27 Jul Preventing collisions, saving lives
For the emergency services operating firefighting tenders, rescue vehicles, ambulances and other utility vehicles, minimising and eliminating risks from incidents on the road and at emergency scenes is a vitally important concern. Here, Corey Heniser, CEO of Brigade Electronics INC, discusses how technology can help prevent accidents and save lives.
Collisions involving emergency vehicles are a regular occurrence in the USA and it is estimated that they account for 6,500 accidents every year.
According to the National Safety Council, 180 people died in crashes involving emergency vehicles in 2020 and pedestrians accounted for 25% of these deaths. However, emergency workers are also at risk with firefighting vehicle accidents being the second leading cause of on-the-job deaths for firefighters attending incidents.
Clearly, vehicle safety is vital in preventing deaths and injuries in the emergency services sector.
Emergency response vehicle drivers face a unique set of challenges. Travelling at high speeds while weaving through traffic, manoeuvring in tight spaces and operating in dangerous, noisy environments are everyday hazards for emergency responders to negotiate. They also encounter adverse weather conditions and night-time call-outs in often high-risk situations.
Research has shown that incidents and collisions are most likely to occur at slower speeds, due to two core issues – limited visibility and blind spots on reversing or manoeuvring vehicles.
Incidents can be costly and distressing for those involved. However, all-round vehicle visibility provided by the latest commercial vehicle safety technology has proved to reduce collisions and improve safety considerably.
Safety camera systems
Retro-fitting vehicles with commercial vehicle safety systems, such as Brigade Electronics’ best-selling Backeye®360, allows drivers to keep a close eye on all possible blind spots of their vehicle so they can instantly see other vehicles, cyclists or pedestrians.
Intelligent four-camera technology designed to eliminate vehicle blind spots and assist manoeuvrability in challenging situations can provide the driver with a complete 360-degree view of their vehicle in a single image. Systems combine images from four ultra-wide-angle cameras, which are displayed on the driver’s monitor in real-time. The result is a ‘bird’s-eye-view’ of the vehicle and surrounding area.
Ultrasonic obstacle detection
Ultrasonic obstacle detection technology can detect stationary and moving objects and are perfect for road-going commercial vehicles, such as ambulances and fire engines. The ultrasonic proximity sensors minimise both vehicle damage and collisions with pedestrians, cyclists, and objects. The detection system alerts the driver with an audible and visible in-cab warning when objects are within a certain distance. Advanced systems, such as Brigade’s Sidescan®Predict, utilise artificial intelligence (AI) to constantly gather data such as the speed and distance of a cyclist or pedestrian in the vicinity.
When camera systems are linked to vehicle CCTV and a digital video recorder set-up, the recorded footage can provide irrefutable evidence in the event of a collision, or any kind of incident, such as vandalism or theft from a vehicle.
One major benefit of digital video recorders is their ability to support drivers who can often be the subject of increased scrutiny after an incident. The latest systems, such as Brigade’s MDR, also have 4G cloud-connectivity, meaning that data can be live-streamed remotely with real time GPS tracking.