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Experimental Dashboard Lets Some Drivers Turn Red Lights Green

Ambulances crash most often in intersections. What if they didn’t have to run the red?

Experimental Dashboard Lets Some Drivers Turn Red Lights Green

A new pilot program underway in Europe is giving ambulances and other high-priority vehicles the green light. As part of the
Compass4D project, ambulances, buses, and cargo trucks will theoretically be able to turn red lights green.

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Compass4D is partially funded by the European Commission, and it’s designed to reduce the number of car crashes and ease congestion on roads in the European Union. Participating drivers will have an onboard communication system–a dashboard that looks like a little iPad–linked to a local traffic control center. Through the system, they’ll receive advice on how fast they need to drive to hit green lights and where to drive to avoid accidents. And priority vehicles–ambulances, buses, and cargo trucks–will be granted green lights when they approach intersections.


Networked cars have long been touted as a way to ease traffic jams. Giving all drivers the ability to turn lights green on command would ensure chaos–and ruin the careful timing planned out by traffic engineers. But giving emergency vehicles like ambulances the ability to change traffic signals could lead to safer roadways. Though there’s not a solid database on all ambulance crashes in the U.S., data gathered from news reports by the site EMSNetwork (later analyzed by the journal Emergency Medicine International) found that intersections are the most common location for ambulance crashes. Emergency vehicles are allowed by law to blow through traffic lights, but that doesn’t mean it’s always safe or easy. It can be hard for drivers to pinpoint what direction the siren is coming from, and in dense cities, it can be hard for ambulances to maneuver around cars stopped at lights. Giving ambulances green lights would help clarify the situation for all drivers involved.

Compass4D will be piloted in seven different cities in Europe and the U.K. A pilot program in Newcastle, England, will begin later this year, testing the service in 334 vehicles, both public and private, including ambulances, buses, and taxis.

[h/t: the Chronicle]

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About the author

Shaunacy Ferro is a Brooklyn-based writer covering architecture, urban design and the sciences. She's on a lifelong quest for the perfect donut

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