Draper Police change to blue lights for better visibility
Jan 23, 2020 03:26PM
By Mimi Darley Dutton
Only five new vehicles, including this truck, are equipped with all-blue lights. The change will happen over time as the department replaces old vehicles with new ones, so drivers will still see the traditional red and blue lights on many Draper Police Department vehicles. (Photo courtesy Draper Police Department)
By Mimi Darley Dutton |[email protected]
Gone are the days of K-Mart’s “Blue Light Special,” but there’s a new blue light special in town as the Draper Police Department transitions to all-blue flashing lights on their vehicles. Instead of a special sale, these blue lights will mean you’re being pulled over.
The Draper Police Department is the first agency in the state to change to all blue lights on their patrol cars, a trend that has taken effect in other cities in the nation.
“We’ve been thinking about it for a year and a half. Chief (John) Eining travels all around the country and he goes to places that have all blue lights such as Washington, D.C. We wondered why they do it. Then Chief Eining researched to find that studies show it’s safer. The biggest reason is when you’re in traffic, the blue lights stand out better than red lights which conflict with brake lights and tail lights on vehicles,” said Lieutenant Pat Evans.
“We believe anything that enhances officer safety is of value,” Eining stated in a press release.
According to an Illinois newspaper article by the “Answer Man” Roger Schlueter in the “Belleville News-Democrat,” the Florida Highway Patrol did a 2004 study that looked into how the eye perceives colors. The study found that at night, a person’s mind perceives that a lamp emitting a higher frequency and shorter wavelength of light (blue or violet) will appear to be moving closer while a light with a lower frequency and longer wavelength (red) will appear to be moving away. A 2008 University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study found that blue was more effective than white, yellow or red in sunlight conditions, according to Schlueter’s article.
The change to blue lights won’t happen all at once. Draper drivers will still see the traditional blue and red lights in town for some time to come. “Right now, we only have five marked cars that are all blue and one unmarked car. It’s going to be a slow transition,” Evans said, adding that it’s a matter of attrition.
“It was a really simple fix to make people safer. We’re not retrofitting cars. As we’re phasing old cars out and new cars in, the new cars will come with the blue lights at no additional cost. We want to be sure people know it was at no additional cost, it’s just the normal cost of equipping a new police vehicle,” Evans said.
Sergeant Scott Adams serves as the public information officer for the department. “We anticipate there will be a learning curve for motorists as they become accustomed to all blue lights. Whether an emergency vehicle has all blue lights or red and blue lights, the legal obligation to pull over is the same,” Adams said in a press release.