Is it worth it for a company to create a traffic management plan, or are they able to just wing it on scene?
I would never recommend just “winging” it while on scene. I like to think of a plan like a map; it’s hard to get where you’re going when you don’t have one. When you send your team out without a plan, you’re handicapping them.
Having a traffic management plan adds a level of direction to every scene while providing structure that can keep workers, first responders, pedestrians and traffic safe.
Is there ever a situation where traffic management / control isn’t required?
I think that traffic management should always be in place - whether it’s something as simple as turning on your rotating lights, placing some cones behind your truck or full signage such as arrow-boards.
Traffic control is not just for vehicular traffic, it also keeps pedestrian traffic safe. Your beacons, cones and signage act as a way to alert the public, not just divert traffic.
Additionally, when you don’t inform the public of an incident ahead with advanced warning, it can lead to secondary accidents.
Does the type of roadway or speed limit matter when setting up equipment for controlling traffic? What are some factors that can affect this?
Absolutely it does. Speed of the road, the terrain of the road, weather conditions, time of day, volume of traffic - all of these things need to be considered when setting up traffic management.
What are some ways first responders can assist with managing traffic?
The first thing they need to do is provide advanced warning by putting up signs immediately. Most first responders want to be right at the scene. The best thing for them to do is identify a specific person to be upstream, alerting traffic of the incident ahead. The area, environment and speed of traffic will determine how far back they should be set up.
I recommend they are back a minimum of 500 feet setting up initial warnings for any roadway over 30 mph. Remember, the further upstream from the incident they are, the better, but they still need to set up warning signs at set intervals between themselves and the scene of the incident.
Are traffic laws different depending on jurisdiction? Where can an operator learn about what they can and can’t do in their area?
Operators should research the minimum requirements for traffic management for their province or state. Almost all provinces and states have similar rules and laws designed to create a safe work environment for the motoring public, first responders, towing operators and anyone else in the vicinity. This is true for small incidents AND large ones.
I would rather my operator come back with a ticket for too many signs than not enough. My belief is that if you do not have enough advance warning, you may not make it back alive.
What kind of rights does an operator have when it comes to traffic management and control?
It is the right of any worker or employee to refuse any unsafe work. Every employee has the right to protect themselves and the people they are around, to maintain a safe work environment and to ask police and fire to assist if they feel unsafe.
If first responders are pressuring you to hurry and not establish safe traffic management warnings, tell them you feel unsafe and tell them why you feel unsafe. Work with them towards a solution. A lot of times, the operator just wants to be heard.
The first responders may only do what is required until they can get a safer work zone in place. Often giving them some insight into the situation can help create a safe scene.