Dealing with a motor vehicle crash or similar incident in a highway construction zone requires the combined skills of many people including police, fire, emergency medical services (EMS), highway agency, and contractor personnel. Work Zone Traffic Incident Management (WZ-TIM) is more complicated than ordinary TIM because access to the incident site is often difficult, there is limited space for response operations, and there are more organizations to coordinate. Response can be hampered by the combined effect of incident traffic backups and construction closures.
First responders, highway agencies and contractors need to work together to help prevent work zone traffic incidents and to be prepared to respond quickly when incidents occur. Responses can be matched to site conditions including terrain, available road space, and incident severity. Intensive pre-planning could be involved with projects affecting tunnels, long bridges, freeway-to-freeway interchanges, and other challenging sites. Administrative procedures can be reviewed to assure effective coordination of major decisions, such forced diversion of traffic to a secondary route.
Traffic mitigation measures and work zone emergency access can be considered during project design. During construction, first responders can be updated regularly about work status and available access points. For projects on congested high-speed roadways, Queue Warning Vehicles can be considered to reduce the risk of secondary crashes. Training and tabletop exercises can help responders, highway agency, and construction personnel understand their roles and responsibilities and prepare for efficient, well-coordinated response and recovery. Post-incident review can help assure that good practices are perpetuated.