From the time Traffic Incident Management programs were initiated until now, the roles of emergency responders have remained largely the same because the transportation system has remained largely the same. Today a revolution in vehicle technology is taking place and is being led by the private sector. Vehicles with connected technologies are on the roads today, and, every year, technology is taking over a larger part of the driving task. Even before we reach the implementation of fully automated vehicles, these changes will impact incident response.
Auto companies have been designing these technologies for many years. The public sector and academia have gotten involved more recently. The focus of the CV/AV work has been from the driver’s perspective with the general thinking that these CV/AV technologies will make driving safer. However, what will happen when a crash occurs? Will responders need to respond differently? Will the severity of crashes increase because when the technology fails, it will fail catastrophically? Will new players be involved in incident response? Will all crashes be treated like crime scenes until the cause of the crash is identified? Are there new or changing risks to responders?
In addition, will this new technology provide more data to the responders so that the response activities will change? For example, will the responders have information related to the crash severity, airbag deployment, number of occupants, fuel spills, etc. so that the response can be better prepared prior to arriving at the scene.
The objective of this project is to investigate how traffic incidents might change in a more connected transportation system and what the needs of traffic incident responders would be. A secondary objective is to describe how traffic incident responders should be included in the CV/AV research agenda moving forward.
It is expected that the research will include the following tasks.
Task 1. Prepare summary of ongoing CV/AV research and determine if the work includes considerations for traffic incident response / responders.
Task 2. Survey vehicle developers and manufacturers to obtain input on knowledge of vehicle characteristics needed for TIM responders to safely interact with AV’s including, but not limited to, such items as identification of electrical hazards, emergency access for passenger rescue, potential for unintended movement, preservation of on-board event data, and requirements for vehicle towing and securement.
Task 3. Investigate how traffic incidents might change as transportation system becomes more connected (number of incidents, severity, liability, etc.) – consider 5, 10, 20 years in the future. This work should incorporate any considerations developed by the FHWA TIM Vision Work Group.
Task 4. Based on predicted incident trends, consider how traffic incident response will change – new roles, training, and equipment for responders; new agencies / organizations / companies involved in response; etc. Work on this task will coordinate closely with work on the ITSA/TSAG project Connected Responder: Public Safety and Emergency Response Community Connected Vehicle Interest, Context, and Business Case Development.
Task 5. Develop a plan to ensure traffic incident responders are included in continued development of the CV/AV research agenda and projects.