Have you ever looked down from a bridge or from the top floor of a building and saw a file police Driving the car below? If so, you may have noticed a number embossed on the roof of the vehicle. These numbers are often called air roof signs. Their purpose is to make police cruisers instantly recognizable to authorities watching from a helicopter or CCTV camera. Police cars are far from the only air-marked vehicles, and some of these numbers are not visible to the naked eye.
Why are there numbers for police cars on their roofs?
Police cars have aerial roof markings – numbers and sometimes letters – so they can be identified from the air. This helps authorities determine which cars are police cruisers. But it also helps police in cars communicate through air support or CCTV.
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Imagine an officer is watching traffic through a helicopter or a CCTV camera. He could see a civilian rushing and several police officers nearby. It is critical that they can quickly communicate with any of the police cruisers closest to the dangerous situation.
Actual numbers on police car roofs vary by department, state, and country. For example, police cars in Australia often have air markings that begin with two letters to designate the vehicle division. In the UK, a shape or symbol on the roof of an emergency vehicle indicates its purpose.
What vehicles have pneumatic roof signs?
You may be able to photograph the air roof markings on the white roof of a police car. But many other emergency vehicles, such as fire trucks or ambulances, also have roof markings. Additionally, other municipal vehicles such as public buses may have aerial roof signs as well.
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Here’s an example: Since 2007, every ambulance in any EU member state must bear the symbol of the Red Cross and Crescent or the Star of Life which is the international symbol for medical assistance. why? So any traffic monitoring authorities can quickly detect an ambulance in a hurry and call in advance to make way.
Many cities, such as London, require all public buses to wear aerial roof signs. In London specifically, there are many bus operators. Therefore, each bus must carry a three-character code representing its operator. After this code, each bus bears a fleet number, also printed on the front and back of the bus.
What are the signs of a thermal pneumatic roof?
Some police departments have implemented thermal aerodynamic roof markers to make it easier to spot their cruisers after dark. These air tags are made of reflective marking film to reflect infrared light back to thermal imaging cameras. But they are not visible to the naked eye.
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The UK is one place that uses thermal roof markings on many police cars. According to a Home Office note stored in the UK National ArchivesThis is because the UK authorities found it difficult to identify police cars after dark. Not only was it difficult to see the simple drawn numbers, but it was also difficult to pick out the light bar and other emergency equipment. Thermal ceiling markers solved this problem.
Next, learn how to identify unmarked police cars or see the air roof signs on the Ford Interceptor Utility in the video below:
Related: Why Are So Many Police Cars Actually Police SUVs?
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