Sheriff's Collision Avoidance System Combats Rear-End Crashes

February 17, 2016, by Paul Clinton

Photo courtesy of Polk County S.O.
Photo courtesy of Polk County S.O.

The Polk County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office is striving to eliminate rear-end collisions in vehicles with an aftermarket collision avoidance system installed by fleet technicians, according to the agency's fleet administrator.

Since August, the office has been installing Mobileye 5-Series systems on its nearly 600 fleet vehicles, including. The system offers a forward-collision warning, pedestrian collision warning, headway monitoring, lane departure warning, and a speed limit indicator.

The system has helped deputies stay focused on their driving task amid the distractions inherent in the law enforcement field, including radio and other police equipment in the car, smartphones, and the need to scan the road ahead.

"In law enforcement, our mission has built-in distractions every day," said Francis Hart, fleet administrator for the office. "Finally, we have something that will get their heads out of the car to pay attention. This is something that gives you a fighting chance to prevent an oh-shoot moment."

The agency implemented the system to reduce rear-end crashes of deputies striking other motorists and agency fatalities of deputies driving off the roadway. The project gained urgency in 2013, when Master Deputy Sheriff Shane Robbins was killed in a crash when his vehicle left the roadway for unknown reasons.

"The fatality put it on the front burner," Hart said.

Photo courtesy of Polk County S.O.
Photo courtesy of Polk County S.O.

Before installing the system on the fleet of market Chevrolet Impala sedans, the agency gave its fleet technicians training from Mobileye on installing the system, which includes a small camera mounted behind the rear-view mirror, a display mounted next to the rear-view mirror, and a cable connecting the system to the vehicle's diagnostics system. The system is transferable and can be pulled out and installed in another vehicle.

The agency can tailor the system's driving alerts, such as setting the following proximity to the vehicle ahead, proximity to the lane markers, and mph above the posted limit. The camera reads speed limit signs.

So far the office has invested about $375,000 to install the system in their vehicles, which equates to about $740 per vehicle. The investment has paid off for an agency that had two accidents costing about $500,000 prior to the installation of the system. No cars with a Mobileye system have been involved in a rear-end crash, Hart said.

The system is expected to be installed in the agency's nearly 600 vehicles by June, including marked units, unmarked units, jail detention vans, administration cars, crime scene vans, animal control trucks, and agriculture crimes trucks. The fleet logs more than 1 million miles of driving per month.

The agency patrols a mixed urban and rural jurisdiction that covers nearly 2,200 square miles with a population of about 700,000. Lakeland is the largest city in the county.

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