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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

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Traffic Incident Management Benefit-Cost (TIM-BC) Tool

The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Office of Operations Research and Development (R&D) has developed a comprehensive benefit-cost estimation tool to assess various traffic incident management (TIM) strategies that are currently available. Given that incidents on highways can result in traffic congestion and wasted time, increased pollutants from carbon emissions, and damage to infrastructure, these strategies are critical for the improved management of road networks. Costs resulting from highway incidents are related to many factors, such as the magnitude of closures on roads or lanes and the amount of time it takes for responders to arrive.

Various types of TIM strategies have been implemented world-wide. In Version 1 of this tool, the research team focused exclusively on benefit-cost analyses associated with Safety Service Patrol to assist local, State, and Federal agencies with assessing the total value of an Safety Service Patrol program. In the updated Version 2, FHWA’s research team interviewed a project advisory committee to determine which TIM strategies are used widely by agencies. The eight most cost effective, commonly used TIM strategies were identified and then selected as the built-in TIM strategies for the new TIM-BC tool. These strategies are listed as follows:

The TIM-BC tool calculates program costs and benefits in terms of monetized equivalents of the measures of effectiveness, and provides an overall benefit-cost ratio of the program. The tool can be used to assess an expansion of an existing TIM programs, assess the value of creating a new TIM program, or compare alternatives.

At the heart of the TIM-BC tool is a database of five tables and a set of multiple regression equations for travel delay and fuel consumption estimation. The tables include information on travel delays for light and heavy duty vehicles, the percentage of truck traffic, average driver and police officer wages, and fuel costs. Data in these tables are derived directly from simulation-run results (travel delays and input data for fuel consumption computation) and publicly available sources (wages, fuel costs, traffic composition, and monetary conversion rates). The tool pulls data from these tables to complete computations related to the benefits and costs of the studied system. These computations employ a hybrid statistical-simulation methodology in which parameters obtained through regression analysis are combined with results from simulation runs to improve the fit of the regression model. The regression equations were developed for estimating travel delay for light-duty vehicles (passenger cars), travel delay of heavy-duty vehicles (including trucks), and fuel consumption for passenger cars. The TIM-BC tool is a simple and cost-effective scenario planning tool that is expected to help decision-makers evaluate the benefits and costs associated with service patrols before implementing solutions on the ground.


State department of transportation administrators, traffic operations engineers, traffic planners, and researchers.


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