Question: Why do I see more than one tow truck at a crash scene?
Answer: Tow truck operators in Oklahoma are being offered Traffic Incident Management training in order to keep emergency personnel safe at highway incident scenes.
Crashes, spilled loads and stalled vehicles are all examples of traffic incidents. Here in Oklahoma and throughout the nation, these situations and the traffic congestion caused by them account for approximately one-fourth of all delays on our highway system. Traffic incidents also significantly impact the safety of both motorists and emergency responders. Responding effectively to incidents on the highway requires a planned and coordinated effort by many different individuals — from law enforcement and fire departments to emergency medical personnel, towing companies, HAZMAT/spill response firms, and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) maintenance crews.
For public safety responders and support teams responding to highway incidents…, the risk of injury or death is constant. According to the National Traffic Incident Management Coalition (NTIMC) traffic crashes and “struck-by” incidents continue to be a leading cause of on-duty injuries and deaths for law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical services, and towing and recovery professionals. Along with state DOT professionals, these “heroes of the highway” risk their personal safety to provide necessary services to the citizens of Oklahoma. Safe, quick clearance of highway incidents reduces the exposure for all.
Often, there simply aren’t enough troopers available to provide temporary traffic control at every crash in the OKC Metro. This can leave everyone – from crash victims, troopers investigating the accident, fire and EMSA personnel, and tow truck drivers – vulnerable to being struck by a motorist who fails to detect the hazard in time to stop or avoid becoming part of the carnage. Some accidents happen in blind areas or in curves where the scene cannot be visually detected a sufficient distance back to allow time for motorists to react.
Additionally, the panic braking caused by failing to detect a traffic emergency in time often leads to secondary crashes. This is another source of injuries and property damage, as well as greater congestion.
Some wrecker services are investing in training and equipment to help alleviate this very dangerous problem. Oklahoma Towing & Recovery is leading the way in Oklahoma City. We have outfitted Truck 5 to serve as our Traffic Incident Response Vehicle (TIRV). This truck is equipped with extra emergency lighting, traffic cones, special signage, and LED road flares. Every one of our tow operators have been certified in Traffic Incident Management, and are working to spread the word to other towing companies in the OKC Metro. We believe that every wrecker operator who works crashes on the highways of Oklahoma should seek out TIMS training. This could potentially save lives.