Queensland’s Gold Coast has become the test bed for a new emergency services technology that enables traffic lights to detect oncoming ambulances, fire trucks and police cars and prioritise their passage through intersections on a green light rather than being forced to legally break road rules.
The new system operates by recognising the flashing lights and sirens of an emergency vehicle attempting to pass through a intersections via an automated system that triggers the lights to change in favour of a priority vehicle and thus maintaining its passage with a more natural flow of traffic rather than driving against oncoming vehicles.
Although accidents involving emergency vehicles are relatively uncommon compared to regular traffic, their impact is highly significant because another response team must then be dispatched to either the scene of where the first vehicle was headed, or to the scene of the accident if, for example, an ambulance is ferrying an injured or ill person to hospital.
The cost of investigating emergency vehicle collisions is also significant because of the level of resources involved in determining the cause of the accident as well as higher repair and replacement costs of damaged vehicles.
Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services Jack Dempsey said the new EVP technology was a “perfect demonstration” of how the Newman government is revitalising frontline services for the benefit of Queenslanders.
“Not only will it decrease response times, it also means emergency service workers no longer have to put their own lives on the line trying to navigate their way through red lights when other traffic can be coming from another direction,” Mr Dempsey said.
Although a similar technology has already been applied in Sydney and Melbourne, it’s also being trialled by the Queensland government to see whether it works in minimising the disruption to traffic and returning it to normal conditions as quickly as possible after the emergency vehicle has passed.
Minister for Transport and Main Roads Scott Emerson said EVP technology will improve safety for all road users “but it’s important to remember drivers must always give way to emergency vehicles if they approach under lights and sirens”.
If the trial proves successful as the Queensland government hopes, it plans to expand the project to reach more areas in the coming months.
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