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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

DOT Senior Executives Convene to Address Traffic Incident Safety

Friday, October 26, 2012

The need for improved traffic incident management is urgent. Each year, dozens of emergency responders, highway workers, and tow operators are killed while responding to traffic incidents; countless more are injured or experience near-miss situations. Moving traffic threatens the safety of first responders as they provide medical assistance to victims and investigate the cause of a crash. Highway workers and tow operators are similarly at risk as they clear the scene and work to resume normal operations. Unexpected slowing, stopping, or distraction caused by the primary crash scene represent hazards to other drivers as well.

In June of this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) hosted a gathering of leaders committed to improving traffic safety at crash and incident scenes on highways around the nation. Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center, was at the forefront of this initiative. Due to Volpe's solid relationships within DOT and a proven track record in successfully organizing important events, senior DOT officials looked to Volpe to manage this critical event. Cassandra Allwell, transportation analyst, and Luisa Paiewonsky, community planner, from Volpe's Center for Transportation Policy and Planning, worked closely with staff from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to coordinate and facilitate the Senior Executive Summit on Transportation and Public Safety.

The two-day summit was held on June 26 and 27, 2012, at DOT Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The forum of senior-level, multi-disciplinary executives representing the transportation, law enforcement, fire and rescue, and emergency medical services communities addressed the need to improve communication, coordination, and training opportunities for responders who must quickly treat victims, clear debris, and clear the roadway during traffic incidents and crashes. The group collaborated to identify new strategies and methods for improving collective and individual response efforts among the agencies and staff, both before incidents and on the scene.

The presence of top U.S. DOT and FHWA leadership underscored the national importance of this issue. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and FHWA Deputy Administrator Greg Nadeau, Executive Director Jeff Paniati, Associate Administrator Jeff Lindley, and Director of Transportation Operations Mark Kehrli participated in the summit and committed to supporting safe, quick traffic incident response on the nation's roadways.

Leaders from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Volunteer Fire Council, the National Association of State Emergency Medical Service Officials, several state Departments of Transportation, and several state police agencies joined the summit, making for an unprecedented level of multi-disciplinary focus on highway safety.

Over two days, participants at the summit discussed innovative practices and recommended improvements in traffic incident management policies, legislation, training and outreach. Key recommendations include the following:

  • Deployment of a national traffic incident management responder training program.
  • Promotion of a national deployment of traffic incident management performance measures.
  • Enhanced consistency of, and compliance with, TIM legislation.
  • Development of an executive-level group to continue to provide guidance and oversight as the recommendations are implemented.

A summary of these recommendations and the proceedings and findings can be found in the report,"Senior Executive Transportation & Public Safety Summit: National Traffic Incident Management Leadership & Innovation Roadmap for Success," written by Volpe's David Pearlman.

U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood speaks at the summit. (Volpe photo)

U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood speaks at the summit. (Volpe photo)