Road Flare alternatives?

Wurkkos

alpg88

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Apr 19, 2005
Messages
3,852
yellow\white strobes are ok, but red, blue and any combo with these 2 colors can get you in troubles, unless you are a cop, fireman, emt. those 2 colors are reserved for first responders.

i build a light for BLF scratch build contest, it has a white yellow alternate strobe, i made it just for that purpose, road emergency.
 

Dave_H

Enlightened
Joined
Nov 3, 2009
Messages
595
Location
Ottawa Ont. Canada
I believe that red, blue or combination can be problematic for vehicle non-attached warning lights.
Blue appears to be dominant (only?) colour for police in UK, Europe, Australia and no doubt elsewhere.

Police at all levels in my part of Canada use red/blue combo, and some EMS also. Oddly, blue alone
has been used for a long time here by snow removal vehicles. In Ontario, volunteer firefighters are
permitted green flashing lights when responding; so green despite its visibility is out, and it also
might be confusing as earlier noted.

That said, I believe red flashing light on a non-emergency vehicle in Ontario may be permitted in some
conditions but only in certain direction (back facing, but not forward), would have to verify.

That would seem to leave yellow/amber/orange and white, though other jurisdictions may have their
own specific restrictions. Makes sense, amber etc. is a "cautionary" colour, green is a "all OK go
ahead" colour, and red is more an "emergency" colour.

Dave
 

Dave_H

Enlightened
Joined
Nov 3, 2009
Messages
595
Location
Ottawa Ont. Canada
This may be a bit off the original topic, but relevant I think to electronic road flares.

A friend I worked with, also into electronics, is a runner, sometimes doing so in low light conditions.
For visibility he created a strip LED arrangement attached to his vest, powered by a Li-ion battery.
The controller flashes LEDs in a pattern of three short flashes with gap between. He believes this
is optimal for getting attention, compared to regular on/off flash, or other patterns.

( I guess such users could be considered "slow-moving vehicles".)

As a small project I designed my own simple controller using a common/cheap IC (CD4060) plus
some resistors, capacitors, diodes and transistor. By changing connections I can get different
patterns including 50% on/off, or 2,4,8 flashes per group with gap between, at various speeds.
A microcontroller such as PIC could give huge number of possible patterns (**), I'm sure it's been
done, but I kept this one simple, such that just about anyone could build it.

The question is, which type of flash sequences would be best for getting attention, but not
too distracting? I know police light bars use a few rapid flashes, alternating between groups.
Assume in this case a single LED, or an array all driven together. A very rapid strobing strikes
me as too distracting, and though I've not heard of specific incidents, might trigger epileptic
seizure in some people.

What are some of these road flare products doing?

Dave

** An aside, one cheap bike rear light from dollar store provides 6-7 different patterns which I find
annoying. You may need to cycle through several to get the one you want, and turn it off. I also
question the safety/legality of a directional pattern which seems to be indicating a turn, other
than intended, even on a bicycle. Simple high/low/flash would have been fine.
 
Last edited:

Alaric Darconville

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 2, 2001
Messages
5,272
Location
Stillwater, America
For a road flare, the steadier the better; flashes could make locating them on the road more difficult, especially with a very short flash. Remember, most of the cars will be going at least 88fps on their approach, and road flares are very low to the road on an otherwise dark surface; they can 'move' if the flash is so short that the eye can't track it.

Some of these electronic flares do a rotating pattern rather than just strobing or flashing. Leave the flashing to the vehicle's hazard lamps.
 

PartyPete

Enlightened
Joined
Aug 14, 2015
Messages
486
It's been discontinued for some time now but I used a Fenix CL05 for this purpose one night when I had to change a tire on a road with a narrow shoulder.

3 blinking modes, 2 of which are colored.

I think Fenix still makes something similar as well as Nitecore.
 

Dave_H

Enlightened
Joined
Nov 3, 2009
Messages
595
Location
Ottawa Ont. Canada
On thinking about red, there must be a lot of red flashers out there. As long as there is no appearance of trying to mimic emergency vehicles (such as in motion) or combining with blue (in N.A at least); so unless specifically prohibited, should be no problem. Besides in a risky or dangerous situation, some indication is better than none; LEDs being a whole lot safer than chemical flares which burn. Dave
 

Dave_H

Enlightened
Joined
Nov 3, 2009
Messages
595
Location
Ottawa Ont. Canada
This may be a bit off the original topic, but relevant I think to electronic road flares.

A friend I worked with, also into electronics, is a runner, sometimes doing so in low light conditions.
For visibility he created a strip LED arrangement attached to his vest, powered by a Li-ion battery.
The controller flashes LEDs in a pattern of three short flashes with gap between. He believes this
is optimal for getting attention, compared to regular on/off flash, or other patterns.

( I guess such users could be considered "slow-moving vehicles".)

As a small project I designed my own simple controller using a common/cheap IC (CD4060) plus
some resistors, capacitors, diodes and transistor. By changing connections I can get different
patterns including 50% on/off, or 2,4,8 flashes per group with gap between, at various speeds.
A microcontroller such as PIC could give huge number of possible patterns, I'm sure it's been
done, but I kept this one simple, such that just about anyone could build it.

The question is, which type of flash sequences would be best for getting attention, but not
too distracting? I know police light bars use a few rapid flashes, alternating between groups.
Assume in this case a single LED, or an array all driven together. A very rapid strobing strikes
me as too distracting, and though I've not heard of specific incidents, might trigger epileptic
seizure in some people.

What are some of these road flare products doing?

Dave

I continue working on the simple low-cost LED flasher circuit which can create a number of
flash/strobe effects. This remains a simple design, one IC (CD4060) plus handful of additional components;
almost anyone could build.

Circuit works down to 4vdc but could be tweaked to run directly from a single Li-ion cell.
Presently it could run off a Li-ion charger pack which puts out 5v; which would allow swap-out.
Even lower-capacity ones (at low cost) say 1800mAh would last hours., if not a day or more.

One sequence I achieved with minor circuit change is a run of fast strobing flashes (4 or 8)
followed by a short or long gap. This mimics what I've seen on some service vehicles.

In a dollar store was found strings of ten 5mm LEDs powered from 2xAA: yellow (closer to
amber) and orange (from Hallowe'en). These are quite visible especially if overdriven a bit,
but not excessively as the duty cycle of my circuit is typically only 25% (which helps run-time).
I was thinking that LEDs could be stuffed into a clear plastic tube, or mounted to outside,
pointing in different (or same) direction.

Dave
 

seery

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Feb 10, 2006
Messages
1,615
Location
USA
We only trust PowerFlare.

Used by LE, military and NASA, they are the toughest and most reliable LED flares available.

Pricey, but worth every cent.

https://shop.pfdci.com
 
Last edited:

nollij

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Oct 19, 2005
Messages
45
I too have been thinking about this for my vehicle. I work for Animal Control and pick up DOA's at the roadside a lot (during the day) and was thinking about further ways to increase visibility. I know that human eyes are attuned to amber and green, hence my amber and green Guardian Angel light I wear on my shoulder with my reflective vest (along with orange cones set out to defer traffic away from myself and the truck.) I have a rear amber light bar on my truck (took me months of bothering my company to put one on my work truck) but I'd like something visible from the front of the vehicle as well... but I suppose that's a topic for another thread. Ideally, I'd like some LED road "flares" that are visible in the daytime that I can use to supplement my orange cones.
 

lumen aeternum

Enlightened
Joined
Sep 29, 2012
Messages
813
Finding lots of the saucer type flares, all seem to use 3 AAA batteries instead of a CR123. Also they have many flash modes, which seems wrong - they should have the same modes as certified emergency flashing lights.

So ARE there certified LED flares, with appropriate luminosity & flash timing?

The Smitibilt seems to have gone up to over $45 each, but has a CR123.

You can also get the old fashioned "barricade lights" that take a 6v lantern battery or several D cells, but cold weather performance after storing in your car could be a problem. Buying AA converters and using Lithium Primaries might suit, but adds to the expense.

Exactly how many should one deploy? Where is the how-to manual for laying out flares?

Here is a case of 6 rechargeable saucer types that you can plug in to your wall or car to keep charged (the case is a multi-charger)
www.superbrightleds.com/moreinfo/led-safety-flares/rechargeable-led-road-flares-led-safety-flares-emergency-lights/1317/

The Powerflare is super expensive, but has the cones & parts that will fit the light to the cone. Dunnot if the China versions can do that.

Powerflare govt certs:
U.S. DOT (FMCSA) 49 CFR 392.25, 393.95(g), MUTCD Type A (Flashing) and Type C (Solid On), MIL-SPEC/MIL-STD 810, CE Certified, RoHS Compliant
per
www.leacorp.com/powerflare-battery-operated-led-road-flare-safety-light/

Another with govt certs:
DOT & Traffic Safety Compliance:
  1. U.S. DOT (FMCSA) 49 CFR 392.25 & 393.95 (g)
  2. MUTCD Type A (flashing) and Type C (solid on)
  3. NFPA 1901 Standards for Traffic Safety, Section 6.7.3 Miscellaneous Equipment.
www.aervoe.com/product/super-road-flare-with-red-leds-single/
and safety cone adapters:
www.aervoe.com/product/cone-adapter-11891/
 
Last edited:

Alaric Darconville

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 2, 2001
Messages
5,272
Location
Stillwater, America
The government isn't certifying them, the manufacturer is. Unless you're a fleet operator, you're not extremely concerned about the manufacturers' certifications. The multitude of flash patterns is just another selling point.

In CR123 vs AA, I'd go with AA. They're cheap and plentiful and come in lithium or LSD NiMH versions.

As far as placing them, following 49 CFR § 392.22 (b) & (c) (well, read the whole thing, I guess) would be a good idea.
 

lumen aeternum

Enlightened
Joined
Sep 29, 2012
Messages
813
check your state DOT for the laws re "road flares."
My state requires disabled vehicles to place 3 "red lanterns" at specified locations. Gotta remember to make sure they are topped off with kerosene...

So my local law is silent wrt flashing or not. But there is a lot of research on emergency vehicles about flash rates, there is a thread somewhere talking about that.
 

PhotonWrangler

Flashaholic
Joined
Oct 19, 2003
Messages
13,072
Location
In a handbasket
From Page 9 of the document that Poppy referenced -
--------------------------------------
The traditional magnesium highway flare has been noted to generate
noxious smoke and fumes that can overwhelm the user, while the burning end of
the flare can cause serious burns caused by the molten magnesium. It has also
been documented that many of the elements that compose a traffic flare are
detrimental and cause serious health problems. A key chemical component,
strontium nitrate, which produces the flare's color, causes irritation to the skin,
eyes, and mucous membranes (NIOSH, 2003).

Another highway flare component, potassium perchlorate similarly irritates
the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes. Furthermore, absorption of the
perchlorates can cause methemoglobinemia, which decreases the ability of the
thyroid to process iodine and causes kidney injury
(NIOSH, 2003). Current
studies by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDOH)
have shown that exposure to potassium perchlorate caused various reproductive
effects and gastroenteritis in laboratory test animals (NJDOH, 2004).

---------------------------------------
Gah. This is making me consider tossing out my traditional chemical road flares. I do have a couple of the saucer types that are ok-ish, although they only use the traditional 5mm low power LEDs and they're not so good for visibility from a distance.
 

Poppy

Flashaholic
CPF Supporter
Joined
Dec 20, 2012
Messages
6,131
Location
Northern New Jersey
This is part of my road safety kit.

1633919647608.png

Lul2UOGqXaignJwMYol1KbDTO=w1600-h707-no?authuser=0.jpg

YkUHQRUWqze2VFmNqSz7GFWPz=w1596-h789-no?authuser=0.jpg
 

Attachments

  • 1633919453261.png
    1633919453261.png
    128.6 KB · Views: 0

DaveTheDude

Enlightened
Joined
Oct 26, 2009
Messages
472
Location
Columbus, Ohio
I have a six-pack of PowerFlares, and they work superbly. I also have four knock-off puck-style flares that use AA cells instead of the CR123 cells feeding the PowerFlares. The AA pucks are just as bright as the PF 123 cell originals, but are less robust, and made with less rugged materials. The virtues of the unbranded pucks is the unbranded puck's low cost, and the easy availability of AA cells, both of which are important considerations for many people. My personal opinion is that unbranded safety pucks are better than no safety lights at all.

I recently acquired a three-pack of stick-style electronic safety flares. The brand is Victor, manufactured by Bell Automotive Products, headquartered in Scottsdale AZ. The flares are made in China. (I have no affiliation with this company or it's employees. I bought the flares at Menard's, in Ohio.)

The price of the three-pack was $21. Each LED flare requires three AA cells. I recommend AA lithium for all the obvious reasons. Each flare is the same size as a standard magnesium road flare. There are three sets of LED's at the business end of the flare, evenly spaced across 2.25 inches (60mm), producing a 360 degree, rapidly flashing red pulse. I've confirmed clear and unmistakable visibility to one-half mile (far enough for my purposes). The manufacturer claims one mile visibility, which I have no reason to doubt, given how clearly the flares were visible at the half-mile mark.

The manufacturer claims a 24-hour service duration on a fresh set of batteries. I haven't tested this, but the animating circuit is fairly straightforward: on and off, using a simple twist switch. With three AA cells as the power source, 24 hours seems a reasonable claim.

The LED's appear to flash at approx. 100 lumens, three times a second. The body appears to be made of a thick, hard plastic, the plastic however is not brittle, and gives me the impression that it can withstand a fair amount of rough service. It comes with two well lubricated O-rings installed, so these flares are likely to be unaffected by rain or snow.

Finally, the lower body of the flare easily fits inside a standard gas filling port, for added visibility.

Here's a photo:
PXL_20211011_042940835.jpg


Submitted for your consideration...
 
Top