Why have a quick clearance policy?

In high traffic congested areas rapid clearance of incidents results in positive perceptions by road users and engenders support from government, especially in relation to funding traffic operations.

Quick clearance is the practice of rapidly and safely removing temporary obstructions from the roadway. To find out more see the Transportation Research Board synthesis in 2003 titled Safe and Quick Clearance of Traffic Incidents.

Having a policy that places an emphasis on safe, quick clearance of incidents provides a focus for key responders, facilitating a coordinated cooperative response and results in quicker clearance, reduced congestion and safer responders.

These policies are best set up at regional or state level between key responder agencies – usually between the road and traffic agency and police service.

For example the Washington State Joint Operations Policy Statement (JOPS) is an agreement between Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the Washington State Patrol (WSP) establishing a policy position on cooperation on a number of issues, including a goal of clearing all incidents within 90 minutes.

WSDOT and WSP have a history of cooperatively managing traffic incidents in the Seattle metropolitan area and statewide and JOPS has evolved from the first joint policy position in 1999, with the fourth edition being produced in 2006.

Accountability is evident in the quarterly WSP and WSDOT progress reports on meeting the 90-minute goal to the Governor.

Similarly, open roads policies commit agencies such as the Florida Department of Transportation and the Florida Highway Patrol to clear all incidents within 90 minutes of the arrival of the first responding officer (Florida Open Roads Policy).

Reference: Dunn, W M & Latoski, S P (2003) Safe and Quick Clearance of Traffic Incidents (NCHRP Synthesis 318). Transportation Research Board. http://trb.org/news/blurb_detail.asp?id=1868 [8.2MB]

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