Incident management programs in the United States

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Richard A Cunard

Traffic congestion has a daily impact on millions of motorists - both interms of congestion and in terms of safety. To study congestion and developcountermeasures, the two general types of congestion must be addressedseparately: recurring congestion, which occurs routinely at predictable timesand locations, and non recurring congestion, which occurs at random times andlocations. This non-recurring congestion is typically caused by incidents(e.g., vehicle accidents, and breakdowns). It has been estimated that morethan 60% of all urban traffic congestion in the United States is a result oftraffic incidents and 20% of incidents are resulting from previous incidents.Consequently, the development of Incident Management programs has become animportant component of traffic safety and operations management in the UnitedStates. Incident Management is a systematic and co-ordinated program todetect and remove incidents and restore capacity as safely and as quickly aspossible. The goal of Incident Management programs is to minimise the impactof incidents on traffic flow and thus reduce congestion and improve safety.There are many Incident Management programs throughout the United States andthey vary dramatically in scope, complexity, and cost. The purpose of thispaper is review the characteristics of the various Incident Managementprograms that have been implemented in the U.S. and report on lessons learnedfrom our experiences.

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