Police officers are distracted drivers. Between scanning the environment and interacting with their radio and computer, driving is just another part of their duties, according to Uri Tamir, general manager of Mobileye North America. That means safety behind the wheel is an even bigger concern, especially since vehicle-related incidents are a leading cause of officer death.
Emanuel Diaz, public information officer for the Laredo (TX) Police Department, agrees. Officers are often checking information or updating notes in their mobile data terminals, and the department wanted to ensure an extra safety measure was available for their drivers. The department began installing the Mobileye collision avoidance system several years ago on all new vehicles.
The system works like advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) that provide lane departure and collision warnings but has police-specific features such as the ability to turn the alerts off, Tamir said. This allows officers in pursuit mode to have full control of their vehicle when needed.
“It allows an extra safety feature or warning system. In the off chance we may be doing something within our computers, checking a note or something like that on a hot call, and we're coming close to another vehicle, we hear that distinct beep. We know something's about to happen, so we start applying our brakes and taking an evasive maneuver if we need to,” Diaz said. “It's essentially an added security feature for our officers that helps in their everyday job duties.”
Mobileye is installed in most of the PD’s fleet of 200 vehicles, which consists of mostly Ford Police Interceptor Utility SUVs but also includes Dodge Chargers, F-150 pickups, Crown Victorias, and Chevrolet Caprices. The goal is to have all patrol vehicles installed with the technology, which will be complete once all the older vehicles are cycled out, Diaz said.
Diaz said at first, officers were confused by the beep that sounded when they, for example, changed lanes without signaling. However, they got used to it and “it has saved them from actually rear-ending other motorists,” Diaz said.