The safety and effectiveness of emergency vehicle lighting

Tunnicliff, Deborah J. (2003) The safety and effectiveness of emergency vehicle lighting. In Road Safety Research, Policing and Education Conference, 24-26 September, Sydney, Australia.

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Vehicle mounted warning lights are used in a wide range of enforcement, road crash, health and fire emergency, road maintenance and development contexts. This paper examines the wide range of factors influencing selection and use of different lighting systems by police, ambulance and fire departments. The nature of the issue means that such research needs to draw on the expertise from a number of disciplinary fields including visual science and optics, road safety, and the policy and practice experience base of relevant emergency staff. The available national and international literature is summarised and key issues that are of particular relevance to the safety of the road user and of the workers in emergency response are identified. Emergency vehicle lights serve two major functions. Firstly they identify the vehicles as police, fire, ambulance, or other emergency services such as State Emergency Services, Council, or Department of Main Roads to provoke an informed and predictable public response. Secondly, they present a highly conspicuous form, to provide other road users with information about the distance, direction, and speed of the vehicle so that they can behave with due caution or take appropriate action. Most research on this issue is somewhat dated and fails to take emerging lighting technologies and the variety of conditions and circumstances in which lighting systems have to operate into account. There is a need for well researched and systematically enforced and managed policy and practice both in regard to the use of emergency lighting across all services and in the education of community behaviour in response to emergency signals. Emergency vehicles present a particular and intermittent hazard to the general road user and a best practice for their use needs to be developed that is evidence-based. Current practice and expectations appear to draw heavily on long established precedents. The development of policy in this area needs to be firmly based on sound up-to-date research. The current paper draws on work being undertaken by the Queensland Police Service in association with QUT School of Optometry and CARRS-Q and showcases a collaborative approach to information sharing in road safety.

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ID Code: 2255
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: road safety, emergency lighting, vehicles, vehicle safety, emergency vehicle lighting
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Psychology not elsewhere classified (170199)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > OTHER ENGINEERING (099900) > Engineering not elsewhere classified (099999)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2003 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 19 Oct 2005 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:27

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