Emergency Safety Solutions
The H.E.L.P.™ Drivers Need Until Help Arrives
Most of us have been there… stranded on the side of a highway with a flat tire or empty gas tank while traffic zooms by. Unfortunately for some, what started as an inconvenience often leads to tragedy.
A Deadly, Growing and Preventable Safety Problem
Every seven minutes, a disabled vehicle is struck by an oncoming driver on U.S. roadways. These crashes have become all too common, with devastating results: Nearly 72,000 people affected each year, and 15,000 killed or injured. These deaths and injuries translate into a societal cost of nearly $9 billion.
These preventable tragedies happen because oncoming drivers don’t see disabled vehicles until it’s too late to react. Minor issues like flat tires, fender benders or engine trouble put occupants and good samaritans at great risk of being struck by passing traffic.
It’s a risk that’s growing each year. Recent researchshows a nearly 10% annual increase in these types of accidents.
Long Overdue Solution
Hazard lights – which serve as the only available warning beacon for disabled vehicles – were invented in 1951 and have not changed since. That’s seventy years without innovation, and studies show the rate of deaths and injuries is getting worse every year.
Driver behavior is part of the problem. But the single greatest reason for these tragedies is our reliance on last-century equipment that does not effectively communicate with other drivers and vehicles.
Emergency Safety Solutions (ESS) is working to eliminate disabled vehicle crashes with its new intelligent emergency communications feature for stationary, distressed vehicles called the “Hazard Enhanced Location Protocol,” or H.E.L.P.™ for short.
The regulatory compliant H.E.L.P. solution provides two forms of highly effective communication to make your disabled vehicle more visible: (1) highly conspicuous emergency-based lighting output, and (2) digital notifications sent to oncoming vehicles via GPS-based mapping applications.
These features deliver advanced warning to oncoming traffic -- giving approaching drivers minutes, not just milliseconds, to more safely respond to the disabled vehicle.
The Science Behind Our Solution
Human Factors Science
The effectiveness of visual clarity is driven by an optimized combination of flash rate, light volume, color and intensity.
Within Visual Range
Dozens of empirical Human Factors studies conclude that driver perception improves with higher emergency hazard light flash rates. For example, a recent study at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) found that higher-frequency flash rates dramatically increase perception of urgency. The graph displays flash frequency against three dimensions of visual clarity – discomfort glare, annoyance and urgency. This finding is reinforced by studies conducted by NASA’s Ames Research Center.
Beyond Line of Sight
In addition to providing a long-range visible beacon to oncoming drivers, ESS H.E.L.P. also deploys a digital signal upon activation of the hazard lights.
That signal is detected by emergency information systems and retail navigation applications, alerting all other drivers who are running a navigation application that there is a hazard ahead.
This visual and digital alert system provides drivers with plenty of advanced warning to avoid disabled vehicles on the road ahead, and will safeguard the lives of those in the disabled vehicles.
Virginia Tech Evaluation of Hazard Lighting Attributes
Click here to view a comprehensive evaluation by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institution of the ESS H.E.L.P. Hazard Lighting System
ESS’ Hazard Enhanced Location Protocol (H.E.L.P.) is designed to provide highly conspicuous lighting and digital communication using existing vehicle lighting systems and equipment-agnostic traffic data platforms.
Unchanged since 1951, current hazard flash rates of 1.0 - 2.0 Hz were established under the limitations of legacy incandescent bulbs and control relays rather than Human Factors science.
H.E.L.P. combines LED lighting, electronic control and digital alerts to enable intelligent emergency communications unachievable with 20th century technologies.
How It Works
ESS H.E.L.P. Emergency Mode can be deployed via both automatic and manual activation.
H.E.L.P. auto-deploys when conditions indicate a safety need, such as when a collision or airbag sensor is triggered, a tire blowout, or during an Automated Driving System “takeover”.
Drivers can also activate Emergency Mode manually if the vehicle is in Park or has the Parking Brake engaged. Manual activation is available via smart Screen Control or a secondary button near the vehicle’s hazard light button.
Simple, Low-Cost Implementation
H.E.L.P. is a regulatory compliant software-based solution, which utilizes existing vehicle hardware and lighting systems.
Implementation requires minimal, low-cost updates to new vehicle safety, lighting controls and telematic systems.
Since many vehicles already have LED turn signals, in most cases, no hardware upgrades are required.
H.E.L.P.™ Technology License:
Standardized and Accelerated Implementation of Life-SavingTechnology
ESS licenses its lighting and digital communications technologies to automakers in order to efficiently deploy the H.E.L.P. solution across all vehicle makes and models, globally. The result will be a common, globally understood warning to drivers when they are approaching a vulnerable vehicle ahead – giving them ample advanced warning so that they can slow down, move over and safely avoid disabled vehicles and their occupants.
The ESS H.E.L.P. Technology License specifies safety communication features that are tuned for optimum effectiveness, while maintaining compliance with regulations and traffic laws.
ESS chose a business model and regulatory strategy rooted in voluntary adoption to accelerate automaker implementation of H.E.L.P. solution so that, together, we could immediately start saving lives and reducing injuries. The risk to drivers and passengers of vulnerable vehicles sitting stationary on or alongside roadways is far too great to wait for new government regulations and mandates (which can take up to a decade to develop) to solve this growing safety problem.
Our goal to get H.E.L.P. on the road as quickly as possible is bolstered by the fact that deployment of H.E.L.P. typically requires minimal to no changes to existing vehicle lighting and telematics architecture. In many cases, H.E.L.P. solution implementation requires nothing more than updates to lighting, head unit and telematics firmware.
Globally Patented Technology
The ESS H.E.L.P. solution is covered by a robust, open and growing patent portfolio of more than 100 granted and pending patents around the world, including the U.S., Canada, Japan, China, Korea, Australia and all member states under jurisdiction of the European Patent Convention.
Our globally-granted, foundational patents cover the use of existing vehicle signal lights (e.g., turn signal, brake lights, etc.) at flash rates which are perceptively faster than ordinary hazard warning flash rates – to vastly improve the conspicuity of vehicles that are stopped on or alongside roadways.
We also have granted and pending patents that cover:
- Use of additional lights to supplement the enhanced hazard warning system.
- Auto-deployment of the H.E.L.P. solution upon certain triggering events such as a significant crash and other vehicle-disabling events.
- Digital alerts transmitted from vehicles involved in a hazardous situation, using the existing communications infrastructure, to a manufacturer-agnostic cloud service, where the alerts are processed and forwarded to vehicles approaching a hazardous situation to provide over-the-horizon (beyond line of sight) advance warning of vehicles creating hazardous conditions on or alongside the roadway ahead.
- H.E.L.P. nuisance control features
- Synchronized accessories
Click here for a listing of ESS’ patents by family