CHINA — Road safety authorities in China have implemented a novel solution in a bid to prevent drivers from falling asleep at the wheel at night.
Called “high speed anti-fatigue laser lights”, these flashing light displays are meant to help night time drivers stay alert while on the road.
A video showcasing these lights in action has gone viral on social media, eliciting reactions of surprise and amusement. Several online users, however, expressed alarm and questioned the safety and effectiveness of such a solution.
Originally captured on Oct 31 last year, the video resurfaced recently after it was shared by an X (formerly Twitter) user known as Science Girl on Monday (Nov 6).
The footage, taken on the Qingdao–Yinchuan Expressway, shows far-reaching laser lights beaming repeatedly in hues of red, green and blue from the top of a gantry. The 1,600km expressway, also commonly referred to as G20, connects the coastal city of Qingdao to Ningxia in north-central China.
The video was captured by a man surnamed Liu who claimed that the anti-fatigue lights “instantly made him feel more energetic and less tired” after driving for a long time at night, according to global viral video marketplace Newsflare.
The Science Girl’s post has garnered over 66.7 million views and 27,000 reposts as of Thursday.
Some X users likened the colourful lights to the Rainbow Road featured in the popular Mario Kart racing game series.
“The Rainbow Road is real,” joked one user.
However, the majority of viewers reacted negatively to the video, claiming that drivers would likely find the laser lights “distracting” and “disorientating”, thereby exposing them to greater danger instead.
One X user commented: “Whose genius idea is it to blind the drivers? Congrats, those who aren’t sleepy are now disoriented.”
Another person wrote: “I would be too busy staring at the lights and (may) wind up wrecking (my car).”
Several others worried that the constant flashing lights might trigger epileptic seizures in photosensitive individuals.
“Can’t fall asleep if you’re in the middle of a seizure,” read one sarcastic remark.
A number of online users questioned if the solution had been implemented based on scientific research while others suggested looking into the root causes of why drivers feel lethargic instead.
An X user pointed out: “If falling asleep at the wheel is so common that setting up an elaborate way of waking up drivers is beneficial, then perhaps we need to think about why drivers are tired, and focus on their longer term health.”
According to posts on Chinese social media platforms Douyin and Weibo showing different variations of the anti-fatigue laser lights, the beams can be seen from as far as 2km away and are usually set up on straight sections of the road.
The eye-catching displays are meant to “stimulate” drivers’ brains by relieving them of the “visual fatigue” of driving in a single environment for long periods of time.
Supposedly put in place after multiple field surveys and intensive testing, the Shandong Highway Traffic Police Division also reportedly assured local media that the lights will not hinder safe driving.