What do you do when you hear a siren from an emergency response vehicle? You move to the shoulder to make room for them to pass. However, some drivers are slow to respond, and road congestion can limit maneuverability. The National Highway Safety Administration reports that there are thousands of crashes and many deaths involving emergency vehicles each year. So how can ERVs (fire trucks, ambulances, and police) safely navigate busy roads? Wireless communication technologies and vehicle microrouting optimization help but can be complicated when multiple ERVs with different characteristics or destinations need access.

Researchers Jamal Nahofti Kohneh, Pamela Murray-Tuite, Thidapat Chantem, and Ryan Gerdes had questions; could a new system outperform the current warning system in terms of ERV travel time and vehicle interactions? Could a new system simultaneously reduce ERV response time and improve overall road safety? Would the new system perform computations fast enough to account for travel speed?

To tackle these questions, the researchers first conducted a literature review of ERV traffic flow management on various types of transportation links, identified problem scenarios, developed a mathematical model for a two-way roadway without a median, and finally provided a solution. Their article, “A Connected Emergency Response System to Facilitate the Movement of Multiple Emergency Response Vehicles through Two-Way Roadways,” presents a system to optimize the movement of ERVs and non-ERVs on a two-way transportation link using connected vehicle technology. Learn more about how their model minimizes ERV travel time while maximizing safety in the Journal of Transportation Engineering, Part A: Systems, at https://doi.org/10.1061/JTEPBS.TEENG-7973. The abstract is below.


Emergency response vehicles (ERVs) need to move fast, which can lead to potential accidents. A system is proposed to utilize connected vehicle technology for facilitating the movement of multiple ERVs in a two-way roadway. A biobjective model was developed to minimize the ERVs’ travel/response times while maximizing safety. The proposed system can help non-ERVs stop in assigned locations and wait for the ERVs to pass. According to mission priority, different types of ERVs (ambulance, fire truck, and police car) can use a travel lane from the opposite direction (contraflow) to move faster. A hybrid nondominated sorting genetic algorithm II-particle swarm optimization (NSGAII-PSO) approach was used to solve the model faster than CPLEX. To evaluate the system’s performance, different experiments, including various road types, numbers and types of ERVs, direction priorities, and congestion levels, have been conducted. Results demonstrate that the proposed system can improve the travel time of ERVs that have the priority to use the contraflow lane in cases where the other side of the roadway is less congested and has a shoulder (when opposing ERVs use a two-way roadway simultaneously). The proposed system can eliminate weaving and passing among non-ERVs in all cases compared to two current strategies (going to the right edge and vacating the ERV lane without receiving instructions).

Learn more about this system and how it could work for you in the ASCE Library: https://doi.org/10.1061/JTEPBS.TEENG-7973.