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Traffic Incident Management

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

In 2004, the HRTO (formerly ITS) Subcommittee initiated the development of a Regional Concept of Transportation Operations (RCTO), which—as defined by FHWA—is a tool that assists in planning and implementing transportation management and operations strategies in a collaborative and sustained manner. A regional training session was organized in May 2005 with representatives from Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) presenting to the region’s stakeholders the various components and benefits of an RCTO.  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, 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 and meets on a regular basis.  The Hampton Roads RCTO-TIM was selected by the FHWA as one of four Demonstration Sites in the country and to serve as a model for other metropolitan regions.  In the summer of 2008, a “Resource Document” of the RCTO-TIM (Executive Summary Report) was completed that identifies action items for providing more efficient traffic flow movement during incidents and for improving incident clearance times.  Specifically, this document established six objectives for the Hampton Roads RCTO-TIM:

  • Objective 1 - Increase Responder Safety by Eliminating Struck-By Incidents and Fatalities
  • Objective 2 - Decrease Incident Clearance Time
  • Objective 3 - Decrease Secondary Incident Occurrences
  • Objective 4 - Improve Inter-Agency Communication During Incidents
  • Objective 5 - Identify Existing Regional Incident Management Resources and Establish Plan for Inter-Agency
  • Objective 6 - Establish a Regional Incident Management Pro-Active and Post-Incident Review Consortium

The motivation 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. 

As a result of the RCTO-TIM effort in Hampton Roads, the planners and operators have had a number of achievements in advancing traffic incident management:

  • Began a practice of collecting and analyzing traffic incident management performance measurement data.
  • Annually produce performance measure reports to track progress toward the RCTO’s operations objectives.
  • 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.
  • Worked to obtain three more total stations to be utilized by Virginia State Police in fatal incident investigations in order to reduce clearance times.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Trained approximately 2,800 emergency responders in Hampton Roads from 2013-2014 using the Strategic Highway Research Program 2 (SHRP2) National Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Responder Training Program.  Over 6,000 emergency responders have been trained throughout Virginia since 2013 – Virginia is the 2nd highest state in the U.S. for TIM training through this program.