First responders face increasingly dangerous conditions on our roadways. With quieter vehicle cabins and more driver distractions than ever, sirens and flashing lights are often ineffective in grabbing the attention of drivers. Statistics from the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) show that police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical services (EMS) responders face a higher risk of death and injury traveling to the scene of an incident than at the actual scene itself. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly six million Americans are involved in a car accident annually, including 60,000 first responders. Statistics from the NLEOMF and National Fire Protection Association also show that these accidents are particularly fatal for first responders; vehicle-related collisions and struck-by incidents are the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers and the second leading cause of death for firefighters nationally. According to the Maryland State Police, 29 first responders have been killed by other drivers in struck-by incidents and collisions in 2019.
In an effort to reduce first responder related crashes, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is collaborating with “HAAS Alert,” a Chicago-based company developing and standardizing C-V2X (cellular vehicle-to-everything) technology that enables emergency response vehicles to send real-time digital alerts to supplement their lights and sirens. HAAS Alert’s HA-5 device connects directly to any existing lightbar on first responder vehicles. When emergency vehicles are en-route or on-scene at an emergency, the device automatically sends information in real-time to HAAS Alert’s “SafetyCloud®,” which delivers early alerts to nearby drivers.