PHOENIX (July 2, 2018)—The time it takes to clear freeway crashes has been reduced by more than an hour, saving lives, time, and money. The positive news follows an analysis of a three-year pilot program funded by the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). The program places Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) troopers inside the ADOT Traffic Operations Center (TOC).

Pilot Safety Program Produces Dramatic Results

The move to co-locate troopers at the TOC allows AZDPS to monitor traffic incidents through nearly 300 ADOT cameras. When a crash occurs, the highly trained troopers can immediately begin incident management procedures to include directing units in the field to the scene quickly, determining what types of medical and rescue response are needed, and what class of tow truck or other resources are required to clear the scene quickly. The faster responders can clear the initial crash, the lower the risk of secondary crashes.

The three-year pilot project to improve road safety and reduce traffic congestion was launched in October 2014, the result of a collaborative effort among ADOT, AZDPS, MAG, and the Federal Highway Administration.

“Despite the number of crashes on Valley freeways going up, the time to clear crashes was reduced every year,” said MAG Chair Jackie Meck, mayor of Buckeye. “In the first year of the program, the average number of minutes to clear a crash went down by nearly an hour. Three years later, the time taken to clear all lanes at crash sites has been reduced by one hour and 12 minutes, drastically reducing the potential for secondary crashes and long freeway closures. That quicker response reduces the time motorists are stuck in traffic and makes freeway driving safer for all of us.”

AZDPS Director Frank Milstead says preventing secondary crashes is especially important, because those secondary collisions are often more serious than the initial incident.

“We believe this program, along with other efforts by our Highway Patrol Division, has resulted in safer highways for the traveling public, and for the troopers and first responders who arrive on the scene. Not only have roadway clearance times improved, but the incident clearance times—when troopers have completed their investigation and left the scene—have also improved by more than an hour. That means our troopers are back on their way more quickly and ready to respond to the next incident,” noted Milstead.

MAG estimates that the region has saved $336 million in potential lost productivity over the three years of the pilot project.

“The results show this has been one of the best proven investments by MAG and ADOT for improving public safety and freeway traffic operations,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski. “With the benefits of this pilot project so abundantly clear, ADOT is funding a 24/7 DPS presence at the Traffic Operations Center with a statewide focus.”

For more information on the results of the three-year pilot program, see graph below.

Freeway Clearnace Times

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