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New Research in Emergency Lighting

The Emergency Responder Safety Institute has partnered with Dr. John D. Bullough, Director of Transportation and Safety Lighting Programs at the Lighting Research Center of Rensselaer Polytechnic University, and Dr. Scott Parr, Assistant Professor in the Civil Engineering Department at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Daytona College of Engineering, on a new study of emergency lighting and the visibility of emergency responders to motorists. This study will examine how lighting characteristics like flash rate, lamp color, contrast, and placement affect human perception of the visibility of emergency responders at a roadway incident scene. The study will also consider ways to effectively mitigate the disorientation of motorists caused by the day and nighttime use of emergency warning lights to include issues of lighting color and emergency vehicle visibility/conspicuity. This is planned to be just the first of a number of research studies to look at different aspects of response to emergency incidents in an effort to make those responses safer through new technologies, updated best practices, and improved traffic engineering.

In a conversation with Chief Marc Bashoor, Executive Editor of FireRescue1.com and FireChief.com, Dr. Parr explains the study, what they hope to learn, additional research planned for the future (including on the use of connected vehicle technology in PPE to alert drivers to the presence of emergency responders), and the lab they are building at Daytona College to support ongoing research that will inform safety practices for emergency responders at roadway incident scenes. This research is essential because it shows emergency services agencies what we need to prioritize in emergency lighting, what measures are effective, and how to better warn the motoring public as they approach an emergency scene on the roadway. Research can also examine how to apply emerging technologies to the roadway incident response context to improve safety.

To watch this conversation to learn about research underway and on the horizon that will impact safety practices, emergency lighting and traffic control equipment design, PPE options, and traffic engineering, visit the Emergency Vehicles page on ResponderSafety.com. This page also includes links to additional resources on emergency lighting and emergency vehicles.

Funding for this study was made possible by the United States Fire Administration and the US Department of Justice.

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