CHART Traffic Incident Management
CHART Traffic Incident Management
The Coordinated Highways Action Response Team (CHART) Emergency Patrols operate in partnership with the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA), Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA), and the Maryland State Police (MSP). The Emergency Patrols also assist all allied law enforcement agencies and fire/rescue departments in the State of Maryland.
Although most citizens associate the “big yellow trucks with the State Farm decal on the side” with motorist assistance, the primary function of the CHART Emergency Patrols is Traffic Incident Management. CHART, through best nationally recognized practices supports the National Unified Goal by enhancing responder safety, coordinating the quick clearance of Maryland’s travel lanes, improving interagency communications, and reducing secondary crashes all in an effort to keep motorists safer and to keep Maryland moving forward on our roadways!
Emergency Traffic Patrols (ETP) have been helping broken-down motorists and assisting police at incidents along Maryland’s interstates and highways since the early to mid 1980s. As traffic congestion and delays along US 50 to and from the Eastern Shore area stretched for miles and miles, SHA began a partnership with the Maryland State Police and opened the first Traffic Operations Center in Maryland – the Eastern Shore Traffic Operations (ESTO) Center, also known as Reach the Beach. The goal was to detect and respond to incidents that added to the already massive delays along US 50 between the Annapolis area and Ocean City.
CHART Emergency Patrol Routes
The Emergency Patrols operate 24/7 in the Baltimore/Washington Metropolitan Area and from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Western Region (Washington and Frederick Counties, and western Carroll and Howard Counties). The Emergency Response Technicians (ERTs) are on call to assist managing incidents any time. CHART operates 43 Emergency Patrol vehicles covering more than 2,000 lane miles of Maryland highways. Although they have assigned patrol routes, the ERTs are available to assist with traffic incidents anywhere they are needed in the State.
Quick facts about the CHART Emergency Patrols
- CHART ERTs assist a motorist every 14 minutes (average). That’s more than 37,400 motorist assists every year.
- CHART ERTs manages traffic at a crash/incident once every 22 minutes.
- This prevents an estimated 225-250 secondary crashes each year.
- This also saves drivers approximately $1 billion annually in fuel and delay costs.
- CHART has reduced major incident duration by as much as 40 to 50 percent in the past decade.
Whether directing traffic at a crash or other incident, or changing a flat tire for a motorist, or giving directions to someone who is lost, CHART Emergency Response Technicians have a very dangerous job performing these tasks in such close proximity to traffic. But it is very rewarding to know that these actions help to keep Maryland drivers moving forward.
Partnership with State Farm
In 2011, SHA entered into an innovative partnership with State Farm Insurance to expand the emergency traffic patrol fleet to its current level today.
Additional funding was made available to SHA as a result of the initial three-year partnership and has primarily been used to maintain and operate two additional patrol trucks and two additional drivers. Additionally, State Farm’s funding has provided safety equipment, brochures with comment cards and signage along Maryland’s interstates promoting the partnership.
As a result of an expansion of the ETP’s in the summer of 2014, the 43 ETP’s work shifts around the clock in the Baltimore and Washington areas, covering more than 340 additional miles of interstates and primary highways throughout Maryland. For more information about State Farm’s ETP partnerships both in Maryland and across the US, go to www.assistpatrol.com
CHART Emergency Patrol Vehicles
The three types of vehicles used include heavy-duty utility body trucks, tow trucks, and Custom Response Vehicles (CRVs). All are 4-wheel drive. Although each truck carries similar equipment such as vehicle relocation equipment, chainsaws, debris clearing equipment, and a multitude of warning devices, each specific type of vehicle has its own mission. For example, all of the trucks have arrow boards except that the CRVs have a programmable message board that can provide specific directions to motorists. CRVs are also equipped with a generator and floodlights that are often requested to assist with crash investigations at night. All of the trucks are registered emergency vehicles and are equipped with the appropriate red flashing lights and sirens to get through slowed or stopped traffic.
CHART Emergency Response Technicians in Action
ERTs remain the heart and soul of the CHART program:
“On my way to Baltimore on I-70 my engine had issues and I pulled to the shoulder. All of a sudden I saw the SHA yellow truck with lights. Please tell Steve - Thank You Thank You Thank you. He was my Guardian Angel that day.”
“I was visiting my daughter’s family in northern Virginia and my rear tire blew. I pulled over on I-95 near Branch Avenue when Mr. Johnson showed up. He explained who he worked for and was calm, polite and very efficient. I am grateful to SHA for this service and believe he was nothing less than a Godsend.”
"My first day back from vacation and I get a flat tire. I was scared! Joe was a blessing. He changed my tire in record time. He was nice, professional and comforting. Thanks SHA and State Farm for this service.”
“I was stranded in the travel lane with a blowout tire on I-695 near Liberty Road. It was 11 p.m. and a dangerous situation. Mr. King arrived promptly, pushed me to the shoulder and used his tools to change my tire and get me out of a scary spot. What a great service and thanks SHA.”
“I merged onto MD 295 from I-95 and got a flat tire. I called for roadside assistance and no one showed up. Wesley from SHA pulled up, asked if I needed help, changed my tire and got me on my way in no time at all. Great customer service and thanks SHA.”
“After a long day at work I broke down right on the American Legion Bridge. Eric from CHART showed up and helped me to the shoulder and changed my tire. I was so thankful he came by. T hank you for a great program.”
“I ran out of gas on I-70 in Frederick and had my 10 month-old in the car. I had waited a while for my roadside service when Kim from SHA CHART showed up. She was friendly, professional and my HERO! She wouldn’t accept a tip – just a huge thank you from me.”
“I got a flat tire on the US 50 Severn River Bridge near Annapolis. I was wondering how I could get home safely when Chris showed up. He put on the spare and we were on our way in no time.”
“I was traveling from New York to Annapolis my engine light went on in my Subaru. Within minutes your driver Paul showed up. He helped by calling a local Subaru dealer and we got it resolved. He was polite, courteous and helpful.”
“After a very long flight I was leaving BWI and got a flat tire. Don was there before I realized. He was fantastic! A life saver. The kind of professional experience needed after a long week.”
“I got a flat tire on US 50 after coming off of the Bay Bridge. Dave in his big yellow truck showed up to fix our flat. My whole family is thankful for his assistance.”
CHART Emergency Response Technician of the Year
ERT Senior, Daniel Rice
Western Region Unit 9707
Danny Rice has been an employee of the State Highway Administration for 27 years, the last eleven of which have been with CHART. His dedication, experience, and skill is considered to be the highest level by his peers in SHA and the emergency response community. Danny’s work ethic transcends into his motivation to insure scene safety and protection for not only himself but for all others involved in the incident. Safety for him is paramount and thusly his number one priority. As an example, on October 25, 2014 and during a high commuter traffic time period, a tragic mid air collision between a helicopter and small aircraft occurred just outside of the Frederick Airport. With multiple fatalities and over 30 responding emergency vehicles, Danny quickly responded to the area with other members of the Western Region CHART Team to quickly assess the situation and control the traffic near the scene allowing law enforcement and fire rescue swift access to the incident. During a very shocking, tragic and chaotic scene, Danny calmly and safely guided motorist away from or around the aircraft accident while simultaneously creating routes for first responders to rapidly deploy. In 2014, Sr. ERT Danny Rice responded to 383 emergency incidents and conducted 676 motorists assist.