Street Light Control System May Be Studied


The Los Angeles City Council may soon decide whether to make new technology available citywide that would allow emergency vehicles to control street lights in their path.

Early next week, the council is expected to hear a motion introduced by Councilman Richard Alarcon that would instruct city, fire and police department officials to study the feasibility of installing the technology at key, congested intersections throughout the city.

The equipment would be activated by ambulances, fire trucks and police cruisers, and even some transit vehicles to change a traffic signal to a green light when the vehicle approaches.


A pilot program, the Emergency Vehicle Traffic Signal System, is now used by the Los Angeles Fire Department in portions of the Valley, including parts of Ventura Boulevard and Moorpark Avenue.

The program has been successful in the North Hollywood pilot area, said Capt. Steve Ruda, a spokesman for the Fire Department. “People get confused when [a firetruck] comes into the intersection. They don’t know whether to go or stop. But people know when they see a red light in front of them, they stop.”

If the motion is approved, officials will have 45 days to determine costs and possible locations throughout the city.

Of special interest, Alarcon said, would be a report on the cost of installing and maintaining the devices.

He said he introduced the motion to get people thinking about the possibility of a new system, which in turn could lead to support financially for the system.

“I’d like to inform a broader segment of the population, including my colleagues, about this technology and set a course in terms of funding this kind of system,” he said. “We need to create the will to do it.”