Most, if not all Intelligent Transportation System initiatives include or refer to “turn signal status” as an input for decision making in order to improve traffic flow and/or preventing vehicle crashes. The information of whether a turn signal is “on” or “off” is highly pertinent to ITS:  After all, the use of a turn signal is one of the only ongoing active means of communication a driver has.  The turn signal is a vital indicator of near-term directional intent that allows other drivers to react accordingly and appropriately.  In fact, the turn signal in one form or another has been around since shortly after the automobile was invented.  It is truly one of the original “Vehicle to Vehicle” communications means and now, more than 100 years later, remains an extremely important active safety feature that will provide a pivotal role in Dedicated Short Range Communications.  A very high percentage of drivers simply neglect to use their turn signals on a regular basis when making a turn.  Furthermore, there are situations where a driver may appropriately engage the turn signal, but the turn executed is such that the trip mechanism fails to self-cancel the turn signal.  If this driver does not notice the turn signal did not cancel, the turn signal may be stuck-on for miles and miles.  Additionally, a driver may put on the turn signal to indicate a turn, but if the steering wheel is wiggled just right, for instance while sitting at a traffic light, then the turn signal may inadvertently trip off before the turn is executed.  All of these situations highlight the flawed and defective nature of our current “mechanical trip” method of turn signal cancellation.   These examples illustrate that an advanced intelligent transportation system cannot count on the “turn signal status” as a reliable input and a more improved method of control for the turn signal that will consistently and accurately display vehicle turn signals is going to be necessary if we are to effectively implement a truly intelligent transportation system.  The Electronic Intelligent Vehicle Turn Signal is a viable and proven turn signal system that eliminates the traditional “trip mechanism” and instead uses existing vehicle sensors to accurately shut off turn signals without error.  In this system, the driver still actuates the turn signal in every situation and from there, the vehicle dynamic sensors supply input data to the vehicle computer and will only shut the turn signal off when appropriate, thus preventing the “erroneous stuck-on turn signal”  and thus preventing dangerous situation.  A driver can feel confident that if he or she engages the turn signal, that it will only shut off when appropriate.  As stated, a high percentage of drivers neglect the use of a turn altogether and this is where the Electronic Intelligent Vehicle Turn Signal can prevent this neglect.  This system uses the vehicle dynamic sensors to measure turns as well as coinciding turn signal usage.  There are certain measureable turns that would dictate that turn signal use would be appropriate.  When this type of qualified turn is measured and a compared turn signal use shows no turn signal, then this is recorded within the vehicle computer.  If and when a sufficient quantity of these neglected turns are compiled, such as 3 neglected turn signals within 10 measured qualified turns, then a message is displayed to the driver for a short duration:  “USE SIGNAL NEXT TURN”.  A driver will quickly acquire the habit of using turn signals.  Since most drivers use turn signals appropriately nearly all of the time, they will simply never receive a message and therefore the system will never be a nuisance to good drivers, even if they occasionally miss a turn signal.  Parking lot maneuvers are taken into account with this system as well such that multiple turns at low speed will not trigger a message since the use of a turn signal with each turn may not be appropriate.  Just as we have a duty as a driver to stop at stop signs and a duty to only drive the correct way on one-way streets, we also have a duty to use turn signals.  We expect brake lights to come on without fail when the brakes are applied, and we expect traffic lights to function properly.  The expectation to strive for functional perfection of turn signal accuracy should be no different.  Intelligent Transportation Systems can then confidently use “turn signal status” data inputs for Vehicle to Vehicle, Vehicle to Infrastructure, and Vehicle to Pedestrian information exchange that can be counted on in many common driving circumstances impacted by ITS.  An accurate turn signal status from all vehicles would provide an element of predictability, anticipation, and thus crash avoidance and enhanced traffic flow.

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