Advanced hazard light concept developed by UWTSD Automotive Engineering student to improve road safety is shortlisted for top industry award


Daniel Wilcox’s idea stemmed from his everyday driving experience and his ambition to create ways to improve road safety. He noted that it is often impossible to tell the difference between hazard lights and indicators when you are behind a vehicle in traffic. His proposal is a double pulsating hazard light that ensures differentiation from an indicator. The simple yet innovative idea would not require any change to hardware in new cars, only software programming.


His innovative submission was selected by judges and shortlisted at the Autocar Courland Next Generation Awards. The Next Generation Award offers each year’s winner a platform on which to build or develop a career within the automotive industry. 

Daniel, a first year BEng Automotive Engineering Student at the University’s Faculty of Architecture, Computing and Engineering said: “Currently, hazard lights flash at 1.5hz+-0.5hz this is the same flash rate as indicators. I believe this leads to confusion on the roads as there is no way to differentiate between the two. If you can only see one directional indicator, or even half of the vehicle, someone could make the wrong decision and actually cause an accident because they didn’t understand what the vehicle in front was indenting to do.”

Daniel’s solution is the ‘Advanced Hazard Light’. “One flash rate I could use is the ‘Double Pulsating Hazard Light’, this will flash all directional indicators twice, then pause, then repeat again,” he added. “This is different to everything else on the road. Another solution is using the ‘Emergency Stop Signal’ flash rate of 4+-1 Hz. This is a relatively new system which flashes all indicators and the brake lights to warn other drives the vehicle is performing an emergency stop. Directional indicators are designed to flash simultaneously at this rate for an emergency stop situation, why isn’t this the flash rate for hazard lights?”

UWTSD’s Dr Kerry Tudor, Lecturer in Motorsport & Automotive Engineering said: “Dan has spotted an automotive engineering problem and by using good problem solving skills has found a solution that is relatively simple and would be easy to implement. The skills that Dan has shown throughout this competition are exactly what we hope all engineering students will leave UWTSD with. All the staff in the School of Engineering want to say congratulations to Dan on reaching the final of such a prestigious competition.”

Daniel said taking part in the Autocar Courland Next Generation Award process was an incredible experience from start to finish. “I entered the competition towards the end of August with a 1000 word entry form,” he said. “In mid-September I received an email confirming that I was through to the semi-finals. This meant I was appointed with a mentor to help develop my idea and begin writing a presentation. My Mentor was Geoff Grose, Head of Vehicle development at McLaren Automotive.”

Daniel said he visited the McLaren Technology centre and even managed to see the Production centre. He said: “After this visit, I created my presentation for the semi-finals held at The Lensbury in Teddington. The first day was a filmed interview about myself and my idea. Day two was the presentation and formal interview in front of professionals from the industry. This included Geoff Grose and also Steve Cropley, Editor in Chief of Autocar. At the end of day two, the final three were revealed. Robert Cameron, myself and Lewis Campbell.”

The Final was held at the SMMT’s (Society of Motor Manufactures and Traders) 102nd Annual Dinner at Grosvenor House on Park Lane, with talks delivered by Mike Hawes, Chief Executive SMMT, Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business and Industry and Tony Walker, President of SMMT. Robert Campbell won the prize and Daniel and recent graduate Robert Camerson, were both commended for their ideas

Daniel said: “Overall, to be a part of the Next Generation Award has been one of the most educational experiences I have ever had and I would recommend it to everyone I meet who is between 17 and 25 years old. I have met some incredible people from the automotive industry and learnt a lot of valuable information from my experiences.”

Further Information

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