Friday, March 9, 2007

Incident Response Saves the Day

A friend of mine recently bought a new car - one he spotted on the Internet and one he had to drive to Bothel to pick up. Even though his wife had bugged him for miles about stopping for gas, my friend's brand new car ran out of gas in the middle of I-5 on a rainy downtown Tacoma afternoon.

His two little girls started crying. His wife fumed in the passenger seat. My friend was truly stranded. While he raced through options trying to figure out what to do, a WSDOT incident response truck pulled up behind the stalled car. A five-gallon can of gas, and the day was saved.

That's the kind of good news story we love to hear. People really need help on the highways, and WSDOT's incident response fleet is doing what it can. Over the past five years, I've read stories of how our incident response staff have time and again shown up at exactly the right moment.

In addition to helping Washington State Patrol manage traffic during blocking incidents, incident response units routinely help provide fuel, change flat tires, provide minor vehicle repairs, push vehicles out of the road and clear road debris.

The latest WSDOT Gray Notebook (page 75) examines in more detail how the Incident Response Program is attempting to identify and remove traffic incidents as quickly as possible. The program's incident response units made 14,786 responses to incidents from October to December 2006, up roughly 13 percent from the same time period in 2004. That's up more than 50 percent from the same time period in 2002 when the program was expanded to include roving incident response units.

For more on the often strange ways that the incident response units are helping save the day, check out the WSDOT weekly report and its regular "Incident of the Week" feature.


The said...

And did the white knight in the Incident Response vehicle lift $15 off your clueless friend? Or did my tax money pay to subsidize his carelessness, putting his fragile wife and two small children in danger, by his unwillingness to care for himself?

Looks to me like one more instance of the gub'mint subsidizing, and encouraging, reliance on the nanny state, rather than individual responsibility.

How about the rest of the story, Mr. Blogger?

The Geezer

Washington State Department of Transportation said...

Nope, Geezer, you're right. The gas was free to my friend. But the state's $5 investment in his gas saved hours of congestion caused by visual distractions, potential safety concerns due to a stalled vehicle in a construction zone, the cost of a WSP trooper to sit with the stranded vehicle while a tow came. But yes, your point is right, the driver should have stopped for gas.

Anonymous said...

It seems that if the State charged for the gas, they would be saving the tax payor money. The rest of the benefits you mention would still be intact - their paying for $15 in gas, and moving along would still save congestion, a state trooper, and everything else you mention.

Yet, having to pay would be a good reminder to be responsible in the future.

Although you white night is truly galant, the Geezer brings up an important thought - why does he get free gas. Can I as a citizen request a voucer for 5 free galons of gas for the next time my fuel tank is low. After all, I deserve it as much as he does.

Joel Johnston

Anonymous said...

Instead of 5 gallons of gas, why not just 1 gallon? That should be enough to get to the next exit and a gas station.

Anonymous said...

Why not give him a traffic citation that way the State could get money from him.

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