By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Some might say that taillights are the least glamorous parts of a motor vehicle. No matter, they do serve some practical purposes. Around 1905, stop lights warned folks behind that that rig ahead was slowing or stopping. In 1907 Percy Douglas-Hamilton applied for a patent on turn signals. Stop, turn, that’s all taillights indicated for nearly a century. In the 1990s, taillights got a new job: For some vehicles equipped with a remote door lock feature, taillights would blink to indicate that you’d locked or unlocked your doors. Here we are, in 2022, and for some, the taillight tells if your pickup is overloaded!
Leave it to the engineers at Ford to come up with a scale system for their F-150 series pickups. Called “Onboard Scales”, the system measures and displays “the approximate weight” of the load in the truck bed. The load-weight figure is displayed on a touch screen in the cab. But if you’re loading up your truck, who wants to run back and forth to check the display?
The taillights tell. As you load up the bed of the truck, a vertically running line of four LEDs in the taillight assembly light up. Think of it like the battery charge condition bars on your cell phone. One light at the bottom, you’ve got something on board. As you continue to put more weight in the pickup bed, additional LEDs light up to give you a picture of the percentage of the load. When all four LEDs are lit, you’ve got a full load on. Gone over the legal load? The top LEDs blink.
The cynic’s take
That’s helpful information for the pickup user. One cynic suggests he’d just as soon knock out those LEDs. He figures that if he’s overloaded, a police officer following behind his rig will know too. The taillights have ratted him out.