New system to decrease response time, enhance safety

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A new system aimed at getting emergency personnel to their destinations more quickly and safely is set to debut in Southampton Town. In January, members of the Town Board will get a first look at an Emergency Vehicle Traffic Pre-emption system, or EVP, which allows drivers of emergency vehicles to set properly equipped traffic lights to green so they can safely speed through intersections.

The system relies on transmitters in the emergency vehicles and receivers on the traffic lights.

Installation of the EVP system in Hampton Bays began in September as part of a pilot program to test the new system. Not only will the EVP give the green light to vehicles responding to an emergency, corresponding traffic lights will turn red to keep conflicting traffic at bay.

It’s expected the coordination of the lights will not only speed up the arrival time of first responders, it will also lessen the likelihood of collisions with emergency vehicles and motorists.

All of the traffic lights along Montauk Highway in the hamlet will be incorporated into the system, from the Hess Station across from the Wild By Nature shopping center to the King Kullen supermarket across from St. Rosalie’s church. The traffic lights at the intersections of Route 24 and Old Riverhead Road and at Ponquogue Avenue and Good Ground Road are also part of the EVP system.

The debut of the new system was announced by Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot’s office on Thursday. “The benefits of EVP systems have been documented since the 1970s,” Ms. Kabot said. “At a time when local governments are constrained by tight budgets, EVP allows decision makers to improve response time while coping with increasing demands for services and increasing congestion levels.”

In July, Dunn Engineering, the town’s traffic safety consultant, selected JVR Electrical in Medford to install the system.

Southampton Fire District Chairman Gerard Buckley said he was glad the system was finally being installed and that it would decrease response time and enhance public safety. “We have long advocated for an EVP system in Hampton Bays,” Mr. Buckley said. “We greatly appreciate the work of the supervisor and the Town Board in finally implementing this long-awaited project.”

Plans to expand the system throughout the town are also in the works, the supervisor said, especially along the town’s more heavily travelled routes.

“Currently, when responding in an emergency capacity, we use red flashing lights, sirens and horns, and if motorists hear us approaching they yield to the shoulder to allow us to pass,” Mr. Buckley said. “But, when you come to an intersection, if the emergency vehicle has a red traffic light, it has to pass the stopped car to the left, which is dangerous because the stopped car can turn into the emergency vehicle’s path or the driver who has the green light might not see or hear the approaching emergency vehicle until its too late to stop.”

Ms. Kabot said the initiative for the system began in the 1990s when she served as executive assistant to then town supervisor, the late Vincent Cannuscio.

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