The Use of Red Flashing Lamps by Road Recovery Operators - trials and research

Published: Apr 2024

Citation: 10.58446/xjos2939


Author: M Palmer, M Bell, C Baverstock, A Holcombe, A Avis, J Hitchings, J Radcliffe, J Kamat, N Studdard, S Helman

Pages: 294

Reference: PPR2004


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The road recovery industry has proposed that regulations are changed to allow fitting and use of rear-facing red flashing lamps, to improve conspicuity and safety of recovery operators attending incidents. This project undertook activities to assist the DfT in deciding a way forward on this issue. Studies were run on a track, and in a driving simulator, to test driver response to red flashing lamps, red plus amber flashing lamps, and amber lamps. No evidence was found to support the
idea that red, or red plus amber, flashing lamps, would change driver response relative to amber. Surveys did suggest that people had a slight increase in perceiving red and red plus amber flashing lamps as meaning ‘danger’ or ‘prepare to stop’, compared with amber. Any decision to change regulations to allow the use of red flashing lamps by road recovery industry vehicles should be supported by extensive engagement with the industry to ensure that recovery operators are not led to expect direct safety benefits from this change alone. Recommendations were also made for other actions the recovery industry can undertake in attempting to improve safety, and notes that any change in regulations should be accompanied by public education around the meaning of different warning signals. A conspicuity guidance document was produced to provide information that can be used by industry trainers and can inform technicians on their personal conspicuity.

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