DOT Casting Emergency Net

WASHINGTON (07/20/2000) - A life-saving network to automate emergency response following roadway crashes is the goal of a public/private initiative announced Wednesday by Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater.

The National Mayday Readiness Initiative (NMRI), sponsored by the U.S.

Department of Transportation and the ComCARE Alliance with support from General Motors Corp., will help make automatic crash notification systems being deployed by automotive companies work better with the emergency systems that respond to them.

"All too often, crash victims die or their injuries become more critical because no one knew the crash occurred or [emergency] personnel couldn't locate the crash site," Slater said during his keynote address at the Intelligent Vehicle Initiative conference sponsored by DOT and the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Slater's announcement coincided with a campaign by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to heighten awareness about the dangers of distractions from in-vehicle devices such as cellular telephones and navigation systems.

Driver error, including distraction, is responsible for more than 75 percent of motor vehicle crashes, said Rosalyn Millman, deputy administrator of the NHTSA.

However, Slater said, those same in-vehicle technologies can provide life-saving benefits if used for automatic notification and other safety purposes.

The goal of NMRI - a six-month, US$150,000 project - is to integrate automobile notification technologies and information from commercial call centers with public safety, emergency medical response, law enforcement and transportation agencies.

Members of the NMRI team from DOT, ComCARE and GM will meet this summer to develop voluntary standards that will be issued this fall, Slater said. The standards will improve communication between private call centers and 911 dispatchers to help speed responses to auto crashes.

ComCARE is a national coalition of health organizations, wireless companies, safety groups and information technology and transportation groups.

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