Trying to locate the source of a siren when you are behind the wheel can be stressful and can also delay the progress of an emergency vehicle if you don’t move out of the way quickly and safely.
So Ford has developed a technology that sends a signal from the ambulance, fire engine or police car directly to nearby drivers, so that they will know where the siren is coming from, and how far away it is.
It is demonstrating this 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.
Says Christian Ress, supervisor, Automated Driving Europe, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering: “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,”
Adds Peter Allington, Road Casualty Reduction Team at West Midlands Fire Service: “West Midlands Fire Service has a pledge to attend serious incidents within five minutes. Connected technologies like these which help to improve communications between vehicles, could help us get to people even more quickly when they really need us,”
In the UK 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.
Ford is 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.
Trials of the technologies are ongoing in the Coventry and Milton Keynes areas until end of 2018 when UK Autodrive will be finalised.
You can see a YouTube video explaining how the technology works below:
5 Safety tips for listening to emergency service vehicles
The emergency services have the following safety tips for drivers when they hear an emergency vehicle siren:
- 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