JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Vehicle-related crashes are the leading cause of death for on-duty, U.S. law enforcement officers. With that in mind, changes are coming to emergency and law enforcement vehicles in hopes of lowering crash statistics.
Florida Highway Patrol troopers now have bright red and yellow-striped decals on the back bumpers of their cruisers in an effort to make them more visible to drivers while stopped.
"It could be a family on the side of the road with a blown tire, our officers are pulling over and helping with that," FHP Sgt. Dylan Bryan said. "So you never know the reason why the officers are on the side of the road."
Numerous law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical services workers are injured or killed along roadways throughout the United States each year. Over the last 12 years, an average of one officer per month was struck and killed by a vehicle in the U.S.
FHP says that's why a federal mandate is now in place to help protect emergency workers.
"With the unfortunate situation of vehicle crashes just last year, or year prior to that we had a trooper down in South Florida that was killed in the line of duty from a rear-end collision," Bryan said.
He said that's why the new fleet of cars have upgraded safety features. The new cars have retroreflective striping and chevrons, high-visibility paint, a brighter light bar, and other reflectors along the body of the car, all meant to catch drivers' attention when they're heading toward an emergency vehicle.
So far in Florida, there are a little more than 200 FHP vehicles with the upgrades.
"With the contrasting colors and the retroreflective material on the back of our vehicles, it's noticeable and that's the key to this whole issue, is the officer being noticed by the motoring public," Bryan said.
The new fleet rolled out in April.
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