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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Can You See Me Now?


I recently had the opportunity to spend a morning at the Minnesota Highway Safety Center in St. Cloud with Director Bill Ruhr and his staff. The coffee flowed and our discussion covered emergency driving, police pursuits, PIT (Pursuit Immobilization Technique) and distracted driving. When we got on the subject of highway operations and setting up safety zones for emergency responders, Bill said he had something he wanted to show me.

Police car with retroreflectivity markings
We headed outside to the track where the staff has marked up two of their cars with the Battenburg retroreflectivity markings, a style for marking emergency vehicles that has been more common in Europe. The reflective “decals” seemed to have a light source of their own. The staff at the Center has been experimenting with a couple of striping options, shapes, and colors, and have loaded the cars with multiple designs and styles of application. They have also applied the material to the inside of a trunk lid and to the edges of the car’s doors. They invited me to come back at night to see it in action.

What do you think? This style of markings flies in the face of invisible deployment on crime calls and certainly announces your presence—on the other hand, I don’t doubt it would improve visibility at crashes and while making car stops. Squad cars getting struck and officers being injured is a serious problem. So officer safety cuts two ways on this one.

Alexandria Fire Department Rescue Truck

This approach for fire and EMS is a no-brainer. Many of their vehicles offer that big, flat surface to the rear—which some departments are already covering with the “hi-vis” chevron, like Alexandria’s truck pictured here.

But what about for police cars? I would appreciate your thoughts and have posted some poll questions for you to consider in the sidebar of this blog.

I thank Bill and the staff for allowing me to spend time with them and get caught up on all that they are doing. We look forward to following their research. Because at the end of the day:

Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up next time…fitness.

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.

Rob

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