Traffic incidents, including crashes, disabled vehicles and debris on the road create unsafe driving conditions; put motorists and responder lives at risk; and account for approximately 25 percent of all traffic delays.
For each minute that a freeway travel lane is blocked during peak use, an estimated 4 minutes of delay result after the incident is cleared. This estimate accounts for 4.2 billion hours per year in delays. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation Strategic Plan Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 – FY2015 reports that Americans burn more than 2.8 billion gallons of gasoline every year while stuck in incident-related traffic.
In response to Congress’ directive to improve the efficiency and safety of the U.S. highway system, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is offering the first national, multi-disciplinary traffic incident management (TIM) process and training program. The unique training for first responders promotes a shared understanding of the requirements for safe, quick clearance at traffic incident scenes; prompt, reliable and open communications; and motorist and responder safeguards. Governors, transportation leaders and incident response agencies across the country can save lives, time and money by promoting the full-scale deployment of the innovative TIM training program.
The TIM training program focuses on a response effort that protects motorists and responders while minimizing the impact on traffic flow. TIM efforts include detecting, verifying and responding to incidents; clearing the incident scene; and restoring traffic flow. Based on the severity or type of incident, first responders may represent law enforcement, fire, transportation, emergency medical services, public safety, towing and recovery, public works and hazardous materials (HAZMAT) disciplines.
Using a multiple discipline perspective, first responders within States, regions and localities learn how to operate more efficiently and collectively. The training covers many topics including recommended TIM procedures and techniques. For example, first responders learn how the placement of response vehicles can either aid or impede another discipline’s efforts and can impact how quickly traffic flow can be restored. Responders also learn about human behavior in highway safety to help prevent additional injuries or delays that may result from secondary crashes occurring near the initial crash site.
Extensive research and testing have gone into the development of the TIM training program launched nationwide. Flexible delivery approaches allow trainers to customize the training for one or multiple disciplines or for a large or a small group. Trainers completing the Train the Trainer TIM program have provided overwhelmingly favorable responses, expressing much interest in promoting and recommending the training to others. Efforts are underway to encourage deployment of the TIM training program nationwide.