Incident Response Program
The Incident Response program is a traffic congestion mitigation strategy. The Incident Response Team (IRT) is composed of agencies, vendors, and other resources that respond to, investigate, clean up, and clear traffic incidents.
Contacting the Incident Response Team (IRT)
Dial 911 - if you observe debris or a collision blocking a travel lane, or are involved in a collision, disabled vehicle, or other emergency.
If you have been assisted by the Incident Response Team and would like to leave a comment, please fill out an IRT Comment Card.
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
- Joint Operations Policy Statement (JOPS)
- Major Incident Tow (MIT) Handbook (PDF 409KB)
- MIT Activation Report Form (PDF 87KB)
- Washington Traffic Incident Management Coalition (WaTIMCo)
- National Traffic Incident Management Coalition
Training for First Responders
- WaTIMCo Tim Training (Eventbrite sign-up page)
Slow down – lives are on the line.
In 2022, speeding continued to be a top reason for work zone crashes.
Even one life lost is too many.
Each year about 670 people are killed nationally in highway work zones. In 2022, Washington had six fatal work zone crashes on state roads.
It's in EVERYONE’S best interest.
95% of people hurt in work zones are drivers, their passengers or passing pedestrians, not just our road crews.