Road Network Operations
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Incident Response Planning

A Traffic Incident Management (TIM) team drawn from the leading organisations involved in responding to traffic incidents is useful in many situations. The team can operate as a unit to create the required contingency plans and the related Concepts of Operations (ConOps) – that identify stakeholders and their respective roles and responsibilities in incident management. (See Traffic Management Plans)

An Incident Management Team can be a continuing mechanism for practicing the essential “4-Cs’ of incident management – Communication, Cooperation, Coordination and Consensus – sharing new techniques, training and conducting post-incident assessments. This is done through regular, on-going meetings, perhaps monthly or bi-monthly.

There should be a core group that participates regularly in the continuing activities of the team. Usually this would include:

  • the person(s) responsible for managing the TIM programme nationally or regionally (if there is one)
  • maintenance and operations units in the national / regional or state/provincial transport departments and any local transport counterparts
  • law enforcement agencies
  • fire rescue and emergency medical services
  • mobile Safety Service Patrol provider
  • representatives of vehicle towing services (preferably an organisation, such as the appropriate professional towing association)

If there is a TCC in the region, it will be a core TIM member as well. The TCC may take the lead in forming the TIM Team. Other members would participate as needed. (See Table  below)

To start a TIM Team, there needs to be a lead organisation or champion to bring together the various parties to create consensus on goals and objectives. In addition there will be logistics to consider (including meeting facilities), which include:

  • provide agendas and recording minutes
  • notifying members of meetings
  • arranging for special presentations
  • training and other team activities

It is generally best if the TIM team champion comes from a public-safety agency, perhaps law enforcement, to encourage colleagues in other public-safety agencies to participate actively.

Effective strategies include promoting the adoption of an “Open Roads Policy” that sets a goal to clear the roadway and open the lanes to traffic as quickly as possible, for example within 90 minutes of the arrival of the first responder (the first official to respond to the scene and render assistance, such as a the police or a safety service patrol).

Some agencies’ delivery of the Open Roads Policy includes the local police and fire rescue departments and the Coroner/Medical Examiner’s Office. The Coroner’s involvement is helpful since it can grant authority to responders to remove fatalities from the roadway providing certain conditions are met (such as taking digital photographs). This avoids any delays in clearing the roadway, arising from having to wait for the Coroner to arrive and direct the removal.

Traffic Incident Management Teams in USA

In the USA members of the TIM Team are drawn from a wide range of stakeholders. Some, such as national agencies, serve more in an advisory role than an active role. Some localities also have a regional TIM Team to provide broad-based, and standardised training, and information sharing. An example is the Traffic Incident Management Enhancement (TIME) Task Force in the greater Atlanta, Georgia, USA.



Potential Stakeholders in a Traffic Incident Management (TIM) team



National Agencies 

  • National Road / Highway agency
  • Emergency management agency
  • Commercial Goods Vehicle Safety and Licensing agency
  • Defence and Security agency
  • Regional Agencies

Regional Agencies

Regional Department of Transportation (DOT) including as a minimum the following departments:

  • Traffic Engineering/Operations
  • ITS Team
  • Traffic Planning
  • Highway Maintenance
  • Road Safety Team
  • Commercial Vehicle Inspection Office

Sometimes the DOTs for adjacent regions are included:

  • Agency for Environmental protection
  • Ministry of Interior (for emergency management)
  • Law enforcement communications/dispatch centres
  • Emergency Operations Centre
  • Regional public transport agency
  • Regional emergency organisations

Local Agencies


  • Law enforcement (police and constables)
  • Fire rescue
  • Emergency Ambulance and Medical Services
  • Mobile Traffic and Safety Service Patrols
  • Metropolitan Planning Organisations
  • Medical Examiner/Coroner
  • City and region public works and traffic engineering
  • Emergency Operation Centres
  • Regional Emergency Control Centre
  • Public transport agencies


  • Toll-road Authorities
  • Transport authorities
  • Regional operating organisations

Private Partners


  • Towing and recovery operators
  • Hazardous Materials contractors
  • Insurance industry
  • Information Service Providers (ISPs)
  • Traffic media


  • Professional towing/breakdown associations
  • Technical and Professional societies (including ITS)
  • Automobile associations
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Associations of Cities, Local Authorities, Police,
  • Emergency Medical Services


  • “Better transport” organisations
  • Citizens’ groups
Reference sources

American Trade Initiatives (2006) Traffic Incident Response Practices in Europe Report No. FHWA-PL-06-002, US Federal Highways Administration Washington D.C.