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Drivers & Cyclists Communicate via Ford Emoji Jacket: Road Safety

By Stephen Turvil | February 18, 2020


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Ford Emoji Jacket might make roads safer by helping drivers and cyclists communicate effectively (via symbols)

Drivers & Cyclists Communicate via Ford Emoji Jacket: Road Safety
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Ford Emoji Jacket explained

The Ford Emoji Jacket might end the war between drivers and cyclists by allowing them to communicate effectively and thus reduce the risk of confusion, road rage, and collision. On this basis, the jacket’s purpose is to cut the number of cyclists killed on the road. In Europe, 2,000 cyclists suffer this fate every year. 

How Ford Emoji Jacket works

Drivers & Cyclists Communicate via Ford Emoji Jacket: Road Safety Image

The Ford Emoji Jacket is visually reminiscent of many other garments. It is black and grey, lightweight, and waterproof. Few people would initially give it a second look. However, sewn into its back – and therefore visible to a following driver – is a series of lights which display a small range of symbols. These are:

  • turn left
  • turn right
  • happy face
  • sad face
  • hazard symbol (explanation mark).

The cyclist chooses which symbol is displayed to the following motorist via a small, rectangular, wireless control on the bike’s handlebar. This control incorporates a series of buttons. Perhaps the cyclist presses the ‘right arrow’, for example. If the following driver notices this symbol light up on the back of the jacket, he/she knows the cyclist intends to turn right. This might:

  • minimise confusion
  • enable the motorist to more easily optimise the position of the vehicle to reduce the risk of collision.

Drivers & Cyclists Communicate via Ford Emoji Jacket: Road Safety Image

Alternatively, the cyclist might show the:

  • hazard symbol (if he/she is in a vulnerable spot)
  • happy face (if the following car is at a safe distance)
  • sad face (if the following vehicle is too close).

The Ford Emoji Jacket therefore helps the cyclist communicate without shouting, for example. That is helpful. Shouting can be considered aggressive and encourage a similar response. Neither does the cyclist have to remove his/her hands from the bike’s handlebar to indicate left, right, or make less friendly gestures.

Ford’s ‘emoji expert’, Dr. Neil Cohn, explained: ‘Emojis have become a fundamental part of how we use language. Whether used to convey facial expressions, humour, or sarcasm they have become integral to our ability to express ourselves quickly. This jacket allows riders to express their feelings and create an important emotional link between them and other road users’, Dr Cohn claimed.

Wider context

The Ford Emoji Jacket is an interesting garment that might contribute to road safety (if it is launched commercially). However, more critical is that cyclists, drivers, and every other group recognise that the road network is a shared facility. Everybody – however they travel – has a joint responsibility to give other people the space, time, and respect required to be safe.

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