_ CA 02310786 2000-OS-19 '-WO 99/16213 PCflIE9810009~
°S~d Limit Indf, ca~ot"_ The present irnentior'i relates to a road vehicle safety device and in partiaalar to a speed indicator for road vehicles.
Road safety is one of the major issues in society and excessive road speed is one of the major causes of accidents. In a briefing in 1995, the Eun~pean Transport Safety Council stated 'no ways are yet known of using design to reduce inappropriate speeds'. Road safety makes an impact on the lives of almost every citizen of the EU-In 7 995 the tots! number of people killed in road acadents in the EU member states was more then 45,000 and the number of injuries eras in excess of 1.8 million people.
What makes these figunzs even more disturbing is that they indicate a dear improvement in road safety over previous years. 1t is ~ttmated chat 1 in 90 European cttizer~3 wit end their lives a>rnost 40 ye0cs prematurely due to road accidents and that another f in 3 w~l! need hospital treatment during their Mstime as a result of such a road accident. If one then adds to this the direct cost of road accidents and cyst in pain and suffering and lost economic output, it is estimated that the total cast of road acdderds exceeded 162 trllion ECUs 1n 1995 which was about twice the total budget for that year. What is happening in the EU is indicative of what is happening in all the developed nations and must, by its very na~tur~e, indicate quite clearly that as world prosperity increases, this problem will similarly increase.
It has long been recognised that speed is playing an increasing rote in such road accidents as the incidence of .drunk driving is reduang and driving skis are 2 5 improving. A certain amount of the excess speed is not due to deliberate or wilful neglect on behalf of drivers but due to general inattention to speed limits.
It has been proposed to install speed controllers or go4emors in motor cars which would prevent motor cars and other vehicles exceeding preset speeds. However, this has caused enormous controversy because it is not by any means chr-cut that installing speed governors would be the Ideal way of achieving tfiis aim because many experts maintain that there are times when vehicles require the necessary WO 991sb213 PGT/IE98IDOll9'f -2_ speed and power io avoid dangerous situations. , A further problem that needs to be addressed, once one accepts that vehide speed is at the core of read accident problems is that there is a need to provide prior S warning of speed limits to road users. The problem is ttyat higher speed reduces the time awdulable to avoid co0ision and makes the impact of a colBsion mon:
there is thus a need for more adequate warning of the need to reduce speed than has heretofore been provided.
There is also a general need to indicate tv road users that an imminent change in speed limit is about to occur or that, even more irnpottarrtfy, while the particular speed limit imposed might be 45Krn per hour, that in the particular situation, it would be advisable to reduce the speed to, for eocample, 30 Km per hour.
Further for other necesGary good objective reasons there is considerable pressure being exerted against any attempt by the authorities to impose rigid speed controuers on vehicles that would prevent them under any circumstances exceeding certain sped. A further prvblern in any case with this is that speeds which ere acceptable vn motorways are not arable in built-up areas.
Further, while many drnrers are becoming more careful and are d 'rnring with considerably more care, there is still the minority who do riot obey the rules of the mad and who vor~sistently oust speed. For the other road users and in particular for pedestrians, ft is often c~cutt to judge the speed of an approaching vehicle and 2 5 anything that would assist in pedestrians judging the speed of an approaching vehicle would be advantageous. Indeed, anything that would allow drivers estimate the speed of other vehicles on the road would be extremely advantageous.
Additionally, anything that would show speed of a car to be accorded and analysed, not just simply on impact when an accident occurs which would undoubtedly be useful, but also poss~ty for the period immediately prior to the accident, such as, for example, the preceding half hour or so. However, these latter objects, while desirable, are not nearly as important as providing a safety device that would assist drivers in avoiding excessive speed. This is the primary object to which the present invention is directed.
WO 9926213 - PGT/tE98/0009~
There is further a need for some form of wanvng for drivers that they are appnaching ' areas where speed should be reduced. The present invention is also directed to~nra~ds this latter elm.
taterr~ents of~aventa'gn According tv the irnentivn, there is provided a speed limit indicator of the type comprising visual and/or audible ind'ustion means that a particular vehicle speed should not be exceeded on the particular zone of the roadway being travelled characterised in that the indication means comprises indicia of a plurality of colours effaced to the roadway, each chosen colour being indicatwe of a vehicle speed appropriate for a particular speed zone. 8y providing fines and other markings on the read all of the one colour, the motorist will be continually reminded of the speed limit chat is required and since most people wish to obey the rotes of the road, this wl~ be exceedingly advantageous.
In one embodiment of the invention, ab the roadway markings are of the chosen colour within that speed zone. The advantage of this is that in, for example, built-up areas, the same vvlvur could be used rift just sunpty for lane drvisi ions and the tike but could also be used for parking reWtion indications such as vvrnrnonty now provided by s'mgl9 or double yeNow fines. Sim~arfy, any other traffic markings such as taming arrows, access restricting boxes, stop lines behind signs, traffic lights, etc.
could all be cobured the one colour and this would be a continual indication to the 2 5 road user of the speed limit.
In another embodanerrt of the inverrtion, the orientation of some of the lines on the roadway are inctinect to the direction of travel along the roadway to indKate desirable changes in the chosen speed for that speed zone, The advantage of this is that by chang'uig the orientation of the lines, it is possible to indicate, for example, that while the speed limit is 45 Km per hour, in this particular area it might be advisable to reduce the speed to. for example, 30 Km per hour.
Ideally, all the associated traffic infom~ation signs incorporate the colour appropriate CA 02310786 2000-OS-19 '._ WO 99r16213 PC1'/IL98I00097 to that speed zone. Again, by using a0 the one colour on all the traffic signs for a particular speed limit zone, you are further reminding the motorist of the speed limit.
tn one embodiment of the invention, there is provided a speedometer for a vehicle which includes the same colours for its speed indicia as the chosen colours.
In one embodrn~t of the inverfion, the speed emit indicator comprises a sheet for atfbcing to the interior of a c$r within sight of a driver, :did sheet having in drCia printer!
thereon identifying the speed appropriate to the chosen colours. Ideally, the motorist should have something readily availat~le that will alert him or her to the appropriate speed limit having regard to the odour being displayed.
In another embodimerrt of the invention, there is provided an indicator lamp in the car, which indicator lamp transmits Nght of the chosen colour appropriate to the speed being travelled. Again, alerting a driver to the actual speed being travelled within a particular zone is much more advantageous than simply using a speedometer since many a motorist dues not consult the speedometer very often and indeed in many instances, it would be impractical to do so.
2 0 tn a further embodiment of the invention, there is provided on the exterior of the car, an indicator tamp which transmits light of the colour appropriate to the speed being travelled.
In a x611 further embodiment of the invention, there is provided a receiver in the car 2 5 associated with an indicator lamp which transmits light of different colours and a transmitter on the roadway fa transmitting a speed Hmit signal to the receiver to cause the lamp to display the colour appropriate to the speed zone_ With this particular embodiment of the invention, it is possible for the authorities to 'transmit to the vehicle the required speed limit for that particular area in which the vehicle is 3 o travelling.
ideally, means are provided associated with the nceiver to cause the tight to operate intermittently indicating that the speed limit is being exceeded. Again, the driver has been alerted to the fact that he or she is exceeding the limit which can be extremely . - CA 02310786 2000-OS-19 WO 99IZ6213 PCT/IE9tIJ00097 -5- _ advantageous.
Ideally, there is an add-dional audible wanting device of the speed Nmrt being exceeded. Again, anything that alerts the driver to excessive speed is useful.
I n another embodiment of the invention, lights external of the car op~te intermittently on the speed limit being exceeded. This has the advantage of alerting both otter mad users whether they be drivers or pedestrians of the fact that the approaching car is exceeding the speed emit This can be of considerable advantage in built-up areas end wilt obviously be advantageous in the event of an acadent taking place since the other road users will have some visual confirmation of, for example, their belief that a vehicle was exceeding the speed limit.
1n another embodfmer~t of the invention, the receiver incprporates memory means to retain the speed limit signs! unfit another speed kmit signal is received. The advantage of this is that if a car is being driven and then stops, when the car resumes travel, the speed limit information will still be retained in the vehicle so that the invention can operate asdisfactorily.
2 0 In anas,her embodiment of the inventan, the memory means retains a record of the vehicle speed war a preset period of the vehide travel time. The advantage of this is that in the event of an accident, there is a record of the speed of the vehide, for example, Prior to impact.
p~ 'led Gcscri~t~tlon of the Invention The invention will be more dearly understood from the following description of some embodiments thereof, given by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:-Fg.1 is a plan view of a roadway uti>ising part of the present invention, Fig. 2 is a front view of some road signs according to the present invention, _6_ _ Fig, 3 is a front view of other road signs according to the invention, Fg. 4 is a front vlrw of a sheet used in accordance with the invention, , Fg. 5 is a plan view of another roadway utilising part of the invention, Fg. 6 is a front view of a speedometer incorporating part of the invention, and Fg. 7 is a dr2rgrammatic view of a motorcar and road sign using the invention.
Refewing to the drawings and initially to Fig. 1 thereof, there is lkustrated a four lane highway indicated generally by the reference numeral 1 having a central island 2 and left lanes 3 and right lanes 4. There is illustrated a road 5 joining the left lane 3. The direction of the arrow at the sides of the lanes 3 and 4 and the road 5 identify the direction of travel.
White road markings t 0, green road markings 11, amhgr road maritings 12 and red road markings 13 ere pairrEed on the roadway.
2 0 Referring raw to Fg. 2, there is illustrated flues road signs indicated generally try the reference numerals 20, 30 and 40. The roed sign 20 has green lettering shows that when the line is painted on the roadway in the direction of travel, it notes that the motorist should do 48 kph or 30 mile per hour speed limit and while the transverse Hne shows that while the speed limit is officially 30 mph, that in the particular 2 5 drcumstances, the speed should not exceed 20 mph.
?tars, for e~carrrple, a vehicle traveNing along the lane 3 travels from a 30 mph into a 50 mph zone and then into a 70 mph zone. As the motorist is leaving the 70 ntph zone in the Left lane 3, it will be noted that there are transverse red lines 13 indicating 3 0 "slow down' as the motorist is about to approach a 50 mph zone. Similarly, a motorist travelling down the motorway 4 travels from a ~U mph Zone inta a 50 mph zone and subsequently towards the end of the 50 mph zone, there are transverse lines showing that the motorist should now reduce speed as the motorist is about to enter a 30 mph zone. Similarly in the 30 mph zone in the right-hand lane 4, there are wp 99lL6Z13 ~T~~~~
_7_ indications towards the end of it that there is a need to stow down. Then observing the road 5, it will be noted that when approaching the junction with the lane 3, ifirere are transverse lines indicating the need to reduce speed.
Fig. 2 illustrates the read signs that would he used showing the speed and the code while F'rg. 3 shows almost identical road signs indicated generally by the reference numeral 21, 31 arid 41. Each of these correspond with the road signs 20, 30 and 40 of Rg. 3, except them they are now directed in the opposite direction, the purpose of which is to indicate to the miotorist that the motorist is approaching a place where he or she should slow down.
Referring now to Frg. 4, there is illustrated a card or sheet 45 which could be efCuced to a vehicle's dashboard or the like or adjacent the speedometer to illustrate to the motorist the code and the need to sk>,nr down. Fig. 4 Illustrates a sheet that could tae I afToced to the dashboard of a motorcar to indicate clearly to the rnatoirst the purpose of the various road signs. The same reference numerals and Itching is used to iderrGily the carne colocxs.
Referring raw to Fig. 5, there is ilhrstrated an altematnre way of marbng a roadway SO in which all the markings are in green to indicate that the roadway is to be traveaed at a speed not greater than 30 mph and that further, on the left-hand side, there are two continuous green I'rnes indicating th2d parking is forbidden at all times, while on the right-hand side for the traffic going in the opposite direction, there is a single ~Ine indicsding that slopping is prohibited in certain circumstances.
1t will be 2 S seen that there are lines initially slanted on inclined towards the direction of travel end then finally the lines are painted directly across the fine of travel to indicate the need to slow down even though the area is a 30 mph speed limit area and probaby about to approach a jun ction_ it w~l be appreciated that the frequency .vf the lines can be further used to indicate the need to slow down rapidly.
Whae in the embodiments above, the colours white, green, amber and red have been used, it wit be appreciated that in many instances, it might be decided to use the colours and in combination with the colour white which is the cornentional road marking colour. It might be more advantageous to use the colour whfte for one WO 99/16213 PCr/IE98/~0099 _8_ _ partiailar speed limit, for example, alk minimum urban speed limits, to use the colour , amber fvr intermediate speeds, and red for the top speeds. However, the choice of Colax and the manner in which the marking is made is are largely irrelevant.
Referring to Fg. fi, there fs illustrated a speedometer 55 in which the various quadrants of the speedometer are coloured to coincide with the speed 5m'rts.
Fg. 7 illustrates an alternative road sign indicated generally try the reference numeral 60 having a radio transmitter 81 end also illustrates a motor car 62 having a radio reveiver 63. This would, generally speaking, be a short range rad'ro receiver and l0 trarismi>ter. The receiver 83 and transmitter 61 are infrared devices.
Ideally, the recP.iver 63 has a micropnxessvr incorporated therein having a memory and n~cording mans. In use, the receiver 63 innll store a signet from the transmitter 81 which signal wiN indicate the speed limik Further, the receiver 63 is connected operatively to the speedometer of the car whereby it records the speed travelled by the car. The receiver 63 can record the speed travelled by the motorcar ever periods of time continually updating the records so that there 's always stored in the receiver 63 a record of, for example, the prev'rous half hours driving. Further, the receiver 63 can be operatively connected to an indicating lamp or indeed to an audible warning 2 0 device mounted M the mdorcar whereby, on the recehre~r 63, receiving a signal to indicate a partfa~lar speed limited from the transmitter 61 on the road sign 60, the receiver 63 wl~ then read the Speed of the vehicle and operate, if necessary, the a>dicatirig lamp and/or the audible warning device. Ideally, the Indicating tamp in this situation will be programmed to operate Intermittently, thus ginning a flashing light 2 S within the vehicle warning the driver that he ar she is exceeding the speed limit.
In an artemadive embodiment of the invention, where there is no transmitter and receiver, there may be pnwided both a lamp in the motorcar which lamp will tie ..
visible to the driver, the lamp being such as to cause Ilght to be delivered in various 3 0 colours corresponding to the speed at which the car is travelling. In ether words. if the speed d~osen does not lead to a colour being displayed the same as that on the road maf, the driver is immediately alerted to the fact that he yr she is outside the speed Hmit. It can tae so arranged that the lamp does not come on when the car ~ driving below the preset speed limit.
' CA 02310786 2000-OS-19 -WO 99li6213 PCf~IE98/00097 It wiU be appreciated that a speedometer could be provided, the visual appearance oP
' which would be identical to that of the sheet dwsb~ated in Fig. 4.
it is also envisaged that where there is a receiver and transmitter fined, that rt would be possible for the receiver to operate external fights of a car to cause them to flash on and off such as the normal hazani warning lights thus ind-~cating to other road users that the car was driving at above the speed limit, It Is further envisaged that exterior lights could be fated to a motorcar which would change colour in the appropriate manner depending vn the speed at which the vehicle was travelling It r~nl1 be appreciated that a major advantage of the receiver having incorporated a memory is that in the event of there being a crash, it wa1 be possible to dvwr~load the intormalion relating to ttye vehicle speed. nvt just onltr at impact but immedlatety prior I S thereto. Further, try having e~demat warning fgMs such as. for example. a warning Ifght which will alvrrays show the range of the vehicle speed. it will be possible fvr