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Public Policy and Administration


Elaine Spaulding


The North Carolina State Highway Patrol (NCSHP) and the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) are often called upon to assist in traffic incidents. Yet little systematic research has examined the extent to which these two agencies collaborate. This gap in understanding is problematic, as a lack of collaboration may result in significant delays in the clearing of traffic incidents. The purpose of this correlational study was to investigate circumstances when the two agencies collaborated in clearing major traffic incidents, and the efficiency of the clearance of the incidents, through the measurement of normal traffic flow. The theory of the convergence of resources from divergent organizations framed the study. The research questions addressed the extent of collaboration between the NCSHP and the NCDOT, the conditions under which this collaboration took place, and the efficiency of the clearance of these incidents. Data were obtained from the NCSHP and the NCDOT on characteristics of 1,580 traffic incidents that occurred on the North Carolina portion of Interstate 95 during the year 2014. The data were analyzed using chi-square tests, analyses of variance, and Z-tests for proportions. Collaboration between the two agencies occurred in 7.2% of all of the incidents and in 21.6% of incidents of major severity (p < .001), which indicated a low level of interagency collaboration. The mean clearance time for incidents in which collaboration took place was 115.92 minutes compared to a national goal of 90 minutes. It is hoped that these results can contribute to policy dialogue relevant to the state's Strategic Plan, leading to safer highways and less financial loss due to congestion caused by traffic incidents.

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