A Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) task force released a report containing seven priority recommendations to improve the quick and safe resolution of traffic incidents regionwide. The Federal Highway Administration estimates 52 to 58 percent of motorist delays nationwide can be attributed to crashes and vehicle breakdowns.
The Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Enhancement Task Force presented its recommendations to area officials on the COG Board of Directors at its November meeting.
“Today, COG received a comprehensive report with actionable recommendations that will help improve commutes and safety throughout our region,” said COG Board Chairman and Loudoun County Supervisor Matt Letourneau, who proposed the year-long study. “I look forward to the implementation of these actions and the continued, enhanced cooperation between agencies to reduce congestion and improve the quality of life in this region.”
The board endorsed the report’s recommendations, which emphasized the need to update regional agreements and achieve more regional consistency of TIM laws. Specifically, the report suggested a COG-led effort to develop a TIM mutual aid operations plan and called on jurisdictions to review and update their laws to ensure concepts like “move over,” which requires motorists to give safe clearance to first responders, are included consistently regionwide.
The task force also called for legal and policy changes to designate transportation incident responders as emergency responders, allowing the use of flashing lights and sirens to get to incident scenes more quickly. In addition, they recommended that federal government, state, and local jurisdictions negotiate an agreement for deployment of roadway service patrols on federal parkways and other critical major roads not currently covered.
The COG Board voted to contact TIM decision makers across the region in the coming weeks to start work on these items, including beginning a review of the Potomac River Bridges Towing Compact.
Seven task force Traffic Incident Management (TIM) recommendations:
- Update regional agreements and improve consistency of TIM laws and policies.
- Coordinate regional annual TIM self-assessments.
- Encourage and coordinate TIM trainings to promote best practices.
- Launch outreach initiatives that better engage the public and officials on TIM.
- Create a regional TIM program.
- Designate transportation incident responders as emergency responders regionwide.
- Expand roadway service patrols to federal parkways and other critical major roads not currently covered.
Beyond the seven key recommendations, the task force pulled from the experiences of peer regions to identify additional TIM best practices and strategies for future investigation and discussion.
According to the COG report, metropolitan Washington experiences disruptions to the transportation system daily due to incidents. The region’s high traffic volumes and growing population and economy mean the area roadway system has little spare capacity to absorb traffic incidents when they occur. Further, cross-border coordination among the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and local jurisdictions is often necessary to respond.
The TIME Task Force included representatives of police, fire, and emergency medical services, 9-1-1 services, transportation operations, public information, and towing/recovery from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. State and local transportation agencies, the National Park Service, toll roads, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) were also represented.
MORE: Traffic Incident Management Enhancement in the National Capital Region (Full Report)
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