Nov 15th, 2013 | By | Category: Jack Schrock's Blog

Jack Schrock PhotoThe other night my attention was drawn to a nearby residence that was surrounded by 14 emergency vehicles — all with flashing red, blue and white strobes. I am not suggesting that they were not all necessary, though it did seem excessive. I am suggesting that the light show was not necessary because it distracted everyone within sight, even inviting the more curious to the lights as if they were moths. This, of course, required some crowd control, which made a difficult situation even more so.

In a previous blog I’ve spoken out about bright strobes and how distracting they can be and those distractions are often the reason for costly mistakes. The light “explosion” is so brief it’s impossible to determine precise distance or location and that in itself is dangerous in a roadside emergency as some motorists will invariably drive directly toward and into the emergency itself. I’m no light expert, but believe strobes are best displayed on an en route emergency vehicle because the bright flashes get our attention so we can yield the right of way. Once on scene, how about turning off the strobes and illuminating the area of interest with flood lights?

It has been documented that pilots flying through thunderstorms can be disoriented by the bright flashes, placing themselves and their passengers in jeopardy. Speaking of flying, most commercial airliners do not even use bright flashing strobes, some even favoring small rotating beacons. And nobody uses strobes while taxing for takeoff for the reasons just stated.

Making an additional case for floodlights, nighttime illumination makes the first responders’ job quicker and easier. Bright flashing strobes make it otherwise.