Ford has developed electronic high-visibility rear panels on its Transit and Transit Custom models, which do not rely on other light sources to be clearly visible in the dark.
The red stripes are 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. When installed, these are activated by a switch behind the driver’s seat.
Ford says that many roadside workers operate in high-risk environments. Standard reflective panels rely on the headlights of other vehicles for illumination and as a result, can be less effective when approached from around a bend – especially on long, dark winter nights.
Ford trialled its panels in collaboration with Northumbrian Water Group, enabling engineers to monitor their effectiveness in real-world scenarios and to gauge the benefits of panels that light up – even when other drivers neglect to activate their headlights. Now Northumbrian Water Group, which includes Essex & Suffolk Water, are the first commercial users.