The Iowa Department of Transportation and the Iowa State Patrol have similar goals to do everything we can to promote safe travel on Iowa’s roadways. In recent years, the two agencies have collaborated on a document to spell out exactly how the agencies work together on traffic incidents on Iowa’s state and U.S. highways and interstates. This Joint Operations Policy Statement sets goals and objectives for collaboration.
Andy Lewis, the director of the Iowa DOT’s Traffic Operations Bureau, is part of the team that developed and continues to refine the document. He said, “We started this a few years ago to bolster inter-agency cooperation. We took a framework modeled after agreements like this around the country and then incorporated our own ideas and potential areas where each entity saw room for improvement. We’ve had a number of great conversations that led to a better understanding between the groups. That information filled in the framework that is specific to Iowa.”
But it’s not just a document that sits on a shelf. Each agency distributes a quick guide to all field locations and holds regular meetings to review and update the information. Both Iowa DOT field staff and ISP troopers are expected to follow the items in the agreement. Your safety as a traveler on the road, and the safety of both Iowa DOT and ISP teams depend on it.
Lewis said, “The policy-makers put this document in place with input from our front-line workers. Those maintenance workers and troopers are the ones that make this work on a daily basis. We’re all working together for the common good. We’re starting to see that collaborative culture come to the surface in both agencies, which benefits everyone.”
The Joint Operations Policy Statement states three goals.
For every minute a lane is blocked, the likelihood of a second crash in the area increases by 2.8 percent. Clearing traffic crashes takes time, but there are ways to move vehicles around to get the flow of traffic back to normal, even if the crash scene isn’t totally clear. Clearing the travel lanes quickly decreases the crash danger for everyone on the road and also helps freight haulers keep moving the goods you need from point A to point B.
The document also lays out eight objectives. These are very specific items designed to help the agencies work better together, which will improve safety for all those on the road. The goal is to take a look at these items and update them every year.
1. EVERYONE GOES HOME SAFELY.
The Iowa DOT and Iowa State Patrol will collaborate to support and promote Traffic Incident Management training for all first responders with the goal of training all of Iowa’s first responders.
2. CLEAR TRAFFIC INCIDENTS FROM ROADS AS FAST & SAFE AS POSSIBLE.
The Iowa DOT and Iowa State Patrol will collaborate and explore ways to reduce highway incident blockage time by:
3. PROVIDE TRAFFIC CONTROL TO IMPROVE THE SAFETY OF ON-SCENE RESPONDERS & MOTORISTS APPROACHING AN INCIDENT.
Regularly review safety procedures for Highway Helper deployment to ensure efficient and effective incident response performance.
4. USE TECHNOLOGY AND EDUCATION TO REDUCE CRASH SCENE INVESTIGATION TIMES.
Conduct a survey or technology that is consistently impacting the ability to meet the 90-minute clearance time and pursue new technologies to meet this goal.
5. PERFORM TOWING AND RECOVERY OPERATIONS AS QUICKLY AND SAFELY AS POSSIBLE.
Evaluate the effectiveness of towing and recovery operations on the interstates to ensure vehicles are moved off the travel lanes quickly while preserving the integrity of law enforcement investigations.
6. INCREASE SAFETY AND MOBILITY FOR MOTORISTS DURING WINTER WEATHER.
7. ACHIEVE THE HIGHEST POSSIBLE LEVEL OF SAFETY IN WORK ZONES BY EDUCATING MOTORISTS AND ENFORCING REGULATIONS FOR SAFELY NEGOTIATING WORK ZONES.
8. COLLECT CRASH DATA FOR COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLE FATALITY CRASHES.
Ensure that commercial motor vehicle fatality crashes are investigated quickly, safely, and in accordance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations.
Working together, Iowa’s statewide law enforcement agencies and other entities who respond to crashes have a common goal, to get you home safely.