The following feature on HAAS Alert was published in the Summer 2020 issue of Police Fleet Manager. Click here to read the original issue in a digital format.
Last year, ECCO Safety Group (ESG), a leading global manufacturer of sound, light and vision safety solutions for public safety and commercial vehicles whose brands include Code 3 and ECCO, announced plans to work with Chicago-based HAAS Alert to alert nearby motorists by adding the HAAS Alert Safety Cloud® collision prevention service to Code 3’s product portfolio. By utilizing HAAS Alert technology, Code 3’s lineup of vehicle lighting solutions – including its flagship Matrix® system – now includes the ability to deliver real-time digital alerts to nearby motorists. It increases safety by notifying motorists in advance that emergency vehicles are on-scene and responding to an incident ahead.
Police Fleet Manager recently talked to Brock Aun, Director of Communications at HAAS Alert and Michael Culton, Content Specialist at Code 3, about how the partnership came together, why it is a good fit for both companies, and how first responders can benefit from it.
Code 3 develops hardware-based solutions, such as lightbars and sirens, and are moving to automated and integrated technology, like the Matrix System. The Matrix can be configured with a wide variety of flash patterns to fit a fleet’s unique tactical and safety needs.
Code 3 is constantly looking for ways to improve existing products and explore the latest technology to enhance first responder and public safety. With a skilled staff of engineers and a product development team in-house working on cutting-edge emergency warning systems, they occasionally partner with other companies working toward similar goals. HAAS Alert is one partner who shares the same values and thinks about safety from a slightly different perspective by offering a more digital solution.
“It is amazing to me that even with modern LED technology that produces some pretty intense light and a siren cranking out 100W of power, we still see traffic crashes involving first responders running code,” Culton commented.
Move Over laws were enacted across the country in recent decades, requiring drivers to slow down and proceed with caution when passing emergency vehicles. This includes police vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks, and Department of Transportation (DOT) vehicles. These laws usually apply to all vehicles displaying flashing, rotating, or oscillating lights, including highway maintenance and emergency vehicles. While Move Over laws are written to help to ensure that first responders can perform their duties out of harm’s way, many motorists remain unaware of them or fail to comply.
Code 3 and HAAS Alert’s integrated solution raises the attention of distracted drivers with the objective of proactively alerting drivers to assist in reducing roadway collisions with emergency response and commercial vehicles. According to a University of Minnesota study, the risk of collision between a civilian vehicle and emergency vehicle can be reduced by as much as 90 percent when nearby drivers receive an advanced warning about the hazardous situation.
In 2015, HAAS Alert recognized this gap in emergency warning and developed a service focused on the distracted driver problem to eliminate preventable collisions. By harnessing mobile devices and in-vehicle displays as alerting tools, the company’s Safety Cloud service adds an additional layer of warning. Responding officers and firefighters who engage lights and sirens while broadcasting a digital alert are that much safer. Ultimately, the idea is to attack the problem from every possible angle.
Since digital alerting is a relatively new concept, Code 3 and HAAS Alert are putting a lot of effort into education and training for departments and fleets. There is also a civilian application for the technology on the commercial side, to include protection for tow trucks, highway, and construction vehicles operating on the roadways. According to Culton, they are gradually finding the right fit for their customer base. It makes sense to upfit or upgrade an entire fleet with the latest lighting and warning devices along with HAAS Alert in one comprehensive package.
“Connected safety combined with traditional emergency warning should be standard operating procedure moving forward. We want to use every tool available to reduce one of the biggest and most preventable threats to officer safety, which is traffic crashes,” Culton elaborated.
HAAS Alert’s collision prevention technology was an ideal fit with Code 3’s vehicle lighting solutions. Since they were first developed in the 1920s, the main purpose of lights and sirens on emergency vehicles has been to alert motorists to yield. Although today’s lightbars offer different patterns and sounds, the concept of alerting is fundamentally the same, which is to protect first responders as well as other citizens who are on the road.
There is no doubt today’s drivers are distracted, as studies show cell phone use behind the wheel can lead to collisions since it takes the motorist’s eyes off the road. Being struck by distracted drivers is a leading cause of injuries and death in the United States. Because of this, newer vehicles feature blind spot warnings that are visual and/or audible. In addition, navigation apps such as Waze and Google Maps have visual and audible notifications that alert drivers of slowdowns ahead caused by construction or crashes.
According to Aun, HAAS Alert is working with emergency and consumer automotive manufacturers, as well as navigation companies like Waze, to integrate its alerts directly into vehicle dashboards and displays. Equipping first responders with as many alerts as possible makes them safer and more effective at doing their job, which includes protecting the public. “Our partnership with Code 3 is a natural fit; we’re both committed to keeping first responders safe and protected in the field, which enhances safety for everyone,” Aun noted.
The HAAS Alert Safety Cloud collision prevention system integrates with emergency vehicles’ warning systems, like those manufactured by Code 3. The alerting begins when public safety personnel activate their emergency signals. Safety Cloud is then deactivated when the signals are turned off. For police, the system can be customized for instances when officers may want to have their lights on, but without sending digital alerts. Safety Cloud also installs on older vehicles and lightbars so departments can protect entire fleets. “Our goal is to extend this protection to every responder in the field and make digital alerting a permanent layer of safety, and our partnership with Code 3 is a critical step in that direction,” Aun said. Safety Cloud alone has processed over 100 million alerts since launching, and the service is now live in over 100 cities throughout the United States and available worldwide.
In addition to the digital alerting, Safety Cloud also provides a real-time enhanced situational awareness dashboard accessible to fleet managers on any device. This way, departments can see the location and status of all their vehicles. Departments also receive monthly reports with key statistics such as the number of incidents and runs, the number of drivers alerted, and more.
Although many fleet upgrade processes have been temporarily put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, roads across the country are emptier than ever before, so construction is ramping up in some states. Authorities are also reporting that motorist speeding has also increased in recent weeks due to decreased traffic. Therefore, roads are still dangerous for first responders, construction workers, and other roadway operators, making the need for digital alerting more critical than ever. These essential alerts provide crucial protection for first responders and motorists to prevent accidents before they happen so everyone can get to their destinations safely. The partnership between Code 3 and HAAS Alert means that departments everywhere will finally have access to a solution that may solve this problem once and for all.