National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week Nov. 9-15, 2020

Slow Down. Move Over. Be Safe. Six words that say more than ever. This November, we will take the time to do those things, to focus on those things. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and its partners will again be emphasizing our shared need and commitment to making travel safer, smoother, swifter, through effective Traffic Incident Management practices by responders, and safe driving practices for all who depend on highways to move the nation.

Response agencies and their transportation partners will work together to bring attention to the growing issues of needless secondary crashes that have resulted in driver and responder deaths with alarming regularity.

SAMPLE Press Release:

(Addresses Communities & Drivers)

NATIONAL TRAFFIC INCIDENT RESPONSE AWARENESS WEEK NOV. 9-15, 2020

The Federal Highway Administration, key partners, and responders around the nation will mark National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week Nov. 9-15, 2020, the fifth year for the observance.

The 2020 theme is a simple, but needed one: Slow Down. Move Over. Be Safe. It focuses on the stark reality that responders are still being struck at an alarming rate, even as more people are aware of their responsibility to protect themselves and responders by adhering to common sense laws.

That theme focuses on the fact that every person has a role in traffic incident response. Drivers and passengers, passing motorists, public safety communications professionals, emergency responders, traveler information providers, and the towing/recovery community all play a role when an incident snarls traffic and threatens lives.

Responders, community leaders and preparedness organizations will use the week to prepare drivers and their local public safety professionals to help prevent responder, driver or passenger injuries and deaths.  Police, fire and rescue, safety service patrols, emergency medical professionals, towing and recovery professionals, public works departments, utilities, constructors, and transportation crews will talk to communities about the dangers of Traffic Incident Response, that are killing drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and those who rush to their aid.

INSERT INFORMATION FROM YOUR ORGANIZATION. A statement of support is fine if you do not have a specific event planned.

The [insert name of organization, unit, or business] is marking the week by [insert any details of your organization].

We encourage our people and all drivers to understand that Traffic Incident Response Safety is a team effort, and emergency actions taken by ALL involved work together for good.

National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week occurs right before the end-of-year holiday travel period,  Many of us will travel between communities or states, even in this time of uncertainty.  Make sure your vehicle is in good condition. Pack supplies you would need in case of an emergency. Be prepared in case the worst happens.  Know before you go and save a life.  And when you come near an incident scene, please slow down, move over, and obey all signals, signs, and personnel.

-end-

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week Important?

Studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that public education is important to advancing the cause of safer travel. Safety and operations education programs focused for years on seat belts, impaired driving, and distracted driving. Coupled with engineering advancements, and improved responder education and actions, crash deaths and injuries trended down for a time.

A dramatic rise in injuries and deaths in the past several years means that more traffic incident scenes require more responders. That means more drivers are traveling near work areas that are set up by the various emergency response partners, with temporary traffic control that is not entirely like the work zones set for planned work. Sadly, drivers and responders are dying, needlessly.

A shared awareness is needed, recognizing that safer Traffic Incident Response is a team effort.

Why was November chosen?

FHWA selected this week for two reasons.  It coincides with the USDOT Secretary and FHWA Administrator’s messages to be especially safe during the holiday season by driving sober and without distraction, using seatbelts, and being aware of those around you.  Secondly, it is the anniversary of the adoption of the National Unified Goal (NUG) for Traffic Incident Management (TIM), which was Nov. 20, 2007.

TIM experts developed a National Unified Goal for use in the United States and obtained approval from 23 member associations of the National TIM Coalition.  This included AASHTO securing an approval by all State DOTs.  FHWA has used the NUG as an organization tool to determine the strength of TIM programs and help jurisdictions develop an action plan using the NUG Goals and 18 Strategies to enhance TIM programs throughout the nation. The goals are simple, and in summary address responder safety, safe and quick clearance of incidents, and communications that is prompt, reliable, and interoperable.

What Is Happening Around the Nation?

Local teams, regional programs, and states are planning to conduct events to raise awareness and begin preparing for the fifth official National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week in 2020.

Some example ideas from past years and ideas how to modify them for 2020 as appropriate:

  • Ride-alongs with freeway service patrols and other responder vehicles
    • Live or recorded feed of work in an SSP vehicle or other
  • Traffic Management Center tours and open houses
    • Live stream a visit or allow interactive online open house
  • Video displays in welcome centers and rest areas
    • Still a good no-contact idea
  • Increased social media presence
  • Regional media events/press conferences
    • Virtual works~
  • Targeted messages on Dynamic Message Signs
  • Website focus on TIM messages
  • Sporting event educational presentation
  • Video production
  • Governor or other elected official proclamation
  • Outreach to community organizations

At the national level, the TIM Network formed a working group, based on FHWA’s request, and began collecting materials to post on a dedicated site on their website for individuals to come to collect items being used. The website, http://timnetwork.org/traffic-incident-response-awareness-week/, is being populated with materials being used by other organizations and TIM programs again in 2020.

RESOURCES AVAILABLE FROM TIM NETWORK

The following have been collected by the National TIM Network’s Traffic Incident Response Week Work Group. 

  • The TIM Network also organized a Social Media campaign independent of FHWA’s plan.  It developed the following:
    • The hashtags #SafeIncidents, #MoveOver, and #MoveOverSlowDown have been created to spread awareness through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Public Service Announcements 
  • Other resources regarding Move Over Laws
  • Safety Highlight and Training Videos
  • Printed Materials
    • Safety Service Patrol Fact Sheet
    • Traffic Management Center Fact Sheet
  • “How-to” tip sheets on events that can be tailored to any organization
  • Sample press release

How Can I Share My Events, Products Developed for the Week, and Lessons Learned with Others?

Individuals may report their activities to FHWA’s Office of Transportation Traffic Incident & Emergency Operations team by emailing Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week staff at cyorks@gfnet.com. The items will be posted on the National Traffic Incident Management Network webpage specifically designed for sharing information on preparedness for Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week or activities accomplished to date.

How Can I Become Involved?

Consider signing up with the National TIM Network, http://timnetwork.org/register/ or Emergency Responder Safety Institute, at  http://respondersafety.org. Follow the TIM Network on Twitter @The_TIM_Network.

National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week Talking Points

CORE MESSAGE:

Emergency responders across the country work tirelessly to help save lives at the scene of traffic incidents. Every year hundreds of emergency responders experience close calls, or are struck and either injured or killed while responding to these incidents, and at incident scenes. And motorists are as likely or more likely to be in danger at these scenes. November 9-15, 2020, has been designated by the Federal Highway Administration as National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week to draw public awareness to the dangers emergency responders face when reacting to a traffic incident. At the same time, it is important that drivers understand they are also at risk or injury or death in and around these scenes. The response of a driver is just as important as the response of the person towing a vehicle, rescuing the trapped, healing the injured and investigating the incident.

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?

  • Drivers:  
  • Slow down and move over when approaching and passing an incident scene to provide a protective buffer for you, for responders, and the motorists behind you.  
    • One in seven firefighters and police officers who die in the line of duty are killed in vehicle-related incidents.
    • Traffic incidents are the number one cause of death of EMS/EMT responders.
    • Traffic incidents are a leading cause of death for police officers.
    • You can get a ticket if you do not slow down and move over.  
  • If you can steer it, clear it.  Many drivers think they should not move their car if they are involved in a fender-bender or crash.  Even if their vehicle is drivable and there are no injuries, they believe they should wait until the police arrive and can make an accident report before moving their cars.  But this is not true and actually puts them, their vehicles, and other people’s lives at risk:  
    • If (and only if) your car is drivable and there are no injuries, you should move your car to the shoulder or nearby safe place off of the road.
    • Know your state’s laws about what to do in a traffic incident. Some states even want those vehicles moved if there are injuries.
  • Media:
  • Share traffic reporter awareness with the public.  Help drivers avoid the incident scene when you can.
  • Remind drivers to move over and slow down when passing responders assisting motorists on the side of the road and, if they are involved in a traffic incident, to move their cars out of the roadway if the vehicles are drivable and there are no injuries for their safety.
  • Proactively monitor traveler information websites to help fuel your traffic report. Know when and who to call to ask the DOT or municipality how you can help spread the word.
    • moved if there are injuries.
  • Responders:
  • Share your concerns, and your fears, in the most effective way you can for your community.
  • Use message boards to spread the message to slow down and move over.
  • When you have a captive audience in your vehicle, ask folks what they would do in approaching and/or passing an incident scene. Towing/recovery folks are very good at this – telling folks how to stay out of trouble.
  • Grassroots Organizations:
  • Use grassroots organizations, including Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs); AmeriCorps; Vista; University Transportation Centers, etc. memberships to share the message.
  • Service organizations, church organizations, and school organizations can reach their members with simple driver education information. Try inviting emergency responders to be part of your programming.
  • Everyone: 
  • Share this information with family, friends, co-workers, and community leaders.

WHAT IS TRAFFIC INCIDENT MANAGEMENT (TIM)?

TIM consists of a planned 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. This coordinated process involves a number of public and private sector partners, including:

  • Motorists involved
  • Motorists encountering incidents
  • Law Enforcement
  • Fire and Rescue
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Transportation/Public Works
  • Public Safety Communications
  • Emergency Management
  • Towing and Recovery
  • Hazardous Materials teams, contractors
  • Traffic Information Media
  • Utility providers
  • Construction companies