Clearing the Path: How Modern Traffic Light Priority for Emergency Vehicles Save Lives and Time

August 23, 2023

Mikael Erneberg

In the fast-paced world we live in, every second counts, especially in critical situations where life hangs on a thread. Emergency responders, like paramedics, firefighters, and police officers, play a crucial role in maintaining public safety. However, navigating through congested city streets during rush hours or through crowded intersections can significantly hamper their ability to reach their destinations swiftly and make emergency driving more dangerous than necessary. This is where modern traffic light priority systems for emergency vehicles step in, revolutionizing the way emergency responders can save lives and time.

The Deadly Challenge of Navigating Urban Traffic

Urbanization has brought both opportunities and challenges. As cities grow, so does the traffic congestion. The increasing number of vehicles on the road, coupled with intricate road networks, can impede the rapid movement of emergency vehicles during emergencies. Crossing an intersection on a red light increases the chances of fatal accidents by 600% making emergency driving extremely risky. Traffic congestion leads to delayed response times, putting lives at risk and causing further damage in situations like fires, accidents, or medical emergencies.

Enter Traffic Light Priority

To tackle this issue, cities have begun implementing advanced Traffic Signal Priority (TSP) systems that grant emergency vehicles the right-of-way at intersections. These systems use real-time data and communication technologies to identify the presence of emergency vehicles and adjust traffic signals accordingly. When an emergency vehicle approaches an intersection, the traffic light priority system triggers a green light in their direction, allowing them to pass through without interruption.

Studies made within the NordicWay 3 project show that a dynamic TSP system has a huge impact on traffic safety increasing safety by 70% for first responders. There is also a positive impact on response times.  

Standardized and Growing Technology

What’s making these efforts extra interesting is that it is based on EU standards, making the implementation of these new systems easier. Urban centers can confidently build upon the groundwork laid by the EU, facilitating the adoption of these fresh technologies. Essential considerations like cybersecurity have already been thoroughly addressed. Presently, the uptake of this innovative technology remains modest in Europe, although certain nations are leading the charge. Take the Netherlands, for instance, where over 80% of traffic signals have become manageable through these advancements.

Highly Dynamic Technology Requiring Little Investment

Emergency vehicles transmit their intended route to a central traffic server managed by road authorities, utilizing an interchange node. This data encompasses estimated arrival time, preferred direction of entry at intersections, and remains adaptable should the vehicle opt for an alternate route. Subsequently, the traffic server orchestrates communication with the traffic signals at intersections, orchestrating timely adjustments to the signal patterns. This ensures that as the emergency vehicle approaches, the signals synchronize to provide a continuous green path, facilitating seamless passage. Remarkably, this innovation accomplishes enhanced emergency vehicle mobility without necessitating extensive infrastructure upgrades.

All vehicles with the Evam platform can utilize this new technology

V2X communication, which encompasses Vehicle-to-Everything, has been a central focus for Evam since its inception. The company's journey began with a product designed to alert motorists in close proximity to emergency vehicles, reflecting the company's core values. Within the NordicWay project, Evam has actively driven the evolution of Traffic Signal Priority (TSP) systems for first responders.

Today, every vehicle equipped with the Evam platform has the possibility of utilizing the new TSP technology. The only potential hurdle that your organization might encounter pertains to the road owner's readiness to implement the necessary solution. Get in touch with Evam if you like to know more about how your organization could utilize this new technology.

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