Ford has developed electronic high-visibility panels for its vans, enhancing roadside worker safety.
The rear panels, available on Transit and Transit Custom models, feature red stripes illuminated by electricity passing through a thin layer of phosphorus gas – technology already used in aeroplane cockpits and on screens for medical and military equipment.
The panels are activated by a switch behind the driver’s seat and, unlike reflective panels, aren’t reliant on other light sources, making them a particular benefit on sharp bends on roads.
“Roadside working is a necessary and sometimes dangerous part of the job for many of our customers,” said Simon Robinson, chief program engineer, Special Vehicle Engineering, Ford of Europe. “We want to ensure that what is often essential work can be carried out as safely and effectively as possible. Creating panels that can be illuminated without having to rely on other sources of light was literally a ‘light bulb’ moment.”
The new technology has already demonstrated its effectiveness in real-world trials with Northumbrian Water Group; the group, which includes Essex & Suffolk Water, is among the first commercial users.
“I’m delighted to see an idea that stemmed from our drivers working in partnership with Ford’s product innovation team come to life,” said Kate Wilson, transport manager, Northumbrian Water Group. “It will improve safety not only in our sector, but in future fleets across the world, and I know that it will make our teams who work in dangerous roadside environments feel safer and much more visible to our customers.”