Traffic Incident Management
Various traffic incident management scenes - heavy traffic after accident, traffic planning, police car blocking road, overturned car on bridge, detour, rescue workers.
Office of Operations 21st Century Operations using 21st Century Technologies


Once an emergency or disaster occurs, the ability to respond efficiently and effectively is extremely important. The Response part of an Emergency Response plan relates to activities that address the immediate and short-term effects of the disaster or emergency. This portion of the plan should answer the question of what must the agency do to ensure that they respond quickly and efficiently to a disaster or emergency that threatens the well being of the agency's operations.

Who is a First Responder? The Department of Homeland Security uses the following definition, taken from Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8, Preparedness: "Those individuals who in the early stages of an incident are responsible for the protection and preservation of life, property, evidence, and the environment, including emergency response providers as defined in section 2 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 11), as well as emergency management, public health, clinical care, public works, and other skilled support personnel (such as equipment operators) that provide immediate support services during prevention, response, and recovery operations."

  • Role of Transportation in Response
  • Evacuation - This section covers FHWA and external work on transportation aspects of both hurricane evacuations and evacuations resulting from unexpected events.
  • Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) - ITS can be a very powerful tool in responding to disasters or incidents of any type. This section discusses how it can be applied.
  • Voice and Data Communication Interoperability - It is critical that transportation agency communications systems be interoperable with those of the other responders with whom they will be working at incident scenes. This location provides information about transportation agency communications systems and national efforts toward responder interoperability.
  • Information Distribution - Information provided to the public is one of the most powerful tools that government has in managing during disasters. Transportation agencies have unique resources, such as VMS, HAR, and 511 that enable them to contribute to effective information sharing.
  • ITE Presentation: Transportation for Emergency Response and Recovery (PPT 5.62MB) - ITE prepared this excellent presentation on the importance of transportation in disaster response/recovery.
  • Responder Knowledge Base - The National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism provides this database of information for responders.
  • The Homeland Security Operations Center - Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, the HSOC provides real-time situational awareness and monitoring of the homeland, coordinates incidents and response activities, and, in conjunction with the DHS Office of Information Analysis, issues advisories and bulletins concerning threats to homeland security, as well as specific protective measures.

Role of Transportation in Response


  • Evacuating Populations With Special Needs - Routes to Effective Evacuation Planning Primer Series (HTML, PDF 21MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-09-022)
  • Evacuation Resources from TRB - The TRB Subcommittee on evacuation provides this excellent resource page with dozens of technical materials on evacuation.
  • ITS ETO Initiative - USDOT has initiated a $21million program of research to improve evacuations resulting from unexpected events. This link provides basic information on the activities in the Initiative.
  • Managing Pedestrians During Evacuation (Winter 2005) - Recent large-scale disasters have pointed out that pedestrians filling the streets can make evacuee and responder vehicular travel difficult. This study examines the complex issue of managing pedestrian traffic during disasters. (PDF 396KB)
  • National Review of Hurricane Evacuation Plans and Policies: A comparison and Contrast of State Policies (PDF 2.6MB)
  • Road Weather Management Evacuation Materials - For several years, FHWA's road weather management program worked toward improving evacuations caused by hurricanes. One particular focus was improving contraflow implementation/operation.
  • Transportation Evacuation Planning and Operations Workshop (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-06-076) Summary Report - Held in conjunction with the National Hurricane Conference, March 21-22, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Using Highways For No-Notice Evacuations - Routes to Effective Evacuation Planning Primer Series (HTML, PDF 20.9MB) (Publication Number: FHWA-HOP-08-003)

Information Distribution

To view PDF files, you need the Adobe Acrobat Reader.

To view PPT files, you need the Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer.