Effects of Legal and Institutional Issues on TIM Performance Measures

The calculation and reporting of TIM performance measures can be affected by issues apart from the basic formulas and the use or analysis of those measures under different contexts.  Both legal and institutional issues can affect TIM performance measures.

Some of the legal challenges that may affect TIM are safe clearance laws, fatality certification, and expedited crash investigation.  There are three core laws that are used to provide the necessary legal foundation for quick clearance and removal.  These laws are the Driver Removal or “Move It” law, the Authority Removal law, and the “Move Over” law (6,8).  NCHRP Synthesis 318 found that many states have quick clearance laws as well as information campaigns to inform and educate drivers about those laws (25).  The root effect of these types of laws is to reduce incident clearance time for minor incidents.  Analysis of TIM performance must take the presence of these laws into consideration, such as looking at before and after legislation performance.  For an example of how a policy revision impacted TIM performance click here.

Another legal issue that affects TIM performance is fatality certification.  In the case of incidents that involve fatalities, many states require that the death be certified by a coroner or medical examiner prior to moving the victim.  Waiting at the roadside for a fatality pronouncement can significantly extend roadway and incident clearance times.  A traffic fatality certification law or policy addresses the removal of a fatality from the incident scene.  This allows an effective quick clearance initiative by permitting the temporary removal of the deceased from a highway traveled way (8).   An alternative approach is to allow a designated EMS unit to certify death.  This allows the victim to be located to a better, safer refuge in the interest of both the victim and the public (20).  These policies can significantly reduce clearance times in major incidents, and their use should be understood and documented.

In suburban or rural areas where resources are limited, mutual aid agreements are often used to provide additional or specialized resources.  These agreements allow other governmental agencies and entities outside of the jurisdiction to provide assistance in TIM.  A formal agreement is often needed to provide this mutual aid and in some instances legal framework for these agreements is needed.  Once in place, the mutual aid agreements, often in the form of a memorandum of understanding (MOU), provide the framework for incident operations and define responder roles and responsibilities. This framework helps to keep everyone involved in incident response informed, especially when a response plan grows in complexity or is influenced by external factors. TIM becomes a cooperative and collaborative effort between multiple agencies and entities with a solid foundation of trust. Participants in the process know and understand their roles and responsibilities (14).  For an example of this kind of cooperative and collaborative effort click here.

Institutional challenges for TIM programs and the implementation of TIM performance measures are often found in the form of acceptance by participating agencies and their executive decision makers.   Exchanging data with other agencies may be a new practice for an agency, and managers often need to be convinced that this is beneficial to their agency. What data are exchanged, who has access to the data, and how the data are used also may be of concern. This is particularly true with respect to data that may be needed for criminal investigations that arise from an incident.  Data exchange often involves legacy system modifications. Again, the key issue is convincing managers to invest resources (5).  Successful strategies for overcoming the institutional challenges often lie in developing cooperative relationships between all of the involved agencies.  A successful cooperative relationship should include developing MOUs that define roles, responsibilities, and cost-sharing agreements.  The MOU can also be an effective tool for addressing data exchange issues, identifying areas or improvement and establishing working groups among the agencies (5,14).