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The Boston Globe

Business

MIT engineers help fight roadside perils

Aim to cut crashes at traffic stops, accident scenes

John DiFava, a former Massachusetts State Police superintendent, is lucky to be alive. In 1976, an out-of-control vehicle nearly killed DiFava as he stood outside his patrol car on Interstate 495. “I was able to jump into the cruiser just in time,’’ said DiFava, who is currently chief of police at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Now, 36 years later, about a dozen police officers are killed by careless drivers each year, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Also at risk are other emergency responders, such as firefighters, paramedics, and tow truck operators. And in Massachusetts, there are two or three accidents a month in which a police officer or his vehicle is hit while stopped.

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