New technology allows first responders to control traffic lights in Myrtle Beach

Updated: Oct. 29, 2019 at 7:32 AM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - The city of Myrtle Beach is installing new traffic technology, and officials say it will improve response times and make it safer for you and first responders during emergencies.

During the event of an emergency, Myrtle Beach Fire and EMS crews need to get to the scene as quickly as possible while ensuring safety for first responders and others on the road.

When first responders rush to the scene of an emergency, they also face the dangers of traffic accidents when driving around busy streets. By installing a traffic preemption technology system at 25 of the city’s busiest intersections, the Myrtle Beach Fire Department hopes to reduce that risk.

The device allows fire and EMS vehicles to change a traffic light from red to green. Through a GPS system, the two elements signal to each other if an emergency vehicle is about to come through an intersection. It then automatically gives the emergency responders the green light while turning other lights at that intersection red so emergency crews can safely get through in a rush. The technology goes on top of traffic signals and in 22 fire trucks and ambulances. Once emergency crews have gone through the light, the traffic signals will immediately return to its normal cycle.

It’s all part of this year’s city budget with a price tag of $60,000 per year.

The device not only allow firefighters and EMS to respond to emergencies quicker but will make it safer for the first responders and drivers on the roads.

Cpt. Jonathan Evans with MBFD says he hopes this will help clear up confusion for drivers on the roads to know when to follow the move over law and clear the path for first responders during an emergency.

“Hopefully with traffic flowing our favor there won’t be as much of an issue for them to stop and not know where to go. If their continuing to move with us, maybe they’ll move to the side, one side or the other. So that is something we’re always thinking about. Again, we’re trying to get to where we’re going as quickly as we can but obviously safety is another aspect we’re thinking of," said Evans.

Evans says it’s important for drivers not to follow emergency vehicles on the road when traffic lights are preempted during an emergency.

The new system will be installed on Kings Highway from Farrow Parkway to 82nd Avenue North and most of Robert Grissom Parkway and Oak Street at Mr. Joe White Avenue. Officials say all 25 locations should be up and running by the end of the year.

City officials say the ultimate goal is to have this traffic preemption technology installed throughout Myrtle Beach and then eventually hope to get Horry County involved in the future.

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