T3 Webinar Question and Answer Transcript

Guidance Tool for Implementation of Traffic Incident Management Performance Measures (NCHRP 07-20)
(December 16, 2014)

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Q. Can severity be calculated not based on contact like injuries? How is a traffic or police going to assess injuries?

Paul Jodoin: It's just an injury category, I believe. Usually they're calculated based on severity and severity usually means to the responders, how long we're going to be out there mitigating the crash, the incident. The injuries is just one contributing factor, usually. But it is something that's collected because an injury crash we know takes longer to clear and the severity of the injury is going to delay it even further. But that's just one category.

Brian Hoeft: What we'll see when we already have our reoccurring congestion is that the crashes are less severe because they occur at slower rates of speed. Where we tend to have our more severe crashes that may have the bodily injury is sometimes where we're transitioning from free flow into congested flow or just in a totally free flow regime. And then what often happens there with the higher speed crash is that the vehicle is more damaged. It can't be pushed to the shoulder. The fluids leak. Those have to be cleaned up. The tow trucks are required. So we have a lot of temporal spatial data that contributes to the crash speed as being a big issue on how quickly we can get the roadside clearance or the incident clearance. And if the roadside clearance is going to last longer, then there's much more potential for the secondary crashes.

Kelley Klaver Pecheux: Also, Brian, didn't you implement that ambulance checkbox to be able to highlight if there was an injury?

Brian Hoeft: Yes, we did. What we will do either with our operators observing it or going through the archive snapshots is monitor if ambulances, fire trucks, paramedics show up and their activity on the scene. And that allows us to put the crash into the injury category which is clear in sixty minutes or less as opposed to the property damage only category which is 30 minutes or less.

Q. How are the performance measures being collected when the forms are manual process?

Paul Jodoin: I think with much difficulty, if at all. I know we had a call with Minnesota the other day and they actually started the TIM performance measures programs just that way, just by manual entry on an excel spreadsheet from the TMC operators. I'm not sure that they were submitting forms. There were some service patrol forms in the beginning there, I think. I'm sure I'm not getting that's 100 percent correct. It is a challenge with all of the technology out there. I think it's a significant challenge to try to collect it manually. A lot of obviously labor intensive and all of that.

Brian Hoeft: Yeah, that was one of the big motivators for setting up some of those features that we displayed is tried the hand calculations or looking at the hand form and entry forms and yeah, it was tough. Fortunately, we have a better system in place.

Q. The presenters are exceptionally presenting data. The challenge is obtaining accurate and relevant data.

Paul Jodoin: Amen to that. That is a huge challenge. There are two types of data. And I think it goes on to talk about the call center and/or our police reports which is delayed. Some of the technology is—you know, the operations center obviously can connect information. The call center can collect the information and that is immediate. And then the police reports—there's been some work underway, especially through the tracks, crash data forms where you can get the police reports faster and quicker. And I think then there are some others that think that that is the most accurate way to actually—and best way to get that information in real time, so we can do some real time use of that information. It's a good comment in getting the—connecting the two, integrating the two data—the two approaches is—I don't know.

Q. Have others expressed this concern and how do you address it?

Paul Jodoin: I don't know that. Yes, others have expressed a concern, and the concern about integrating the police and the DOT, in particular, data is challenging.

Kelley Klaver Pecheux: I think the interviews that we've done more recently—there are a number of agencies who have done this and they take a little bit different approaches to it. One of the things we hope to share, as Paul mentioned, I think, at the very beginning of the webinar, is if guidance on some of these more challenging issues and sharing the practices that others are doing and how they've kind of overcome the challenges. We hope to be able to provide some information, more detailed information, on that. But I think, in general, there is not integration, but there are some that are definitely doing it.

Paul Jodoin: Our approach is, as we pursue the increased collection, is just to integrate the two into one somehow. Because the police reports is probably the best way to get the information, the fully accurate information. But if it's integrated real time somehow, and some are making that attempt now, some integrated CAD is happening in Virginia, for example. But yeah, it is a challenge.

Q. Did the guidance, reference ITS standards within TMDD or other standards in TMDD?

Kelley Klaver Pecheux: There is a reference to that. We also cross checked the data elements with the data elements in the MUC. So there was some reference and cross checking of those other standards.

Q. How do you know when the congestion queue is longer than normal? How is that communicated on that image?

Brian Hoeft: That's something that we can look at with those contour plots. We know what the normal reoccurring plot is and then visually, we can see when it's longer than normal. But that's also where we can look at the travel time postings as well. And if we're getting nine to ten minutes of maximum delay and then all of a sudden a twenty or a twenty-five pops up, we know that's the case. And then if we need to, we have some of those snapshots archived, if we had to verify with that.

Q. Does Las Vegas use microwave detection systems or do they rely on websites like INRIX or both to monitor speeds? How about others? How are you getting your information, your data?

Brian Hoeft: Again, this is where I want to make sure that Nevada DOT gets acknowledged. They've invested in the devices, and for the most part, we use the Wavetronix side-fire radar and they're spaced between a third and a half mile up and down most of the freeways in Southern Nevada. And some of the corridors have been instrumented for a while. We started archiving data from as far back as 2009 so we do have a lot of trends that we can follow up on as well.

Q. How do you anticipate predicting congestion when incidents may not be known at the exact time of the incident? An estimated prediction is possible. But how is the ground truth based on to ensure the accuracy of prediction based on validation incidents?

Brian Hoeft: In the area where we have—in addition to the radar detectors, we have cameras deployed at half mile spacing in the urban footprint. We're not going to go much longer than a minute or so in the urban area of finding the crash, whether we see it with the cameras, whether we see it with the Google Maps style imaging, whether highway patrol tells us. One way or another, we're finding those crashes very quickly and then it's kind of an all-hands-on-deck to see if we can first get it to the shoulder and go from there. But, again, that's also where we can go back several years and 10,000 plus records of incidents and see the trends and kind of know to an extent already what's going on. The more formal predictive things that come out of the study that we have now launched on is going to just improve on some of the intuitions and the anecdotal evidence that we already have in place.

Q. Can excessive speed be a major cause of severity? If so, how is it measured after the fact and is it tracked?

Paul Jodoin: Well, that's absolutely correct. We've seen it time and time again. Well, I'm not going to pretend to be an accident reconstructionist, but I'm sure that that is figured in the calculations when they do do it. How specifically we can't go into it here. But we actually are working on a project for accident reconstruction. There will be a series of webinars coming out in the first of the year that can give us that information. But I'm sure they have methods to calculate how fast the motorist was going.

Brian Hoeft: I don't necessarily read every highway patrol report for every crash, but often times on the fatals I'll look at them and they are very detailed in coming up with that information. The other thing, in addition to excessive speed that I would add, is speed deferential. Do you have operations on a freeway corridor where the inside lanes are going quicker and the outside lanes are going more slowly and you have merging and prepositioning of certain lanes going on? You can get those slinky effects where lane number four is going at 15 miles an hour and the inside lanes are going at 45, 50 miles an hour. The speed differential plays a huge role in crash severity and frequency.

Q. How many staff are required to go back and review still shots to check off for the secondary accident on ambulance?

Brian Hoeft: We're a little bit leanly staffed on that so sometimes that falls under management purview. That's an opportunity to see if we can prove the benefits of getting a lot of that information. We might have some opportunities to provide more staffing resources for that. Right now, that's an opportunity to staff up.

Q. Is the data entered at the TMC only? Or it could be entered from the field live?

Brian Hoeft: The examples that we showed are all done at the traffic management center. But I'm sure that it could be done remotely if necessary.

Kelley Klaver Pecheux: There are agencies that are—they have their freeway service patrol or their incident response teams that are managed by the DOT and coordinated with the law enforcement at any incident that is within their coverage area that have integration and they have laptops in the field and they actually are entering a lot of the information live in the field which then gets automatically populated within the database because it's integrated. I don't know that there's a lot of areas doing that, but I do know there's at least a couple.

Q. Does the fire department agree to clear in ten minutes or less goal? Sometimes they are resistant to doing anything other than closing off the road to control the scene. What's been your experience relative to fire on the quick clearance?

Brian Hoeft: A lot of the times the fire and the ambulance are showing up when it's a more serious crash that eventually is going to probably require a tow truck. Where we have those quick clearances is when we know the parts of the freeway that are more prone to crashes. And so there is extra patrols—highway patrol from freeway service patrol. They show up within a matter of minutes. And if they can, within a minute or so of arriving on the scene, they can get the vehicle to the shoulder. But as I've been complimenting Nevada DOT, I also want to compliment the Clark County Fire Department and Las Vegas Fire Department and some of the other entities because they are active participants in our TIM coalition. And the TIM coalition has brought us all together. And they do realize and recognize the importance of the quick clearances. They're on the scene. They get the people out of the vehicles. If they need to get out of the vehicles, they get them transported to the hospital and they do it pretty quickly. They are definitely on board with this.

Paul Jodoin: I think we're seeing that increasingly throughout the country is that fire—they felt that it's safer to take more lanes in order to protect their personnel. Certainly, there's the understanding that we can effectively do that without closing the roadway. And I think we're seeing that fire is increasingly coming on board for that.

Q. Regarding I-15 clearance time, did the tracking start at first report or at on scene time?

Brian Hoeft: Our tracking starts when we enter it into that one screen that I showed. What we will do is we have a map with all of the highways. We'll right-click on where the accident is. Once we make the right-click, the form shows up, but all of the temporal spatial data is loaded and that's when the clock starts ticking.

Paul Jodoin: And I think with the standard performance measures that we're looking for, it's for us recordable awareness. It may have been there longer, the incident may have been longer, but whoever is able to record the incident location and time is when I think everyone has been collecting it.

Q. Are there liability concerns indicating secondary crash on officer report with insurance for primary incident be held accountable for secondary crash?

Paul Jodoin: I'm not a lawyer. I'm not going to answer that question, but I've never heard of such a thing. I've never heard that. Every once in a while we hear about liability coming up and people mentioning liability but I have never ever heard that situation. But, again, I'm not a lawyer and I would not be involved in that.

Brian Hoeft: Nothing from Las Vegas on that one.

Kelley Klaver Pecheux: Just a note that the Arizona Department of Public Safety, actually statewide, so it's state and local, Paul, law enforcement are using an electronic crash form that includes that secondary incident checkbox as well as Florida state police. So there are a number of law enforcement agencies and states that are doing it statewide. They might have a little bit more information on whether they've come across that.

Q. Does the DOT maintenance staff provide maintenance of traffic and allow policemen?

Paul Jodoin: Typically around the country, the maintenance staff does respond to traffic crashes. That's very standard around the country.

Brian Hoeft: Yeah, definitely. And if it's going to be an extended crash, they'll set up the lane control and they'll do that in collaboration with the freeway surface patrol. And then we also have incident response vehicles that are a larger vehicle that can have the lane closure arrows and everything. It's a good deployment of all of those resources, including the state maintenance staff.

Paul Jodoin: Yeah, that's fairly, I think, pretty typical.

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