Magazine article Law & Order

Cruiser Visibility Reduces Crashes

Magazine article Law & Order

Cruiser Visibility Reduces Crashes

Article excerpt

An alarming number of civilian vehicles crash into police cars. At a recent fleet managers meeting, the comment "they just don't see us!" was repeated more than once. That's hard to believe, given the money spent on strobes and other flashing lights.

No municipal, county or state police are exempt from these crashes. Whether "fender-bender" or total "write-offs", all eat heavily into the fleet budget, produce costly downtime and may even cost officer and civilian injury or death.

Some basic reasons why cruisers are being hit include driver inattention, slow drivers' reflexes, misjudging the distance to an immobilized cruiser, and of course, the obvious... the dangerous and often unpredictable emergency maneuvers performed in the line of duty by officers.

In 1993 the trucking industry obliged transport trailer manufacturers to equip their units with retroreflective DOT "conspicuity" tape (reflects an ultra-high percentage of light directly back to the source, i.e. to the oncoming driver, assuming of course, he has his lights on!) The truckers proved, after years of testing, that brighter graphics, even as little as a two-inch piece of conspicuity tape, contributes to a reduction of at least a couple of the above mentioned causes of accidents. This extremely reflective tape captures drivers' attention, allowing increased reaction time for evasive actions, and even breaks the hypnotic effect produced by the road on some drivers. Greater visibility means greater safety no matter how you cut it!

You can't be too visible when you're in the way of oncoming traffic. Officers like the idea of being seen as early as possible to avoid getting hit. So, if DOT conspicuity tape (up to 10X more reflective than the striping presently used on most cruisers) mandated for trucks reduces crashes, why not use it for cruiser graphics?

Is this new technology worth it? …

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