Clearing crashes quicker to keep you safer on Iowa’s roads
When there is a crash, especially one that involves a large truck, every minute counts to get traffic moving again and keep you safer on the road. Research shows that for every minute that a lane is closed, the risk of another crash in the area goes up by 2.8 percent. At around 30 minutes, the chance of a second crash in the area is very high.
A new program in the Iowa City and Des Moines areas helps us fulfill one of our core values, “Safety First”, by clearing crashes more quickly, especially those involving large trucks, which reduces your risk of being involved in a second crash. The program offers incentives to towing companies to have specialized equipment ready to respond to commercial vehicle crashes.
How does the program work?
When a towing company applies to be part of the program, it must meet a list of safety criteria, follow all regulations that apply, and agree to have specific equipment ready to go quickly to clear a scene.
Hochberger explained, “Once a crash happens, our maintenance staff or law enforcement on the scene contact the law enforcement dispatch in the area. Dispatch calls a towing company that has been enrolled in the TRIP program. The towing company then has 45 minutes on weekdays and 60 minutes on nights and weekends to arrive at the crash scene.
When they get to the scene, they will work with law enforcement on-scene to begin clearing the crash. To qualify for an incentive payment, the crash must be cleared within 90 minutes of when they are given the green light to clear the scene. If special equipment is needed, the towing company can earn an additional incentive for having that equipment ready and the scene cleared in the 90-minute window.”
The new program is all about connecting the right people with the right equipment to get the job done. Captain Scott Knudtson with our Motor Vehicle Enforcement said, “Prior to TRIP, we would sometimes have trouble getting towing companies to respond to incidents or they would not bring the correct equipment with them. Now, we know the capabilities of each company and they have an extra incentive to get to the scene and get it cleared quickly.”
Mitch Wood, our eastern Iowa maintenance manager, said, “Overall, TRIP has developed into a very valuable program for everyone involved. It was a bit of an adjustment when we first started since it was brand new. To me, TRIP has increased collaboration between DOT staff, law enforcement, and tow companies. I see good relationships developing through TRIP that equates to a better response and better service for travelers.”
To prove his point, Wood continued, “Recently, the program proved very beneficial when we had a horrific multi-vehicle crash on I-80 in which people were killed. TRIP was activated due to the number of vehicles involved. All three tow companies that are part of our program assisted and were on the scene soon after the incident occurred and were able to clear the initial incident, helping reduce the risk of another crash.”
In addition to supporting our core value of safety first the TRIP program works towards our five-year priority goals of improving transportation system safety.