The Lifesavers National Conference on Highway Safety Priorities was held in Orlando, Florida, June 14-16, 2012. It gets much of its direction from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the topics for discussion included occupant protection, bicycle/motorcycle/pedestrian safety, roadway safety, criminal justice, distracted driving, impaired driving, older drivers, and traffic incident management. Traffic incident management was a new track this year. This track included presentations by Angie Kremer from the Michigan Department of Transportation, Dayo Akinyemi from the Michigan Department of Transportation, and Richard Beaubien from Beaubien Engineering. Angie Kremer’s presentation focused on the use of photogrammetry to assist in quick clearance of traffic incident scenes. Dayo Akinyemi provided information on the Michigan Department of Transportation Southeast Michigan Transportation Operations Center and the use of closed circuit television cameras, dynamic message signs, and other Intelligent Transportation Systems technologies to provide safe, quick clearance of incidents. The Center is co-located with the Michigan State Police dispatch operation, and the service patrol assists 50,000 motorists annually. He also noted the importance of partnerships with other agencies.
Richard Beaubien provided a history of the traffic incident management program in Metro Detroit, and he noted the importance of Responder Safety Workshops, Table Top Exercises, and Partnering Workshops in bringing various disciplines together for the common goals of safe, quick clearance. Some lessons learned included: 1) State DOT and Police partners change approximately every two years, 2) Emergency managers are better at running table top exercises than State DOT personnel, 3) First responders have a more significant role in managing the incident scene than transportation officials, 4) Learning how to share transportation operations information means safe response and quick clearance of traffic incidents.
Walter Kraft from Vannase Hangen Brustlin in Newark, New Jersey, summarized a survey of Regional Traffic Incident Management by the Transportation Research Board Committee on Regional Transportation Operations. The survey found that funding for regional traffic incident management activities comes from State Transportation Funds (56%), Regional Transportation Funds (24%), and Local Funds (18%). Other funding sources included federal funding from CMAQ, STP, and NHS. Challenges noted in the survey were getting participation from stakeholders with differing goals and resources, funding, education, involvement of towing services, and keeping the media involved. Successful practices included a response vehicle for severe incidents dispatched with a trained incident manager, joint training of responders, and co-location of dispatchers. One of the survey conclusions was a need and desire for a more consistent and structured approach to and funding for traffic incident management at the regional level.
Laurie Matkowski from the Delaware Regional Transportation Planning Commission reported on the traffic incident management program in the nine county Philadelphia region. The Delaware Regional Planning Traffic Incident Management Program includes Traffic Incident Management Task Forces, Interactive Detour Route Mapping, and Regional Intermodal Information Sharing. The Incident Management Task Forces are organized in eight different portions of the region, generally by corridor. The Task Forces improve coordinated response, foster interaction among stakeholders, identify and address critical needs, and give other organizational perspectives. Typical Task Force activities include quarterly meetings, elected chairpersons, rotating venue, a contact list, and an action plan. The Interactive Detour Route Mapping is an internet application that provides access to official New Jersey DOT and Pennsylvania Detour Routes. It provides information for five Pennsylvania counties and eight New Jersey counties. The Regional Intermodal Information Sharing provides timely and clear incident notifications and information on the transportation situation. It broadcasts situational information to a wide array of agencies and improves knowledge of the “big picture”. It reduces the time and cost of obtaining information during emergencies.
Walter Dunn from Dunn Engineering gave a presentation on Assuring Traffic Safety at Planned Special Events. He defined a Planned Special Event as a public activity with a scheduled time, duration, and location that may impact the normal operation of the surface transportation system due to increased travel demand and/or reduced capacity attributed to event staging. Planned special event categories are discrete/recurring event at a permanent venue, continuous event, street use event, regional /multi venue event, and rural event. The goals for managing travel at planned special events are achieving predictability, ensuring safety, maximizing efficiency, and meeting public and event patron expectations. The traffic management plan components are site access and parking plan, pedestrian access plan, traffic flow plan, and traffic control plan. Some of the traffic management techniques to consider are route marker /destination signing, portable changeable message signs, three lane operation for peak traffic flows, highway advisory radio, establishment of a command center, left turn restrictions, radio communications, aerial surveillance, exclusive bus roadway, specific roadway assignment, traffic flow control, metering system for bus operations and parking operations, and on-site traffic management. Traffic incident management and safety considerations may include portable lighting, increase or initiate service patrols, and traffic incident quick clearance initiatives. Event managers should consider arrival strategies that encourage patrons to arrive early before an event and departure strategies that encourage patrons to stay late after an event
Details of these presentations and other presentations may be found at http://www.lifesaversconference.org