Greensboro Fire Department testing new technology to avoid red lights

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The Greensboro Fire Department is looking to cut down their response times in the city by better avoiding stopped traffic.

The department already has traffic preemption technology that uses strobe signals on engines and sensors hanging from stop lights at more than 100 intersections.

Chief Todd Tuttle explained that the existing system was installed in the 1980s and that sometimes sensors fail or are blocked.

"[When] the hurricane came through, with large winds, those receivers can be spun in a different direction so therefore they will not preempt or activate,” he said.

Tuttle said the department will test a new system by Opticom that will allow engines to communicate directly with the stoplight itself without a sensor.

“This allows us to preempt only the lights we need and there’s a faster recovery time for the lights after we go through," he said.

The department plans to install technology on three engines and monitor 10 intersections down Wendover Avenue for six weeks.

"It’s safety to the citizens, it’s safety to us, it’s less wear and tear on vehicles and most importantly it’s reducing response times,” Tuttle said.

He said the department hopes to expand the program on a larger scale, replacing more intersections using sensors.

“As the population density increases so will the traffic density increase, which will limit our ability to maintain that four-minute travel time in between point A and point B.”

Tuttle said the new system would be installed in the next few weeks.

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