Local News

DOT Crews Work To Improve Accident Response Times

Posted April 29, 2002

— Officials with the state Department of Transportation admit that it sometimes takes them too long to clear an accident scene and get traffic moving again, so they are looking for ways to improve their response time.

On April 9, a tractor-trailer slammed into concrete construction barriers on eastbound Interstate 40 near Davis Drive. It stayed there from 3 a.m. until 9 a.m. -- six hours. Throughout the morning, lanes were either shut down one at a time or all together. At one point, the traffic backup stretched about 12 miles.

Drivers were irate, and DOT officials admit that drivers had every right to be mad.

"I'm uncomfortable with the outcome, to be honest with you. I think we can improve upon several aspects of it," said Archie Wells of DOT Incident Management. "I don't see a reason to have that situation sitting on the road for six hours, so being a citizen and as a motorist myself, I'm thinking we should be able to deal and address that much better."

Officials with the state Highway Patrol, Emergency Medical Service, fire departments, and DOT all met Friday to try to improve accident response. They clarified that law enforcement is in charge of the scene. The nearest possible tow truck should be called.

The officials determined that while safety is the priority, keeping thousands of commuters moving has to be a close second. DOT officials have now urged crews in the future to do whatever is necessary to move the concrete barriers, get the wreckage out of the way and get traffic moving.

DOT officials are also considering asking the Legislature for new laws that would clarify liability during accident response.

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