Making Highway Safety a Team Effort
From Brantley Kirk
Alabama Department of Transportation
Traffic incidents are the number one cause of death for police officers and EMS responders nationwide and cause nearly 25 percent of the congestion on our roadways. The Alabama Department of Transportation is asking responders and the motoring public to learn more about how to stay safe on incident scenes as part of National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week 2019 (Nov. 10-16).
Minor incidents, even those on the roadway shoulder, can become major incidents. A secondary crash that happens in the traffic back-up can be more serious than the minor primary incident. Secondary incidents make up 14 – 18 percent of all crashes and are estimated to cause up to 18 percent of the deaths on our roads.
“Some drivers believe they should wait until the police arrive and make a crash report before moving their vehicle, but this is not true and actually puts them, their vehicle and other people’s lives at risk,” said Allison Green, Drive Safe Alabama coordinator, ALDOT. “Traffic Incident Management responders are often the heroes of our highways, saving lives every day. But everyone has a role in making traffic incident management work,” Green said.
ALDOT offers these safety tips:
- Update Training – All incident responders should sign up for the new national TIMS training program being rolled out to improve traffic incident responder safety and reduce traffic congestion. The program is being offered in Alabama to law enforcement, firefighters, state and local departments of transportation, towing and medical personnel. Participants can sign up for 2019 TIMS training at https://www.alabamatim.org/registration.html .
- Follow Quick Clearance Procedures – Responders should be aware of laws and procedures created to restore the safe and orderly flow of traffic when there is an incident on the road. ALDOT and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency recently created an Open Roads Policy. This agreement between the two state agencies includes expediting the removal of vehicles, cargo and debris from roadways on the Alabama State Highway System.
- If you can steer it, clear it. If a vehicle is drivable and there are no injuries or fatalities, Alabama state law requires the driver to move their vehicle to a safe place off the roadway.
- Slow down and move over when passing by an incident scene to provide a protective barrier for responders and the motorists behind you. Alabama’s Move Over law requires drivers to change lanes when approaching ALDOT vehicles, law enforcement vehicles, tow trucks and any other emergency vehicle with lights flashing. If drivers can’t change lanes safely, they must slow down as they pass the emergency vehicles. Drivers can get a ticket if they don’t slow down and move over.
As part of its traffic incident management program, ALDOT provides the Alabama Service and Assistance Patrol (ASAP) service. ASAP improves highway safety and minimizes traffic congestion by assisting stranded motorists and providing special equipment to clear and protect incident scenes. ASAP drivers work along heavily-traveled segments of the interstates near Birmingham, Mobile, Tuscaloosa and Montgomery.
For greater efficiency and effectiveness in locating and safely clearing disruptions to restore traffic flow, ASAP drivers work with their local ALDOT traffic management center, law enforcement and other emergency responders.
For more information on Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week, please visit the national website athttp://timnetwork.org/traffic-incident-response-awareness-week/
More safe driving tips are available on the Drive Safe Alabama Facebook page.