Blue lights overkill

Topics relating to Advanced Driving in cars
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EasyShifter
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Blue lights overkill

Postby EasyShifter » Tue Sep 27, 2016 6:46 am

At a country crossroads, after dark, I came upon the scene of an incident - highly visible because three emergency vehicles were present, each with blue and red lights flashing, a police car front and rear and an ambulance in the middle. I approached from a minor road to turn right a few yards away from the incident which, once I had turned, would be on my left. I could see figures moving around, in reflective jackets, but the lights were so blinding that I could not make out detail. To my left and right, 2 other cars had stopped on their approach and the three of us sat there wondering what to do (I'm surmising that they were hesitant for the same reason I was). Among the figures I could see was one standing still beside the ambulance in the centre of it all. My guess (correctly as it turned out) was that this was probably an officer directing traffic. I raised my eyes to look for an upraised arm and was immediately further dazzled by the ambulance lights which aligned perfectly with my line of vision. I and the other drivers (approaching from 3 directions between us) sat there for several seconds immobile while the figure in the centre moved slightly in what might have been an agitated manner but all we could see was a reflective vest and a shadowy pair of legs beneath. Again, I surmised (again correctly) that the officer was trying to get one of us to go through, but could not be sure - or of which one was being called.
Cautiously, I edged out into the junction, the other two cars remaining stationary, and moved at a crawl toward the scene. As I got closer I could make out the that the officer was facing me and beckoning me on.
It seemed pretty clear to me that she did not realise the problem we were all having, and it might be helpful to tell her. The car behind was tentatively starting to follow my lead and the one ahead remained stationary, so all was safe from that point of view. As we drew alongside the officer, I lowered my window and we exchanged a few words:
'I think it might help you to know that the blue lights on the ambulance are dazzling us and making your signals invisible.'
'I know, but if we don't have them on . . .'
'Well, I thought it would be helpful for you to be informed of it.
'Thank you'.
I felt that to prolong the conversation would be counter-productive - it was clearly a stressful position to be in and drivers stopping to argue the toss can seriously increase the red mist effect, so I then continued through. Hopefully, the information would filter through and be acted upon. But it did crystallise a concern I've had for a long time about the overkill in the use of blue lights. It was only after I had left that I realised the significance of 'I know, but' - if she knew she could not be clearly seen, why so reluctant to do something about it - and what made her think that turning off just that one set of lights would make things any worse?
This was a pretty quiet rural road. Drivers approaching from front and rear had a good long view of the road and would have had no difficulty in seeing the need for caution. Drivers approaching, like me, from the two minor roads would be slowing for the give-way signs and have ample time to register the information.
I could see the point of the front and rear vehicles having lights going to ensure visibility from both ends - but the real problem was the ambulance, set between 2 police cars, each showing at least four lights each way, and the officer's raised hand rendered invisible by proximity to the lights on the ambulance roof. I really cannot see any rationale for leaving those lights going.
Roadcraft says very little about the use of blue lights at the scene, other than that they might protect officers working there - which a reasonable number of them certainly would - but the additional ones just created so much dazzle that they actually compromised that safety.
this is a particularly graphic example of something that others may also have noticed about the sheer number of lights fitted to emergency vehicles and frerquestnly used all at once - one can hardly help getting the impression that there is a certain pleasure being taken in simply using all the kit. The use of co-ordinated flashing headlamps is another example of it - with 2 or more lights on the roof and a couple more in the grille, what further purpose does that serve, except to mask the direction indicators, depriving motorists of vital information about where the driver intends to go.
This officer (and others at the scene) were clearly blissfully unaware of the danger that was being caused and ended that they themselves might be in. I left, hoping that the reluctance of other drivers to follow their signals might eventually wake them up to my warning - but it does seem to me there's a need for training, and possibly something in the next edition of Roadcraft.
Michael

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EasyShifter
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Re: Blue lights overkill

Postby EasyShifter » Tue Sep 27, 2016 7:17 am

My apologies - I meant this to be on the 'cars' page as I'm not a biker, but it's early in the morning and I'm clearly still asleep! But then, Ii guess it's a similar issue for all of us. I'm quite happy to transfer it to the cars page if that would be preferred. :D
Michael

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akirk
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Re: Blue lights overkill

Postby akirk » Tue Sep 27, 2016 7:58 am

EasyShifter wrote:My apologies - I meant this to be on the 'cars' page as I'm not a biker, but it's early in the morning and I'm clearly still asleep! But then, Ii guess it's a similar issue for all of us. I'm quite happy to transfer it to the cars page if that would be preferred. :D


I have moved it :) - not that it isn't relevant to bikers as well!

it is an interesting debate, hopefully someone trained will know the official line (I might ask a friend who is a fireman what their training says - though I suspect that at many of the incidents he attends the fire adds more light!)

I suspect that it is difficult to quantify the balance between too much light / enough light, clearly it would be dangerous to not have enough warning light, so perhaps it is easier to have it all than to work out a more accurate balance and risk not having enough...

when a vehicle attends a scene the priority is dealing with the incident, and the hope is that they are there as short a time as possible - both reasons why it is not worth taking the time to evaluate the scene and move warning lights to the approaches only to minimise light - that would be to take time away from dealing with the incident and time is one of the biggest issues - esp. with injuries...

So I suspect that it is just not an important priority - the negative consequences of too much light and dazzling other drivers should simply result in their going slower which you want anyway... so it is probable that there are no serious negative consequences from the point of view of those dealing with the incident, and it is the simplest approach...

Alasdair

sussex2
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Re: Blue lights overkill

Postby sussex2 » Tue Sep 27, 2016 8:20 am

Driving a low car almost all headlights and many flashing lights are shining directly into my eyes; dazzle is always present from vehicles approaching and behind and yes emergency vehicles as well. If I drive our van in which you sit high the effect is obviously less.
It does seem that very often emergency vehicles will have lights on full beam pointing towards you, again perhaps as a feeling of protection.

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Horse
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Re: Blue lights overkill

Postby Horse » Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:06 am

EasyShifter wrote: I and the other drivers (approaching from 3 directions between us) sat there for several seconds immobile while the figure in the centre moved slightly in what might have been an agitated manner but all we could see was a reflective vest and a shadowy pair of legs beneath. Again, I surmised (again correctly) that the officer was trying to get one of us to go through, but could not be sure - or of which one was being called.

'I think it might help you to know that the blue lights on the ambulance are dazzling us and making your signals invisible.'
'I know, but if we don't have them on . . .'
'Well, I thought it would be helpful for you to be informed of it.
'Thank you'.


Sadly, this is a big problem, perhaps getting worse as the lighting manufacturers have an illuminated arms race [IMH & personal O].

Ideally, a scene would only be protected by a vehicle at either end keeping beacons on, but of course in the busyness of an incident it's unlikely crews will have time to return to their vehicle to check whether it's 'that' vehicle and switch beacons off if it's not.

The issue of people being hidden by lighting and markings has been researched:
http://assets.highways.gov.uk/specialis ... mplete.pdf

Workers should also be made aware of the difficulties approaching drivers may have identifying workers when they are in close proximity to works vehicles, particularly those marked with high-visibility colour schemes or displaying warning beacons.

Worse still, if the office you saw was wearing a hi-viz vest, how are you supposed to see arms moving . . . ?
My own views. For better or worse :)

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Mr Cholmondeley-Warner
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Re: Blue lights overkill

Postby Mr Cholmondeley-Warner » Tue Sep 27, 2016 11:11 am

EasyShifter wrote:...others may also have noticed about the sheer number of lights fitted to emergency vehicles and frerquestnly used all at once - one can hardly help getting the impression that there is a certain pleasure being taken in simply using all the kit. The use of co-ordinated flashing headlamps is another example of it - with 2 or more lights on the roof and a couple more in the grille, what further purpose does that serve, except to mask the direction indicators, depriving motorists of vital information about where the driver intends to go...

Conversely, you, as I, have probably witnessed cars driving for considerable distances along L3 of a motorway with an emergency vehicle behind them, lights all flashing, and seemingly blissfully unaware of their presence. It's those people who are to blame for the requirement to use lots of lights.
Nick

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jont-
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Re: Blue lights overkill

Postby jont- » Tue Sep 27, 2016 4:11 pm

Mr Cholmondeley-Warner wrote:
EasyShifter wrote:...others may also have noticed about the sheer number of lights fitted to emergency vehicles and frerquestnly used all at once - one can hardly help getting the impression that there is a certain pleasure being taken in simply using all the kit. The use of co-ordinated flashing headlamps is another example of it - with 2 or more lights on the roof and a couple more in the grille, what further purpose does that serve, except to mask the direction indicators, depriving motorists of vital information about where the driver intends to go...

Conversely, you, as I, have probably witnessed cars driving for considerable distances along L3 of a motorway with an emergency vehicle behind them, lights all flashing, and seemingly blissfully unaware of their presence. It's those people who are to blame for the requirement to use lots of lights.

And the solution of course would be to get the ignorant ones off the roads altogether, not drag everyone else down to their level :soap:
Should be easy enough - all emergency vehicles fitted with dash cams. People don't move over, prosecute for DWDCA.
/but of course there's no political appetite to get LCD off the roads :headbang:

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GTR1400MAN
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Re: Blue lights overkill

Postby GTR1400MAN » Tue Sep 27, 2016 7:34 pm

Horse wrote:Sadly, this is a big problem, perhaps getting worse as the lighting manufacturers have an illuminated arms race [IMH & personal O].

Image

Time to climb on my soapbox.

:soap:

The continual 'brighter is better' light war that is taking place on our roads now is just ridiculous. Car manufacturers fitting ever brighter, bigger, more of, lights that nobody needs. Emergency vehicles with flashing lights so bright that you can't see past them (following a moving one you are blinded, especially at night. Why do they need an arsenal of blue light, retina damagers, facing backwards?). Cyclists with helmet mounted death rays flashing in the faces of drivers, not at the road. Roadworks with enough halogen flood lighting to melt the surface of the sun (with nobody doing any work!). These flood lights are often poorly angled and shine into the face of drivers rather than down on the ground. Then there's hundreds of flashing amber lights often synced together. If this was the news on TV we'd have to endure yet another warning about flash photography, yet this epileptic episode inducing setup is common on our roads!

The joke is that all this is done in the name of safety.

One day I hope we will look back at this crazy situation and wonder how we ever let it get so bad.

http://www.lightmare.org/
Mike Roberts

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Horse
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Re: Blue lights overkill

Postby Horse » Tue Sep 27, 2016 8:12 pm

If it's any consolation, some of us try, when we can, to reduce this.
My own views. For better or worse :)

gannet
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Re: Blue lights overkill

Postby gannet » Wed Sep 28, 2016 10:12 am

GTR1400MAN wrote:Cyclists with helmet mounted death rays flashing in the faces of drivers, not at the road.

Guilty as charged, although I try not to dazzle with mine.

I only started using one as a result of this little incident: I wasn't seen...


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