Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration
Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)
Skip to Questions and Answers

Talking Freight Transcript

Freight Considerations in Traffic Incident Management

August 15, 2012


Jennifer Symoun
Good afternoon or good morning to those of you to the West. Welcome to the Talking Freight Seminar Series. My name is Jennifer Symoun and I will moderate today's seminar. Today's topic is Freight Considerations in Traffic Incident Management.

Before I go any further, I do want to let those of you who are calling into the teleconference for the audio know that you need to mute your computer speakers or else you will be hearing your audio over the computer as well.

Before we get started on today's seminar I wanted to announce the availability of a new publication from the FHWA Office of Freight Management and Operations, the Freight Analysis Framework 3 User Guide. The Guide provides basic instructions on how to use FAF data, products, and the web-based tabulation tool. The Guide is available at the web site on the slide on your screen. I've also typed the web address into the chat box.

Turning back to Talking Freight, today we'll have five presenters: Paul Jodoin of the FHWA Traffic Incident Management Program, Vince Garcia of the Wyoming DOT, Rod Schmalhaus of Wal-Mart, Paul Clark of Florida DOT, and Rusty James of Missouri DOT.

Paul Jodoin is the Traffic Incident Management Program Manager for the Federal Highway Administration. Prior to this position he was the ITS Programs Operations Manager for the Massachusetts Highway Department.

Vince Garcia has had a 28 year career with the Wyoming Department of Transportation. He has worked for WYDOT in the capacity of a bridge design engineer, a roadway design team leader, the information technology Program manager and finally and the Program Manager of the GIS/ITS (Geographic Information Systems/Intelligent Transportation Systems) division.

Rod Schmalhaus is the General Transportation Manager for Walmart Private Fleet at the Western Regional Operations Center in Grantsville, UT. He transferred to this role after working for Walmart as the Freight Flow Operations Manager in Loveland Colorado. Prior to working for Walmart, he worked 18 years with an LTL Trucking Company, Nationsway Transport, working in a variety of roles from City Dispatcher, to outside sales, to Terminal Manager, and then Intermodal Manager.

Paul Clark is the Deputy State Traffic Engineer over Statewide Traffic Incident Management, Road Rangers, and Commercial Vehicle Operations for the Florida Department of Transportation. He serves as the chair of Florida's Commercial Motor Vehicle Review Board; hearing approximately 80 commercial vehicle citation cases per month. Paul is also a member of the AASHTO Technology Information Group on Towing and Recovery Partnerships. Paul has been involved with Incident Management and Emergency Management with FDOT since 2001 and has assisted with coordinating and preparing for responses to major disaster events in the State of Florida.

Rusty James serves as the Incident Management Coordinator for Kansas City Scout. In that capacity, he is responsible for promoting Traffic Incident Management in the Kansas City Metro area. Prior to this role he was the Law Enforcement Liaison for the Central Region at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In that role, he worked with law enforcement agencies and the highway safety offices in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. Rusty retired from law enforcement after 30 years of service, with the majority of his career devoted to the area of traffic safety.

Today's seminar will last 90 minutes, with 60 minutes allocated for the speakers, and the final 30 minutes for audience Question and Answer. If during the presentations you think of a question, you can type it into the chat area. Please make sure you send your question to "Everyone" and indicate which presenter your question is for. Presenters will be unable to answer your questions during their presentations, but I will start off the question and answer session with the questions typed into the chat box. If we run out of time and are unable to address all questions we will attempt to get written responses from the presenters to the unanswered questions.

The PowerPoint presentations used during the seminar are available for download from the file download box in the lower right corner of your screen. The presentations will also be available online within the next few weeks, along with a recording and a transcript. I will notify all attendees once these materials are posted online.

One final note: Talking Freight seminars are eligible for 1.5 certification maintenance credits for AICP members. In order to obtain credit for today's seminar, you must have logged in with your first and last name or if you are attending with a group of people you must type your first and last name into the chat box. I have included more detailed instructions in the file share box on how to obtain your credits after the seminar. Please also download the evaluation form from the file share box and submit this form to me after you have filled it out.

We're now going to go ahead and get started. Today's topic, for those of you who just joined us, is Freight Considerations in Traffic Incident Management. As a reminder, if you have questions during the presentation please type them into the chat box and they will be answered in the last 30 minutes of the seminar. Our first presenter will be Paul Jodoin of the Federal Highway Administration Traffic Incident Management Program.

Paul Jodoin
Thanks, Jennifer. And thank you to the freight community for having us folks join you today. I know of several traffic incident management discipline practitioners on the line, and of course among the presenters today are friends of mine who agreed to help us out today. I also appreciate and thank Carol Keenan, who had the foresight to say this might be a good topic to try and get some of the disciplines together. So we're very excited about being here and presenting.

I'm gonna go through quickly and do my best, and ask other presenters to do it as well, to not use acronyms or to explain the acronym up front. We're going to talk about TIM, which is traffic incident management. I'm going to provide a brief overview of the national program and some of the national initiatives and then we will get to some of the speakers that are a lot more interesting than me.

We have switched the discussion over the last few years from traffic incident management to being a congestion mitigation program out to a responder safety program first and then as a congestion mitigation program second. We have significant attention from the public safety community at the highest levels because we have switched the discussion. It's still a congestion mitigation and traffic incident management program, but it's also responder safety. There's a big impact on society, $399 billion, actually closer to $400 billion, was the recent AAA study from last year and it went up 83% from 2008 when the same study was last done. A lot of this is the impact that traffic incidents have on freight. It's a big deal, and we are making it a big deal across the nation. And we have a lot of success.

The national vision is we want to reduce or eliminate responder injuries and deaths. That's our number one priority. But we also want to promote rapid incident clearance which means reducing clearance time related to vulnerability for motorists and responders, but also to get the transportation system moving again. We firmly believe in a committee process, a multidisciplinary committee process. And that's developed through TIM programs where the disciplines get together and talk to each other about how we advance and get better at traffic incident management. And of course, just like everybody else, we're talking performance measurement and management throughout our programs to encourage continuous improvement.

We're emphasizing TIM as a core mission, not just a pain in the neck thing that folks have to do on the highway. By making it a core mission, it's an important training component. So the key components of the national program are a big deal for us this year. In the next few years, it will be the SHRP2 national responder training course that we are leading. Basically, we get thousands of responders over the next few years for training sessions. We'll talk more about that in a few minutes. We also have been all over the country in the last two years, visiting the top 42 metropolitan areas. Talking to mid-level managers and how we can convince the country of the importance of traffic incident management and how their local programs can advance as well.

A big deal for us is also outreach to senior executives. We've had tremendous success with the state police colonels, fire chiefs, police, and National Fire Chiefs Association. And we're engaging AASHTO, along with the advanced workshops done in the metropolitan areas where we met with top executives. Probably about 70% of those locations we visited, we visited with senior staff and pushed traffic incident management and the value of safety and quick clearance. We're developing a traffic incident management framework similar to the national response framework. We're involved in training standardization and are developing training at three levels: responder level, mid-level and senior level. Fresh Out of the Gate is a public outreach toolkit that's available on our website. It will give responders and managers some tools to be able to use to reach out to folks relative to traffic incident management. And of course, performance measures is an ongoing project these days.

At the locations of the top priority metropolitan areas, when I talk about TIM programs, we talk about the response on the slide on the right: detection, verification, all of the components to an incident response. The slide on the left is the program - the development of relationships and training - and we feel that program is just as important to advancing the response capabilities of responders and that's what we've been pursuing it.

I can't do a TIM presentation without introducing folks from the freight community. There is a National Unified Goal (NUG) for traffic incident management. Three objectives: responder safety, clearance, and prompt, reliable, interoperable communication. Those are the three goals established by the national TIM coalition. It has 18 strategies. Among the TIM community, the NUG is a common word, and basically it's a framework for advancing the program across the country. Oh, that's a nice picture (slide). I think that's out of Wyoming, and we have a Wyoming presenter here. That's what the roadway looks like when they closed the interstate in the Cheyenne area. One or two trucks, very interesting some of the things I've learned in Wyoming relative to rural or remote operations when you're dealing with traffic incidents on some of these rural roads. I won't get into that too much, but there are freight issues there. Many of you are familiar with freight corridors, and we present this in all of our workshops.

We discuss in all our workshops and training, even if you're not in a metropolitan area, why traffic incident management is important in the rural communities because of the flow of freight that goes through. We have emphasized what gets measured and what gets performed. We have three standards relative to clearance time and incident management: roadway clearance time, incident clearance time, which is when all responders are gone, and secondary accidents.

I did want to take a second to talk about the SHRP2 program, the national traffic incident management responder program training, that we are involved with. Congress gave TRB, the Transportation Research Board, millions of dollars to research better ways to manage the system. One of the very first projects, in fact the first project, to come out of that program and out of the research, is the National Traffic Incident Responder Training Course that has been handed over to Federal Highway to implement. Myself and my other team members will be pushing that out throughout the country. I won't go into the details, but let's just say it's been very well vetted, very well researched, and very well received with the pilot. It's an Everyday Counts initiative. If you don't know it already, Everyday Counts is very important within the transportation community and that makes it a priority project, which means we have to have aggressive implementation. Which means we'll basically have to do three years of work in two years relative to the training sessions. It's a priority project for AASHTO. The National Association of Chiefs of Police expects to endorse it in September. The Fire Chiefs Association formally endorsed it just a few months ago and the National Volunteer Fire Council as well. We expect many others to endorse it as we go forward.

So, a very aggressive schedule. I won't go into the numbers right now, but we'll be pushing very hard and we're interested in going forward with it. These are kind of the folks in the direct line of fire for SHRP2 and that's all I have.

Jennifer Symoun
Thank you, Paul. Our next presentation will be given jointly by Vince Garcia of the Wyoming Department of Transportation and Rod Schmalhaus of Wal-Mart.

Vince Garcia
Thank you very much. What I'm going to present to you is maybe not necessarily in line with incident management, but more of a pre-trip information system we use in Wyoming to help commercial vehicle operators (CVOs) and our intent is to prevent some problems.

For background information, Wyoming has a number of routes that are important in terms of commercial vehicle operators. Most important are the interstates. They are important due to commerce. You saw that diagram that shows the distribution of commerce throughout the state. The interstates in Wyoming are significant among those. Of these, the I-80 interstate is probably the most important. It is the major east-west corridor with about 11,000 vehicles per day. The route is notable because it has truck traffic in excess of 50%. The interstate reaches an elevation of about 8,600 feet in Wyoming, a state which is typically prone to bad weather. A study conducted several years ago, 10 years ago if memory serves, indicated that closures to Interstate 80 caused the economy in excess of $1 million per hour of closure. That was conducted at a time prior to Wal-Mart having a distribution center near Cheyenne, so that estimate is considered to be very conservative.

Routes in Wyoming often experience severe weather incidents. Most commonly, we see snow coupled with strong winds that cause visibility problems, surface condition problems and the wind by itself can cause numerous vehicles to be blown over. The closures are more common than we would like and this has a negative impact obviously on commerce. This slide lets you see a part of Interstate-25 that is typically prone to blow overs. This also happens in Interstate-80. We had five vehicles blown over at the same time in a thirty-minute timeframe. Unfortunately, that's not uncommon.

These are pictures of a bird's eye view of what it looks like on a roadway when there's a blowing snow event at ground level. The visibility can be next to nothing. Wyoming conditions can be very dangerous.

I'm going to talk about this commercial vehicle operator form that we put together. The genesis of this was a meeting that we had in Nevada with the I-80 coalition. There are numerous commercial vehicle operators that were invited to attend. The coalition is comprised of the states of California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Nebraska. We learned a great deal from this meeting from the commercial vehicle operators and most importantly we formed a working relationship with Wal-Mart. And this spurred us to follow-up after the meeting and work with them to learn a little bit more about their operations and find out how we can help Wal-Mart be more successful in getting commerce through the state of Wyoming.

We created a Commercial Vehicle Operator Portal, we call it CVOP. It is a system geared specifically for the trucking industry and it requires a login. In the past, we provided current weather conditions. But, we broke the mold and are now providing forecasts. They are targeted at three of the problem areas: the wind, visibility, and surface conditions. We provide 12, 24, and 36 hour weather impact forecasts which are available in map and text format. We also provide information on the national weather service's watches and warnings. We not only attempt to forecast weather conditions, but we really try to provide information about how our treatment will impact that forecast. If we have a manpower issue we want to forecast that as well because we may not get as many people on the roadway to clear it, for example.

We've created three interfaces to manage and use the system. First, we have a forecaster interface and I'm not going to show you the forecaster or ITS Admin interface but I will talk to you a little bit about them. In essence, what we've done is created an interface that the forecaster can manage the forecast for each road segment. We've also created an ITS Administration interface that allows us to send important bulletins to the CVOs and it allows us to authorize users to participate in the program.

But the most important is the user interface. I will show you some screenshots. This is actually some slides from a real event that happened last February between the 21st and the 23rd. In essence, what I'm going to bring to your attention is that we allow people to select whether they want to see visibility, wind or surface conditions, or default to the worst-case condition. They can select whether they want to see it in a 12 hour timeframe, 12-24 hour, 24-36 hour or 36-48 hour timeframe. We will show you how this event progressed. This is the 12 to 24 hour timeframe. The next time frame is a 12 to 24 hour timeframe. You can see the conditions are starting to change on the map. Again the conditions are deteriorating in the 24 the 36 hour timeframe that we are here forecasting. In the end, this is what we were forecasting; you can see the National Weather Service alerts were popping up virtually all over three of the interstate routes.

This slide, this text-based slide, shows you that we do provide the information also in a text-based format. We did that in case the CVOs need to hang it on a wall or deliver to somebody with authority; the map based interface doesn't really lend itself well to that. I will tell you a little bit about the future of this. We intend to provide a wind graph so that the CVOs have the opportunity to see a timeframe for when we think, hour by hour, the winds are going to peak and diminish. We also plan this year to add e-mail and text alerts through GovDelivery where we can allow users to subscribe to individual segments and be alerted, for example, when there's going to be a red condition event on any one of the routes they are interested in. We also found that there was a side benefit to building this in that we use this internally within WYDOT to figure out how to manage our own manpower in forecasting the events.

With that I turn it over to Rod. He's worked with us a great deal on the project and has been instrumental in telling us what will help CVOs be more successful.

Rod Schmalhaus
Vince, thank you for allowing me to be a part here. Paul, I will do my best to avoid any Wal-Mart acronyms- we live by those as much as anyone else.

In the Western regional operations center, also known as the WROC, we dispatch 650 drivers from central Nebraska all the way over to the coast, to include the Pacific Northwest. As Vince mentioned, we met at the I-80 coalition. I'll just make a quick plug for the Interstate 80 Coalition, just as myself and other private-sector transportation companies were invited to that. It allowed us to create the liaisons with the different state DOT's along the Interstate 80 corridor, as well as just provide input, and we've already seen how that input has turned into action across this the corridor. With that, it's interesting from our side to see how much the Departments of Transportation and those entities are involved in keeping freight moving across the country. Definitely something that's appreciated by our side.

For me it's also been a consolidated source of information. That tends to fall into this whole incident/weather part that Vince was talking about. As we work with our dispatchers here, we call them LLMs, logistic load managers, there is myriad different sources of weather and information out there. For me, the key part of this website that Vince spoke of is the impact-based forecasting. Not a knock against NWS or NOAA, but if NWS tells us there's 6 inches of snow tomorrow in District 6, that doesn't necessarily mean as much to as if we see from this website that there's a potential for deteriorating weather to the point that the road may close, we can plan on that. From a strategic standpoint, that's what I really like about the website, the 48-hour look ahead; from a strategic planning standpoint, we can "pull ahead" and get the freight into the stores ahead of the storm. If in the middle of a storm, if things are averse enough, we can hold back. In some cases it's very expensive to do so, but in some cases on the east-west freight we can "route around" and use some other interstates, Interstate 90 in some cases or Interstate 70 through Colorado, depending on how the storm is doing. For us, the tactical advantage as well is we have onboard computers for the drivers, and we are able to feed near-real-time information to the drivers about what we expect in the next 12 hours based on what we're seeing from the website. So, we've got both sides of that.

From a personal standpoint, as I walk in in the morning and know of an event, within five minutes through the site, it's very streamlined, quick and to the point, within five minutes I can know what were expecting the next few days. The LLMs tend to have it on their screen ongoing and refresh every 20 or 30 minutes to stay on top of things and affect their more tactical decisions. Vince spoke of the wind graph as well. We've had some back-and-forth with that also. If I can tell a driver that this afternoon on dispatch heading along I-25, you can expect winds in excess of 50 miles an hour. That driver is captain of his ship and he can make a decision on where he would stop without getting into that area and being one of the folks you saw in the picture. With that, again Vince, I appreciate the time and anything else I can provide, please let me know.

Paul Jodoin
This is Paul again. The advantage of being one of the speakers is I get to ask questions. I do want to say, I participated in a TIM workshop in Cheyenne, and I had an eye-opening experience with some of the challenges with TIM relative to the roadways out there. Blowing over vehicles by the wind is just something we don't have in Boston. Also, some of the other issues relative to when the road or interstate is closed, they put a gate across the road and then they close the roadway. And then, the road is closed based on when the towns fill up with tractor-trailers. And that's how they care where they should close the roads. So the town fills up, and then they go next to the next town the close the road. That's interesting as well. Vince and Rod, for one second, don't you have a program where you work together to develop a lot of these things? You communicate back and forth? Where notifications are given from the DOT to Wal-Mart? I thought I remembered that when those in Cheyenne and toured the TMC.

Rod Schmalhaus
Yes I remember very well, I actually attended the TIM meeting with you in Cheyenne. What we have and what you're referring to, we call ECAR, or Enhanced Citizen-Assisted Reporting. It's a program we developed where we solicit feedback from drivers, whether commercial or private citizens, to help us report accurate and timely road conditions. We've work with Rod, and we're hoping that someday they will work with us to get some information from the Wal-Mart drivers. We have a number of commercial vehicle operators and commercial firms that have dedicated a good portion of the staff to the program. We give them a telephone number they can call in. They can report conditions and we will feed them information back. It's a really effective program. I think we have, if memory serves, we're in the neighborhood of 700 to 800 volunteers helping us report road conditions.

Paul Jodoin
I think that is a tremendous opportunity, programs like that, across the country where the commercial freight people are interacting with the DOT, the traffic management centers, where we're giving notification to the freight community, and the freight community is helping us out. [It is especially helpful] when we don't have equipment, which is most of the country outside of a metropolitan area. There's an opportunity to work together, and I hope we can find a way to close the gap on that.

Jennifer Symoun
All right, thank you Vince and Rod, and thank you Paul for further enlightening us there. We will move on to the next presentation, given by Paul Clark of the Florida DOT. Paul, you can go ahead when you're ready.

Paul Clark
Thank you for allowing me to speak today. I am going to talk a little bit on the American Association of State & Highway Traffic Officials (AASHTO), and specifically their Towing and Recovery Partnership program that we have ongoing there. What AASHTO does is they have a technology implementation group which looks at and decides where there are high-payoff areas that DOTs work with, and where we can get big benefits and spread good practices around the nation. What we try to do in the TIG or the Technology Implementation Group is accelerate the adoption of these good programs. And we try to go to our peers at the US transportation agencies and educate them on the practices. I will be talking about one of those practices today.

Today, the technical group were going to be talking about is the Towing and Recovery Service Partnership group. What we've done in that group, and we've had an initial meeting and several teleconferences to discuss different things that are ongoing around the nation with towing practices. But what we're doing is we are looking at how to help between the public and private partnerships, we're looking at different protocols, clearance time strategies and training and incentives to quickly clear large-vehicle crashes on the interstate/road systems.We're always looking at responder safety as Paul stated earlier, but we're looking at responders and trying to educate them on these practices. A lot of our towing laws, and classifications, our records and such have not changed in quite some time in several states, or in most of our states around the country. They have not kept up with how our freight moves and the size of equipment and such as that, and the needed equipment to move those larger vehicles. Also what we're looking at is specific equipment, because the equipment that we had 20 years ago is totally different than the towing equipment used now. And also the operator training is something else we look at as well. What we're trying to do with the initiatives that we have ongoing is we're trying to identify those practices that will help us safely restore the traffic flow after an incident. What we're trying to do is get that crashed vehicle off the road as quickly as possible.

Some of the things, like I stated, that we've already got some highly innovative programs in several states- they're working. They are cutting down clearance times. What that does to the freight community is by us quickly clearing those incidents; it allows that freight to get moving again. In other words, we don't want one crashed semi-truck holding up another hundred in the queue, waiting and delaying those on-time deliveries and such. It's helping it make it safer for responders because we're cutting down on the time that the roadway is closed. It's also, every minute we can cut down on the incident being out there, we're cutting down the likelihood of a secondary incident. It increases the safety and mobility for all. The big thing that we want to identify, and were trying to identify with our state partners and others, is that even though we have several innovative programs around the nation - and we're gonna discuss a few of those in a little more [time] - you can actually take these programs and customize them to your jurisdiction's need. There might be something in the Florida program that's very innovative that will really work well in your area, and at the same time and at the same time there could be a component in the Georgia program that you want to combine as well. So it's totally customizable to your area and the people you work with. The AASHTO team - and just to let you know that at the end of the presentation you'll see a lot of names of people that are involved with this TIG group - we're all available to help you out. If you have any specific questions not only can you call me, but you can call anybody on the team and they're all willing to help out because we want to promote quick clearance.

"Rapid response with quick clearance is the single most effective incident management strategy." And that's found in FHWA's document there. What we have to do as responders is we understand that there are responsible parties for [certain things], but at the same time we understand the movement of goods and people is of primary importance. We're trying to clear the roadway as quickly as possible so we can get everybody back to moving. If you can look here, we have a lot of experiences out there- here's a semi-truck rollover. In the previous slide you saw that the wind caused all the trucks to blow over. What we have in a lot of places is rotational tows. In other words, the law enforcement will have a list of tow-truck companies and they'll call the next company on the list. Some of the issues you can run into with that situation is that maybe that company doesn't have the proper equipment for to upright that vehicle. We make sure we have the proper tools on the roadway to clear that road quickly. There are disincentives in a lot of these programs. You can see here, this is a 25 ton Holmes 750; it was standard in the industry in the 1960s and '70s. You see these on the road today but there's been a lot of changes; there's 50 ton rotational wreckers, 30 ton rotational wreckers, there's straight wreckers. The needs have really changed over the years. Like I said, a lot of our legislation has not kept up with the requirements that we've got on the road. We do need to make some changes with some of the laws to make sure we're classifying these larger wreckers.

Even though a company might have the proper equipment to do the job, one of the biggest things that we stress as part of this is we need the operators to be trained as well. If you look here, they're trying to upright this vehicle, and even though we have the proper equipment, due to improper connections to the vehicles and such we've actually turned over two of the wreckers, which causes even more delay trying to get this thing cleared. A lot of these programs are performance-based programs. What we do is we have certain standards that we're asking the wreckers to hold up to. In other words, we set time criteria for these wreckers to respond. We also set equipment criteria for them to respond with. In other words, we don't want just the wrecker to come out and respond, and then him get there and upright the load and then we determine that we need a sweeper or a dumpster to haul it off. We make the requirements up front. So whenever he responds he's responding as a total package. We specify those things, those requirements for the participating operators. It's performance-based. They have to perform to achieve the bonuses. One thing I do want to state is that the bonuses do not cover for the tow - the tow company still goes to the responsible party for the cost of removing the large pieces of equipment.

Like I said, it's performance-based incentives for quick clearance. Professional towing and recovery companies are paid a bonus for expedited clearance. We're going to show an example for the bonus program in a few minutes. Here are three of the states who have some excellent programs. One is Florida's program; it came into the conception in 2004 and to my knowledge it was one of the first programs around the nation. It's called the RISC program, or the "Rapid Incident Scene Clearance" program. That program has since gone statewide in Florida. The next program we've got is the Georgia TRIP program that came into effect in 2007. It's the "Towing and Recovery Incentive Program". It mirrored a lot of things of the Florida RISC program, but they did make some additional requirements for training for the operators and such, and has increased the quality of the process there. Also in 2007, the "Block Buster" program in Washington State came into effect. Like I said before, it's specification-based requirements for participants. In each one of these states, you spell out the particular equipment that they need. For example, in Florida we require a 50 ton and a 30 ton wrecker and one of them has to be a rotator. By specifying these particular pieces of equipment, we ensure that the proper piece of equipment is on scene at the right time. Also the personnel - we ensure that there's a certain level of training of these personnel, and that they know what they were doing with the pieces of equipment. In one of the slides we saw before, even though they had the proper equipment they didn't have the proper training so we ended up having two wreckers that turned over. Training is a key component there as well. One of the things we also have to do is not only ensure that the wrecker operators are knowledgeable, and they know what's going on. We also have to inform the responders of the programs so that they understand what the programs are for, what these programs can do, and so that they understand this might not be a typical rotational wrecker situation. I need to call in a specific equipment for a large vehicle. It ensures that we get the proper equipment out there when it's needed.

What we're trying to do with these performance-based towing program is cut the response time down. That's one of the things that can take quite some time; whenever you have a major incident, your calling in a specific piece of equipment, a company could say "Yeah, I have that equipment," but it will take them anywhere from 90 minutes to even longer to get that piece of equipment on the scene, just depending upon where it is at in the jurisdiction. What we will do is require specific response time for the equipment to show up to the crash scene. We also provide a roadway clearance time, where we say once you're given the scene and told to operate, here's the timeframe within which you have to be able to clear that incident. We're trying to cut down and get these things off the side of the road, so even if we open up as many travel lanes as possible and put an incident on the shoulder, whatever we need to do to get the travel lanes open. We're trying to clear that total incident in time. What it results in is a dollars savings from the congestion reduction. Also, it allows the people to get the freight where it needs to go- that's key.

This is an example of why these programs work. As you see here we have an accident that occurred around 1:21 PM. The wrecker backs up and he's there, he's starting to get hooked up. He's relocating at 1:23 PM. He's pulling the equipment out of the way. Then we have a sweeper coming in at 1:26 PM, clearing the roadway of any debris or anything that could cause tire damage. And then we have the roadway ready for traffic by 1:28 PM. That's really important, if you look at the total timeframe, the hookup is 1:21 PM, and we've got it cleared by 1:28 PM - seven minutes. All of that is based on having the proper equipment on scene when we are ready to go. We still need to ensure that the law enforcement and such can do their crash reports and such as that, and they have adequate time to do that. But with photogrammetry and different things like that out there now, they can go in and take pictures and do all of their calculations back in the office with a computer. If you notice that we don't have the actual vehicle off-scene, if you look in the upper left-hand corner of the picture, the tractor-trailer or whatever was in this particular scene is still there but it's off the road and all lanes are clear. We can work that off of the travel lanes. The travel lanes are opened back up to traffic.

If you look at the clearance times, this is really impressive. Georgia has done some great things with capturing data and other information on their program. If you look at the initial total clearance time in 2007 they were running about 269 minutes to clear a major incident that involved a semi-truck or such as that. You can see there are variations over the years with the best year being in 2009 with 89 minutes. In 2012 it's around 105 [minutes], but you can see a drastic reduction in the time it takes to clear those incidents. That's really key. There are a lot of factors on these large incidents, and that can affect these times, but Georgia has done a great job of cutting down their total incident clearance times and getting the roadway back opened to traffic. That's key in keeping the traffic and freight moving.

They also did an evaluation in 2011 - this is just to put dollars to it - they estimate they're saving $456,000 per incident. That's just amazing. That's from reductions in congestion and such as that. [There was a] savings of 71%. They did a financial benefit of TRIP of $9 million for 2008 and 2009 with an 11:1 benefit. The amount that we're playing as far as the incentives, the benefit far outweighs that small amount that we're putting into these programs.

This gives an incentive benchmark idea that we're utilizing Florida. What happens is we have an event occur, and it is identified as a RISC event, or Rapid Incident Scene Clearance event. We notify the RISC provider and he has 60 minutes to respond. If he responds within that 60 minute benchmark, we give him a flat rate of $600 just for getting there in expedited fashion. And that is with all the equipment that we require in the contract. After he arrives on scene, you'll notice we have a little dead spot [in the diagram], we might have something ongoing where the trooper is looking at the scene, managing the scene, and getting it prepared. What's occurring then is your regular operators are looking at the loads, seeing how he can hook it up. At that point, no clocks are running except for your total incident time. No clocks are running against the contractor for that. Once we get the scene where it's available and we can give it to the wrecker operator, that's when the next clock starts when we give them Notice to Proceed. At that time, in Florida were giving them 90 minutes to clear the major incident. If they can meet that clearance time, we give them a $2,500 bonus. In certain situations we have to add additional specialized equipment and we have that pre-identified in our contract as well. If we call that for that specialized equipment we'll actually give them an additional $1,000 bonus. That's equipment above and beyond what's on the standard call-in. If we meet that 90 minute goal or if they go over 90 minutes and they don't go over 180 minutes after that, we don't give them any bonus. They don't receive that $2,500 bonus or the $600 flat fee- like I said this is an incentive-based program. If they can't meet the times, and sometimes there's extenuating circumstances and we understand that, but if they can't meet those times we're not going to give them that bonus. It's all about quick clearance. If they go over the 180 minute mark, we can't assess the liquidated damages there. In most situations in Florida, to my knowledge, we've never assessed liquidated damages because sometimes we run into issues that we did not identify initially whenever we called this RISC event. For example, all of a sudden we get a RISC event, and we call the contractor out and it ends up being fatality investigation - that messes the whole timeframe up. In these particular situations, we generally waive those liquidated damages. But we do have the ability to assess liquidated damages on the wrecker operators.

This shows what's occurring in Florida as far as our incident times. We do not have any pre-RISC data to my knowledge. In 2009, on average whenever we had to call in a RISC event, we're running about 156.3 minutes. If you look there in the orange, generally our clearance time once we get that Notice to Proceed, we're down to about 60.7 minutes. If you look at 2010 and 2011, we dropped quite a bit down to 135.3 minutes. That's a big jump there. If you look there, one of the big areas we shaved time in is our Notice to Proceed - and that's really key. We need to get them on scene. We need officers to do their job but at the same time we need to give them the reins to take hold of that vehicle and get it out of there as quickly as possible. RISC has been very successful in Florida and it continues to be that way. We have some great people around the state who deploy it out very effectively.

These are the Towing and Recovery Service Partnerships Lead States Teams. Bill Legg, of Washington State, he's a great guy and he'll be willing to help. Paul Jodoin of course, and Gary Ogletree in Tennessee- they're doing some great things in TN. David Fink in Texas- they're looking at doing some things in TX as well. Emanuel Jackson with Georgia Department of Transportation is a great asset. And Gary Millsaps with Delcan, Gary used to be over the Georgia program but he left his consulting firm several years ago. But Gary's a great asset and he's willing to help in these areas as well. Please feel free to call any of us, and we will be glad to assist however we can. If you want more information we have a webpage up for our group. You can go to, and look for our TRSP webpage. If you need us to come out and meet with your practitioners, we will be glad to do that as well.

Jennifer Symoun
All right, well thank you Paul. Our final presentation will be given by Rusty James, of the Missouri Department of Transportation. Rusty, go ahead when you're ready.

Rusty James
Thank you. I want to say how much I appreciate the opportunity to help out with this. The Missouri Department of Transportation has always been concerned about keeping traffic flowing on our highways, and in particular our main corridors, Interstate 70, Interstate 44, and then Interstate 35 and now 71-Highway. There are a number of major corridors that we are concerned about. Back in December of 2006, there was a major weather event which, in effect, shut down I-70 and portions of I-44. When it happened, there wasn't much in the way of planning - we had vehicles that ran out of fuel, there was need for food and water, things like that. There's been a big push in managing traffic incidents on the highways, in the metro areas and across the state.

One of the main methods that we use to get information out to motorists, and in particular the commercial vehicle operators because they do amount to a large portion of the traffic that's on our major corridors across the state, is the Missouri Traveler Information Map. That map, it's online at that web site shown on the slide. It shows detours due to roadwork, incidents, weather, things like that. It also has links to KC Scout, Gateway Guide, and Ozarks Traffic which are the three main traffic management centers across the state of Missouri. You'll also find links to Motor Carrier Service, and I will get to that in the second. It has a great deal of information that is easily available and easy to understand. When they get on that map, they can tell if there's a problem and what they need to do to re-route what they are doing.

The Motor Carrier Services at MoDOT has a lot of information for our carriers. They are continually forcing information out so they have the latest information, as close to real-time as we can. There's a lot of time-sensitive freight out there, and the longer that freight is held up on the highway due to an incident, the higher the cost to society. We are very aware of that and we try to make sure we get the information out as close to real-time as we can. On the Motor Carrier Service website, which is off the link of the MoDOT website, there's another map that I'll show you in a second - it has to do with restrictions and closures for commercial vehicles - that's overweight, oversized loads- so we don't end up with loads that are larger than usual getting somewhere they can't get out of. There's also information on the safe parking locations, that's particularly important when we have a problem. In 2011 during the winter, we ended up closing I-70 all the way across the state. Not only does that cause a big problem, just getting traffic off the highway, but then trying to find a place where we can put it. Commercial vehicles are a little tough to park- you just can't pull them off and park them like you can a car. There are locations on there for safe parking. As you can see there's quite a few oversized, overweight restricted roadways in Missouri. Those are things they want to make sure you're aware of.

Also on the Motor Carrier website, they have the latest news updates, anything at all that pertains to commercial vehicle operation that the state can force out, we try to do that. Another way that we provide information to motor carriers is through our dynamic message signs. In the metro areas, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Springfield, there are a number of message boards we that we use regularly as part of the Traffic Management Centers. We also have message boards across our major corridors on I-70 between Kansas City and St. Louis, on I-44 between St. Louis and Springfield, and then on over to the state line. We also have them on I-35 and I-29 between Kansas City and Iowa so that we are able to get that information out as quickly as we can, and provide information if there's a need to detour a route so the information is out there quickly. They can make decisions based on what has occurred and hopefully not hold up the freight, or cause any further congestion than is necessary. The message boards I think are one of the best things we've done across the state as far as providing information, because it does force information out.

Freight and motor carrier drivers are a lot like the other motorist we encounter on the roadways. They don't get their information in the traditional forms. They are not listening always to AM/FM radio; we don't have the ability to get information out to them as easily as we used to be, especially with social media and things like that. So we have the message boards out there so we can force the information out in a form that we are pretty much guaranteed they will see. The Motor Carrier also uses the system of e-updates. We have a database that has about 1,000 industry subscribers that we force information out to. Whenever there's an incident that will tie up the roadway for any significant period of time, this information is forced out. It is largely e-mail based. It is a large database, and one of the big partners in that is the Missouri Trucking Association, and also the Missouri Dump Truckers Association. They use the information a lot to keep their clients on the road and operating. It also goes to large trucking companies. I know that Wal-Mart gets this information and some of the other larger trucking companies in Missouri and outside of Missouri so that they can route their drivers electronically so it minimizes the congestion, and minimizes their downtime due to any incident on the road. MoDOT is also getting ready to do a constant contact process, a lot like retailers use. It is still e-mail based, it still forces out information to the subscribers, but some of the information that gets sent out there is information that the drivers may not want. Or, some of the people that receive these may not want them. So, it's a simple system to unsubscribe if they don't need or want the information. One of the things in Kansas City and St. Louis also, we have web alerts for our traffic management centers, KC Scout and Gateway Guide. By subscribing to those, if the drivers know they're just passing through the Kansas City or St. Louis area, and they do it on a regular basis, they can predefine their routes. If there is an incident that occurs, the information is sent out electronically so they know that they are not going to be able to use the regular route. We certainly don't want them paying attention to a mobile device while they're operating a motor vehicle any more than we want anyone in a car to do that. But if they have the opportunity to check the information before they get in the truck, it can minimize some hassle on the road. The constant contact system will be out shortly and MoDOT will let everybody know when that's coming out.

We also use social media quite a bit. MoDOT and Motor Carrier Services both have Facebook pages and we know that the majority of the public uses social media more than any other traditional form of information systems. So we are very aware of that and we try to make sure the information is out as quickly as we can, through social media. On Facebook, what they have found is the drivers pay more attention to the Motor Carriers webpage than the MoDOT webpage so we make sure we keep that updated with information to keep them moving on the road. We also use Twitter a lot. We use it in Kansas City and St. Louis, and the Ozarks Traffic Management Center. That's one of the things that's constantly updated if something is going on. It's automatically sent out through Twitter so that anybody that's following MoDOT or the Motor Carrier Twitter site can get the information they need as quickly as possible. Again the goal is to minimize the congestion, the minimize any time that they are down due to an incident on the roadway. In the Kansas City area especially, it's the one I'm most familiar with as far as the traffic management program and traffic incident management program - we have a good program and work close with our partners to mitigate incidents as quickly as we can. While that is going on, we know if were not providing the information to our customers in a fashion that we know they're going to get it, whether it is a traditional media source or whether it's social media, we know that the cost to society is extremely high. We try to minimize that as best as we can and keep everybody as aware as they can be.

We also - I titled this "traditional" because it is a radio source - but the people traveling on the roadways, not just motor carriers but anybody, we find that traditional radio, AM/FM is not their main source of information. They are listening to XM radio, and since that is a source of information Motor Carriers tries to make sure that Sirius/XM gets the information regarding any closures or restrictions or incidents, so it's forced out on the radio to anyone who subscribes to Sirius radio and listens to the Road Dog Trucking station. It's another way we can get the information out as quickly as we can. I know I'm talking about MoDOT, but KC Scout is the Traffic Management Center for the Kansas City area which is a cooperative with KDOT. In the Kansas City area, in addition to what MoDOT does with Motor Carrier Services, Kansas provides the 511 system which also has a traveler map. They have a system of e-updates to anyone who subscribes. Again, Wal-Mart and some of the other larger trucking companies do subscribe to that information. That information is the forced out as close to real-time as it can be, just like MoDOT does so that the motor carriers driving across Missouri into Kansas or from Kansas into Missouri gets the most up-to-date information as quickly as they can.

I have to take time to make a plug for the Traffic Incident Management Network and that is a computer-based network of people that are out here managing traffic incidents across the country. I put the website down there, and I encourage everybody that is listening on this webinar, if they haven't already joined the TIM network that they should do that. I think it gives everybody who is involved in managing incidents, whether they're a practitioner like me, one of our customers, or someone in the trucking industry that has certainly a stake in managing traffic incidents better, I encourage you to join that. There's a monthly newsletter that comes out - it's very informational. It provides the information on training, technology, recent incidents, things like that. Things that are really interesting to anyone on the highways and dealing with incidents. I encourage everyone, it takes just a second to sign up, and it's a very valuable resource. And with that, that's all I have.

Questions & Answers

Jennifer Symoun
Alright, thank you Rusty. We will now move into the question-and-answer session. I'll go to the questions posted online. I do encourage you to keep typing questions as you think of them. So Rusty, we do actually have a question for you that we'll go to. Do truck carriers sometimes provide information to Missouri DOT about traffic congestion locations that in turn the Missouri DOT is able to share with the public?

Rusty James
Yes, Motor Carriers does receive information from our partners, it's kind of a two-way street. Regarding congestion, we make sure if we get information from one of the subscribers that there is an incident or traffic is heavy, especially when we have the ability to post information on our message boards or check that information using our camera system. We get that information out on the message board as quickly as we can. I would say that the State of Missouri has a great partnership with the Trucking Association. I personally work very closely with the Missouri Trucking Association, they're one of our big partners in the Traffic Incident Management program. We share information both ways.

Jennifer Symoun
Thank you. The next question - Paul Jodoin, I'll start with you but then the other presenters can jump in as well - can you describe the process by which transportation professionals involved in traffic incident management determine how long an incident will take to get cleared and how that information is shared with the traveling public? Many truck freight moves are time sensitive so good near-real-time traveler information may provide very useful information and significant benefits to commercial vehicle operators.

Paul Jodoin
There is no hard and fast science on that. The experience of the operators who show up on-site - Paul and Rusty may have other views on this - but mostly it is the experience of the responders who show up on-site. They'll show up and say it's going to be an hour, or two hours. Hopefully, and not always, it's actually a challenge that we have together as a community, both freight and traffic management, is to get that information from the responders to the traffic operations centers so it can be distributed to the other centers and to the public. That doesn't always happen, but it's usually a ball-park estimate to the TMC that does its best to push it out. There's a lot of opportunity for improvement.

Jennifer Symoun
Do any of the other presenters want to respond to that?

Paul Clark
This is Paul Clark, I agree with Paul Jodoin on that. It's estimations, and we generally don't put estimations out to the public- we just put the closure information out. The estimations are based upon responder experience, and being able to look at the scene and identify the needs for equipment and such as that. It is key to coordinate that with our traffic management center so we can post accurate information for the travelers to make an informed decision.

Rusty James
One of the things, we try to get everybody to follow the NIMS requirement and that's every 15 minutes size-up. That doesn't always happen, but if we can do that we try to get the information as often as we can, and based on the information and the equipment, we use the experiences out there to come up with as close an estimate as possible and continually update that so the information were putting out is as close to real-time as we can get.

Paul Jodoin
And where we might not provide estimates directly, and I think Paul Clark is right we don't see that as an estimate for the duration of an incident, but we will consider how far back we go with the notifications- for example we may go further back with message boards depending on what we estimate the duration to be. Will also reach out to adjoining states- my experience with Massachusetts, if I know it's gonna be two hours I'll reach out as far as Connecticut to let people know that the interstate is closed or there's a huge impact. From center to center or state to state, you do that on the estimated time, but we typically don't say that the estimated time is since you'll probably be lying anyways.

Vince Garcia
This is Vince with a comment from Wyoming. Like I heard some of the other gentlemen say, we don't typically give out estimates because we have been criticized if we were wrong in the past. We will make estimates if we think the interstate will be closed in excess of eight hours. If those events happen, we will coordinate with the National Weather Service and they'll use their emergency broadcasting system to get that out to the public.

Jennifer Symoun
Thank you. Paul Jodoin, another question I'll start off with you and then turn over to the other presenters: for the benefit of the "freight-focused" attendees on the webinar, could you describe the primary TIM concerns emergency responders have during major incidents (especially ones involving fatalities) and the primary concerns transportation stakeholders, particularly the organization owning/maintaining the road (usually state DOT), have during major incidents? How are the various goals emergency responders and state DOTs have when dealing with major incidents mutually addressed?

Paul Jodoin
That's more than one question. The first question was...?

Jennifer Symoun
What are the concerns that the emergency responders have, and then what are the concerns of the transportation stakeholders?

Paul Jodoin
The first concern that the responders have is the safety of the responders- they're all taught that. The second concern is the safety of any victims that may be on scene. And the third concern, we hope, is any motorists that may be in the traffic. So, proper traffic controls are set up, after the safety issues are addressed on scene, to minimize any secondary accidents. And then they move on - and Rusty is probably better - we are concerned about getting the road opened. The transportation officials are looking to get the road open. I'll leave it there and let maybe Rusty or Paul jump in.

Rusty James
This is Rusty. In working with our partners in the Kansas City area, the first concern of fire and police personnel is life-safety issues - it does have to be considered. And then we worry about the safety of the people. Oftentimes the police department, if it's an investigation, they are worried about maintaining evidence, gathering evidence, getting information that is going to make for an airtight case. What we have done in the Kansas City area is work with them to help them gather that information, and not compromise their investigation while still allowing us to open the road. We provide a lot of mapping equipment and training for our law enforcement partners so they can go out and mark their evidence and we can get the roadway back open as quickly as possible, and they can do their map and complete their investigation at a time that causes less traffic backup or inconvenience for the motorists. It makes it safer for them and safer for our personnel, and minimizes the secondary collisions and gets the highway back open for customers.

Jennifer Symoun
Anybody else?

All right, we have a question for Rusty: would you share your experiences on gaining permission to move particular loads off the roadway from owners?

Rusty James
We have been successful at times in removing, as Paul said in Florida, sometimes we just need to get things off the road. That can often be accomplished without doing any more damage to the equipment, that being the truck, or to the load. We work closely with the towing industry and the owners of that freight to make sure that while we protect their load, we are able to move it and we can get the roadway open as quickly as possible. Depending on the training that the towing industry has, the operator at the scene, and the equipment that they have out there, we hope they have the right stuff, we can oftentimes move a load and get a highway back open and allow them to work in an area that causes less inconvenience, whether it a median, or just minimizing the lane closures so we can keep the traffic flowing. The owners are pretty understanding when it's explained to them properly, and it is shown that we can hopefully salvage their load, as opposed to having it destroyed by having to drag something or moving things improperly.

Paul Jodoin
I will jump in - this is Paul Jodoin - in many areas of the country we do ask a responsible party if they can get someone there, sooner rather than later, if that local jurisdiction doesn't like what they hear, they're not actually asking for permission anymore, they're going to move the vehicle. In many locations if they deem it to be an impact on public safety, which having a road closed is, they will move it. They will move it with their own people, or by whatever means they determine necessary. That is called Authority Removal Laws that many states have. Probably about half the states have the authority to just move that vehicle without permission in the interest of public safety.

Jennifer Symoun
Thank you. Well, I think we have addressed everything in there, whether by the presenters typing in responses or answering on the phone. It looks like we have another question coming in. We will give a second for that to come in.

Rusty James
This is Rusty. Can I interject something? I want to make sure, I see the question and I know it came from Kansas Federal Highway and KDOT. I want to make sure that was the answer they were looking for, that I hit the right topic, as opposed to, there have been times when we've had loads, not necessarily incident-related loads, but other loads that because of the type of load that it is and the impact on traffic, that we work with a carriers to move things off the highway - especially if we have something coming through at rush hour or an oversize load - where we move them off the highway to a safe location until we can get through with rush-hour so that we minimize the impact on traffic and improve safety for everyone traveling around it.

Jennifer Symoun
It looks like based on the response that Kansas just typed in you did give them the response they were looking for.

I think that is all of the questions we have. I don't see anything else. If anybody does think of anything while I'm reading this last bit of information, please feel free to continue to type it in. I do want to thank all of our presenters for presenting at today's seminar. I also want to thank everybody in attendance. The recording will be available online within a few weeks- I will send out an email when it's available.

As a reminder, if you are an AICP member and would like to receive 1.5 Certification Maintenance credits for attending this seminar, please make sure you were signed in today with your first and last name or type your first and last name into the chat box if you are attending with a group of people. As a reminder, this seminar is not yet on the AICP calendar, but as soon as it is available I will send out an email and let everybody know. Please download the evaluation form and email it to me after you have completed it. Please also download the CM Credit instructions if you are unsure of how to obtain your credits for today's seminar.

The next seminar will be held on September 19 and will be about Integrating Sustainability Analysis into Freight Transportation Projects and Programs. Please visit the Talking Freight web site shown on the slide on the screen to register for this webinar.

I encourage you to join the Freight Planning LISTSERV if you have not already done so.
Enjoy the rest of your day!

Updated: 10/20/2015
HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000