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Dallas Police Talk Up Rapid Wreck Response To City Council

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It can be the height of frustration for commuters: getting stuck in the backlog of a traffic accident.  It may not seem there’s much hope—especially if you’re caught in it—-but Dallas Police say they are working on ways to clean up wrecks faster.

It’s a policy called “Rapid Response,” police told the city of Dallas’ Public Safety Committee Monday.  Getting freeways reopened more quickly.  “Our first intent is to get the roadway open,” Assistant Chief Tom Lawrence told the council members.  “That’s more our priority now than it was, say, ten years ago,” he later told CBS 11 News.  But doing it smarter to keep rescuers safe.

First responders say they’ve changed the choreography of equipment at a wreck site, parking fire engines over multiple lanes to block-out safe working areas called shadows.  And then dramatically showed why: in a 2007 incident, the fire truck blocked a skidding semi-trailer from sliding into people working to save a trapped driver.  “Our goal is to get the traffic slowed down and to protect the accident scene as somebody’s already been the victim of an accident, we’re trying to keep them from being victimized again by another vehicle.”

Area drivers sounded off on their frustrations with wrecks.  “Man, it’s just deal with it; there ain’t nothing else I can do with it, just roll up the window turn up the AC and listen to the music,” said Dedrick Luke.  “How can you deal with it?” Michael Rosa asked, then answered his own question.  “You get on the phone, turn up the music, there’s no other way to deal with it. Other than road rage, but that’s not the kind of person I am.”  Tony Hicks agreed.  “It’s very frustrating, but I mean there’s nothing you can do.  Dallas is just growing, it’s too big.  Too big.”

Lawrence cautions that paying attention and lowering speeds can help bad situations from turning even worse.   “And somebody comes up behind them that’s not paying attention and hit the back of another car and we get a secondary accident,” he said.  “And a lot of it is driver inattention—they’re not watching traffic beyond the first car in front of them.    They’re on the phone, they’re texting, they’re talking, they’re doing something that is distracting them from seeing what’s going on in front of them.”

Council member Sandy Greyson echoed the concern.  “People get really frustrated when they’re backed up in traffic and those are the cause of a lot of secondary collisions.”

Part of the solution, according to Chief Lawrence will be getting tow trucks to wreck sites faster.  “That’s the most critical thing, we’ve got to get those wreckers enroute to clear the freeway; the wreckers are being bound by the same restrictions that every other driver is to get to the scene.  That can cause delays, and there’s no way we can avoid that.”

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