Arizona

Overview of TIM Program

The formal and coordinated TIM program in Arizona got its start in the 1990s when a statewide TIM plan was developed as a result of a major crash on Interstate 17. This plan outlined several strategies to improve TIM response, including implementing a program for prevention of secondary crashes, developing multi-disciplinary training, improving communication, improving the criminal and fatal investigation process, and improving first responder safety. While progress was made, police officers continued to be struck at incident scenes. From the beginning of the Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) to the year 2010, 29 officers were lost in line of duty – 18 of these were involved in crashes, and 10 were secondary crashes, 6 of which were secondary to minor incidents.[1]

In 2010, it was apparent to the AZDPS that not only did it need to improve TIM, but there was a need for performance measures to determine if what they were doing as an agency was working. It was clear that the best way to determine if TIM strategies were improving safety (i.e. reducing secondary crashes) was to place more emphasis on collecting data on TIM performance. AZDPS recognized that it needed to be in charge of collecting the data, but in Arizona, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is the agency that owns the crash data, so AZDPS built a coalition with ADOT to collect the data. Officer safety was the number one motivating factor in developing a program that puts emphasis on the collection and reporting of TIM performance measures in Arizona.

The multi-disciplinary TIM partnership in Arizona, which is led by AZDPS, was created in 2010. The partnership, known as the AZTech™ TIM Coalition, includes state and local police, fire agencies, state and local transportation agencies, metropolitan planning offices, and towing companies in the Phoenix metropolitan region. The main goal of this coalition is to share ideas, lessons learned, best practices, and knowledge that helps foster regional incident management.[2] To date, Arizona’s focus has been on measuring and quantifying TIM performance for crashes, refining validation rules to clean the data, and rolling out the SHRP2 TIM training.

Data Collection and Management

The collection of TIM performance data in Arizona initiates with law enforcement – state, county, and municipal. To begin collecting this data, AZDPS made use of 15 blank fields that were available in Traffic and Criminal Software (TraCS), its electronic crash reporting system. TraCS is used by officers to electronically document collision reports, enforcement actions, vehicle tows, and supplemental forms. The extra fields provided AZDPS a way to collect the additional data elements needed to calculate the three national TIM performance measures without making official changes to the statewide crash report. Figure 1 shows the collision supplement form that was initially used to collect TIM performance data in TraCS.[3]

Figure 1. Arizona Department of Public Safety Collision Supplement Form

Figure 1. Arizona Department of Public Safety Collision Supplement Form 

ADOT is the repository for the crash data and controls what is on the ADOT crash form. ADOT provides TraCS at no cost to the law enforcement agencies. The benefit is that there is no data entry after the fact and the data is cleaner due to validation rules built into the form and TraCS itself.[4]

To formalize the data collection process on a statewide basis, AZDPS worked with the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, ADOT, and the Traffic Records Coordinating Committee (TRCC), the committee responsible for developing and approving changes to review and revise the Arizona crash report. More than 20 law enforcement agencies participated in the review. The new form provides more detailed data about types of distracted driving, secondary crashes, traffic incident response and transport times, and wrong-way driving collisions. In July 2014, ADOT officially adopted the new crash form. Figure 2 shows a portion of the Arizona crash report. The circled data elements are those required to calculate the three national TIM performance measures.

Figure 2. Traffic Incident Management Performance Data Elements on Arizona Crash Report

Figure 2. Traffic Incident Management Performance Data Elements on Arizona Crash Report

When an officer arrives on the scene, he/she records the on-scene arrival time. The officer then works to determine the incident start time and records that time using a mobile computer. The mobile computers, in many cases handheld tablets, are used for both crash reporting and issuing e-citations. AZDPS has found that the use of these devices improves efficiency and reduces time on the roadside. AZDPS has also found that providing the officers the means of recording data electronically in the field reduces data error rates by eliminating the transcription of hand written reports. [5] Using TraCS software, AZDPS officers submit their reports electronically to the database at the end of each shift. Then, these data are migrated from AZDPS to ADOT’s database using an XML Web service. Prior to this electronic approach, there was an eight-month lag in getting the crash report data into ADOT’s system. With TraCS, AZDPS crash reports are in the system within eight days.

On average, AZDPS investigates around 30,000 crashes and 70,000 motorist assists per year. The law enforcement data is shared with ADOT, which uses a database called ALISS to compile a crash report forevery incident that is reported on one of its roadways. ADOT combines the law enforcement data with all other information that comes in from various sources at the TMC. The ALISS report is then used to populate the Safety Data Mart, an application that is used by a variety of public safety stakeholders to analyze TIM data. This Arizona TIM data collection flow can be seen in the diagram in Figure 3.[6]

Figure 3. Arizona TIM Data Collection Process

Figure 3. Arizona TIM Data Collection Process

Performance Analysis and Reporting

In Arizona, TIM performance is analyzed and reported not just to meet requirements and be transparent, but more importantly, to be able to make strategic and tactical, data-driven decisions to impact TIM program performance. AZDPS uses secondary crashes in the agency’s strategic plan. The commander tracks the percent of secondary crashes over time, and if the numbers start increasing, it is the commander’s role to determine ways to reduce the numbers. AZDPS also conducts a quarterly analysis and review of TIM performance. Figure 4 provides an excerpt from the Metro Patrol Bureau Highway Patrol Division’s third quarterly report of FY2015, showing the percentage and trends of secondary crashes on a quarterly basis.[7]

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Figure 4. Arizona Department of Public Safety 3rd Quarter FY2015 Secondary Crashes Report

In early 2011, there was a major policy revision in Arizona requiring police officers to move vehicles completely off the roadway (away from view) during incidents. AZDPS used performance measures before and after this policy change to determine if the policy had an impact on TIM performance. Performance was tracked through quarterly TIM reports that AZDPS publishes as a part of its strategic plan. Table 1 compares the average RCT and ICT for crashes that occurred between October and December 2010 (prior to the policy change) and four years later between October and December 2014 (after the policy change) by injury severity. [8] For non-injury and injury incidents, average clearance times decreased after implementation of the policy, suggesting that the change was effective at reducing the clearance times of these crashes, particularly the non-injury crashes. For fatal crashes, however, clearance times actually increased, suggesting that the policy change had no impact on these severe and highly sensitive crashes. The reason for this is that Arizona puts the majority of their focus on the smaller incidents that occur hundreds of times every day, rather than the major incidents that do not occur every day.

Table 1. Arizona Department of Public Safety Metropolitan Phoenix Traffic Incident Management Performance between October-December 2010 and October-December 2014

Table 1. Arizona Department of Public Safety Metropolitan Phoenix Traffic Incident Management Performance between October-December 2010 and October-December 2014

Benefits of TIM Performance Measurement

Having TIM performance data allows Arizona to demonstrate the impacts of TIM policy changes. By reducing secondary crashes, Arizona is reducing crash occurrence, struck-by incidents, time spent on crash investigations, and motorist delay. Additionally, AZDPS uses the TIM performance data to better manage its resources on the roads. By knowing where and when certain types of incidents tend to occur, AZDPS can stage its resources to reduce/eliminate response times (drive times, time to deploy tow trucks) as well as to reduce/eliminate recurring crashes in certain locations by strategically placing officers near high crash sites.

 

[1] McGuffin, Lt. Colonel James, “Traffic Incident Management and Measuring Performance,” an unpublished PowerPoint Presentation by Arizona Department of Public Safety, January 25, 2015.
[2] “An Overview of Our Traffic Incident Management Initiative,” an unpublished PowerPoint Presentation by Arizona, June 4, 2012.
[3] “Arizona Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol Division,” an unpublished PowerPoint Presentation by Sergeant John Paul Cartier of Arizona, June 4, 2012.
[4] Arizona Department of Public Safety, Crash Report Form, 2014.
[5] “An Overview of Our Traffic Incident Management Initiative,” an unpublished PowerPoint Presentation by Arizona, June 4, 2012.
[6] “Arizona Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol Division,” an unpublished PowerPoint Presentation by Sergeant John Paul Cartier of Arizona, June 4, 2012.
[7] “Arizona Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol Division,” an unpublished PowerPoint Presentation by Sergeant John Paul Cartier of Arizona, June 4, 2012.
[8] Arizona Department of Public Safety Metropolitan Phoenix Traffic Incident Management Performance