Emergency Transportation Operations

2. TIM Strategic Program Elements

2.1 Introduction

The Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Strategic Program Elements are those that form a framework for TIM activities. This chapter introduces the concept of formalized TIM programs and provides specific guidance on what are the key program elements. This chapter presents examples of States' best practices for establishing TIM programs, and provides guidance on multi-agency TIM teams. Additionally, this chapter provides guidance on the importance of TIM performance measurement and presents examples of States that have implemented or are implementing TIM performance measures.

2.2 Formalized TIM Programs

The need for formalized TIM programs has been building steadily in recent years. Early TIM efforts, including the 2000 TIM Handbook, focused on the basic elements involved in instituting a TIM program where none previously existed. As such, the former handbook quantified primary categories of people, practices, and infrastructure, and laid out strategies for involving all stakeholders, overcoming institutional issues, and defining TIM goals and objectives.

The early approach was to provide a "how-to" guide for the incident management community to coordinate activities in a more organized fashion. The key item that this process did not incorporate was that of sustainability, and maintaining a dedicated and active TIM program as opposed to coordinating multiple TIM activities across multiple organizations. The planning for and coordination of TIM activities by partner agencies within a formalized programmatic structure allows for development of policies and procedures, resource sharing and program evaluation.

2.2.1 Evolution through NIMS

The National Incident Management System (NIMS)[18] requirements clearly articulate a need for a formalized structure for incident management. Under the banner of "Preparedness," NIMS outlines key activities, which if employed in advance of potential incidents, lead to effective incident management, regardless of incident size and scope. Table 4 presents a crosswalk between TIM program areas and NIMS concepts, with the respective TIM program components listed for each.[19]

Table 4. TIM-NIMS Crosswalk
TIM Program Areas NIMS Concepts TIM Program Components
Strategic Preparedness Planning

Training and exercises

Ensure readiness of personnel and equipment

Mutual-aid agreements

Multi-agency operations agreements

TIM Task Forces and/or Teams
Strategic Resource Management Identify and type resources

Identify location of resources

Mobilize resources

Tactical ICS On-scene command and control
Support Communications and Information
Develop information policies

Develop interoperability standards

Utilize common terminology

Develop communication systems

With the backing of a Presidential Directive (HSPD-5), the Department of Homeland Security's NIMS provides transportation and public safety stakeholders a common framework for developing and sustaining a formal Traffic Incident Management Program. NIMS also provides Federal resources for achievement of key program components such as responder training. TIM programs at all stages of development can and should tap into NIMS resources to achieve "Preparedness." For more information on available NIMS resources, see the "Want to Know More?" reference at the end of this chapter.

2.2.2 State Strategic Highway Safety Plans

With the enactment of the 2005 Surface Transportation reauthorization—Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU)—States were required to develop and implement a State Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP). The objective of the SHSP is to identify safety needs in order to achieve reductions in highway fatalities and injuries. The SHSP requirements, like NIMS, provide TIM stakeholders with the necessary rationale and guidance for developing a formalized TIM program.

FHWA lists suggested activities to be undertaken in development and achievement of SHSP objectives in its guidance document, Strategic Highway Safety Plans: A Champion's Guide to Saving Lives.[20] Among the activities listed are ones very similar to those followed by the more developed TIM programs:

  • Gain leadership support.
  • Identify a champion.
  • Bring safety partners together.
  • Adopt a strategic goal.
  • Identify key emphasis areas.
  • Identify performance goals.

Drawing of a triangle labeled "roadway" on the left side, "driver" on the right side, and "vehicle" on the bottom, with enforcement at the top of the triangle, emergency services in the middle, and engineering and education for the base.
Figure 1. The Four "Es" of Highway

Many States have identified TIM as a key emphasis area as part of the State SHSP. The California Strategic Highway Safety Plan acknowledges the complex nature of highway incidents, and refers to the four "E's" of highway safety: engineering, enforcement, emergency services, and education, as shown in figure 1 at right.[21]

The Indiana Strategic Highway Safety Plan identifies a Highway Incident Management Coordination Plan as a strategy for reducing incident-induced congestion and secondary crashes. In defining its Incident Management Coordination Plan, the Indiana SHSP notes that, "the four "Es" all play a role in ensuring that incidents are quickly detected, responded, and cleared with minimum disruption to traffic flow. All of this is done giving first priority to the safety of the on-scene responders and the motoring public".[22]

2.2.3 NTIMC TIM Program Guidance

Strategy #1 of the National Traffic Incident Management Coalition's (NTIMC) National Unified Goal (NUG) is to promote, develop, and sustain effective TIM programs. The NTIMC stresses the importance of formal TIM programs differentiated from TIM activities by the immunity from a re-shifting or re-focusing of agency personnel and budget resources.

While most States have increasing levels of coordinated multi-agency, multidisciplinary TIM activities, few if any States, regions, or localities have all of the key elements which, when combined, would meet the definition of a formal TIM program. Table 5 presents the key TIM program elements and their respective purposes as defined by the NTIMC.[23]

Table 5. TIM Program Key Elements
Element Purpose
Legislative or Administrative
Provides top-down authorization for resource sharing and joint operations.
Strategic Mission and
Accompanying Goals
Sets direction and establishes accountability for program performance.
Written Operational Policies Provides unambiguous guidance for on-scene operations.
Dedicated Staff Establishes TIM as core job function rather than secondary or tertiary activity.
Ongoing Training Keeps responder skills current based on most recent state-of-practice.
Well-Defined Responsibilities Solidifies relationships across disparate agencies and mitigates "turf battles" among responders.
Clear Reporting Channels Establishes chain of command and ensures accountability.
Dedicated Funding Lessens impact of budgetary fluctuations.

Creating a formalized TIM program is an evolutionary process and it should not be presumed that success in each of the elements will be easily achieved. Many well established TIM programs, with 10 to 15 years' experience, are still working to resolve key issues in attainment of the elements of a formal program.

The Traffic Incident Management Self-Assessment (TIMSA) documents these challenges. The first subsection of questions in the TIMSA is on Formal TIM Programs, specifically querying respondents on the presence of:

  • Multi-agency, multi-year strategic plans.
  • Formal interagency agreements on operational and administrative policies and procedures.

The TIMSA asks respondents to rank success in each TIM program area using a scale of 0 to 4. The questions on "Formal TIM Programs" have yet to achieve an aggregated score of 3 or higher since the TIMSA was started in 2003.

One of the key pitfalls in achievement of TIM program success is the lack or loss of a champion. For emerging programs, this may be a small group of individuals committed to advancing TIM through coordinated activities and regular meetings. As activities increase and TIM benefits are realized, the champion may be resident with one or two agencies (typically State Departments of Transportation [DOT] and law enforcement). Ideally, these champions will be at the highest level of those agencies. However, experience shows that more often than not, the champions reside at mid-management level with individuals successful in communicating program needs and benefits in a way that continues resource allocation from the highest levels.

The NTIMC addresses some of the barriers that caused the demise or decline of early TIM programs. In addition to the lack or loss of the early program champion, other early obstacles include: divergent stakeholder goals; personnel for whom TIM is not a core job function; lack of a process for evaluating performance; and therefore, the inability to document benefits, which leads to a lack of sustained funding.

Through its NUG and other publications, the NTIMC focuses on overcoming these obstacles so that formal TIM programs become the rule rather than the exception. In the NTIMC technical brief Example Strategies for Building Stronger State Traffic Incident Management Programs, published in 2006, key best practices from States across the country are documented as they relate to the six key areas of:

  • Incident Management Plans and Policies.
  • Interagency and Interdisciplinary Relationships.
  • Organizational Structures for TIM programs.
  • TIM Programs.
  • Staffing, Chain of Command and Reporting Channels.
  • Performance Goals.

This index of activities reflects a varied approach to TIM in States, regions, and localities. The white paper recognizes that very few formal statewide or regional TIM programs exist. Where States and regions do have TIM programs they are often oriented towards freeway service patrols as opposed to broader tactical and operational applications.

The NTIMC 2006 technical brief also cited several State and regional programs containing the key areas listed above; notably, only three States had implemented measures to address all six areas. Based on the information in the NTIMC 2006 technical brief, Table 6 summarizes how Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin have addressed these areas.

Table 6. Summary of State Best Practices
NTIMC TIM Area Utah Washington Wisconsin
Incident Management (IM) Plans and Policies
  • Operations Manual.
  • Washington State DOT (WSDOT) and Washington State Patrol (WSP) have joint strategic plan for TIM.
  • Joint Operations Policy Statement (JOPS) (annual updates).
  • Policy to increase tow-away zones to deal with abandoned vehicles.
  • TIME (Traffic Incident Management Enhancement) Program Blueprint (started in southeast Wisconsin, expanded to statewide in 2006).
  • Alternate route plans.
  • Move over laws.
  • Quick clearance/hold harmless laws.
  • Evacuation plans.
  • Emergency traffic control and scene management guidelines.
  • Outreach plans and initiatives.
  • Special event plans.
Interagency Relationships
  • Partnership between DOT and Highway Patrol.
  • Traffic Operations Center (TOC) co-located with patrol dispatchers.
  • TIM Coalition between WSDOT and WSP.
  • TIM training provides outreach to fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
  • WSDOT working to develop additional agreements with coroners/medical examiners
  • Collaboration with tow industry: pilot test instant dispatch, implementation of tow incentive program.
  • TIME program partnering agreement (includes Federal, State, and local government, plus private industry).
  • Regular regional and subregional meetings.
  • Strong relationship with Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) and Wisconsin State Patrol (WSP), law enforcement and public safety agencies.
Organizational Structure
  • Day-to-day oversight provided by Region Traffic Engineer.
  • Programmatic oversight provided by Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) Traffic Management Division.
  • WSDOT headquarters TIM program manager provides functional and administrative support and oversight.
  • Field operations are managed by Regional Offices in partnership with local responding agencies.
  • WisDOT acts as TIM champion.
  • TIME program includes Steering Committee, Freeway Incident Management Team, and other committees and task forces.
TIM Programs
  • Freeway service patrol program in Salt Lake metro area.
  • TIM program concentrated on I-5 corridor in Puget Sound Region.
  • Satellite programs in mountain passes, Spokane, Vancouver.
  • 55 dedicated IM vehicles.
  • Statewide program (TIME).
  • Freeway service patrols.
Staffing; Chain of Command; Reporting Channels
  • 12 full-time incident responders (daytime hours, plus on call after hours)
  • Clearance times reported as a performance metric in evaluating State-strategic goals.
  • Roving service patrol and major incident response teams staffed by WSDOT personnel.
  • Contract with WSP or additional patrols.
  • Contract with tow vendor for roving tow service patrols.
  • Contract with local radio station for mobile assistance van.
  • WSDOT Incident Tracking System and WSP Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) data are used in performance reports to Governor, legislature, transportation commission, media, and public.
  • WisDOT Regional Incident Management Coordinators.
  • Report information through statewide TOCs.
Performance Goals
  • 30-, 60-, and 90-minute clearance times based on severity (fender bender, injury, fatality).
  • 90-minute clearance goal for major incidents.
  • Governor receives quarterly reports on clearance time goal achievement from WSDOT and WSP.
  • Incidents exceeding 90-minute clearance time examined more closely for lessons learned.
  • Under development through statewide TIM initiatives.

2.2.4 Starting Small

Many States find success by initially implementing a TIM program from a local or regional perspective as opposed to a statewide perspective. This concept involves starting small, perhaps in one or two cities or counties within the State. This is beneficial for a number of reasons:

  1. Allows program stakeholders to demonstrate success early and leverage that success to expand the program to additional cities, counties, or regions.
  2. Allows stakeholders to build relationships and lines of communications over time rather than overwhelming any one individual or group of individuals at once.
  3. Allows program administrators to evaluate the program early on and make course corrections based on lessons learned.

The Strategic Plan for Highway Incident Management in Tennessee[24] provides an example of the chronology of events in the evolution from localized TIM efforts to a statewide program. An abridged version of the chronology is presented below and highlights several common steps in the development of a formal TIM program:

  • Start locally in one area of the State.
  • Leverage ITS plans and programs for TIM.
  • Utilize TIM service patrols to build support for the program.
  • Obtain necessary legislation and authority for TIM responders.

Table 7 provides an overview as to the evolution of the statewide TIM Plan in Tennessee.[25]

Table 7. Evolution of Statewide TIM Plan in Tennessee
Action Year Accomplished
  • Regional Incident Management Plan for the Nashville area completed.
  • Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Statewide Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Strategic Plan completed with recommendations for freeway service patrols and incident management.
  • TDOT's internal Freeway Service Patrol Task Force established.
  • HELP Patrols started in Knoxville and Nashville.
  • "Quick Clearance" legislation enacted by the General Assembly.
  • HELP Patrols started in Chattanooga and Memphis.
  • Office of Incident Management established within TDOT.
  • Incident Management Memoranda of Understanding signed between the Tennessee Department of Safety and TDOT.
  • Statewide Policy Committee and Steering Committee established for incident management.
  • Statewide Traffic Incident Management Plan, 2003-2008.
  • Strategic Highway Safety Plan.

Other examples include Wisconsin's TIME program, which began in southeastern Wisconsin in 1995 and operated as a regional TIM program until 2006, when it was expanded to the entire State. Likewise, Washington State began its incident response program in the Seattle region with satellite programs in just two areas. Washington's program has since grown to become a statewide program, with six regional programs residing under the State umbrella. Building programs across State DOT regions allows program stakeholders to identify and overcome the challenges of working across jurisdictional boundaries, which is especially important when developing a statewide program.

Like Tennessee, the Maryland Coordinated Highways Action Response Team (CHART)[26] program is an example of starting locally and leveraging the ITS program to expand statewide. CHART got its start in the mid-1980s as an outreach campaign entitled "Reach the Beach." Its goal was to improve travel to and from Maryland's eastern shore through traveler information and expedited incident detection and response. CHART is now a full-scale ITS system managed through a Statewide Operations Center (SOC) functioning 24/7 and satellite TOCs around the State. The incident management components in CHART include:

  • Emergency Traffic Patrols (ETP) to assist stranded motorists and remove disabled vehicles.
  • Emergency Response Units (ERU) to establish traffic control at the incident scene.
  • Freeway Incident Traffic Management (FITM) Trailers pre-stocked to provide readily available traffic control devices.
  • Quick clearance legislation to provide responder authority to remove vehicles and cargo from incident scenes.
  • An Information Exchange Network (IEN) Clearinghouse, provided by an I-95 Corridor Coalition workstation at the SOC, shares incident and traveler information to member agencies along the Corridor.

Emerging TIM programs are encouraged to model program components after readily available examples across the country rather than reinventing the wheel each time. For example, throughout the Metro Atlanta Traffic Incident Management Enhancement (TIME) Task Force Strategic Vision[27] document are numerous references to what has worked in other States in terms of open roads policies; towing and recovery incentive programs; training and certification of tow operators; and memoranda of understanding with medical examiners and coroners (information presented in chapter 3 of the Handbook).

2.3 Multi-Agency TIM Teams/Task Forces

With few exceptions, TIM programs start with the coordinating of incident response efforts by traditional responders (law enforcement, transportation, fire and rescue, and EMS). This initial coordination forms the basis for a multi-agency team, a cornerstone of any TIM program. For both emerging and established TIM programs, multi-agency TIM teams, also known as task forces,[28] share several common elements:

  • Representation from traditional responder groups—law enforcement, fire and rescue, EMS, towing and recovery, and transportation agencies.
  • A shared commitment to improve responder and motorist safety and expedite incident clearance.
  • Regular collaboration through team meetings.

2.3.1 Team Membership

While TIM team members generally represent traditional responder groups, the more successful TIM teams include representation from the larger community of TIM stakeholders (see chapter 1, table 1-3). Regular TIM team participation of non-responder stakeholders (e.g. trucking industry) may not always occur. Continuous efforts to reach out to those groups builds awareness of the TIM team's efforts, and can provide a conduit for more open discussion of incident response roles and responsibilities among stakeholder groups.

Table 8 identifies the NTIMC member organizations that represent the broad array of TIM stakeholders and provide a useful source for potential State/regional/local TIM team members.

Table 8. NTIMC Membership by TIM Stakeholder Group
TIM Stakeholder NTIMC Member Organizations
Traditional Responders
Incident Information Providers
Transportation System Providers and Users

2.3.2 TIM Team/Task Force Activities

When TIM teams first convene, the initial meetings often are used to familiarize team members with each other's incident response roles and responsibilities. These meetings provide an opportunity to identify potentially conflicting procedures and come to consensus on response protocol. The discussions eventually can lead to formalized TIM policies and procedures, and the desired action to draft memoranda of understanding (MOU) among responder agencies.

Training is another key activity of multi-agency TIM teams. Tabletop exercises are an effective tool for training incident responders to visualize how their specific actions impact other responders and the incident scene as a whole. Tabletop exercises also provide a low-stress, low-cost way to visualize and plan for contingencies, since traffic incidents rarely follow a set plan. FHWA provides guidance on tabletop exercises through its publication, Tabletop Exercise Guidelines for Planned Events and Unplanned Incidents/Emergencies.[29]

TIM teams also use regularly scheduled meetings to conduct incident debriefs on major incidents. These after-action discussions provide an opportunity for responders to identify what worked and what could be improved in future incidents. Florida's Department of Transportation (FDOT), District 1, published guidelines for incident debriefs in its Technical Memorandum, "Critical Incident Reviews,"[30] which includes the following recommendations to maximize the value of the critical incident review (CIR):

  • Hold the CIR soon after the major incident so that critical information is retained.
  • Conduct the CIR in a blame-free environment where no one agency feels as though its actions will be singled out for criticism.
  • Ensure the discussion includes what was done well at the incident scene.
  • Ensure the CIR discussions are well documented so that lessons learned can be utilized at future incidents.

Examples of incident debrief and after-action reports are available on the Department of Homeland Security Lessons Learned Information Sharing (LLIS) Web site.[31] Regardless of the topics covered at the TIM team meeting, the following actions yield successful meetings:

  • Invite participants from a diverse group of TIM stakeholders to ensure multidiscipline, multi-agency input.
  • Publish an agenda letting team members know what to expect from the meeting.
  • Provide well-documented meeting minutes to ensure follow up on action items.
  • Offer varied agenda topics (e.g. training, resource allocation, incident debriefs, policies and procedures) to keep participants interested and engaged.

Sample TIM team meeting agenda and minutes are available in the "Want to Know More?" section at the end of this chapter.

2.4 TIM Performance Measurement

Performance measurement is essential to leverage limited resources. To determine the program's value, it is necessary to measure TIM program performance, identify areas for improvement, and justify program continuation and expansion. TIM program administrators need to understand that there are challenges involved in measuring TIM program performance. A true TIM program is the result of the efforts of many agencies and the data necessary to evaluate program performance often resides across agencies and jurisdictions.

Despite the challenges, performance measurement is a key aspect of a long-term, sustainable formal TIM program and must be addressed at some point in the program's evolution.

Successful TIM programs address mobility through the adoption of performance measurements. Recognizing that you can't manage what you can't measure, FHWA and NTIMC are collaborating to create national metrics that will help responders develop their own programmatic and incident response goals and commit to them in written agreements.[32]

2.4.1 TIM PM FSI – Measures to Track

New York
North Carolina

FHWA recognizes both the crucial role of and challenges presented by TIM performance measurement. To provide clear guidance and develop best practices, FHWA initiated the TIM PM FSI in 2005. The FSI identified 11 States recognized as leaders in TIM and from those States convened TIM program managers from transportation and law enforcement.

Through a series of workshops, the TIM PM FSI participants identified 29 TIM-specific performance measures (Table 2-6) and worked to create standard definitions of core incident management terms.

The development of the TIM performance measures utilized a three-phase process:

  • Phase I focused on bringing the 11 States together to identify the candidate performance measures, to select measures for testing, and develop an Action Plan for conducting the test.
  • Phase II involved an 18-month test during which each State implemented its Action Plan.
  • Phase III involved a final workshop at which States discussed implementation results and identified next steps to continue the development of TIM performance measures. Emphasis was placed on identifying opportunities for which FHWA would continue to provide support for TIM performance measurement.[33]

Figure 2 graphically presents the process that was followed, as depicted in the draft final report.[34]

Diagram of TIM Performance Measure Focus States Initiative
Figure 2. High-Level Process Overview of Focus States Initiative for TIM Performance Measures.

Also derived from the draft final report, Table 9 presents the candidate program-level TIM objectives and performance measures.[35]

Table 9. Candidate Program-Level TIM Objectives and Performance Measures
Candidate Objective Proposed Performance Measure(s)
  1. Reduce incident notification time (defined as the time between the first agency's awareness of an incident, and the time to notify needed response agencies).
  1. The time between the first agency's awareness of an incident, and the time to notify needed response agencies.
  1. Reduce roadway clearance time (defined as the time between awareness of an incident and restoration of lanes to full operational status.
  1. Time between first recordable awareness (detection/ notification/ verification) of incident by a responsible agency and first confirmation that all lanes are available for traffic flow.
  1. Reduce incident clearance time (defined as the time between awareness of an incident and removal of all evidence of the incident, including debris or remaining assets, from shoulders).
  1. Time between first recordable awareness (detection/ notification/verification) of incident by a responsible agency and time at which all evidence of incident is removed (including debris cleared from the shoulder).
  2. Time between first recordable awareness and time at which the last responder has left the scene.
  1. Reduce "recovery" time (defined as between awareness of an incident and restoration of impacted roadway/ roadways to "normal" conditions).
  1. Time between awareness of an incident and restoration of impacted roadway/roadways to "normal" conditions. (NOTE: Participants noted that "normal" conditions could be difficult to define.)
  1. Reduce time for needed responders to arrive onscene after notification.
  1. Time between notification and arrival of first qualified response person to arrive on incident scene.
  1. Reduce number of secondary incidents and severity of primary and secondary incidents.
  1. # of total incidents (regardless of primary or secondary) and severity of primary incidents (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration [NHTSA] classification).
  2. # of secondary of incidents and severity (NHTSA classification).
  3. # fatalities.
  1. Develop and ensure familiarity with regional, multi-disciplinary TIM goals and objectives and supporting procedures by all stakeholders.
  1. Existence/availability of program-level plan for implementing traffic control devices and/or procedures.
  2. Existence of/participation in multi-agency/jurisdictional training programs on the effective use of traffic control/staging devices and procedures.
  3. % of workforce trained on National Incident Management System as well as local/ regional/ "program-level" procedures.
  4. % of agencies with active, up-to-date Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) for program-level TIM.
  5. # of certified courses taken.
  6. # of attendees at various courses.
  1. Improve communication between responders and managers regarding the status of an incident throughout the incident.
  1. # or % of agencies with a need to communicate, who are able to communicate (sharing information or communications systems) within an incident.
  1. Provide timely, accurate, and useful traveler information to the motoring public on regular basis during incident.
  1. Comparison of information provided at any given time to what information could have been provided.
  2. Customer perceptions on usefulness of information provided.
  3. Time of updates to various sources.
  4. # of minutes it takes to disseminate informational updates to the public (after something changes regarding incident status).
  5. # of sources of information to the public.
  6. # of system miles that are covered/density of coverage by traveler information systems (seek to increase these).
  1. Regularly evaluate and use customer (road user) feedback to improve TIM program assets and practices.
  1. % incidents managed in accordance with program-level procedures.
  2. % of incidents for which multi-agency reviews occur.
  3. Perceived effectiveness (by involved stakeholders) of use of traffic control devices to achieve incident management goals developed for each incident.
  4. Correlation of use of program-level traffic control devices by incident type.
  5. # of instances of sending the needed equipment (presumes that needed quantities and types of equipment are defined) for the incident.
  6. Frequency of dissemination of multi-agency/program-level and customer feedback back to partners.
  7. Measures of customer feedback:
    • # Web site feedback.
    • # of surveys conducted/focus groups.
    • # of complaint logs.
    • # of service patrol comment cards.
    • # of 1-800 feedback system calls.
    • # of sources of information to the public (# of media/government outlets providing information).
    • # of 511 calls.

Over the course of the workshops held in 2005 and 2006, participants worked from this list to come to consensus on program-level performance measures that their State would be willing to implement. This process yielded two performance measures (and related objectives) that all 11 States agreed to implement in common. Program-level measures are those that cross agencies rather than focusing on the performance of just one responding agency.

Workshop participants defined State Action Plans to guide implementation of these measures. Following the 2006 workshop, two program-level performance measures had been identified (#1 and #2 on Table 10). At the final workshop held in 2007, participants were tasked with defining "secondary incidents" from which a third program-level objective was added on reducing secondary incidents (item 3 on Table 10).

Table 10. TIM PM FSI Program-Level Performance Measures
TIM Program Objective Related Performance Measure
  1. Reduce "roadway clearance" time (defined as the time between awareness of an incident and restoration of lanes to full operational status).
Time between first recordable awareness of incident by a responsible agency and first confirmation that all lanes are available for traffic flow.
  1. Reduce "incident clearance" time (defined as the time between awareness of an incident and removal of all evidence of the incident, including debris or remaining assets, from shoulders).
Time between first recordable awareness of incident by a responsible agency and time at which the last responder has left the scene.
  1. Reduce the number of secondary crashes, specifically unplanned incidents for which a response or intervention is taken, where a collision occurs either a) within the incident scene or b) within the queue (which could include opposite direction) resulting from the original incident.
Number of unplanned incidents beginning with the time of detection of the primary incident where a collision occurs either a) within the incident scene or b) within the queue, including the opposite direction, resulting from the original incident.

2.4.2 TIM Performance Measures Focus States Initiative - Results of State Action Plans

Through participation in the TIM PM FSI, all 11 States made progress towards improving TIM performance measurement. In terms of implementing the performance measures, there were varying levels of success. The first two objectives on Table 9 were field tested for a period of 18 months, and five States (Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Washington, and West Virginia) successfully identified, collected, and analyzed data to support performance measurement activities.

Other States laid the groundwork for TIM performance measurement by establishing interagency agreements by identifying data requirements and data sources, and developing data exchange interfaces as shown in Table 11.[36]

Table 11. TIM PM FSI Implementation Summary
State Developing
Interagency TIM Program
Data Exchange (CAD TMC)
Reduce Roadway Clearance Time Reduce Incident Clearance Time Results Used to Improve TIM Operations
California Y Under Development
In Progress In Progress Planned
Connecticut Y Under Development
In Progress In Progress Planned
Florida Y Y Y Y In Progress
Georgia Y N Y Y Y[37]
Maryland Y N Y Y Y[38]
New York Y Under Development
In Progress In Progress Planned
North Carolina Y Under Development
In Progress In Progress Planned
Texas Y (Local Events) N N N N
Utah Y Limited N N N
Washington Y Limited Y Y In Progress for incidents involving joint response with WSDOT and WSP
Wisconsin Y Y Y N In Progress

An important outcome of the TIM PM FSI process was the consensus on key lessons learned. The TIM PM FSI Final Report documented successful strategies and solutions for resolving institutional and technical integration and data exchange issues used by the States during the testing phase of the initiative. The institutional and technical integration and data exchange lessons learned are summarized below.


The institutional issues revolved around gaining acceptance to implement performance measurement "from both executive decision makers and other agencies involved with TIM responsibilities."[39] Therefore, most of the lessons learned in this area focused on building cooperative working relationships among the various TIM stakeholders to:[40]

  • Establish working relationships with all agencies involved: For example, begin a working group(s) to discuss TIM operations and policies and identify areas for improvement and exchange information.
  • Develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among agencies to define roles and responsibilities.
  • Develop outreach materials that document the benefits of TIM PM: Use results from other States or within the State to show how performance measurement can be a benefit.
  • Establish a cost-sharing agreement: Cost-sharing reduces a particular agency's resource requirements. As an added benefit, leveraging other funding sources and resources can demonstrate how system modifications needed to support TIM PM also can support other program activities.

Technical Integration and Data Exchange[41]

The most common technical integration and data exchange issues identified by participating States revolved around how the different agencies collect and use data. The participating States identified a number of lessons learned that included the following solutions:

  • Establish agreements between law enforcement and DOTs to preclude compromising sensitive data: For example, some States had to define specific data elements to be provided. These restrictions can then be executed via system filters.
  • Establish technical committees to develop common data dictionaries: Different agencies frequently collect the same information in different formats. To address this issue, technical committees can help develop common data dictionaries or translators that enable different systems to identify and match information.
  • Establish a common time stamp and common geographic coordinates necessary for data exchange and reporting functions: Incident management agencies may define incident events differently. For example, an enforcement agency may time stamp the closing of an incident as when the last enforcement vehicle departs the scene, while DOT or other responders may still be on site. It is important to agree on a common time stamp that establishes incident start and close times, since sharing this information among agencies is critical to properly measuring incident duration.
  • Identify and agree to a defined standard or group of standards for data exchange: To ensure interoperability among all stakeholders, it is critical to identify and agree to a particular standard or group of standards. It also is helpful to develop and use a common ITS architecture to identify standards that are to be used by different agencies.
  • Identify and agree upon methods of integrating text, video, and audio formats for data exchange: When the stakeholders are able to integrate agreed upon formats from multiple types of data exchange via text, video, and audio, this approach can result in the identification of a more appropriate response strategy. This approach enables accurate information exchange with respect to 511 or Web-based traveler information systems and the enhanced ability to notify media improves overall incident management. This approach also may support the allocation of funds and resources needed for legacy system modifications.
  • Identify and agree upon consistent data collection practices within and between agencies: Inconsistent data collection practices within and among agencies is especially problematic. Specific solutions may include the use of automated data entry wherever possible (GPS, time stamps); utilization of a single point of data entry with emphasis on a simplified means of entry (e.g. drop-down menus); encouragement for the need for a "lane clear" time stamp; and promotion of common and consistent training among all incident responders (DOT, law enforcement, and so forth) for data collection techniques to ensure common practices.

The TIM PM FSI successfully demonstrated the viability and importance of performance measurement. Nine of the 11 States involved in the TIM PM FSI already are using or are planning on how to use performance measurement to improve TIM operations. An additional benefit of the TIM PM FSI is the development of a valuable peer exchange of innovative approaches to TIM PM; data exchange and systems integration; and institutional models to promote multi-agency information exchange. A majority of the participating States are moving forward to implement integrated TIM programs that involve inter-agency data exchange and performance measurement.

2.5 Additional Resources

The guidance provided in this chapter is intended to help States develop and maintain a sustainable, dedicated, and active TIM program as opposed to simply coordinating multiple TIM activities across organizations.

There are numerous examples from established programs from which new and emerging programs should access as best practices, lessons learned, and sample meeting materials. A listing of potential resources can be found in the following section, "Want to Know More?"

Want to Know More?

TIM Resources:

  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security National Incident Management System (NIMS): The original NIMS document and change information is available online: http://www.fema.gov/good_guidance/download/10243 and http://www.fema.gov/pdf/emergency/nims/NIMSWhatsNew.pdf.
  • Federal Highway Administration Guidance on Strategic Highway Safety Plans: Strategic Highway Safety Plans: A Champion's Guide to Saving Lives available online: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/safetealu/toc/.
  • National Traffic Incident Management Coalition (NTIMC) Web site, available online:http://timcoalition.org/?siteid=41.
  • Traffic Incident Management Performance Measures Focus States Initiative (TIM PM FSI). For more information, contact Paul Jodoin, TIM Program Manager, at FHWA at 202-366-5465 or Paul.Jodoin@dot.gov.
  • Traffic Incident Management Self-Assessment (TIMSA): The TIMSA Guide and accompanying scoring template and National Analysis Reports from 2003 through 2008 are available online: https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/eto_tim_pse/preparedness/tim/self.htm. For more information, contact Paul Jodoin, FHWA Office of Operations, Office of Transportation Operations, Emergency Transportation Operations Team Leader, at 202-366-5465 or Paul.Jodoin@dot.gov.

State Best Practices and TIM Multi-Agency Teams:

TIM Multi-Agency Teams:


18. National Incident Management System, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC: March 1, 2004.

19. Simplified Guide to the Incident Command System for Transportation Professionals, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, DC: February 2006, available online: https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/ics_guide/ics_guide.pdf.

20. Strategic Highway Safety Plans: A Champion's Guide to Saving Lives, Federal Highway Administration, April 5, 2006, available online: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/safetealu/guides/guideshsp040506/.

21. California Strategic Highway Safety Plan, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), September 2006, p. 5; document now superseded, available online: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/survey/SHSP/SHSP-Booklet-version2_%20PRINT.pdf.

22. Indiana Strategic Highway Safety Plan, Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), September 2006, p. 27, available online: http://in.gov/indot/files/shsp.pdf.

23. Example Strategies for Building Stronger State Traffic Incident Management Programs, National Traffic Incident Management Coalition National Unified Goal for Traffic Incident Management, November 2006, p. 1, available online: http://www.transportation.org/sites/ntimc/docs/Institutional%20Models.pdf.

24. Strategic Plan for Highway Incident Management in Tennessee, Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and Vanderbilt Center for Transportation Research, August 2003, available online: http://www.tdot.state.tn.us/incident/CompleteIMPlan.pdf.

25. Ibid., p. 20.

26. Welcome to CHART on the Web, Maryland Department of Transportation, available online: http://www.chart.state.md.us/default.asp.

27. Metro Atlanta Traffic Incident Management Strategic Vision, Georgia Department of Transportation Metro Atlanta TIME Task Force, May 2, 2006, available online: http://timetaskforce.com/documents/final%20strategic%20vision.pdf.

28. For the purpose of this document, the term "TIM teams" is used for consistency.

29. Tabletop Exercise Guidelines for Planned Events and Unplanned Incidents/Emergencies, FHWA, November 2007, FHWAHOP- 08-005, available online: https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/tabletopexercpe/tabletopexererc_pse.pdf.

30. PB Farradyne: Critical Incident Reviews Technical Memorandum, June 2005, prepared for Florida Department of Transportation, District 1, available online: http://www.i95coalition.net/i95/Portals/0/Public_Files/uploaded/Incident-toolkit/documents/Guide/Guide_CIR_FL_D1.pdf.

31. DHS and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Federal Lessons Learned Information Sharing Home page: https://www.llis.dhs.gov/index.do.

32. Corbin, John, Kimberly Vásconez, and David Helman. "Unifying Incident Response," Public Roads, (September/October 2007), available online: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/publicroads/07sep/index.cfm.

33. Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC): Draft Focus State Initiative Traffic Incident Management Performance Measures Final Task Report, FHWA, July 2008, p. 4.

34. Ibid.

35. Ibid., p. 5.

36. Ibid., p. 3.

37. GDOT establishes annual targets for major incident clearance (90 minutes) and incident response (8 minutes). PM is used to determine if these targets are being achieved.

38. Annual assessment data is used to identify high crash corridors, plan resource allocation, and identify trends in TIM.

39. SAIC: Draft Focus State Initiative Traffic Incident Management Performance Measures Final Task Report, p. 10.

40. Ibid., pp. 10-11.

41. Ibid., pp. 11-12.

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