Incident Response Program

Learn about the WSDOT Incident Response Program - a traffic congestion mitigation strategy consisting of responding to, investigating, cleaning up, and clearing traffic incidents.

The WSDOT Incident Response Program is an integral part of the Washington Traffic Incident Management Coalition (WaTIMCo), which is composed of 911 public safety/communications, law enforcement, fire/rescue, EMS, transportation, towing and recovery, emergency management, academic and research, technology, and motorist communities to lead a statewide effort to improve traffic incident management policies, practices, and programs.

The WSDOT Incident Response Team (IRT) consists of WSDOT IRT drivers and vehicles who respond to incidents along state highways, ranging from assisting motorists with flat tires or running out of gas to responding to major traffic incidents.

Contacting the IRT

Dial 911 if you need assistance on the roadway (such as a flat tire, running out of gas, or being involved in a collision) or observe a roadway hazard (such as debris in a lane, a disabled vehicle, or a collision).  911 will dispatch the appropriate emergency responder, including the IRT.

If you have been assisted by the Incident Response Team and would like to leave a comment, please fill out an IRT Comment Card.

Program benefits


A collision or debris on the roadway is a new hazard at risk of a new collision, and responders and their vehicles are also at risk of getting hit.  Additionally, when an incident blocks lanes, congestion and backups form which increase the risk of a secondary collision - typically a rear-end collision as the result of stopped traffic.  By clearing lanes quickly, we can reduce the risk of collision with the incident, decrease the risk of secondary collisions, and minimize the exposure of responders and the motorists they are assisting.


Detecting and clearing incidents quickly minimizes the impact on congestion, especially during peak periods. Every minute a lane remains blocked results in four to ten minutes of traffic congestion, depending on traffic volume. The average Washington motorist spends two weeks of every year stuck in traffic, so it's easy to see why the IRT serves a crucial role in keeping Washington moving.


Although responder and motorist safety are the top priority, blocking incidents, idling cars and late deliveries have a cost. WSDOT estimates that its incident response teams' efforts save the economy of Washington State more than $65 million per year in lost time and fuel.

Joint Operations Policy Statement (JOPS)

Traffic Incident Management is a crucial component in the Joint Operations Policy Statement (JOPS) agreement between WSDOT,  the Washington State Patrol (WSP) and the Washington Fire Chiefs Association (WFC). Together we have established a mutual goal of safely clearing highway traffic incidents within 90 minutes. Achieving this goal requires additional partnerships with local fire and EMS services, the tow industry, the media, the insurance industry, transit agencies, and the motoring public. The purpose of establishing quick-clearance goals is to enhance motorist and responder safety and minimize congestion.

Policies and initiatives


Training for First Responders

166,800 electric vehicle

registrations in Washington in 2023, up from 114,600 in 2022.

87 wetland compensation sites

actively monitored on 918 acres in 2023.

25,000 safe animal crossings

in the Snoqualmie Pass East Project area since 2014.