A Guardia Civil traffic officer, Jorge Torre Sarmiento, assisted by a marketing and design expert, Roberto Pérez Marijuán, have invented a device which they think will speed up the time in which other road users are advised of the presence of a disabled or broken down vehicle, thus saving lives as a result.
When a vehicle becomes disabled, perhaps due to an incident or break down, the natural reaction of the driver will often be to put hazard lights on then attempt to restart the vehicle, then call for assistance from their breakdown or insurance service, and then put on a high visibility vest, go to the boot and place warning triangles on the road advising of the presence of the disabled vehicle. All too often, this process can take between 8 and 10 minutes, during which time the vehicle is left in a vulnerable position and presenting a potential hazard to other road users and the vehicle´s occupants.
In order to try to alleviate this problem of vulnerability, made worse in the event of low light such as night time or when the vehicle has no power for the hazard lights, the officer has invented a device called “Help-Flash” which can be used as a first indicator of a hazard whilst the correct procedure of laying out triangles is being carried out.
Jorge Torre Sarmiento describes himself as a frustrated engineer, and is well known in his local area for inventing a variety of devices and designs. The 47-year old officer, based in Vigo, graduated in criminology and joined the Guardia Civil, despite his desire to be a designer. His role has subsequently meant he could fulfil both functions.
He already has a number of successful patents to his name, such as a “girolina”, a device that allows young children and the elderly sharpen pencils without any effort, a device for Formula 1 engineering teams to change tyres in a matter of minutes by removing all of the bolts at the same time, and a set of tweezers for a specific type of clothing.
However, “Help-Flash” is his first invention that will hit the mass market, and will do so with the help of Pérez Marijuán, cofounder of a marketing company, who has been on tour with the device to secure development funding. “Help-Flash” is a small emergency light, powered by a conventional battery, which emits a flashing light visible for up to a kilometre away. It is activated by a magnetic support and can also be used as a flashlight.
The project was conceived in collaboration with the Centro Tecnológico de Automoción de Galicia (CTAG), and a group representing the victims of road traffic incidents, the Avata Hispania. Stored in the glove box, the device can be activated in seconds and placed on the exterior of the vehicle where the magnetic contact will keep it in place, allowing the driver to then place warning triangles and make the vehicle occupants secure.
The Kickstarter project is also looking into developing a mobile application which can alert the emergency services to your precise location at the push of a button. Jorge is understandably passionate about the project, which is why he has taken a break from active duty to develop it. Primarily, his motivation is clear, when asked why, he simply replied, “I think it can save lives”.