How Vehicle Automation is Advancing Public Safety

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The automotive industry has been incrementally working toward autonomous vehicles for a long time, and has already seen a lot of success. First there was automatic shifting, then cruise control and automatic headlamps, then we progressed into more intelligent automation like parking assist, lane change assist, blind spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control. Google has already been testing a self-driving car, and before we know it, it’ll be a normal part of our day to get chauffeured around town by a driverless car. But how can it help in advancing public safety?

This movement toward autonomy of vehicles has raised serious questions (Is it safe? Can it handle inclement weather? How will it change the way our roads are built? Who would be liable in an accident? The list goes on…), but it has also opened a world of possibilities, both for the automotive industry, and other industries like emergency vehicle lighting and sirens. SoundOff Signal’s recent release of bluePRINT applies the vehicle automation trend to the control systems that operate the emergency lights and sirens on a patrol vehicle.

More Focus On The Road

Distracted driving is a major issue for police officers, just as it is for everyone else. You have technology in your vehicle that you rely on to do your job, but oftentimes the use of that technology while driving can put you, and the people around you, in danger. One of these distractions is operating the control panel for your emergency lights and sirens. bluePRINT reduces this distraction by triggering pre-programmed flash patterns and siren tones.

Better for Grabbing Attention

As an officer, you know how important it is for surrounding vehicles and pedestrians to be able to see your emergency lights when flashing, so they steer clear of you and give you room to do your job. bluePRINT ensures that 50% of your emergency lights are always visible from any viewing angle. In the event of a driver not realizing you are behind them, simply honk your horn–a natural gesture when trying to grab attention on the road–to create a burst of extreme white light followed by a series of red and blue flash patterns and unique siren tones.

This simple step of honking your horn also helps draw attention to your vehicle at intersections. A study done by the U.S. Department of Transportation shows that 40% of all reported accidents occur at intersections, and that distracted driving and inattention are the leading causes. You know all too well that intersections are particularly tricky for patrol officers in pursuit because traffic could be entering the intersection from several directions, and may not see you coming. By honking your horn, the visual effect of your patrol vehicle changes, as does the tone of your siren, drawing more attention to your vehicle.

Improved Nighttime Visibility

Here’s a fun fact–it turns out that pirates had a very good reason for wearing an eye patch, and it had nothing to do with eye injuries. They actually wore a patch to keep one eye adjusted for darkness because they frequently had to go from being above deck in the daylight to below deck where it was dark. Our eyes adjust easily from darkness to light, but it takes 25 minutes on average for our eyes to adjust from light to darkness. When you pull someone over, your eyes only have about 25 seconds to adjust as you walk from the bright flashing lights of your emergency vehicle to the vehicle in question. This gives you a significant disadvantage if you need to react in an assault situation.

bluePRINT automatically turns off the lights on the driver’s side of your vehicle when you open your door to get out, in order to reduce the blinding effect of your lights and keep you alert for whatever situation arises. The lights then re-engage when you close the door behind you to maintain visibility of your vehicle to passing traffic. bluePRINT also allows you to flip your headlight brights on to activate the bright white light module in the lightbar to illuminate the scene, enhancing your visibility and awareness.

When in multi-vehicle pursuits, you may become disoriented when trailing another officer from the bright flashing lights of leading vehicles. bluePRINT allows the leading vehicles to turn off or dim rear-facing modules with a simple press of a button. It can also connect rear facing lights to increase braking awareness to trailing vehicles.

A Force for Good

Automation is exciting, and constantly changing the way we do things. We hope to continue to find new ways to improve officer safety, thereby advancing public safety, with smartly designed products that solve real problems.