The goal of the Office of Incident Management is to maintain a strategy and provide a foundation for a cost-effective, statewide program to ensure incident responders in Tennessee have been trained in the ‘best practices’ of traffic incident management and emergency transportation operations.
“Quick Clearance” is a phrase used by TDOT to express the objective of traffic incident management. The costs of traffic incidents (e.g., secondary crashes, wasted time and fuel, hazards for responders) are directly related to the time required to manage the incident and return the roadway to normal conditions. Keeping a roadway closed for an additional 15 minutes can easily cause the congestion and backup, and any related problems, to last for another hour or more.
While quick clearance is a important to TDOT, it is not more important than safety for responders or motorists or more important than a thorough investigation (if necessary). Through incident management, TDOT looks for opportunities to restore as much of the capacity of the roadway as possible as soon as possible in order to reduce delay costs for highway users, improve responder safety, and reduce the number of secondary crashes due to a traffic queue or rubbernecking at the scene.
For traffic incident management to be effective, TDOT must rely on partnerships with local agencies and personnel including troopers, police officers, sheriffs’ deputies, firefighters, rescue squad members, EMTs, towing and recovery operators, public works and highway officials. This partnership is largely dependent on education, as discussed at the 2014 Tennessee Operations & Safety Conference and as is currently available through the Tennessee Traffic Incident Management Training Facility.