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TowTimes.com - Audio Article: Advanced, Digital Alerting Technology for Tow Operator Safety

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Screen-Shot-2022-06-07-at-11.08.42-AM.pnAdvanced, Digital Alerting Technology for Tow Operator Safety from the June 2022 Issue of Tow Times Magazine.

From the early, single-rotating beacon lights introduced in the 1940s, to today’s sophisticated LED lightbars and strobes, the towing industry has often relied on advanced warning technology first-introduced for police and fire agencies.

Traditional advanced warning devices — lighting, signage, cones, flares, etc. — notify motorists just ahead of, and at the location of, emergency roadside activity and workzones. Current and emerging technology trends notify motorists of roadside activity well-before reaching the scene through “digital alerting” in the vehicles they’re driving. Digital alerts are real-time safety notifications of upcoming hazards that are sent to motorists’ vehicles through cellular-based technologies.

Digital Alerting

In the towing industry, the current, most prevalent example of digital alerting is the Safety Cloud system by HAAS Alert. Launched in 2016 as the nation’s first digital alerting service, the system enables public safety vehicles including law enforcement, fire & EMS, tow operators, the construction industry, DOT and municipal services to send and receive digital alerts. The alerts are received by motorists using navigation platforms including Waze, and through the infotainment screens of HAAS Alert-equipped vehicles.

When a tow truck is on the roadside, alerts from the truck are sent to motorists in proximity to make them aware that a potential hazard in the form of stopped roadside emergency or service vehicles is ahead.

By delivering advanced warning, motorists may have more time to react to the scene by slowing down and/or moving over. Through this connectivity between vehicles, motorists’ awareness and response time is improved, diminishing the potential for collisions with roadside workers or vehicles. Increased warning time also affords motorists more time to comply with Move Over laws.

According to Safety Cloud, activating lights on the tow truck sends real-time digital alerts to approaching motorists to slow down and move over through navigation systems or mobile devices up to 30 seconds before reaching the scene. As for installation, the system integrates with existing telematics and connectivity platforms. No HAAS Alert app is needed. Any size fleet with Safety Cloud by HAAS Alert can alert the motoring public.

Connectivity Technology

Other types of advanced warning technology that could be coming to the towing industry can be found by reviewing technologies that have been introduced for work zone and law enforcement applications.

The ConnectedTech iPin is a device that can be inserted into a standard traffic cone, or placed on equipment and vehicles. Once activated, it works like a geometric marker, marking its location via GPS to navigation apps and connected, oncoming vehicles and providing situational awareness of work zones. The device not only alerts approaching drivers, but also can be used for traffic control and work zone management.

This GPS-connected technology can be installed on a variety of highway work zone applications including traffic barrels, arrow boards, hazard lights — even flagging batons and “stop paddles” used by crossing guards.

Another example of vehicle connectivity warning technology is the PursuitAlert mobile warning system app that was designed to allow law enforcement to alert motorists when they’re in close proximity to a Code3 response, an active police pursuit, or a roadside emergency vehicle so they can take measures to safely pull over, or slow down and move over.

As a side note, PursuitAlert warns motorists on its website about police pursuits stating, “It is estimated there are about 68,000 high-speed police pursuits each year in the U.S. On average, there is about one death a day as a result of a high-speed pursuit in the U.S. More people are killed each year from high-speed police pursuits than from tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and lightning combined.”

The Future

Could vehicle connectivity play a major role in the future to warn motorists in advance of emergency roadside vehicles and workers? Jack Sullivan, director of training of the Emergency Responder Safety Institute (responder safety.com), says, “I think that type of technology will be developed and start to be distributed,” while noting that many older vehicles lacking sophisticated electronic technology are on the nation’s highways, and will continue to be for years to come.

That said, from the technology introduced to the law enforcement, fire, towing and work zone industries, advance warning to motorists through vehicle connectivity may be an important tool to keep emergency responders, including tow operators, safer on the roadside.

View the full article and more on TowTimes.com

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