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7. Summary of Recommendations

The 12 members of the traffic incident response scan team traveled to four European countries in April 2005 to exchange ideas with their counterparts and identify practices, procedures, and technologies that might have implementation value in the United States. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 of this report describe the findings of the team on the three overarching topics identified by NTIMC. These chapters contain 25 recommendations the team believes have potential implementation value in the United States. These recommendations are repeated in this chapter.

The team believes that the greatest potential for successful implementation of these recommendations is through a synergistic effort with the National Traffic Incident Management Coalition. NTIMC can fully leverage the value of the scan recommendations to the national transportation and public safety communities, and the recommendations have the potential to accelerate the maturity and impact of NTIMC.

Implementation of these recommendations on a national level is likely to require innovative hybrid approaches by Federal and nonfederal organizations. Because these recommendations impact the public safety community as well as the transportation community, they may require more intensive deliberation by the public safety community.

The following pages summarize the recommendations presented in each of the three overarching NTIMC topics.

7.1. Recommendations Related to Programs and Institutions (Chapter 3)

Six of the 25 recommendations are associated with programs and institutional issues that represent the strategic aspects of incident response and address how countries, organizations, and individuals approach the basic challenge of developing and coordinating incident response programs. The six recommendations are listed below.

Recommendation 1: National Unified Goal for Incident Response

The United States should develop and adopt a national unified goal for incident response. The goal should address the following:

Recommendation 2: Incident Responder Relationships

Incident responders should adopt formal working agreements. The formal agreements should do the following:

Recommendation 3: Integration of Practitioner and Research Perspectives

Integrate the U.S. research network into incident response/ management program development by establishing one or more Transportation Operations Centers of Excellence.

Recommendation 4: Incident Response Performance Measures

The United States should develop comprehensive national guidance on incident response performance measures that local and/or regional stakeholders can use to assess incident response programs.

The United States should evaluate the potential for using performance measures as a means of assessing the performance of private-sector incident response partners, including the following:

The United States should develop statewide guidelines based on national practices for EMS response time to traffic incidents. The guidelines should do the following:

Recommendation 5: Incident Response Training

Universal first responder training should focus more on traffic incident response, including the following:

Recommendation 6: Private-Sector Role

NTIMC or other stakeholders should conduct exploratory discussions with appropriate private-sector organizations to identify ways they could assume a greater role in contributing to the quick clearance of incidents and free responder agencies to focus on other responsibilities, such as traffic control at the incident scene.

7.2. Recommendations Related to Tactical and Onscene Operations (Chapter 4)

Seventeen of the 25 recommendations are associated with tactical and onscene operations issues that address the activities of responders at an incident site and the onscene coordination of the various responders. The 17 recommendations are listed below.

Recommendation 7: Role of Transportation Agency Personnel

Transportation agency personnel should assume an aggressive role in responding to incidents as part of operating the transportation system. The team observed several examples in which agency personnel provided services that included using service patrols to assist motorists, providing traffic control for incidents, and removing vehicles and cargo from the roadway.

Recommendation 8: Incident Command and Coordination

Develop national guidance that addresses the issues of command and coordination of incident responders for a wide range of incident types. The guidance should address the following:

Recommendation 9: High-Visibility Garments

Develop national guidelines on the use of high-visibility garments at incident sites. The guidelines should address the following:

Recommendation 10: Buffer Zone

Revise Chapter 6I of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices to improve the safety of incident responders by separating moving traffic from the incident response area. The guidelines should protect responders by defining clear, or buffer, zones near moving traffic that responders should not occupy.

Recommendation 11: Visibility and Positioning of Response Vehicles

Develop national guidelines to improve the visibility and positioning of vehicles responding to incidents. The guidelines should address the following:

Recommendation 12: Safety of Incident Responders Using Extrication Equipment

Provide responders with information that will allow them to avoid using extrication equipment on areas of a vehicle that could present a safety hazard to responders if cut using the equipment.

Recommendation 13: Enhancements for Incident Response Vehicles

Identify response vehicle enhancements that could improve the capabilities and effectiveness of responders. Potential enhancements include the following:

Recommendation 14: Increased Authority for Transportation Agency Personnel

Consider giving transportation agency responders greater authority to help them arrive faster at incident sites and better manage traffic at the sites. Traffic control responsibilities should be assumed by transportation agency personnel with specialized training in traffic control at incident sites. The guidelines should include the following:

Recommendation 15: Procedures for Restoring Roadway Capacity

Develop national guidelines that address removing a vehicle from an incident scene without the owner's permission so that the roadway can be cleared in a timely manner. This includes removal of disabled vehicles on the shoulder. The guidelines should address the following:

Develop national requirements and processes for certifying private incident responders such as towing companies, auto club service patrols, and private ambulance organizations.

Recommendation 16: Clearance Time Targets

Develop recommended clearance time targets for typical incident types and recommended procedures for achieving those targets.

Recommendation 17: Removing Fatalities from Incident Site

Develop policies to relocate deceased victims from the incident scene in a more timely manner. Potential improvements could include the following:

Recommendation 18: Coordination of Tactical Response

Tactical response plans should be developed that will promote consistent response to traffic incidents irrespective of which organization is the first to respond.

Recommendation 19: Response Dispatch

The following dispatch practices should be considered for implementation in the United States:

Recommendation 20: Welfare of Road Users Upstream of Long-Duration Incidents

Agencies/organizations should give attention to the welfare of those involved in long-duration queues resulting from an incident.

Recommendation 21: End-of-Queue Advance Warning

Onscene traffic control should provide end-of-queue warnings to inform road users before they reach the end of the queue.

Recommendation 22: Preplanned Diversion Routes

Agencies should develop preplanned diversion routes on high-volume freeways that would allow traffic to divert to alternate routes with minimal effort and reduce the demand for onscene traffic control.

Recommendation 23: Variable Speed Limits

Evaluate the use of variable speed limits as a means of slowing traffic upstream of an incident and moving traffic out of lanes blocked by the incident. The variable speed limit concept should be technology independent and focus on the ability to change speeds and not the technology for changing speeds.

7.3. Recommendations Related to Communications and Technology (Chapter 5)

Two of the 25 recommendations are associated with communication and technology issues that address how responders communicate with each other (particularly interagency communications) and with travelers, and how technologies can be used to improve incident response and management. The two recommendations are listed below.

Recommendation 24: Coordinated Traffic Information Centers

Agencies in the United States should implement traffic information centers on a national, State, and/or regional basis to coordinate the distribution of traffic information to road users, improve traffic incident data sharing, and coordinate national incident response performance measurement on a 24/7 basis.

Recommendation 25: Improving Communication Practices

U.S. communication practices should be improved by integrating traffic incident communication needs through SAFECOM in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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