Low-speed rear-end collisions are common in heavy traffic, and much of the time they're caused when a driver can't react fast enough as the driver in front of them steps on the brakes. Twenty years ago most people drove regular cars rather than vans or SUVs, so a driver could see through the windows a few cars up the road to anticipate slowing traffic. Now you often can't see past the vehicle directly in front, so extra vigilence is needed.
A new system developed by Ford aims to bring back that view of the road ahead, with a wireless system that flashes a warning on your dash when the traffic ahead is slowing down. Ford recently tested their Electronic Brake Light in Germany, using 20 specially equipped Ford S-Max minivans. The tests showed that the system had real potential for improving safety, with Ford's vice president of Research and Innovation Paul Mascarenas claiming that, "car-to-car ... communications represents one of the next major advancements in vehicle safety."
This all sounds promising, but it will rely on vehicle manufacturers agreeing on standards which allow their cars to talk to each other. The research and development program dubbed simTD is currently supported by all of the major German car manufacturers and various German safety agencies. Hopefully they can get the rest of the automotive world to join them.