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First responders hope to save time and lives with streamlined process for highway crashes

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First responders hope to save time and lives with streamlined process for highway crashes (KUTV)

A team of troopers, UDOT incident management crews, firefighters, and tow drivers rushed to the scene of a cement truck overturned onto a car and two other vehicles crashed just yards away.

This crash was a simulation, but it was the first test-run of the newly formed Traffic Incident Management Coalition that multiple agencies hope to roll out across Utah.

The goal of the program is simple: investigate and clear crashes faster to avoid dangerous back-ups on Utah freeways.

“This incident from beginning to end is an hour. An incident like this in the past would take 3 to 4 hours,” Capt. Steve Windward of the Utah Highway Patrol told 2News. “In 6 minutes, we had it diagrammed with a drone.”

The TMI program includes training and streamlined processes for the different groups of first responders who handle and investigate incidents on the highway.

Jeff Reynolds, the statewide manager for UDOT’s Incident Management Team, adds that another goal of the program is to reduce crashes that happen as a result of the traffic back-up due to a crash, also known as "secondary crashes."

“A lot of them end up being worse than the primary crash,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds has also experienced having his vehicle hit by a driver at an incident in Parley’s Canyon.

It makes the hair stand up on your back. On the side of the road, if you see something like this, just give us a little room. Slow down and move over,” Reynolds said.

UDOT hopes the new TMI program will be a step toward reversing some concerning trends on Utah roads. In 2020, UDOT data indicated traffic in Utah decreased by 13%, but traffic fatalities increased by 11%.

DUI arrests statewide were also up 10% and 100+mph citations increased by 45%, according to UDOT.