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Chapter 3. Tactical Section

The number of questions in the Tactical section was reduced from 22 to 17. The 17 questions focused on the following three areas:

  • Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Laws.
  • Policies and Procedures for Incident Response and Clearance.
  • Responder and Motorist Safety.

The Tactical section was the highest-scoring section in the 2020 Traffic Incident Management Capability Maturity Self-Assessment (TIM CM SA), with an overall score of 75.9 percent. Table 7 shows that the five highest-scoring questions appeared in the Tactical section.

Table 7. Five highest-scoring questions in 2020.
Question 2020 Average Score Percent of TIM CM SA Scoring 3 or Higher
38. Are TIM responders following high-visibility safety apparel requirements as outlines in the MUTCD? 3.4 91.9
25. Is there a Safety Service Patrol program in place for incident and emergency response? 3.3 81.8
28. Do towing and recovery procedures/rotation list policies deploy resources based on type/severity of incident? 3.3 83.8
22. Is an Authority Removal Law in place? 3.3 80.8
31. For incidents involving a fatality, is there a procedure in place for early notification and timely response of the Medical Examiner? 3.3 82.8
MUTCD = Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. TIM CM SA = Traffic Incident Management Capability Maturity Self-Assessment.

Questions 25 and 26 asked respondents about safety service patrols (SSPs). Question 25 asked about the existence of an SSP, and question 26 asked respondents to score the SSP level of coverage. Table 8 shows the scoring guidance for question 25.

Table 8. Scoring guidance for question 25.
25. Is there a Safety Service Patrol program in place for incident and emergency response?
Score 1 if: There is no Safety Service Patrol Program.
Score 2 if: A baseline Safety Service Patrol Program is in place that focuses on providing motorist assistance only (i.e., provides gasoline, changes flat tires, assists with minor repairs, etc.).
Score 3 if: A mid-level Safety Service Patrol Program is in place that, in addition to motorist assistance, provides incident response services and clearance resources. The patrol vehicles used typically have the ability to relocate vehicles out of travel lanes through use of push bumpers or tow straps, or through use of wrecker or flatbed vehicles.
Score 4 if: There is a sustained full-function Safety Service Patrol Program in place that provides motorist assistance, performs clearance and recovery services, and assists with emergency traffic control and scene management. There is a comprehensive training program which includes classroom and hands-on training that all Safety Service Patrol operators must complete.

Out of any question on the 2020 TIM CM SA, question 25 had the highest percentage (63.6 percent) of responses with a score of 4; this demonstrates that TIM programs across the country are relying on full-function SSPs as a core part of incident response. Furthermore, SSPs are not limited to major metropolitan areas—43 percent of locations that scored question 25 with a 4 are non-top 75 locations.

Question 26 asked respondents to score the level of coverage provided by their SSPs. The TIM CM SA scoring guidance provides the following information to score SSP coverage with a 4: “The Safety Service Patrol Program operates a large enough fleet to provide ample coverage on all major roadways (i.e., interstates, limited access highways) identified as needing service based on traffic volumes and/or incident frequency.”5 Among all respondents, 47 percent scored their SSP level of coverage with a 4; among those respondents, 40 percent were non-top 75 locations. Respondents were also asked to provide details on their SSPs, including levels of coverage, days and hours of operation, services provided, number of vehicles, equipment on vehicles, and operator training. Among respondents who reported levels of coverage, there was a combined total of 4,700 centerline miles and 10,250 lane miles, with a median of 115 centerline miles and 220 lane miles.

According to the 2019 Traffic Incident Management Capability Maturity Self-Assessment National Analysis Report, question 32 concerning procedures for removing the deceased before arrival of the medical examiner (ME) had one of the lower average scores.6 The 2019 report specifically identified this as an area of continued training and focus. In 2020, question 32 had an average score of 2.7 (i.e., a 9.9 percent increase over the 2019 score) and is now 29.9 percent over the 2015 baseline score of 2.1.

Table 9 lists the TIM programs with the highest scores in the Tactical section.

Table 9. Highest-scoring programs in the Tactical section.
Traffic Incident Management Program
Atlanta, Georgia
Bakersfield – Fresno, California
Northern Virginia, Virginia
Sacramento, California
San Diego, California

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5 Federal Highway Administration, Traffic Incident Management Capability Maturity Self-Assessment 2020 User Guide and Questions (September 1, 2020). [ Return to note 5. ]

6 Federal Highway Administration, 2019 Traffic Incident Management Capability Maturity Self-Assessment National Analysis Report, FHWA-HOP-20-007, (Washington, DC: November 2019). [ Return to note 6. ]