Trying to locate the source of a siren when you are behind the wheel can be stressful. Worse, it can delay the progress of an emergency vehicle if you do not act quickly and safely.
We have developed technology that sends a signal from the ambulance, fire engine or police car directly to nearby drivers, so that they will know exactly where the siren is coming from, and how far away it is.
In the U.K. alone, in 2015, there were 475 road accidents involving emergency services vehicles. And it is thought the technology – that provides to the driver audible and visual alerts in the instrument cluster – could one day even advise drivers on the best course of action to safely get out of the way.
“Time is precious for emergency services and this technology could help to shave valuable seconds off their journeys by enabling drivers to avoid being an obstruction,” said Christian Ress, supervisor, Automated Driving Europe, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering.
This week we are demonstrating our Emergency Vehicle Warning technology at the UK Autodrive event, a £20 million government-sponsored trial of connected cars supported by 16 technology and automotive businesses, local authorities and academic institutions.
“West Midlands Fire Service has a pledge to attend serious incidents within five minutes. Connected technologies like these, that help to improve communications between vehicles, could help us get to people even more quickly when they really need us,” said Peter Allington, Road Casualty Reduction Team at West Midlands Fire Service.
We are also trialling technology that can alert drivers to potential accidents when they are approaching a crossroads. With Intersection Collision Warning, the car broadcasts its location to nearby vehicles which – if equipped with the same technology – then calculate the risk of a crash. If the risk is high then a warning tells both drivers to slow down or stop. For example, it could alert drivers when a car approaching from another direction has ignored a red traffic light.
Previously, as part of the trials, we showcased systems that warn when cars ahead, which may be hidden by a bend in the road, brake hard; as well as technology that shows how cars can synchronise with traffic lights to “ride the green wave”, improving journeys through urban areas. Trials of all four technologies are ongoing in the Coventry and Milton Keynes areas until end of 2018 when UK Autodrive will be finalised.
The emergency services have the following safety tips for drivers when they hear an emergency vehicle siren. Blue Light Aware
- Keep calm, look and listen. If you hear a siren, assume an emergency vehicle is coming your way and give yourself time to plan
- Turn off the music in your car so you can hear the siren
- Look for somewhere safe to pull over and stop. Use your indicators to show you’re pulling over and avoid confusion with other road users
- Make sure you leave enough space for the vehicle to pass. Be aware there may be more than one emergency vehicle in the convoy
- Stay safe, stay legal. Don’t go through a red light or enter a bus lane unless directed by a uniformed police officer