Stellantis Vehicles Now Warn Drivers of an Approaching Emergency Vehicle

A Jeep's UConnect screen displays an emergency vehicle alertIn 2021, a hearing-impaired employee of auto giant Stellantis nearly collided with an emergency vehicle. She couldn’t hear it coming.

She went to work and made a suggestion.

Because of her idea, nearly 2 million vehicles built by Stellantis – the parent company of brands such as Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Maserati, and Alfa Romeo – recently received an over-the-air software update that could save lives.

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The cars’ infotainment systems, the company explains, now “give drivers in-vehicle notification of an active fire truck, ambulance or other nearby roadway hazards.” The alerts include both an audible beep and an on-screen warning.

Works Through Cloud-Based Alert System

According to the U.S. National Safety Council, about 0.5% of fatal accidents involve an emergency vehicle. The agency doesn’t track how many may have occurred in the hearing impaired or those with their car stereos turned up loud.

The new feature works, Stellantis says, thanks to a “vehicle-to-everything” cloud alert system provided by the company HAAS Alert. It uses transmitters inside emergency vehicles that the Uconnect system in Stellantis cars can detect.

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Many fire and EMS agencies have signed up and added transmitters to their fleets. The cloud alert system has also been standard equipment on ambulances and fire trucks built by six major emergency vehicle manufacturers since 2020. So, it may be ubiquitous eventually. But for now, some older emergency vehicles lack the transmitters to make it work.

The transmitters are active only when vehicles have their emergency lights on, so the system won’t detect the presence of a police car performing radar speed checks. But it will alert drivers to move over when an emergency vehicle with its lights on is approaching.

Next: Work Zone, Disabled Vehicle Warnings

The company thinks its solution can make driving safer in other ways, too. “We’re actually starting to make a pretty big push into road construction and work zones,” Jeremy Agulnek, HAAS Alert’s senior vice president of connected vehicles, told trade publication Automotive News.

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The popular mapping app Waze also uses the technology to route drivers around emergencies, though we haven’t seen it warn of an approaching emergency vehicle yet.

Stellantis thinks the same technology could warn drivers of other road hazards. The company says a similar technology could allow cars to notify other cars when they break down. “Disabled vehicles stopped on the shoulder or roadway pose a significant danger to other drivers, particularly at night or when weather conditions reduce visibility – a situation that in the United States contributes to a crash an average of every seven minutes and kills or injures over 40 people per day,” Stellantis says.

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