Michigan incident response program honored with prestigious national roadway safety award

Contact: John Richard, MDOT Office of Communications 616-262-1565
Agency: Transportation

Fast facts:

  • MDOT received national honors today in a ceremony on Capitol Hill for the success of its "Expedited Towing and Enhanced Incident Response" program.
  • The program has yielded a 31 percent reduction in tow truck response times and a 45 percent reduction in secondary crashes.   
  • The Traffic Incident Management team include representatives from MDOT, Grand Rapids Police & Fire Departments, Michigan State Police, Kent County Road Commission, and the City of Grand Rapids. 

November 15, 2017 – Roadway safety has improved in the Grand Rapids area thanks to innovation and partnerships. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) teamed up with emergency personnel in response to an increase in vehicles striking fire department trucks that were being used to block crash scenes. The new strategies for shielding and clearing crash scenes include a crash-attenuator truck and expedited towing. Crash attenuators, also known as crash cushions, are devices intended to reduce the damage to structures, vehicles, and motorists resulting from a motor vehicle collision. Impact attenuators are designed to absorb the colliding vehicle's kinetic energy and are much less expensive to fix and replace when compared to a fire truck. This led to a 31 percent reduction in tow truck response times and a 45 percent reduction in secondary crashes.    

The National Roadway Safety Award is a biannual awards program sponsored jointly by the Roadway Safety Foundation (RSF) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

"These awards recognize real and innovative solutions to some of the nation's biggest safety challenges," said Federal Highway Administrator Brandye L. Hendrickson. "We commend Michigan for its efforts in saving lives and reducing injuries on our nation's roads, and invite others across the country to put such life-saving solutions to work."   

Motor vehicle crashes are still among the nation's leading killers, causing more than 35,000 deaths and 2.4 million injuries in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

"It's because motor vehicle crashes still take such a tremendous toll that we're here today: to honor the people who created and implemented these outstanding roadway safety projects that are addressing infrastructure problems innovatively and applying the latest technologies," said Greg Cohen, Roadway Safety Foundation executive director. "This awards program also gives us the opportunity to recognize the unsung heroes who plan, engineer and implement the innovative solutions to the very challenging issues that contribute to crashes. Today, we honor those who labor every day to make our roads safer and who are rarely recognized for their important contributions."

The National Roadway Safety Award applicants were evaluated on three criteria: Effectiveness, Innovation, and Efficient Use of Resources. The awardees were selected by an expert panel of judges that consisted of: King Gee, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; Mike Griffith, Federal Highway Administration; Bruce Hamilton, Roadway Safety Foundation; Bernardo Kleiner, Transportation Research Board; Jennifer Smith, Michelin North America, Inc.; Marie Walsh, Louisiana  LTAP (Local Technical Assistance Program), Louisiana State University; and Terecia Wilson, Institute for Global Road Safety and Security, Clemson University.

For details on each of the winners, and for more information on the national awards program, visit www.safety.fhwa.dot.gov/roadwaysafetyawards/.