Mayo Clinic participates in test of futuristic automobile crash notification system

November 08, 1999

ROCHESTER, MINN. - Officials from Mayo Clinic, Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT), Minnesota State Patrol and Veridian Corporation today demonstrated the technology behind an operational field test of Mayday Plus, a futuristic automobile crash notification system.

The Mayday Plus field test is currently underway in southeastern Minnesota. The automatic notification system is designed to enable more rapid and better-informed emergency response to motor vehicle crashes. Mayday Plus integrates in-vehicle crash sensors with cellular communications, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) satellite technology and a special emergency response communications system installed at Mayo Clinic and Minnesota State Patrol emergency dispatch centers.

The system provides authorities with automatic collision notification, and information such as location and crash severity from in-vehicle devices. To test the system's capabilities and evaluate its benefits, 120 vehicles based in the Rochester area have been outfitted with automatic crash notification equipment.

"We believe this system holds a lot of promise," says Scott Zietlow, M.D., a Mayo Clinic trauma surgeon. "If we can reduce emergency response times significantly with a system of this type, we could stand to save many lives and reduce disability."

When a crash occurs, Mayday Plus relays information from the vehicle about its location, direction of crash impact, the vehicle's final resting position, and the change in velocity lost during the crash. After transmitting this data, the system opens a direct voice connection to passengers in the car.

"Getting immediate notification and the correct location of a crash through this technology means we can send emergency help right away - saving time, and ultimately, saving lives," said Colonel Anne Beers, chief of the Minnesota State Patrol. "Response time is critical in our rural areas. In Minnesota, 30 percent of miles traveled are on rural roads - yet this is where 70 percent of our fatal crashes occur," added Beers.

Mayday Plus is an extension of in-vehicle equipment developed during Automatic Collision Notification (ACN) field tests in New York. Sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the ACN project developed crash severity reporting capabilities. Mayday Plus has built off of the earlier test by developing a system that allows emergency responders to receive emergency information directly from in-vehicle devices.

Over a dozen commercial, in-vehicle Mayday devices are available to consumers today. The devices typically combine wireless telephone technology, GPS and in-vehicle sensors to provide such services as anti-theft, remote door unlocking, roadside assistance and accident notification.

U.S. motor vehicle crashes claim more than 40,000 lives, result in more than 5 million injuries and cause more than $150 billion in economic loss annually. There is more death, injury and economic loss caused by vehicle crashes every year than caused by the Gulf War, Hurricane Andrew, the 1993 Midwest Floods and the Northridge California Earthquake combined.

Ultimately, officials hope that systems such as the one developed for the Mayday Plus project will lead to operational, integrated systems that help overcome problems such as inaccurate crash location, delayed notification and unreliable eyewitness accounts - all of which delay emergency responses and further endanger crash victims.
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