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Highway 401 distance markers installed in Northumberland County

Click to play video: 'New signs installed along Highway 401 in Northumberland County aim to improve emergency response times.' New signs installed along Highway 401 in Northumberland County aim to improve emergency response times.
New signs along Highway 401 between Port Hope and Brighton aim to improve highway safety and emergency response times – Dec 19, 2017

If you’re in the middle of an emergency on the 401, the new Distance Makers will be a welcome sight.

The green and white, glow in the dark signs were installed in August along Highway 401 between Port Hope and Brighton to improve highway safety and emergency response times. The markers are installed every half a kilometre in Northumberland County.

“The signs allow a reference point to know where people are along that path, and if there is a mishap and they require emergency services when they phone 911, they can communicate that actual sign number which gives us the location on where to send emergency services,” said Chad Brown, deputy fire chief for Peterborough Fire Services.

WATCH: Keeping highway 401 safer for commuters 

It’s all part of a pilot project that began a year and a half ago, championed by the fire chiefs of Northumberland County, the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, and The Ministry of Transportation. EMS, Firefighters and OPP were finding that people who needed emergency assistance couldn’t identify where they were, especially on long stretches of highway with no landmarks.

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In 2015 and 2016, the fire department says about 20 per cent of the emergency calls they received were false calls, meaning first responders were going to inaccurate locations and there was no scene found. However, things changed since the signs were installed four months ago.

“Since August, we have been tracking to see how many false incidents we have received and the fire service has received zero false incidents. Every call that came in from the fire service we were aware where they were and we responded directly there with the right department,” said Gene Thompson, deputy fire chief, Cobourg Fire Service.

READ MORE: Poor weather conditions cause MTO to postpone overnight roadwork on Hwy. 401 in Woodstock

“It also assists us with media relations. If there is a lane closure we can better identify exactly where that lane closure is for the motoring public,” said OPP Constable Steve Bates.

The next big step is to educate drivers on how to use these signs during their travel, and to ultimately have these signs installed throughout the province on all principal highways.

The signs are currently in select areas across the Province. but by 2018, additional signs will be implemented between Northumberland County and the Quebec border.

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