WHAT: Members of the media are invited to learn about and see first-hand how Virginia Tech research influenced emergency light changes in Virginia State Police’s (VSP) new fleet of vehicles statewide. Media will also hear from VSP personnel about how this will help to keep troopers and drivers safe on the road.

WHEN: Monday, March 20, 2023 from 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

WHERE:  Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

                 3500 Transportation Research Plaza

                Blacksburg, VA 24061

***Please plan to arrive early. The Virginia Smart Road is a secure facility and media will not be allowed in after we begin.***

WHOZac Doerzaph, Executive Director of VTTI

            Ron Gibbons, Program Leader, Division of Technology Implementation             Infrastructure-Based Safety Systems at VTTI

            Senior Trooper Brett Southern, Virginia State Police

            Sergeant Richard Garletts, PIO, Virginia State Police

Media RSVP: Media must RSVP by Monday, March 20 at 9:00 a.m. to have access to the Virginia Smart Roads. Please send RSVPs to Margaret Ashburn in the media relations office at mkashburn@vt.edu or 540-529-0814.

BACKGROUND: Ronald Gibbons and his team of researchers from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) found that motorists passing a stopped police vehicle pay more attention when the vehicle has more emergency lights and uses red lights in its light bar. Now, as the next fleet of Virginia State Police vehicles is rolled out, they are being equipped with a new lighting pattern that includes both red and blue lights. This is based on testing and evaluation by Virginia State Police Driver Training Center staff, nationwide best practices for police vehicle emergency lighting, vendor input, and recommendations from VTTI's published research.

Funded by the National Institute of Justice, the team of VTTI researchers first partnered with Virginia State Police to analyze police vehicle lighting and the responses of drivers in 2014. The most recent study was the first naturalistic traffic assessment of lane-change and speed behavior in proximity to an actively lit law enforcement vehicle conducted on this scale.

The research investigated a variety of conventional and popular alternatives to lighting police vehicles by placing a police vehicle behind a civilian vehicle on the shoulder of a road. The team analyzed a marked police vehicle with four different lighting patterns and an unmarked vehicle with two different lighting patterns in five locations across Virginia, spanning from urban to rural environments and at different times of day.

This research became the Ph.D. dissertation of Travis Terry and was published in "Accident Analysis & Prevention" in 2020.

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