-old problem of making drivers more aware of the relationship between their car and its surroundings, but it's not the only automaker working on a solution.

Earlier this year, General Motors unveiled a high-tech prototype laser system that virtually "painted" items on the windshield to augment the driver's view with virtual images of road edges, signs or potential hazards.

Honda has applied for patents for the triangles as accident-prevention devices.

JR

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