Tesla is teaming up with another American company to put smarter hazard warning lights in its cars.
According to Texas company Emergency Safety Solutions (ESS), Tesla will implement its patented Hazard Enhanced Location Protocol (H.E.L.P.) software, which aims to improve visibility of broken-down vehicles and reduce related deaths.
ESS says Tesla will become the first manufacturer to adopt the H.E.L.P technology. The partnership is described as a ‘global agreement’, but the technology will first be introduced in North America with an over-the-air software update.
The H.E.L.P system utilises existing vehicle hardware and software to make disabled vehicles more visible during an incident and increase the time available for other drivers to react, hopefully reducing fatalities.
It’s designed to improve the current hazard warning system with a two-pronged approach dubbed Lighting Alerts, and Digital Alerts.
Lighting Alerts consist of “highly conspicuous emergency-based lighting outputs”– faster, more attention-grabbing flashing from the hazards – which are auto-deployed in events such as an airbag deployment or tyre blowout.
Dr Ronald Gibbons, an academic who tested the validity of the technology said, “Higher flash rate hazard lights are significantly more effective than standard hazard lights… Drivers noticed the lights earlier, giving them more time to slow down and in most cases, move over a full lane.”
The Digital Alerts warn drivers in the vicinity to proceed with caution via GPS mapping applications, provided their cars feature the requisite connected functions.
According to ESS, roadside crashes involving disabled vehicles injure or kill around 15,000 people a year in the US.
Closer to home, the Australian Government’s 2021 Road Trauma report indicated 29 per cent of road deaths in 2021 occurred on a national or state highway – although how many involved stationary vehicles is less clear.
“Tesla is a leader in bringing first-time innovation to passenger vehicles and is leading the way by implementing H.E.L.P. technology on potentially millions of Tesla vehicles worldwide,” said Tom Metzger, ESS CEO.
Mr Metzger said the partnership is a “monumental step in the effort to overcome the troubling safety issue of crashes into disabled and vulnerable vehicles”.
The Tesla Model Y was recently awarded a five-star ANCAP rating, with the Model 3, Australia’s highest-selling EV, achieving similarly strong results.