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Traffic signal preemption technology coming to St. Lucie County, hopes to improve response times for crews

Full rollout expected to be implemented by end of 2023
St. Lucie County Fire District
Posted at 12:29 PM, Jun 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-06 09:25:32-04

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — St. Lucie County residents are probably aware of a big increase in traffic.

According to U.S. Census data, the county's grown by 30,000 people in the past two years, and first responders said it's been making it difficult for them to respond to emergencies.

In response, they're installing what's called traffic light preemption technology at all 60 intersections in the county.

WPTV first reported on this when Martin County installed the technology a few months ago, and when St. Lucie County commissioners announced their change about a month ago.

The technology allows first responders to switch on their lights and sirens and turn signal if they're turning, prompting a sensor in the traffic light to immediately pick up a signal, turning the light green in the direction that crews are heading and red for all other drivers.

Crews said this will make intersections safer, saving the county hundreds of thousands of dollars in accident damage and potentially cutting response times in half.

St. Lucie County Fire Marshal Capt. Wayne Boyer explains how the technology will help first responders.
St. Lucie County Fire Marshal Capt. Wayne Boyer explains how the technology will help first responders.

"Just getting through these intersections, on average, at each intersection is 10 to 12 seconds, you're trimming response times off," St. Lucie County Fire Marshal Capt. Wayne Boyer. "We typically go through, on average, six to seven intersections per response. If you calculate that out, we're talking a minute. Time is flesh when we're talking about cardiac or stroke alerts, and we need to get there in a timely but safe manner."

Crews also recommend the public download the TravelSafely app, which works directly with this technology and sends an alert if a first responder is approaching with their lights on.

Boyer said the technology is paid for using impact improvement funding.

So far the technology is already installed in all 84 of the county's emergency vehicles. They expect to have it completely installed in all intersections, including in Port St. Lucie and Fort Pierce, by the end of the year.