Knowledge CentreTechnical Resources SearchConference PapersEmergency Traffic Management

Emergency Traffic Management


This paper presents traffic control guidelines developed for emergency traffic management. The guidelines are based on the principles for temporary traffic control in work zones, which have been adapted for emergency situations. It is noted that although there are formal guidelines for work zones (for example: Part D Temporary Conditions, Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Canada), such procedures and guidelines have not been formalized for emergency situations. Emergency situations are similar to work zones in that they may violate a driver’s expectations and compromise their safety in addition to the safety of crash victims and firefighters, police, and EMS personnel attending the scene. These guidelines have recently been developed for the Calgary Fire Department (CFD). The CFD is required to respond to a range of incidents including: collisions involving injuries (where the Jawsof-Life may be required), fatalities, property damage, dangerous goods spills, and vehicle fires. The roadways include the full spectrum of volumes and speeds up to freeways with annual average daily traffic in excess of 200,000 and posted speeds of 100 km/h. The guidelines include: driving to the scene, arrival at the scene, securing the scene and scene roles and responsibilities. The components of an emergency traffic control zone are similar to a work zone and include the advance warning area, approach area, transition area, activity area, and termination area. However, some of these components have been modified for emergency situations. For example, the last component of the activity area is the ‘fend-off position’. This position allows approaching motorists the best visibility of the emergency vehicle’s side while providing them with recognition and direction in regards to the incident. CFD pumper/engine and aerial/ladder-truck drivers are instructed to pull as far to the right or left as possible, then to turn back sharply to position the vehicle 20 to 30 degrees to the roadway. The purpose of this positioning may also deflect any high-speed errant vehicle that would otherwise crash into the collision scene. In addition to set-up and takedown procedures, the emergency traffic management guidelines include the rationale for the location of traffic control devices such as barrels and truck-mounted arrow boards. CFD emergency traffic management guidelines are a unique application of the principles of temporary traffic control to work zone safety and represent one of most recent road safety management initiatives in Canada.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Elvey, R
Morrall, ,J
Road safety