Safe, Quick Clearance of Traffic Incidents
Every day, collisions and other traffic incidents wreak havoc on roadways around the world. At risk are not only the lives of the drivers and passengers involved, but also the welfare of surrounding motorists and bystanders, the safety of police and other responders, and even the health of the economy. The IACP, with support from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is dedicated to addressing this issue by providing resources to help agencies quickly reduce traffic congestion and the risk of secondary crashes; increase responder and public safety; and improve the overall quality of life for their community.
Saving lives, reducing the financial impact of traffic crashes, and contributing to the quality of life in communities ensures safe, efficient, and convenient movement of people and commerce. Traffic Incident Management (TIM) is a cornerstone activity to promote and adopt best practice concepts as a business model and application when responding to crashes and roadway incidents that negatively impact mobility and public safety.
Throughout this webpage, you will find resources developed and collected by the IACP to assist in creating your business case for safe, quick clearance of traffic incidents.
A message from IACP President Steven R. Casstevens, Chief of Police, Buffalo Grove Police Department discussing the importance of safe, quick clearance of traffic incidents and responder safety
A message from Assistant Chief Matt Myers, Peachtree City, GA Police Department promoting the benefits of safe, quick clearance for responder safety and the quality of life in communities
The IACP has launched the Safe, Quick Clearance of Traffic Incidents toolkit. This toolkit provides law enforcement executives with information that demonstrates the importance of adopting practices that facilitate the safe, quick clearance of traffic incidents. Learn more about the toolkit and order your copy here: https://www.theiacp.org/resources/safe-quick-clearance-of-traffic-incidents-toolkit.
General Safe, Quick Clearance Resources
Numerous agencies have created resources to assist with training, awareness, and education efforts. Below are a few that have provided significant resources pertaining to the importance of adopting and implementing TIM strategies.
- Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) - FHWA provides training on Traffic Incident Management (TIM) to responders including law enforcement, Fire, EMS, and Tow & Recovery. Training information can be found in the below Traffic Incident Management Training section.
- Responder Safety - ResponderSafety.com is a website of the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, an advisory group of public safety leaders and transportation experts who are committed to reducing deaths and injuries among America's emergency responders. This site is a clearinghouse of information related to safe, quick clearance and contains resources to facilitate communication with the public.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) - NHTSA has developed resources in both English and Spanish to encourage the use of "Move Over" laws and to emphasize their importance to responder and public safety. These resources include news releases, a media advisory, social media posts, etc.
- Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) - ADOT provides public education resources demonstrating the importance and benefits of safe, quick clearance and illustrating communities' role in ensuring their own safety and the safety of responders.
Traffic Incident Managment (TIM) Training
The National TIM Responder Training program, also known as the Strategic Highway Research Program TIM Training, was developed to improve the coordination of all traffic incident responders from the moment the first emergency call is placed through conclusion of the incident and return of normal traffic flow. This training serves as the foundation of TIM response thanks to its curriculum, which is based on extensive and detailed research conducted with TIM responders across the country and delivered using a train-the-trainer approach.
- In-person TIM training - To learn more about training for your agency, visit https://www.FHWA.dot.gov/innovation/everydaycounts/edc-2/tim.cfm. To schedule this training for law enforcement agencies, reach out to the state point of contact for the National TIM Responder Training Program by visiting ops.fhwa.dot.gov/eto_tim_pse/training/state_poc_list.pdf.
- Online TIM training - The web-based training is available online through the National Highway Institute, the education and training arm of the FHWA. To register for this training, an account will need to be created at https://www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov/. Search for training course using number FHWA-NHI-133126A.
Examples of Practices from Police Agencies
Utilizing practices that have been created and successfully implemented by other law enforcement agencies can inform your agency's TIM strategy, helping you ensure successful outcomes in the form of safe, quick clearance. Below are some examples of some agencies that have found an effective method to incorporating practices into their agency's routine.
Examples of Policies and Towing & Recovery Incentive Programs (TRIP)
Traffic incidents are a community problem and managing them requires a community approach. Law enforcement agencies' ability to ensure safe, quick clearance of traffic incidents therefore hinges on their ability to build collaborative partnerships with a diverse coalition of stakeholders that includes fire, EMS, state departments of transportation, local transportation officials, tow operators, and the motoring public.
A Joint Operating Policy (JOP) can be developed to determine what TIM policies agencies may have in place to create a common guideline for effective safe, quick clearance of traffic incidents. JOPs act as the standard for all agencies to update their policies and procedures to include TIM strategies.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) describes Open Roads policies as state agencies' partnership goals to remove vehicles, cargo, and debris from roadways in order to restore safe, orderly traffic flow after motor vehicle crashes and other roadway incidents. These goals often include timeframes for incident clearance that start with the arrival of the first responding officer.
Towing & Recovery Incentive Programs (TRIP) facilitate the safe, quick clearance of large commercial vehicle crashes by improving towing procedures through monetary incentives given to qualified towing operators, which builds a mutually beneficial relationship to meet quick clearance goals.
- Georgia's Open Roads Policy
- Georgia's TRIP Program
- Florida's Open Roads Policy
- Florida's Joint Operating Policy
- California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and California Highway Patrol (CHP) Joint Operating Policy
- Washington State Department of Transportation, The Washington State Patrol, and The Washington Fire Chiefs' Joint Operating Policy
Examples of After-Action Reports
After-action reports are a crucial component to document a traffic incident. A detailed accounting of the incident and response - particularly when a responder is killed or injured on the scene of an incident - provide the opportunity to learn from an event and apply lessons learned in training as well as in future events.
- Maine, Falmouth/Portland line of Interstate 295 - After-Action report on incident involving tank trunk on Maine Turnpike for October 2, 2018 - At Mile 9 southbound off ramp
- Seattle, Washington - After-Action report on Aurora Avenue Bus Collision for September 24, 2015 on the Aurora Bridge
- George, Washington (Grant County) - After-Action report on I90 Charter Bus Crash incident for November 22, 2018
- Highway 31-South Carolina (Horry County) - After-Action report on a Highway 31 fire in South Carolina
- Mosier, Oregon (Wasco County) - After-Action report on the derailment of a Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) unit train in Mosier, Wasco County, Oregon on June 3, 2016
- Wisconsin (Winnebago County) - After-Action report on an I-41 multi-vehicle crash in Winnebago County, Wisconsin on February 24, 2019