First responders in New York are beginning to harness the brain of your car to keep themselves safer by taking over your dashboard while you drive.

Cars have become rolling computers that can tell you where to go, keep you in your lane, read traffic signs and, in some cases, even drive for you. Now, a feature that's already built into many cars is being tapped into by fire and police departments in New York.

Imagine driving down the road and having your car alert you to a fire truck that's heading in your direction before even hearing its siren. It's now becoming a reality in New York state. Haas Alert has developed Safety Cloud for automobiles. Already available on Dodge, Ram, Jeep, and Chrysler vehicles, the system also works directly through navigation apps such as Waze.

The Bedford Hills Fire Department in Westchester County is the first municipality in New York State to use the system. Drivers on Interstate 684 and the Saw Mill River Parkway can receive up to 30 seconds of advance warning before approaching active emergency vehicles, allowing them to slow down and get into another lane to comply with the state's Move Over Law.

Better Than Lights and Sirens

First responders claim the system will become a much more effective way to communicate with drivers than relying on loud sirens and flashing lights. Eventually, the information can be specific enough to tell drivers that emergency vehicles will soon be approaching from behind or crossing at an upcoming intersection.

The technology also allows private towing companies, utility companies and the DOT to send similar warnings to keep their employees safe while working out on the roads.

Some critics worry that dashboard alerts could distract some drivers and confuse others who don't have the technology in their vehicles. Proponents point out that similar alerts already exist in cars warning drivers to slow down for upcoming speed traps.

It's unclear when the technology will be rolled out on a wider basis, but it's something that New York drivers should prepare to see in the near future.

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