Auto and Road User Journal
Copyright © 1997 by TranSafety, Inc.
February 1, 1997|
(U.S. and Canada)
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President Clinton Unveils New Universal Child Seat Attachment System to Make Installation Safer, Easier
NHTSA Issues Final Rule; Proposes Two Changes to Reduce Air Bag Dangers
NHSTA Announces Comprehensive Plan to Improve Air Bag Technology and Reduce Air Bag Dangers
Coping with Driver Fatigue
Maryland Man Amazed
Drivers Voice Support for Zero Tolerance, Graduated Licensing
Insurance Institute Publishes Vehicle Death Rate Comparisons for 1990-94
Improving Highways for Older Driver Use
Insurance Institute Video Describes Steps to Airbag Safety
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Lime-Yellow Fire Trucks Safer Than Red -- A Conclusion from Four Years of DataClassic emergency vehicles--red fire engines--may be more dangerous for the public and for firefighters than lime-yellow fire engines. Tabulation and review of data from Dallas, Texas produced the following conclusion:
Results of Solomon and King's study appeared in the Spring 1995 (Volume 26, Number 1) issue of the Journal of Safety Research as an article entitled "Influence of Color on Fire Vehicle Accidents." This is a summary of their findings.
Motorists can better avoid accidents with emergency vehicles or lessen the seriousness of accidents when they have clear auditory and visual warnings of an approaching emergency vehicle. Solomon and King contended, "Driving a vehicle may be described in part as multiple stimuli competing for attention and response of the operator." Sirens associated with emergency vehicles provide stimuli that grab the motorist's attention and cause the driver to respond in a way that helps keep private vehicles from crashing with fire vehicles. The researchers felt fire vehicles should take advantage of both effective auditory and visual attention-getters, and a major factor in attracting visual attention is color.
Red Versus Lime-Yellow
Separate studies revealed light colors such as yellow and white are the most easily seen against the background of a well-worn highway; and red-and-white stripes decrease the visibility of a vehicle, while yellow-and-black stripes increase contrast and visibility.
In 1984, Solomon conducted a study involving nine cities and 750,000 fire-vehicle trips; the data showed that "the frequency of lime-yellow fire pumper intersection accidents is half that of red fire pumpers." The follow-up study described in this article incorporated all accident data (not just intersection accidents) and included two-tone vehicles (red/white and lime yellow/white). The research also measured accident severity by considering data on injuries and vehicle towing.
The objective was to learn if color had an influence on accident data. If color had no influence, then an equal percentage of accidents should have occurred when red or red/white fire vehicles responded to an emergency fire call as occurred when lime-yellow/white fire vehicles responded.
During the four years of the study, red or red/white pumpers responded to fire calls 153,348 times, and lime-yellow/white pumpers responded 135,035 times. Those runs (responses to fire emergencies) resulted in twenty-eight accidents involving fire pumpers. Since eight accidents were not visibility-related, study results included only 20 accidents. Of the 20 accidents, red or red/white fire pumpers accounted for 16, while lime-yellow/white pumpers accounted for only 4. Red or red/white fire vehicles resulted in 10 towaway accidents and 7 injury accidents compared to 2 towaways and 1 injury accident for lime-yellow/white vehicles.
Considering the number of runs by red and red/white pumpers and the number by lime-yellow/white pumpers in relation to the number of accidents involving each group, Solomon and King concluded:
Conclusions and Recommendations
Arguably, the safety benefits of lime-yellow fire vehicles would extend beyond the responding fleet when it is on the road. Unlike audible warning signals, an emergency vehicle's color does not have to be "turned on." A lime-yellow pumper parked at a fire would still benefit from its increased visibility as compared to a red pumper.
The researchers made three recommendations:
To give firefighters and their representatives more data to back their requests for a change in fire vehicle color, the researchers suggested broader-based studies of the effects of color on emergency vehicle accidents. Future studies should include more cities and data on the entire fire fleet and on all vehicles.
In response to early studies showing the positive effects of lime-yellow rather than red emergency vehicles, the Federal Aviation Administration has converted their aircraft rescue and fire-fighting fleets to lime-yellow. Most municipal fire service vehicles, however, are still traditional fire-engine red. It is a tradition that appears to increase the likelihood that firefighters and the public will be injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident.
Copyright © 1997 by TranSafety, Inc.