The National Academies

NCHRP 07-20 [Final]

Guidance for Implementation of Traffic Incident Management Performance Measurement

  Project Data
Funds: $204,990
Research Agency: Applied Engineering Management Corporation
Principal Investigator: Kelly Klaver Pecheux
Effective Date: 4/2/2013
Completion Date: 11/2/2014

The objective of this research was to develop concise guidance on the implementation of TIM performance measurement that is applicable to a broad spectrum of transportation and incident responding agencies. Agencies to be addressed will include those in rural and urban settings, with a range of maturity in their TIM programs, and with a variety of data collection capabilities.


The Guidance is also available at the Traffic Incident Management Network

The guidance includes:
  • Clear definitions for traffic incident performance measures (e.g., roadway clearance time, incident clearance time, secondary accident). The minimum set of performance measures needed for effective management of a TIM program should be identified. Other measures that an agency may find useful at a program or incident level should also be defined. Effective visualization techniques for presenting the performance measures to decision makers and the public should be illustrated.
  • Clear and consistent definitions of the data elements needed to generate the performance measures and contextual data (e.g., incident characteristics, incident severity, lane closings and openings) useful in evaluating the effectiveness of the TIM program. Graphical approaches should be used to enhance the clarity of the definitions.
  • Descriptions of typical data sources and effective data collection strategies that could provide the data elements needed to generate the performance measures. Data collection strategies must consider the many demands faced by first responders. The descriptions should identify legal and institutional impediments and enablers that are commonly faced.
  • An example reference database (including schema) for the data elements and performance measures suitable for building or enhancing a TIM performance measurement data management system. The database should be suitable for eventual aggregation of performance measures at a state and national level.
The guidance should be useful to mid-level managers in:
  • Developing a plan for initiating or improving a TIM performance measurement system.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of existing and proposed TIM strategies and policies.
  • Raising the awareness of transportation and emergency response agency decision makers and the public of the importance of traffic incident management.
  • Incorporating TIM projects and elements into the transportation improvement program.
  • Motivating those responsible for collecting and analyzing the data.
  • Justifying the resources necessary for a TIM program, including the performance measurement aspect.
  • Developing reports for decision makers tracking TIM performance over time.

Task 1.
Conduct Project Kick-Off Webinar.


Task 2. Gather and Review Existing Literature.


Task 3. Develop Basic Guidance Content.


Task 4. Develop Illustrative Examples and Case Studies of Diverse Agencies


Task 5. Develop Example Reference Database.


Task 6. Develop Outline/Flow and Functionality for Online Guidance.


Task 7. Conduct Interim Project Meeting and Revise Guidance.


Task 8. Build Website/Online Guidance.


Task 9. Demonstrate Website/Guidance to Panel and Finalize Website/Guidance.


Task 10. Finalize Online Guidance and Prepare Final Report.


Traffic incident management (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.” (FHWA's Traffic Incident Management Website)
The National Traffic Incident Management Coalition has adopted the National Unified Goal for Traffic Incident Management to “achieve enhanced responder safety; safe, quick traffic incident clearance; and more prompt, reliable, interoperable communications.” Two of the strategies in the National Unified Goal deal with performance measurement.
  • Strategy 3. Goals for Performance and Progress. Traffic Incident Management partners should work together to establish and implement performance goals at the state, regional, and local levels for increasing the effectiveness of Traffic Incident Management, including methods for measuring and monitoring progress.
  • Strategy 11. Response and Clearance Times Goals. Traffic Incident Management partners at the state, regional, and local levels should commit to achievement of goals for traffic incident response and clearance times (as a component of broader goals for more effective Traffic Incident Management—see Strategy 3).
NCHRP Project 20-24(37)D, Measuring Performance Among State DOTs—Operations Performance Using Traffic Incident Management Performance Measures, attempted to collect data from state DOTs to identify factors and best practices that contribute to faster incident clearance. While several states were found to be collecting incident management data, inconsistencies in the data being collected and the formats made comparisons problematic. The research, including a literature review, pointed to several key requirements that would be needed to facilitate a robust and meaningful measurement of incident management programs. The report provides specific recommendations to improve agencies’ abilities to measure and improve the performance of their TIM program, including the development of a technical guidance document on performance measurement.


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