Five state organizations have formalized an inter-agency agreement that officially launches the Pennsylvania Traffic Incident Management Enhancement program (PennTIME), which aims to reduce highway incident clearance times and improve first-responder safety while keeping traffic moving.
The PennTIME program, designed from national traffic-management concepts, will enhance coordination and training among responder agencies and decrease the time it takes to respond to and clear highway incidents. The five state agencies that will lead the executive panel of the PennTIME consortium are: the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH), Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission. The PennTIME initiative grew out of a 2016 traffic-incident management summit hosted by PEMA, where attendees heard about the successes and challenges Mid-Atlantic response agencies faced when implementing statewide traffic-incident management (TIM) initiatives. At the end of the summit, Pennsylvania officials agreed to move toward a statewide response model.
PennTIME will help synchronize a multitude of organizations, jurisdictions and governments involved in TIM in Pennsylvania, which encompasses a mix of rural and urban environments, volunteer and paid response companies, and personnel from state, county and local agencies. As PennTIME agencies work to improve incident-scene safety and clearance times, officials throughout the state’s response community will continue to remind motorists of the need to slow down or move over for all emergency, recovery and maintenance personnel. Pennsylvania’s existing ‘Steer Clear’ law requires drivers to move over or slow down when approaching an emergency scene, traffic stop or disabled vehicle. The PennTIME consortium also includes representatives from the Governor’s Office, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, as well as some 20 national, state, regional, county and local groups involved in emergency response, planning, safety, transportation and legislative activities.
“Traffic crashes and ‘struck-by’ incidents are leading causes of injury and death for highway workers, police officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel and towing and recovery workers,” explained PennDOT secretary, Leslie Richards. “Reducing incident clearance times on our roadways will improve responder safety, while also keeping traffic moving and travelers safe.”
PA Turnpike’s CEO, Mark Compton, noted, “Each day, in Pennsylvania alone, we see 355 reportable crashes that cause three fatalities and 227 injuries, on average. We can do better. These five agencies, and others on the team, are taking a meaningful step toward improving highway worker and responder safety and making roads safer for all who use them.”
Acting State Police Commissioner, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Evanchick, added, “Coordinating traffic-incident management has been challenging in Pennsylvania because our roadways fall under different jurisdictions and involve many responding entities, each with different protocols. While each entity has distinct functions and responsibilities, organizing via a multidisciplinary approach is crucial to develop and operate a successful statewide incident-management plan.”