DOT casting emergency net

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 Transportation

Department 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, $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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