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Traffic Incident Management

Regional Concept of Transportation Operations - Traffic Incident Management working group (RCTO-TIM)

Regional Concept for Transportation Operations (RCTO) is a management tool used by planners and operations practitioners to define a strategic direction for improving regional transportation management and operations in a collaborative and sustained manner. The idea for an RCTO was first identified by a broad-based working group on linking planning and operations, sponsored by FHWA and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), as an effective way to link transportation operations and transportation planning. The benefit of an RCTO is the improvement in regional transportation system performance that is realized when jurisdictions and agencies work together toward commonly held operations objectives. While RCTOs can encompass a variety of transportation topics, “traffic incident management” was selected by local stakeholders as the primary focus for the Hampton Roads RCTO-TIM working group.

The RCTO-TIM working group, which is led by VDOT’s Incident Management Coordinator (IMC), is comprised of various stakeholders from the Virginia State Police (VSP), local police, fire and rescue agencies, traffic engineers and planners, HRTPO staff, as well as other operators and first responders, was formed in 2005 and meets on a regular basis. The primary objective for the Hampton Roads RCTO-TIM is to reduce the number of injuries incurred by responders, while decreasing the clearance times associated with these incidents, and to improve the operational coordination among those same responders.  This RCTO-TIM seeks to help the region’s planners, operators, and responders meet on common ground and build upon the existing spirit of cooperation to not only enhance highway incident management, but also any subsequent initiatives that this same group of stakeholders might undertake. This connection between operators and metropolitan planners provides a flow of information regarding operations needs and funding opportunities.

Achievements of the RCTO-TIM Working Group include:

  • Began a practice of collecting and analyzing traffic incident management performance measurement data, such as Roadway Clearance Time (RCT) and Incident Clearance Time (ICT). RCT and ICT are routinely measured, reported, and tied to region-wide outcomes such as travel time reliability and congestion/delay. Secondary crashes are also routinely measured and reported.
  • Annually produce performance measure reports to track progress toward the RCTO’s operations objectives.
  • Established a full-function Safety Service Patrol (SSP) program that provides motorist assistance, performs clearance and recovery services, and assists with emergency traffic control and scene management. Additionally, there is a comprehensive training program which includes classroom and hands-on training that all Safety Service Patrol operators must complete.
  • All TIM responders carry and regularly deploy temporary traffic control devices for all types of incidents in compliance with the MUTCD.
  • Established a procedure/guideline for the safe positioning of vehicles and it is consistent with National TIM Responder Training Program.
  • All TIM responders follow high-visibility safety apparel requirements as outlined in the MUTCD.
  • Regularly holds post-incident reviews with key participants to discuss “lessons learned”.
  • Developed a standard hazmat reporting document.
  • Participated in state and national Traffic Incident Management (TIM) committees and initiatives.
  • Held a workshop with senior management in state police, fire/rescue, local law enforcement, VDOT, and the HRTPO.
  • Planned joint outreach for the “Slow Down, Move Over” law.
  • Began consolidating and distributing real-time traffic incident information gathered from different agencies and jurisdictions to local traffic management centers and VDOT’s Hampton Roads Transportation Operations Center (TOC).  The information distributed includes Virginia State Police dispatch information.
  • Distributed revisions to the Virginia Work Area Protection Manual to local first responders to improve safety for responders and the traveling public.
  • Developed and established pre-planned detour and/or alternate routes and shared with TIM stakeholders.
  • Adopted Lane Designation Terminology to locate incidents faster and reduce clearance times.
  • Worked with the HRTO Subcommittee to obtain funding for a regional signal pre-emption project.  This project will give emergency vehicles the right-of-way at signalized intersections across the region, reducing response times and enhancing traffic safety.
  • Installed 2/10 mile marker signs at various locations in the region to assist with identifying incident locations.
  • Utilizes the Virginia 46.2-1212.1 Authority Removal Law to remove damaged or disabled vehicles and/or spilled cargo from the roadway that is determined to be a hazard.
  • Utilizes the Virginia 46.2-888 Driver Removal Law that allows vehicles involved in typically minor traffic incidents - with no apparent physical injury and/or minor property damage - be moved out of the travel lanes to a safe location where drivers can exchange information and/or wait for law enforcement assistance.
  • Over 7,600 emergency responders have been trained in the region since 2013 using the Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP2) National Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Responder Training Program, including Train-the-Trainer (TtT) sessions. Virginia is the 2nd highest state in the U.S. for TIM training through this program.
  • In May 2021 VDOT purchased 3 Trimble Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) units to assist with fatal motor vehicle crash investigations.  These units, which are included on the VDOT Incident Management Coordinator trucks, greatly improve incident clearance times by reducing the setup time and the number of people required to operate the crash reconstruction equipment.  In 2021, the average on-scene time while using the GNSS equipment was 1.6 hours per incident less than using the previous equipment, resulting in improved safety at the crash scene and reduced congestion.