TIM: An Important Operations Strategy
Over the past 2 years, PublicRoads has featured a series on traffic incident management (TIM) to demonstrate the critical role that operations plays in efficient and effective highway management. The first two articles, “Successfully Managing Traffic Incidents Is No Accident” (July/August 2013) and “Training Millions of Responders” (November/December 2013), introduced the concept of TIM and described the Federal Highway Administration’s efforts to help train 1 million responders over the next decade.
The TIM responder training resulted from the second Strategic Highway Research Program’s (SHRP2) suite of reliability products. The second round of Every Day Counts initiatives, known as EDC-2, aided FHWA in accelerating course delivery. With the push from EDC-2, FHWA trained 50,000 responders almost 6 months earlier than planned. Just 3 months after EDC-2 ended, FHWA doubled the number of TIM practitioners trained to more than 115,000 and developed a cadre of 6,500 instructors delivering the course nationwide.
The next three articles explored TIM from the perspectives of key partners. “Living in the Line of Duty” (July/August 2014) addressed the risks faced by firefighters and first responders at the scene of a crash. “Clearing Crashes on Arterials” (March/April 2015) looked at cost-effective resources available from local departments of transportation and public works, often deployed in support of TIM operations on arterials. “A Pivotal Job for Police” (May/June 2015) spotlighted how the collection of data by State and local law enforcement agencies supports the measurement of TIM performance.
In this issue of Public Roads, the article “Supporting Hometown Heroes” (page 39) underscores the value of institutionalizing TIM at all levels of government and within corresponding stakeholder disciplines. Over time, as champions have encouraged their leadership to support this operational strategy, TIM has become entrenched in some organizations. However, other programs have faltered when their charismatic and passionate champions moved on. This series concludes with a call for all TIM partners to collaborate with their political and organizational leadership and metropolitan planning organizations to ensure that TIM becomes a critical mission, reflected in their organizations, budgets, and plans.
FHWA is highlighting TIM because it showcases the critical role of nontraditional partners in operations strategies. But TIM constitutes just one of many approaches that jurisdictions employ to help travelers move faster, more safely, and with fewer disruptions. Efforts to manage the impacts of weather and work zones, better apply the standards outlined in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, and implement intelligent transportation systems to support integrated corridors, traffic management centers, value pricing, modeling and analytics, and freight operations will continue to shape travel reliability, motorist and responder safety, and community livability, along with TIM.
The work described throughout this series would have been impossible without the support of partners from fire and rescue, local transportation and public works departments, and law enforcement, as well as FHWA division office staff and their State DOT counterparts who help provide the leadership, coalition building, and TIM training that underlie reliable highway operations and incident response.
From compiling best practices to promoting use of the National Incident Management System as the common language at the scene of a crash, FHWA’s Office of Operations will continue to strengthen these multidisciplinary partnerships to improve incident operations among public safety partners across the country.
Jeffrey A. Lindley
FHWA Office of Operations