Traffic Signal Preemption for Emergency Vehicles, A Cross-Cutting Study, Putting the “First” in “First Response”

(pdf download below)

This document is one of the earlier studies regarding the effectiveness of preemption and was published by the Federal Highway Administration in 2006.  As such, it is non-biased toward any particular preemption platform, and the integrity and analysis of the data available at the time makes it a useful read if you are attempting to bring preemption to your community.  It suggests forming a team of stakeholders including your community’s mayor, city/county council, fire chief, police chief, and directors of EMS and public transit, then selecting one of them to “champion” the project going forward.

The analysis of the data shows that preemption pays for itself in a relatively short period of time, and it cites statistical data from multiple case studies in several different states to support that conclusion.

In spite of all its advantages, this document has a couple of downsides.  Since it was published in 2006, the latest and most effective preemption platform, GPS, is not included in the data analyzed.  That being said, the benefits of less effective types of preemption (acoustic, optical and radio) can be logically extrapolated to conclude that more effective preemption systems (using 900 MHz FHSS radio coupled with a GPS/IMU) would yield similar, if not better, results.  Another major downside of this document is that the price points of the different types of preemption systems are also similarly outdated.


TrafficSignalPreemptionforEmergencyVehiclesCrossCuttingStudy.pdf Click to download full PDF