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Ford: Proper vehicle lighting keeps drivers alert

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Feb. 27, 2012—Vehicle design researchers for Ford Motor Co. say that proper lighting in vehicle interiors plays a critical role in keeping drivers alert, and to provide them with driving-related information without diverting attention.

Certain levels or combinations of light trigger enzymes in the brain, which cause various emotional responses within the body, according to Ford.

"The emotions are created based on the secretions of these enzymes that are associated with certain light wavelengths," said Mahendra Dassanayake, Ford’s technical leader for design. "There are certain triggers."

Therefore, Ford said the color of vehicle interior lights affects how drivers feel and behave. The company offers a few examples:

• Certain shades of yellow tend to result in clear-headed, decisive action.
• Green colors affect drivers’ nervous systems, which cause them to breathe slowly and deeply, and reduce the production of stress hormones.
• Red colors evoke the strongest emotions compared to any other color, including passion or anger.

"Lighting gives you a sense of orientation," Dassanayake said. "It's a unique combination of functionality and comfort. Lights, graphics and displays are critical to drivers; we need to make sure that information is presented to the customer in an effective way."

For that reason, Ford developed its new model Ford Fusion with an ice blue color accent for the vehicle’s lighting palette. Ford said ice blue is a color shade that helps keep drivers and passengers more alert, eases drivers’ abilities to absorb other messages coming from inside the vehicle, and minimizes driver eyestrain by reducing glare and reflection of light on smooth surfaces.

"We kept the interior focused on the driver," said Michael Arbaugh, interior chief designer for Ford. "We knew that our customers would be captivated by the driving experience, and we wanted to provide them with a sophisticated and harmonious ambience."

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