Performance Analysis of Squad Car Lighting, Retro-reflective Markings, and Paint Treatments to Improve Safety at Roadside Traffic Stops


Jacob Fischer, Adam Krzmarzick, Arvind Menon, Craig Shankwitz

May 2012

Report no. CTS 12-13

In the United States, more police officers are killed in collisions at roadside stops than through felonious acts. Causal factors that affect police safety at roadside stops include officer conspicuity, squad conspicuity, weather conditions, and the attention and fatigue level of the traveling public. Described herein is a research project that provides insight and guidelines that may ultimately improve officer safety at roadside stops. The project is designed to modify an existing sensor-based traffic monitoring system so that it serves as a test bed to evaluate the retro-reflector, lighting, and paint treatments of an emergency vehicle to determine whether particular combinations produce improved ?move over? behavior of oncoming traffic. This is done using automated data analysis software built specifically for this project. Tests are performed at a fully instrumented rural intersection. After mimicking a traffic stop where a patrol vehicle is placed at this intersection, the experimenter logs onto a website and enters the time when the test took place. Analysis software draws results from the data. The results are e-mailed to the experimenters, who devise their own test regimes, following the guidelines presented herein, and draw their own conclusions. A second system was built to provide a more portable option for testing in urban areas. This system consists of two freestanding radar boxes with wireless communication, as well as one netbook computer. Test procedures and results are analogous to the original system. Additional calibration is automatically performed to account for the variable position of the radars.

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ITS Institute (RITA)