Soon, traffic lights will not hold up the 108 ambulance service

Stretch of Poonamallee High Road being studied for rollout of pilot project

February 17, 2019 12:13 am | Updated 08:29 am IST - CHENNAI

Representational image

Representational image

The Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project (TNHSP) is planning to roll out a pilot project to provide automatic traffic signal clearance for the 108 ambulance service. A stretch of the Poonamallee High Road in Kancheepuram district is currently being studied for its suitability for the pilot project.

If automatic signal clearance becomes a reality, ambulances will no longer need to unnecessarily stop at traffic signals, TNHSP officials said.

To take this plan forward, TNHSP held a series of discussions with the Transport Commissioner and a World Bank consultant. The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, a technical division of the Government of India and IIT-M will be helping with technical support, according to P. Uma Maheswari, project director of TNHSP (she was transferred later in the day).


At present, a study on road accidents is being taken up in Kancheepuram and Tiruvannamalai districts by the Transport Department with World Bank funding.

“We had requested them to look into automatic signal clearance system for ambulances as part of this project. A stretch of the Poonamallee High Road in Kancheepuram district is being studied for its traffic pattern, number of traffic signals, number of ambulances plying and Inter Facility Transfer (IFT) cases,” she said.

The entire fleet of 108 network, numbering 936 ambulances, already have Global Positioning System. Under the new plan, GPRS devices would be installed in the ambulances, while controller devices would be installed in the traffic signals, she said.

Hooters at signals

“When an ambulance reaches within 100 m of a signal, the pilot will switch on the GPRS device. The controller device, on receiving the signal from the GPRS device, will turn the traffic signal into green and activate the hooter. We will be installing hooters in the traffic signal to sound an alert to other road users to make way,” she said. The compatibility of the traffic signal for installing the hooter has to be studied, she said.

Once the ambulance crosses the signal, the pilot will manually turn off the GPRS device. “We are planning to launch the pilot by March, subject to clearance from the police and transport departments. A detailed project report will be prepared,” she added.

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