Florida

Overview of TIM Program

The statewide TIM program in Florida was formalized in 2000. It is run by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and is organized by FDOT’s seven districts. There are active TIM teams in all seven of the FDOT districts, as well as the statewide turnpike enterprise. These teams consist of representatives from responder agencies, towing companies, and other contract service providers. In addition to other activities, the TIM teams review past response actions and explore ways that incident management can be improved on the highways they serve.

FDOT has 13 regional traffic management centers (TMC), which are a key component of the TIM program operations and for the collection and reporting of TIM performance data. The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is dedicated to supporting FDOT’s efforts through the practice of sound TIM principles and the collection of data to support performance measurement. Another integral part of the TIM team is the Florida Road Ranger service patrol. The Road Rangers program was initiated in 1983 to manage incidents in major construction zones; however, the program has been expanded over the years to cover all types of incidents. Road Rangers provide a direct service to motorists by quickly clearing minor incidents from travel lanes in close coordination with the FHP and other law enforcement agencies. The Road Ranger program is one of the most effective elements of Florida’s TIM Program.[1]

Another important aspect of FDOT’s TIM program is the Rapid Incident Scene Clearance (RISC) program, which supports Florida’s Open Roads Policy to improve safety and mobility on Florida roads. RISC is an incentive-based heavy-duty towing and recovery program with the goal of clearing all major incidents in 90 minutes or less. In order to receive the RISC incentives, companies must meet certain equipment and training standards that are meant to help with the safe and quick clearance of incidents.

Data Collection and Management

Since 2011, the FHP has led the collection of the data necessary for TIM performance measures through the Florida state crash report. This data includes the time stamps for calculating roadway clearance time (RCT) and incident clearance time (ICT), as well as whether a crash is a secondary crash. In addition to the national performance measures, FDOT collects the necessary data elements and tracks a few additional performance measures, including response time and incident duration. Crashes reported by FHP account for approximately one-third of the crash reports statewide. Like most law enforcement agencies in Florida, the FHP uses a mobile crash reporting application in the field to capture incident information electronically.[2]

Secondary crashes are recorded via a check box on the crash report, and management provided training and direction for its use. In 2013, a directive was released to verify that the check box was being used. The addition of secondary crashes was contemporaneous with the new statewide crash report, which contained over 100 data elements. As such, there was little push-back from law enforcement on collecting the data. In addition, FHP had a champion within the agency who was able to gain buy-in, which helped support the effort.[3]

Figure 1 shows the performance data elements as seen in the FHP crash form.[4] Data elements circled in red are those that are required to calculate the three national TIM performance measures, RCT, ICT, and secondary crashes. The data elements circled in blue are some of those that are desired for conducting more disaggregate analyses of TIM performance (e.g., crash severity, vehicle information, roadway information).

Figure 1. Traffic Incident Management Performance Data Elements on Florida Highway Patrol Electronic Crash Form

Figure 1. Traffic Incident Management Performance Data Elements on Florida Highway Patrol Electronic Crash Form

FDOT also has an agreement with WAZE to share incident information. Crowd-sourced information from Waze helps to identify incidents outside of TMC coverage areas, as well as to provide information on incident details and impacts (e.g., delays, queue lengths). FDOT notes that while the TMCs are quicker to identify incidents within their coverage areas than via WAZE, the use of WAZE has allowed FDOT to more quickly identify incidents outside of the coverage areas than without the data.

Performance Analysis and Reporting

FDOT calculates TIM performance measures for all incidents during a specified time period, which is a good starting point for understanding regional TIM performance at the highest level. FDOT produces an annual report for the entire Transportation System Management and Operations (TSMO) area, which includes RCT, ICT, and travel time reliability, but it tracks even more performance measures internally.

Some FDOT districts report TIM data in regularly occurring performance reports, while other districts post the data online as part of the TMC website. As an example of the former, FDOT District 4 develops performance measures reports on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis. Table 1 is a TIM performance summary for the week of May 15, 2016, and Figure 2 is an incident duration summary for the same week.[5] This table and figure provide high level summaries for all incidents. The report also breaks down performance by peak period, severity, blocked travel lanes, roadway, detection method, and combinations of these identifiers.

Table 1. One-Week Performance Measures Summary for Florida Department of Transportation District 4

fdot_performance_measures_summary

Figure 2. One-Week Incident Duration Summary for Florida Department of Transportation District 4

Figure 2. One-Week Incident Duration Summary for Florida Department of Transportation District 4

FDOT also tracks Road Ranger performance carefully and reports the performance annually. The annual report includes the total number of Road Ranger stops broken down by district, notification type, event type, day of week, and time of day. Figure 3 provides an excerpt from the FDOT Road Ranger Performance Measures Annual Report for July 2014 – June 2015 showing the assists broken down by the way the Road Rangers were notified.

Figure 3. Road Ranger Events by Notification Type for July 2014 – June 2015

Figure 3. Road Ranger Events by Notification Type for July 2014 – June 2015

Some of the districts also report on the Road Ranger program performance individually. Figure 7 shows a newsletter from the FDOT District 6 SunGuide TMC regarding the Road Ranger program. In addition to highlighting the Road Ranger of the month, the newsletter shows the total number of events, total number of lane blockage events, average Road Ranger response time, and average lane blockage duration (or roadway clearance time).

Figure 4. Florida District 6 TMC October 2015 Newsletter

Figure 4. Florida District 6 TMC October 2015 Newsletter

Benefits of TIM Performance Measurement

By collecting the necessary data and analyzing TIM performance measures, FDOT is able to quantify the benefits of the TIM program, which can lead to increased support for the program. As a result of the analysis of TIM performance measures, FDOT has been able to work with FHP to make specific operational changes to improve TIM performance. Specifically, the FHP works to reduce RCTs by removing vehicles and debris from the travel lanes as soon as possible, calling wreckers quickly with specific information about the vehicles involved, and using push bumpers to clear damaged or disabled vehicles from the travel lanes. FHP also works to reduce ICTs by moving all vehicles from the roadway to a nearby ramp location or parking lot. Finally, in order to avoid secondary incidents, FHP works to clear the scene quickly, makes use of emergency lighting to warn approaching motorists, and uses cones and other traffic control to direct drivers.

 

[1] Road Ranger Service Patrol Comment Card Report Fiscal Year 2012/2013, Florida Department of Transportation. http://www.swfltim.org/docs/2013%20Annual%20Survey%20Report.pdf. Accessed October 2, 2013.
[2] Florida Traffic Incident Management Program Reference Document, Florida Department of Transportation, February 2006. http://www.i95coalition.org/i95/Portals/0/Public_Files/uploaded/Incident-toolkit/documents/Plan/Plan_TIM_FL_RD.pdf. Accessed October 2, 2013.
[3] K. Pecheux, “Process for Establishing, Implementing, and Institutionalizing a TIM Performance Measures Program,” FHWA, U.S. Department of Transportation, Publication FHWA-HOP-15-028, 2016 (anticipated).
[4] Florida Highway Patrol, Electronic Crash Form
[5] Performance Measures Reports. Florida Department of Transportation District Four. http://www.smartsunguide.com/PerformanceMeasures.aspx. Accessed June 3, 2016.