Turn signals mounted on exterior rearview mirrors are increasingly being used as original equipment on passenger cars and light trucks. The potential for mirror-mounted turn signals (MMTS) to improve the geometric visibility of turn signals is examined in this report. A survey of U.S. and European regulations showed that the turn signals of a vehicle that is minimally compliant with U.S. regulations are not visible to a driver of a nearby vehicle in an adjacent lane. Measurements of mirror location and window geometry were made on 74 passenger cars and light trucks, including 38 vehicles with European-style side repeaters. These data were combined with data on driver eye locations from two previous studies to assess the relative visibility of MMTS and conventional signals. Simulations were conducted to examine the potential for signals to be obstructed when a driver looks laterally through the passenger-side window. With a vehicle population that is 50% light trucks, MMTS are visible 52% more often than European side repeaters in this scenario. Based on the lateral visibility analysis, the optimal height for geometric visibility of a signal in the adjacent-vehicle scenario is 124 cm above the ground, approximately the average height of a light truck mirror. A plan-view eccentricity analysis showed that an MMTS is much closer to the viewing driver's forward-directed line of sight than rear-mounted turn signals when the viewing driver's vehicle is in or near the blind zone between the signaling driver's mirror and direct peripheral fields of view. The report concludes that MMTS can improve the geometric visibility of turn signals in the adjacent-vehicle scenario that is believed to precede many lane-change/merge crashes. Further research will be necessary to determine if improved geometric visibility is accompanied by improved detection of turn signals by viewing drivers, and whether improved detection of turn signals has important safety implications.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This research was sponsored by the University of Michigan Industry Affiliation Program for Human Factors in Transportation Safety.
  • Corporate Authors:

    University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute

    2901 Baxter Road
    Ann Arbor, MI  United States  48109-2150
  • Authors:
    • Reed, Matthew P
    • Flannagan, M J
  • Publication Date: 2003-9


  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 32 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00964785
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: UMTRI-2003-18, HS-043 585
  • Files: HSL, TRIS
  • Created Date: Oct 3 2004 12:00AM