Section 5: Accidents and Incidents

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Incident response is the activation of a planned strategy for the safe and rapid deployment of the appropriate personnel and equipment to the incident scene. Preplanning is required to assure that adequate communication, coordination and cooperation exist among all response agencies.

Incidents such as traffic accidents, vehicle breakdowns, spilled cargo, adverse weather conditions, rubbernecking, etc. are unpredictable; however, timely and safe resolution of the incident and restoration of traffic to full capacity is necessary.

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Incident Response

Depending upon the incident, law enforcement, fire and rescue, local public works department, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Texas Health and Human Services Commission or other agencies may respond. It is important to establish working relationships among the incident response entities. Frequent interaction with these response entities is essential, not only in large urban areas, but smaller jurisdictions as well. The type of incident and location will determine the incident commander.

TxDOT's normal role is to provide traffic control, set up detours, keep traffic moving and clear the roadway as appropriate. Changeable message boards should be used to provide information to motorists for prolonged incidents.

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Spilled Cargo

Texas Transportation Code 472.011 - 472.014 authorizes the department to remove and dispose of spilled cargo or other personal property on the ROW or portion of the roadway.

The department may, without the consent of the owner or carrier, remove personal property from the State's right of way if the department considers this cargo or property to be blocking the roadway or endangering public safety.

For each occurrence, the department will determine whether the removal of the personal property is warranted based on the following considerations:

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If determined that removal is necessary, the property will be removed with as much care as practical under the existing conditions.

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The district will attempt to notify the owner or carrier of the property through information obtained from the property or through inquiries from the owner or carrier.

If unable to determine the identity of the property owner within thirty days of removal, the department will dispose of the property in the manner the department deems most suitable.

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Storage of Property (other than vehicles)

Refer to the following guidelines when storing removed property:

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  • Removal of property may include transportation to and /or storage of the property at a site other than the spill location.
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  • The owner or carrier is responsible for the security of the property and the integrity of any perishable goods at all times.
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  • The owner or carrier will claim and take possession of the property as soon as possible after its relocation from the spill site. The department may dispose of the property if the owner, after notification, fails to take possession within ten days.
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  • The owner or carrier is responsible for the costs of removal and disposing of the property.
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Removal of Vehicles

The following guidelines apply to vehicles that must be removed from an incident scene:

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  • Disabled or damaged vehicles may be removed from the roadway or shoulder as necessary to prevent it from blocking the roadway or endangering public safety. This may require a vehicle to be moved to a location away from the original site.
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  • The vehicle owner will be responsible for all costs associated with the removal and storage of a vehicle.
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