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Transportation agencies across the country are benefiting from improving their Traffic Incident Management (TIM) practices. By deploying the use of drones to map crash scenes, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) is able to save time, money and lives. 

More than a decade after its initial application, ODOT has seen tremendous results on a roadway where the agency utilized mill and overlay with highly modified asphalt (HiMA)

ODOT enhances their crash mapping abilities with UAS 

Accurate measurements and documentation play a large role in investigating accidents. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) is using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to map deadly car crash scenes on critical highways and interstates. This process not only documents the evidence found at the scene, but it also helps investigators calculate vehicle speeds and trajectories. As a result, these factors can reveal the cause of an accident and sometimes lead to criminal charges. 

In the past, OHP used total station and robotic total station technologies to map crash scenes. Historically, this process takes about an hour and a half to two hours to complete. However, with State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) funds, OHP is able to utilize UAS technology to map crash scenes in as little as twenty-six minutes. 

UAS is an effective method of next-generation traffic incident management (NextGen TIM). Traditional traffic incident management was primarily focused on agencies that respond to crashes on interstates and highways. NextGen TIM allows DOTs and local agencies to enhance their traffic incident management strategies. Using these methods, transportation agencies can greatly enhance road safety for both responders and the traveling public.  

Ten years of effectiveness: ODOT’s use of HiMA mixtures 

Located on a section of I-40, west of Oklahoma City, an Oklahoma roadway sees more than 25,000 vehicles every single day. Ten years ago, the agency used a highly modified asphalt (HiMA) polymer to create extremely durable pavement on its roadway. HiMA mixtures are created using an asphalt binder involving 7 to 8 percent polymer. This provides elastic reinforcement and enhances the overlay’s rutting resistance. 

It can take many years before a pavement overlay or specification proves its effectiveness. However, a decade after the road span originally received the HiMA treatment, the agency found that its international roughness index averaged 50 inches per mile. This index was smooth enough to cause ride bonuses for new construction in varying states. Although this unique polymer costs more than traditional alternatives, by reducing the required thickness, it can offset the cost and allow for a longer-lasting pavement. 

A HiMA mixture is a form of targeted overlay pavement solutions (TOPS). An Every Day Counts (EDC) 6 innovation, TOPS improve upon traditional overlay methods.