Essex & Suffolk Water and Ford Motor Company are trialling a brand-new piece of life-saving technology which is set to protect key workers out in the field.

The automotive giant, which has been working in partnership with the water company, has developed an illuminating chevron panel which will help to mitigate the life-threatening hazards faced by roadside workers who carry out jobs in the dark.


The innovative piece of technology, which attaches to the rear of the vehicle, gives workers permanent visibility and is now being trialled by Northumbrian Water Group, which includes both Northumbrian Water and Essex & Suffolk Water in a world-first.


The first three vehicles are being brought into circulation in the Essex & Suffolk Water operating areas.


The technology uses electroluminescent panels, which work in a similar way to those that make cinema steps visible in the dark.


Usually, reflective decal chevrons on the backs of vehicles require an incoming direct light source in order to be seen effectively – however they create a glowing light without the need for reflections.


This signage is permanently on – making vehicles much easier to spot in comparison to ones with traditional chevron signage.


This provides a safer environment for workers, as the light can be seen much more clearly on sharp bends or corners.


Kate Wilson, Fleet Services Manager at Essex & Suffolk Water, said: “This is such a simple idea, as often the best innovations are. 


“It shows a safety-first culture embedded within both companies to see this collaboration come to life, and I know that it will make our teams who work in dangerous road-side environments feel safer and much more visible to other motorists.


“This is an idea that stemmed from our drivers working in partnership with Ford’s product innovation team, and I am incredibly proud to see this come to life.


“It will improve safety not only in our sector, but in future fleets across the world.


“This has been an innovative and collaborate effort, and we are very thankful to our partners at Ford for allowing us to be the first company to trial this vital piece of equipment.”


Simon Robinson, chief program engineer, Special Vehicle Engineering, Ford of Europe, added: “Roadside working is a necessary and sometimes dangerous part of the job for many of our customers. 


“We want to ensure that what is often essential work can be carried out as safely and effectively as possible. 


“Creating panels that can be illuminated without having to rely on other sources of light was literally a ‘light bulb’ moment.


“We value our strong relationship with Northumbrian Water Group, and are delighted they are the first to use this innovative new feature.”