NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

Monrovia's City Council has approved an agreement with E- Views, Inc., to develop and implement an Emergency Vehicle Intersection Early Warning System that will alert drivers to approaching emergency vehicles to reduce the potential for traffic collisions.

The program will cost Monrovia nothing.

The E-Views system was developed with the help of the Technology Affiliates Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. It involves the installation of transponders in 20 police and 10 fire emergency vehicles and the installation of visual display boards on traffic signal mastarms above the centers of the intersections.

The transponders will communicate via microwave with receivers on the display boards. As the emergency vehicle approaches the intersections, the police officer or firefighter activates the transponder, which automatically turns the traffic light to yellow, then red, for cross traffic.

The intersections' visual warning display signs will also be activated and approaching drivers will see bright flashing vehicle warning symbols on the displays informing them of the direction from which emergency traffic is approaching, from as far as 1,067 meters (3,500 feet) out. The lighted icons will appear to move across the displays synchronized with the actual emergency vehicle's movement.

Eight Monrovia intersections are being fitted with the system. These are along Huntington Drive at Mountain, Shamrock, California, Myrtle, Magnolia, Mayflower and Monterey Avenues and at Foothill Boulevard and Ivy Avenue. The program is estimated to cost nearly $600,000 and will be fully funded by E-Views. The private firm will also be responsible for all liability insurance.

Monrovia Chief of Police Joe Santoro, reporting to the City Council on the project, said, "When responding to emergencies with red lights and sirens, emergency vehicles present a serious traffic hazard to themselves and other vehicles and pedestrians while passing against traffic through an intersection.

"Confusion, inattention, mobile phones, car radios, hearing impairment, distracting children and failure to hear sirens and see flashing lights are just a few of the many causes of serious accidents that result in multi-million-dollar lawsuits against cities and states."

Santoro said that in the U.S. alone, more than 156,000 accidents involving emergency vehicles occurred at intersections from the early 1980s to 1995, resulting in 6,550 deaths. National Safety Board statistics show that 40% of firefighters killed in the line of duty died in accidents on the way to an incident. The majority of these accidents are at intersections.

In 1997, Santoro reported, more than 15,000 accidents with emergency vehicles responding to emergency calls occurred in the U.S., resulting in 8,000 injuries, 500 fatalities and millions of dollars in liability claims and vehicle repairs.

Through JPL's Technology Affiliates Program, large and small businesses can work with JPL engineers to solve specific tasks. Upon joining this innovative program, E-Views, formerly E-Lite Limited, was paired with JPL engineers with specialized expertise to solve engineering design issues. These included not only E- Views' customized transponders, but also comprehensive designs that blend with existing city communications infrastructures.

The Technology Affiliates Program is just one of several JPL technology transfer programs designed to bring the benefits of the space program to American industry. For further information, visit the Commercial Technology Program's Web site at

JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

News Media Contact

Carolina Martinez, JPL (818) 354-9382 Dick Singer, City of Monrovia (626) 303-6609