Published 1969 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Auto Rear Light Standards Needed The higher speeds and heavier traffic on the nation's growing network of interstate highways have greatly increased the danger of serious rear-end automobile collisions. Chain-reaction type smashups, in which many vehicles plow into each other from behind, are increasing alarmingly. I believe that federal standards governing rear-end lights could help to cut down on such accidents, and the Bureau of Highway Safety of the Department of Transportation is at work on the problem. Rear-end collisions are not confined to the super-highways. West Virginians driving on our state's mountain roads have had the unnerving experience, I am sure, of rounding a curve on a foggy night and coming upon another vehicle with tail lights out-or encountering a vehicle ahead which seemed to be moving, but wasn't. The hodgepodge of design and placement of tail lights, stop lights, and turn signals, and the lack of warning devices on the dashboard to indicate when rear lights are out; multiply the hazards of driving for all of us. One of the possible changes in rear-end lights that is being studied is the replacement of the present red-on-red system by a green-amber-red system. Green would mean that a vehicle was moving; amber that it was braking and slowing down; red that it had stopped completely. This would follow the logical pattern of traffic lights. Other possibilities are also being investigated, such as increasing the intensity of the red light in the stop signal and requiring a standardization of rear light arrangement on all cars. A report on these studies is expected by the end of this year. It will come none too soon, for I believe that traffic and safety experts agree that the present system is not satisfactory. I hope that in any new system it will be mandatory to have devices on the instrument panel to warn the driver when tail lights or stop lights malfunction. The federal efforts to improve automobile design and highway safety can pay real dividends in this area of research. These efforts should be pushed forward without delay.