William C. Louisell, SAIC
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Emergency vehicles operating in metropolitan areas with high congestion levels are at an increased risk for involvement in crashes and are subject to unpredictable delays in reaching the scene of a fire or crash. One way to offset the effects of congestion is the installation of emergency vehicle preemption (EVP) equipment at signalized intersections. This ITS technology provides a special green interval to the approach serving the emergency vehicle while providing a special red interval on conflicting approaches. Providing a green light at signalized intersections will reduce conflicts, driver confusion, and emergency response times.

In January 2006, the Federal Highway Administration produced a cross-cutting study to examine emergency preemption at signalized intersections in a number of communities across the United States. To show a wide range of deployment options, three jurisdictions – Fairfax County, Virginia; Plano, Texas; and St. Paul, Minnesota – were identified and officials were interviewed. The purpose of the study was two fold: to increase awareness among stakeholders – police, fire, rescue, and emergency medical services (EMS) – of the benefits and costs of EVP, as well as to reduce the time it takes to move from a plan to realizing improvements in the delivery of emergency services.

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Prepared by the FHWA USDOT
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Traffic Signal Preemption for Emergency Vehicles: A Cross-Cutting Study
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