New tech to allow first responders control of traffic lights

New technology will soon allow first responders control over traffic lights in emergency situations.

The longer first responders sit behind stoplights, the longer a life is on the line.

But how would things change if they didn't have to sit at lights at all? A new partnership between the University of Alabama and ALDOT aims to make that possible.

Dr. Bharat Balasubramanian is the executive director of the Center for Advanced Vehicle Technologies at The University of Alabama.

He says the DSRC radios will be used to receive signals from first responders around Tuscaloosa and Northport.

"It would send signals to the traffic intersection that will automatically shift the signals to green, all others will be stopped," said Dr. B.

Here's one of the problems that was brought up: what happens if responders cross paths?

Dr. B. says it wont happen because each route is pre-approved by someone at the central traffic center.

Britney Foster wishes this was around when she had to call emergency services.

"It took them a long time and he was bleeding really bad, so we were really worried," said Foster.

Waiting is the last thing you want to do in that situation.

"Probably about 20 minutes," said Foster.

"It's a statistical probability, they hit half the lights on red and then they have to slow down massively," said DR. B.

Imagine what's going to happen when they don't.

Here's what Foster sees: "It's going to save a lot of lives... and they're going to be able to pass traffic and go right through it and go wherever they need to go."

This technology is expected to be ready in the next two years.

Doctor B. says in the next 20-30 years, self driving cars will be able to communicate with these radios for traffic updates.

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