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VTTI highlights safer roadway presence for Virginia State Police vehicles

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Category: research Video duration: VTTI highlights safer roadway presence for Virginia State Police vehicles
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute held an event to showcase its research and implementation of new red and blue lights in Virginia State Police vehicles. The lights are designed to enhance awareness of trooper vehicles on and off the roadways, as well as provide better overall safety.
This research is a result really of a sequence of studies where we investigated the visibility of emergency vehicles, and particularly police officers when they're involved in a response to traffic incidents on the roadways. And that can be a variety of things from pulling somebody over in a traffic stop all the way to things like clearing collision and doing traffic control. And this sequence of studies that we did help to really understand what differences we can make and the visibility systems on those officers vehicles in order to draw attention from the public and maximize the chance that they will be seen and safe. Every traffic stop is dangerous. I mean, we're six to seven inches away from traffic going by us at a minimum of probably 55 miles an hour. In the back of your mind, it's every traffic stop. And any additional security that you almost like a blanket that you feel like you can get, we'll take it any way we can. We started by simulating traffic stops on the road. By simulating that, we had cameras and radar systems that were available to us. And following the move over law, we were able to look at when vehicles change lanes away from the traffic stop, and if they had any change in speed. So based on that, we were able to assess which configuration was better to cause people to move away from the traffic stop and actually cause a change in their speed. We tested at night, we tested during the day, in various weather conditions. So the red light really makes a difference during the daytime, particularly when the vehicle would appear against the sky because the blue light would disappear against the sky. So the red really showed up as a benefit and we're looking at an improvement of probably about 150 to 200 meters of improvement and when people would change lanes and their percentage of lane change also went higher, we're giving the trooper probably another 2 to 3 seconds of visibility. So by providing that, it gives people time to react, gives people time to do the right thing and to make people aware of where the trooper is. And that's really our goal. So that 2 to 3 seconds makes a significant impact on what people, the choices people are making. 2 to 3 seconds, you can get a lot of stuff done mechanically. If you see a car coming, we're able to take ourselves or somebody else out of the way get us a little bit of safety absolutely. 2 to 3 seconds is a huge difference. We're extra excited because we get to share a demonstration where we've been able to translate research into practice. That's very important to us because it means that the research that's being done here, it makes its way into the field where it can affect change in a case like this, improve the safety outcomes for officers and those members of the public. There's statistics and data out there to show that this is something that's going to make us safe. And more importantly also the general public safe. I mean, whether it's a disabled vehicle or someone we made a traffic stop on for a violation. Their safety is just as important as our safety is.