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TIME's Up! County Mutual Becomes Certified in Traffic Incident Management

Multi-car accidents blocking traffic. Stalled vehicles on the shoulder. Cars in the ditch as a result of snow-covered roads.

When accidents happen on our state and local roads, county highway crews are called in from law enforcement, either local sheriff’s departments or the Wisconsin State Patrol, to help manage the scene. Their actions might include flagging, redirecting traffic, or using large signs on trucks to encourage vehicles to move over into the other lane.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), these accidents and the ensuing congestion account for about a quarter of all delays on the highway system. But getting stuck behind an accident is only one part of the story. With traffic suddenly slowing down, along with inattentive and impatient driving, emergency responders and other motorists are at a greater risk of secondary accidents. And these accidents can be deadly.

To keep county highway crews and law enforcement as safe as possible, Wisconsin County Mutual Insurance Corporation (County Mutual) Risk Management Consultants Jodi Traas and Jessica Schroeder recently completed the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Traffic Incident Management Enhancement (TIME) training program at State Patrol headquarters at Fort McCoy. They were a part of the “Train the Trainer” program, with the goal of bringing the material back to County Mutual member counties.

The TIME Program, started in 1995 by WisDOT, is a collaborative effort that includes law enforcement, transportation agencies, and other professional responders. The goal is to create planned and coordinated multi-disciplinary processes to detect, respond to, and clear traffic incidents so that traffic flow may be restored as safely and quickly as possible. Using TIME reduces the length of time and impact of an accident, while keeping people safer.

“It is no secret that county highway employees have incredibly dangerous jobs,” said County Mutual Senior Risk Management Consultant Jodi Traas. “We became certified trainers so we can bring back to our counties awareness of the common problems out there in managing traffic accidents and avoid secondary incidents. It is our priority to make sure our members keep safety a number one priority when out there.”

As a part of the County Mutual’s 2019 Highway Safety Days, held in seven locations on seven different dates in May, over 300 county highway employees learned about traffic incident management through TIME.

Waushara County Highway Commissioner Brian Freimark was in attendance and found the information to be incredibly valuable. “I plan to continue the training in my county, with Jessica, as well as a representative from fire or law enforcement, presenting more in-depth information to our county highway employees,” he said. “Any time we can discuss things we can do on the job to keep ourselves and the public safer, that’s a good thing.”

The 2019 Highway Safety Days and MSHA Part 46 Training were sponsored by the County Mutual and Community Insurance Corporation, with a strong focus on safe actions in day-to-day operations.

“It was a tremendous opportunity to be before so many county employees who are on the frontlines every day on our roadways to learn about the safe handling of incidents,” said Jessica Schroeder, who co-presented with TIME Program Manager David Spakowicz. “This program is critical and Jodi and I look forward to bringing more of this training back to our member counties around the state.”

County highway crews will continue to assist law enforcement, but there is also a greater call to all Wisconsin drivers on the roads.

“Training such as this is incredibly important, but driver awareness in any sort of situation is equally important, be it an accident or a work zone,” said Wisconsin County Highway Association Executive Director Daniel Fedderly, P.E., P.L.S. “People need to slow down, put down their phones and be hyper aware in these zones. It truly is a matter of life and death.”

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