EFFINGHAM, Ill. (WAND) - The Effingham Fire Department installed new technology in four of its fire vehicles to help notify drivers when they are responding to a call.
The HAAS Alert system is a Safety Cloud digital warning system for road safety. When an emergency company activates their lights, the Safety Cloud automatically delivers real-time notifications to approaching drivers before they encounter first responders on or near the road.
"The average motorist has about 3 seconds from the time they recognize a flashing light or an emergency siren. HAAS Alert gives those motorists about 10-20 seconds to slow down and make safer maneuvers," said Noah Levens, chief operations officer.
These alerts are received by nearby drivers through navigation apps that give drivers time to slow down and move over. Levens told WAND News the feedback the company has received from their partner WAZE has been extremely positive.
"The goal is to encourage people to slow down, move over and provide alerts to give the motorists more time," Levens said.
Last week, the Effingham Fire Department installed four HAAS Alert systems in its vehicles. Chief Bob Tutok said two frontline engines and two command vehicles are equipped with the technology.
"The big thing for us was for the interstate responses. We are out on Interstate 57 and portions of Interstate 70 on a regular basis and we notice distracted drivers out there," he shared.
Chief Tutok said officials have already seen an improvement from drivers. He recalled on Monday night, the department responded to an accident involving a semi on Interstate 57. He said because of the Safety Cloud, he noticed drivers slowing down and moving over.
"Even the firefighters on scene were like, wow, I can't believe how slow people are going by and actually moving over," Tutok said.
The Effingham Fire Department spent around $1,300 on the new technology. The money to purchase came from the department's general fund, which Tutok said is part of the department's safety improvements.
"We initiated a health and safety initiative this year, which incorporates cancer prevention, wellness, physical, and so we thought this would roll into that program really well," Tutok said.
The Effingham Fire Department will receive a new engine in April. Tutok told WAND News the new engine will already be equipped with the new technology.