LED Brake Lights Could Reduce Collisions on the Road

Could switching brake lights from incandescent bulbs to LED bulbs significantly reduce auto accidents?  The difference in turn-on time between LED bulbs and incandescent bulbs suggest that rear-end collisions, accounting for 28%[1] of all accidents in 1996 and 32.2%[2] in 2010, could be significantly reduced if all automobiles used LED bulbs for their brake lights.  Two studies show “…that LED signals provide a braking response time advantage between 170 and 200 ms [milliseconds] under favorable lighting conditions and up to 300 ms under adverse lighting conditions…Note that a 200 ms improvement in braking response is equivalent to a 19.1 feet reduction in stopping distance at a speed of 65 MPH. “1  LED bulbs illuminate faster, providing the next vehicle more time to safely brake and avoid a rear-end collision. 

1,745,000 rear-end collisions occurred in 2010.  Of those, 73% resulted in property damage without injuries or fatalities.  Repairs to the vehicles involved can range from a few hundred dollars to as much as $10,000.  Property damage from rear-end collisions is a burden hopefully lessened by auto insurance, but what about personal injuries and deaths?  Rear-end collisions account for almost 6% of all vehicular fatalities and 31% of all vehicular injuries.2  It’s amazing to think that simply switching from incandescent bulbs to LED bulbs in brake lights could save lives in the real world.  Many auto manufacturers have already started offering vehicles with LED taillights standard or optional, but that leaves hundreds of millions of vehicles already on the road without this safety upgrade.  

Like checking tire inflation, checking brake lights is a task few drivers undertake on a regular basis, but it can pay large dividends in safety.  Since incandescent bulbs have shorter lifespans than LED bulbs, check your brake lights regularly.  When you apply the brakes, the brake lights must illuminate brightly or they need replacements.  Remember to always replace your automobile’s bulbs in pairs and consider a switch to LED bulbs.


Excerpts from:

[1] LED Stop Lamps Help Reduce the Number and Severity of Automobile Accidents- HP Application Note 1155-3

[2] NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts 2010, Page 54- Traffic Safety Facts