USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

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

Executive Leadership Group on Traffic Incident Management

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Although highway crash fatalities are on the decline and the nation’s roads have never been safer, hazards still remain. Traffic incident management (TIM) has focused on policies and laws designed to clear roads of hazards quickly and efficiently. But effective management of crash scenes remains an elusive goal.

TIM techniques that can be deployed nationally are needed for the continuing problems of traffic delays and secondary crashes. The national leadership provided by the Executive Leadership Group on Traffic Incident Management is essential to maintaining broad awareness of and commitment to TIM deployment in all parts of the country.

The Challenge

The need for improved traffic incident management is urgent. Each year, hundreds of emergency responders, including highway workers, police, and fire and rescue personnel, and tow operators are injured, killed, or nearly struck while responding to traffic incidents. Unexpected slowing, stopping, or distraction caused by the primary crash scene represent hazards to other drivers and lead to costly delays. Accidents that block freeway lanes during peak use account for 4.2 billion hours of delay annually.

Emergency responders, often representing different agencies and jurisdictions, have different protocols, procedures, and communications. This makes it essential that they plan and train together, in a multi-disciplinary environment, long before they encounter one another at incident scenes.  A well-coordinated response to incidents results in safer outcomes and less congestion.

To address these challenges, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) charged the TIM Executive Leadership Group (ELG) with providing recommendations to accelerate and expand the national deployment of traffic incident management programs. The ELG is currently focusing on 12 action items that include the following:

  • Developing a clearer definition of secondary crashes and associated performance measures to be used throughout the nation
  • Recommending grant criteria for multidisciplinary TIM training
  • Encouraging participation in SHRP2-supported TIM training programs
  • Expanding national outreach for TIM via multidisciplinary presentations at national conferences, such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference  

The Solution

FHWA has relied on Volpe to plan, organize, facilitate, and document the first two Executive Leadership Group’s meetings, with more scheduled. For this forum, Volpe brings together senior-level, multi-disciplinary executives representing the transportation, law enforcement, fire and rescue, and emergency medical services communities. Aided by Volpe, the group aims to advance the three main strategies of the National Unified Goal for Traffic Incident Management:

  • Measurably improving public and responder safety
  • Reducing incident-related delays
  • Enhancing prompt, reliable, interoperable communications

The Impact

FHWA expects that ELG efforts in these three areas will increase the effectiveness of responder agencies, public outreach, and professional capacity building by creating partnerships among state DOTs, police, fire and rescue personnel, and tow operators. Volpe will continue to assist this group in its work to identify and follow up on key actions needed to advance the state of the practice in traffic incident management. Using its contacts in the industry and experience with traffic incident management, Volpe is able to develop strong working relationships with ELG members and FHWA staff alike. 

By addressing these important issues, Volpe is helping improve safety, reduce delays, and enhance communications related to traffic incident management.


Truck overturned on a highway in an accident.

Federal Highway Administration