Traffic Incident Management (TIM)
Crashes, spilled loads and stalled vehicles are all examples of traffic incidents. Here in Alabama and throughout the nation, these situations and the traffic congestion caused by them account for approximately one-fourth of all delays on our highway system. Traffic incidents also significantly impact the safety of both motorists and emergency responders. Responding effectively to incidents on the highway requires a planned and coordinated effort by many different individuals -- from law enforcement and fire departments to emergency medical personnel, towing companies, HAZMAT/spill response firms, and the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) maintenance crews.
ALDOT Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Program brings together all agencies involved in clearing an incident from the roadway. Together, they strive to make incident management safer for the responders and motorists, and work to reduce the time needed to reopen travel lanes and get traffic moving again.
TIM is a collaborative and coordinated multi-disciplinary process to detect, respond to, and clear traffic incidents so that traffic flow may be restored as safely and quickly as possible. Effective TIM reduces the duration and impacts of traffic incidents and improves the safety of motorists, crash victims and emergency responders.
ALDOT recognizes the importance of TIM in maintaining the operational safety and efficiency of the state’s roadways. The Traffic Incident Management Program is a comprehensive multi-agency, multi-discipline program, led by the Alabama Department of Transportation and the Alabama Department of Public Safety (DPS) and focused on the three National United Goal (NUG) objectives:
- Responder safety
- Safe quick clearance
- Prompt, reliable incident communications
The following links provide more information on the TIM Program and Operational Safety:
Why TIM is Important to Us All
For public safety responders and support teams responding to highway incidents…, the risk of injury or death is constant. According to the National Traffic Incident Management Coalition (NTIMC) traffic crashes and “struck-by” incidents continue to be a leading cause of on-duty injuries and deaths for law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical services, and towing and recovery professionals. Along with state DOT professionals, these “heroes of the highway” risk their personal safety to provide necessary services to the citizens of Alabama. Safe, quick clearance of highway incidents reduces the exposure for all.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has characterized traffic congestion as “one of the single largest threats” to the Nation's economic prosperity and way of life. Traffic incidents are a large contributing factor to congestion in the U.S. NTIMC studies indicate that traffic incidents are the cause of about one quarter of the congestion on U.S. roadways, and that for every minute a freeway lane is blocked due to an incident, it results in 4 minutes of travel delay. Travel delay impacts system reliability, impacting commerce, impacting, on varying levels, the livability of the communities we call home.
Saving lives, time and money, is a shared priority amongst local, state and federal partners. ALDOT continues working closely with these partners to build and promote a robust TIM program throughout the state. We are making use of and creating opportunities to increase our interaction, outreach and awareness regarding TIM program elements.
Together Alabama’s responder community can shape the next generation of Traffic Incident Management, improve the on-scene safety of our first responders and increase the “livability” of our communities. Encourage your agency and community members to learn about Alabama’s TIM program, and promote safe, quick clearance of roadway incidents.
To Respond Effectively as a Team…We Need to Train as a Team – TIM Responder Training Comes to Alabama
Alabama's TIM Responder Training Implementation Committee first met in December of 2013. Early on, one of the committee's primary responsibilities was to identify a cadre of cross-disciplined trainers to begin the delivery of TIM Responder Training in Alabama. With representatives from each of Alabama's TIM disciplines, the committee identified 60 participants from various response disciplines who would receive the initial Federal Highway Administration's TIM Responder Train the Trainer curriculum. With the Alabama TIM Implementation Plan in-place Alabama will hosted two TIM Responder Train the Trainer sessions, November 2014 and February 2015. Immediately after the Train the Trainer sessions this cadre of cross-disciplined trainers will begin to deliver TIM Responder Training throughout the state.
Traffic Incident Management for Responders
The Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Responder Course was developed through the Strategic Highway Research Program and administered through the Federal Highway Administration. This four-hour program is provided by first responder agencies in Alabama with trained personnel who have completed the National Traffic Incident Management Train-the-Trainer Course and uses a multiple-discipline perspective to train first responders within states and localities how to operate more efficiently and collectively. This unique course for first responders promotes a shared understanding of the requirements for safe, quick clearance at traffic incident scenes; prompt, reliable and open communications; and motorist and responder safeguards. The TIM training program focuses on a response effort that protects motorists and responders while minimizing the impact on traffic flow, including detecting, verifying and responding to incidents; clearing the incident scene; and restoring traffic flow.
To be effective, this course requires a mix of disciplines, including law enforcement, fire, transportation, emergency medical services, public safety, towing and recovery, public works, and hazardous materials (HAZMAT) disciplines.
Traffic Incident Management for Partners
Traffic Incident Management is a planned and coordinated program process to detect, respond to, and remove traffic incidents and restore traffic capacity as safely and quickly as possible. This coordinated process involves a number of public and private sector partners, including:
- Law Enforcement
- Fire and Rescue
- Emergency Medical Services
- Public Safety Communications
- Emergency Management
- Towing and Recovery
- Hazardous Materials Contractors
- Traffic Information Media
Law enforcement agencies include State Police and Highway Patrols, County Police and County Sheriffs, Township and Municipal Police and other agencies which have officers sworn to enforce laws. On the scene of a traffic incident the duties of these officials include:
- Securing the incident scene
- Providing emergency medical aid until help arrives
- Safeguarding personal property
- Conducting accident investigations
- Serving as incident commander
- Supervising scene clearance
- Assisting disabled motorists
- Directing traffic
Fire and Rescue
Fire and rescue services are provided by county and municipal fire departments, and by surrounding fire departments through mutual aid agreements. Typical roles and responsibilities at traffic incidents assumed by fire and departments include:
- Protecting the incident scene
- Suppressing fires
- Providing emergency medical care
- Serving as incident commander
- Providing initial HAZMAT response and containment
- Rescuing crash victims from contaminated environments
- Rescuing crash victims from wrecked vehicles
- Arranging transportation for the injured
- Assisting in incident clearance
- Providing traffic control until law enforcement or DOT arrival
Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
The primary responsibilities of EMS are the triage, treatment, and transport of crash victims. In many areas, fire and rescue companies provide emergency medical services. In some areas, other agencies or private companies provide these services to local jurisdictions under contract. Typical roles and responsibilities assumed by EMS at traffic incidents include:
- Providing advanced emergency medical care
- Determining of destination and transportation requirements for the injured
- Coordinating evacuation with fire, police and ambulance or airlift
- Serving as incident commander for medical emergencies
- Determining approximate cause of injuries for the trauma center
- Removing medical waste from incident scene
Transportation agencies are typically responsible for the overall planning and implementation of traffic incident management programs. Typically, these agencies are also involved in the development, implementation, and operation of traffic management centers (TMC), as well as the management of service patrols. Typical operational responsibilities assumed by transportation agencies and their service patrols include:
- Assist in incident detection and verification
- Initiate traffic management strategies on incident impacted facilities
- Protect the incident scene
- Provide traffic control
- Assist motorist with disabled vehicles
- Provide motorist information
- Provide sand for absorbing small fuel and anti-freeze spills
- Provide special equipment clearing incident scenes
- Determine incident clearance and roadway repair needs
- Establish and operate alternate routes
- Coordinate clearance and repair resources
- Serve as incident commander prior to the arrival of law enforcement or fire and rescue personnel and for clearance and repair functions and/or serving as part of a unified command system
- Repair transportation infrastructure
Public Safety Communications
Public safety communications services are the 911 call takers and dispatchers. In larger urban areas, call taking and dispatching duties may be separated. Call takers route emergency calls to appropriate dispatch. In some areas, all public safety emergency calls (police, fire and rescue, and emergency medical) are handled in one joint center with call takers sending calls to appropriate agency dispatch depending on the nature of the call. In smaller urban areas and in many rural areas, call-takers may also dispatch public safety response. Most large urban areas have E911 capabilities so that call takers can obtain the location of landline 911 calls. Many rural areas do not yet have E911. Most calls on highway emergencies come from cellular telephones that are currently not able to provide location information for 911 calls.
State and local governments have agencies whose duties are to plan for and coordinate multi-agency response to large-scale emergencies such as natural and man-made disasters. They have specific responsibilities under both federal and state law. Even very large highway incidents rarely activate emergency response plans unless they necessitate evacuation due to a spill or presence of hazardous materials. Emergency management agencies maintain lists of the location of many public and private sector resources that might be needed in a major emergency. These lists and contacts for activating resources are valuable tools in planning multi-agency response to major highway incidents.
Towing and Recovery
Towing and recovery service providers are responsible for the safe and efficient removal of wrecked or disabled vehicles, and debris from the incident scene. Towing and recovery companies are secondary responders operating under a towing arrangement usually maintained by a law enforcement agency. Towing and recovery companies that respond to highway incidents are indispensable components of all incident management programs. Even programs that include service patrols with relocation capability depend heavily on towing and recovery service providers. Their typical responsibilities include:
- Recover and remove vehicles from incident scene
- Protect victims' property and vehicles
- Remove debris from the roadway
- Provide other services, such as traffic control, as directed or under contract
Hazardous Materials ContractorsHazardous materials contractors operate in a number of regions in the United States. They are hired by emergency or transportation authorities to clean up and dispose of toxic or hazardous materials. Most common (and small quantity) engine fluid spills (oil, diesel fuel, gasoline, anti-freeze, etc.) can be contained and cleaned up without calling hazardous materials contractors.
Traffic Information Media
Traveler information is a critical component of effective traffic incident management. Tools to help inform travelers of an incident include ITS devices (such as variable message signs and highway advisory radio), and the broadcast media. It is important to inform motorists of current traffic conditions to help minimize frustration, increase compliance with alternate routes, and enhance safety throughout the work zone. Furthermore, it is important to notify drivers who have not yet entered the highway system. For example, it is imperative to inform those who have not left for their destination so they can reconsider the amount of time or route of travel.
Traffic information service providers are primarily private sector companies that gather and disseminate traffic condition information. These private providers are the primary source of information for commercial radio traffic information broadcasts, the most common source of traffic information for motorists. These companies also package specific information on a route or time of day basis to paying clients who subscribe for the information. In recent years, many Internet sites have been created to provide road condition and traffic information. A mixture of public sector agencies and private information service providers maintains these sites.
TIM Command and Control
Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD)-5, Management of Domestic Incidents, directed the development and administration of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). Originally issued on March 1, 2004, by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the National Incident Management System (NIMS) provides a systematic, proactive approach to guide departments and agencies at all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to work seamlessly to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of incidents, regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity, in order to reduce the loss of life and property and harm to the environment.
The NIMS Incident Command System (ICS) provides clear procedures for coordinating between agencies and on-scene responders and outlines roles and activities assigned to each. Who fills the role of Incident Commander is usually dictated by the nature of the call and the level of command experience of the responders. For example, on an injury accident scene that requires extrication of a patient, it is common for a fire/rescue officer to serve as Incident Commander. On a spilled load or other incident that impacts traffic flow but does not involve life/safety threats, a law enforcement officer may perform the command function. On complex incidents with multiple response agencies, Unified Command is used to coordinate between the agencies and provide a management structure for the incident. ICS recognizes that different disciplines may need to assume the role of Incident Commander at various stages of the incident, and provides for an orderly transfer of command as assignments are completed.
Law enforcement, in cooperation with other incident participants shall be responsible for securing the incident scene in a manner to safely make available the most travel lanes as soon as reasonably possible. As specialized resources such as fire and rescue EMS, and towing and recovery complete their missions, they will clear the incident and return to their normal duties. This will also be true of law enforcement and other agencies as they complete their required functions, and it is determined their resources are no longer needed. The paramount goal is restoring the roadway to normal traffic as soon as possible.
Alabama Service Assistance Patrol
Currently the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) operates two Traffic Management Centers (TMC) and Alabama Service and Assistance Patrol (ASAP) programs, one in the Birmingham Urbanized Area and one in the Mobile Urbanized Area. ALDOT strives to reduce traffic delays and congestion on the Interstate and state highway systems around metropolitan area utilizing the TMC and ASAP programs to respond to a variety of incidents ranging from removing debris in the roadway, providing assistance to disabled vehicles, and coordinating incident response with First Responders.
The use of a TMC and ASAP are two aspects of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) utilized by ALDOT for congestion management in the Greater Birmingham Metropolitan Area. Although these two programs have always worked in conjunction with each other it was not until mid-2013 that they were brought together under the same immediate supervision. As ALDOT strives to reduce congestion on the Interstate system around Birmingham, the TMC uses various types of surveillance equipment to detect incidents and notify ASAP and other first responders. ASAP and others respond to these incidents and works to clear the roadways so that normal traffic flow may be resumed. By quickly reestablishing normal traffic flow, harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) produced by idling vehicles, onlooker delays and chances of secondary incidents are all reduced. The program in Birmingham provides a wide range of services to motorists traveling I-20, I-59, I-65 and I-459 in Jefferson and Shelby counties.
The Mobile ASAP program currently patrols I-10, I-65, I-165, US 90, and US 98 in the Mobile Metro area and the Eastern Shore of Baldwin County 24 hours a day/ 365 days a year. This includes the critical areas around the Bankhead and Wallace Tunnels and along the I-10 Bayway (along with Wallace Tunnel, this area is listed as the most congested section of I-10 from the Atlantic to the Pacific) and US 90/98 Causeway. This is done by utilizing the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) devices located at the state of the art Mobile Regional Traffic Management Center (RTMC). The program was initiated as a part of the overall Intelligent Transportation System program of ALDOT. ASAP provides a free service to the traveling public and has become an integral and extremely successful part of the Alabama Department of Transportation's freeway incident management effort.
Legislation - Alabama Move Over Law
One of the most dangerous places for emergency responders and maintenance personnel is along the side of the road. Each year hundreds of these hard working men and women are injured or killed by passing motorists while working along the nation’s highways.
In 2009, Alabama passed a law (Move-Over Act) designed to protect law enforcement officers, emergency responders, tow operators and highway maintenance personnel who are conducting business on Alabama’s roadways. Alabama's "move-over" law requires motorists to move over and slow down when they encounter emergency responders stopped roadside with emergency signals activated.
It is called the Alabama Move-Over Law (Code of Alabama - Title 32: Motor Vehicles and Traffic - Section 32-5A-58.2) and the concept is simple. If a motorist sees a vehicle on the side of the road with its emergency lights flashing (red, blue and amber), the motorist is required to move out of the lane closest to the vehicle if possible. If not safe to move over, the driver shall slow to a speed that is at least 15 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit unless otherwise directed by a law enforcement officer.
A violation of the Move-Over Law is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of twenty-five dollars ($25). Upon a second violation of this subsection, the fine shall be fifty dollars ($50). Upon a third or subsequent violation, the fine shall be one hundred dollars ($100).
TIM Documents & Reports
The reports and documents listed on this page are annual reports and are updated accordingly. For additional information, please contact ALDOT TIM Personnel.
Move Over Law Web Card (PDF)
Responder Safety (PDF)
Safe Quick Clearance (PDF)
TIM Bookmark (PDF)
TIM Training Resources & Videos
- TIM Train-the-Trainer Schedule (Coming Soon)
- TIM Train-the-Trainer Registration (Coming Soon)
- TIM Responder Training Schedule (Coming Soon)
- TIM Responder Training Registration (Coming Soon)
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- Accepting the Challenge Be Visible
- Be Bright Be Right
- Blocking Procedures
- Manage to Survive – TIM for First Responders
- Ten Cones of Highway Safety
- The Many HATS of Highway Incident Management
- Your Vest Won’t Stop This Bullet
Public Service Announcements (Videos)
Resources for Traffic Incident Management
Teamwork and training are important for successfully implementing Traffic Incident Management. Below are some links to training and resources.
In response to Congress' directive to improve the efficiency and safety of the U.S. highway system, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is offering the first national, multi-disciplinary traffic incident management (TIM) process and training program called the SHRP2 National Traffic Incident Management Responder Training.
National Incident Management System (NIMS)
The NIMS program has a website that includes multiple pages and documents referring to implementation and compliance guidelines, training, and information about the National Integration Center (NIC).
NIMS Training Courses
The NIMS website has a page devoted to emergency management training courses, including documents for the NIMS Training Program, the NRF Integrated Emergency Management Course, NIMS courses and other NIMS-related training, and a FAQs section.
TIM Resource Management: This FHWA document outlines key TIM subject areas, such as approaches in operations and resource management, potential efficiency improvements, and cost-share strategies. It also includes a number of tables, particularly for estimated resource costs for each incident response team.
Responder Safety: Home to the Emergency Responder Safety Institute, this website contains information regarding responder safety such as training videos, news articles, records of responders struck at incident scenes, and guidelines for law enforcement officers.
FHWA TIM publications: A complete list of publications can be found for the following categories:
- Emergency Transportation Operations
- Traffic Incident Management
- Traffic Management for Planned Special Events
- Newly Released Publications
- Additional Resources
FHWA TIM Website
The TIM program of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is part of a larger all - hazards program called Emergency Transportation Operations (ETO). Both the ETO and TIM Programs are housed in the FHWA's Office of Transportation Operations under the Associate Administrator for operations.
- Integrated Interagency Communications
- On-scene Traffic Incident Management Operations
- Regional and Statewide Programs and Institutional Coordination
The TIM Network connects TIM Professionals (especially those from different disciplines) to each other, provides a method for TIM Professionals to escalate issues and provides a way for the NTIMC to validate suggested practices. Essentially the TIM Network is the equivalent of a national TIM Team.
FHWA TIM Performance Measurement Knowledgebase
The FHWA TIM performance measurement knowledgebase is intended to be a highly-useable, online reference that provides transportation professionals the knowledge and tools they need, including sample documents and models from other States, to successfully implement program-level TIM performance measures in their State.
FHWA TIM Performance Measurement (PM) LISTSERV
Subscribe to the TIM PM managed e mail list to access the experiences & expertise of focus States & others across the country measuring TIM: send an email to TIMPM@dot.gov to subscribe.
Initiatives From Other States
For additional information, please contact ALDOT TIM Personnel