The Hood County Commissioners Court has given unanimous approval to Sheriff Roger Deeds’ request to implement an emergency alert system that will notify drivers when deputies are working a road emergency or “running code” and fast approaching their vehicle.
Approval by the Commissioners Court was needed because the special pricing involves a five-year contract to be signed by the county judge.
Although patrol vehicles are equipped with sirens and flashing lights, their high speed can pose dangers to other motorists who may not immediately see the lights in their rearview mirror or hear the siren until the patrol car is a short distance from them.
Through HAAS Alert technology, once lights and sirens have been activated, motorists of many vehicles manufactured in 2018 or later will receive alerts on their dashboard or the music they are playing will be interrupted.
“When you turn on your lights and sirens, you’re trying to make sure everybody knows you’re coming and alert people ahead of you with the sound of the sirens, with the flashing lights,” Deeds told the Hood County News. “That in itself helps alert people so (that) you’re safe. But this sends out a signal even farther out ahead of you.”
The sheriff noted that drivers whose vehicles are not equipped with the technology that will allow them to receive the alerts will presumably still benefit because they will see other vehicles pulling over and will hopefully do the same.
HAAS Alert’s digital alerting platform, Safety Cloud, was launched in 2016 as the nation’s first-ever digital alerting service, according to the company’s website. The alerts are received by drivers through navigation platforms and through the infotainment screens of connected vehicles. In addition, emergency vehicle manufacturers have made Safety Cloud a standard safety feature on new emergency vehicles, the website states.
Deeds said he heard about the service from Texas EMS Executive Director Ricky Reeves. Reeves told the HCN that his company is in the process of implementing the system in its four Tahoes and eight ambulances.
Deeds told the Commissioners Court that he will use funds from his forfeiture account to pay the $500 set-up fee as well as the $150 annual fee to equip 20 vehicles with the technology for the first year.
The sheriff told the HCN, “We’re going to want to give it a try and get it hooked up on those 20 vehicles and see if we can keep the roads as safe as we can.”