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Traffic Incident Management: Background

The impact of traffic incidents on highway operations, reliability, and safety is well known and alarming. About 25 percent of all delays are caused by traffic incidents. Congestion costs are counted in hundreds of billions of dollars and wasted fuel is measured in billions of gallons. More importantly, traffic incidents pose a significant safety risk to both responders and travelers. The likelihood of a secondary crash increases with each minute that an incident remains unresolved.

Clearing incident scenes quickly with a well-coordinated, multidisciplinary team of first responders and transportation personnel is an important means of reducing the risk of secondary crashes and congestion delays.

Why slow down or move over at a roadway incident scene?

First Responders that arrive on the scene of an incident focus their attention on the task at hand. The first Responder on the scene must check for injuries and insure the right group of additional First Responders is dispatched and knows what is needed at the scene so they have the right equipment and manpower. They also need to watch for YOU as you drive through the scene to insure their safety is maintained. When you do not slow down or move over you provide an unsafe scene for the First Responders and the victims of the incident.

Move Over Law IC 9-21-8

Motorists MUST change lanes away from the emergency vehicle if they can do it SAFELY. If the motorist cannot change lanes safely, they must SLOW DOWN, to at least 10 miles under the posted speed limit, and proceed with caution.  We are asking motorists NOT TO STOP in the roadway, as this may cause a chain reaction rear end collision with other vehicles, but to SLOW DOWN and/or MOVE OVER.

Indiana emergency vehicles include:
  • Police vehicles
  • Ambulances
  • Fire trucks and rescue equipment
  • Highway incident-response vehicles
  • Highway work vehicles
  • Vehicle recovery equipment (tow trucks)

The intent of this law is to protect the emergency and highway personnel who serve the public. Please be alert when you see emergency lights flashing and give them room to do their job safely. Violating the law can result in a fine and your license will be suspended up to 2 years if you cause damage to emergency equipment, injury or death to an emergency worker.

Why move my vehicle from the roadway when involved in an incident?

As you know, when an incident occurs on a roadway even if the vehicles are off the travel portion of the roadway traffic slows and backs up. If you leave your vehicle in the roadway traffic comes to an abrupt stop. When a crash occurs in the backup, stopped or slowed traffic, we call this a Secondary Crash. Twenty percent of all crashes nationwide are Secondary Crashes. Eighteen percent of those Secondary Crashes are fatal crashes. So, if we can keep traffic moving, even at a reduced speed, we believe we can cut down on Secondary Crashes therefore cut down fatalities. When you move your vehicle from the travel portion of the roadway you are helping to reduce Secondary Crashes and congestion!