Traffic | New Tool Helps Open Roads Faster, Reduces Backups after Major Accidents

Over the past few months, area residents and drivers have seen first hand what happens to nearby freeways when major collisions occur.

This past September, westbound I-90 was completely shut down for 4 hours after a multiple-vehicle rollover collision near Preston. The traffic backup stemming from the closure was over 7 miles, stretching past exit 32 in North Bend and clogging all nearby alternate routes.  A few weeks later, and a semi accident closed eastbound SR 18 and wreaked havoc on the afternoon commute

The WSDOT estimates that for every one minute a lane is blocked, it takes 8 minutes for the ensuing traffic backup to clear. This week the Washington State Patrol (WSP) announced that it has a new tool to help reduce these types of traffic backups – the Trimble Laser Scanner.

After a serious injury or fatality collision, roads are closed as detectives perform their accident investigation to determine the cause. Often times, two detectives with surveyor tools are needed to map an accident scene. For safety reasons, the roadway has to be closed, or lanes reduced, to allow for the important investigation.

According to WSP, the Trimble Laser Scanner can do the same investigation work, but with one detective and in about half the time – ultimately reducing road closure times.

The Trimble sits on a tripod and does a 360 degree scan of the roadway and all items at the scene to recreate a 3-D version of the accident area – sometimes even catching small items that detectives may miss on a dark, rainy night. This also frees up a detective to question witnesses and perform other aspects of the investigation while the Trimble does its work.

Detectives say the new tool can be used without needing to close as many lanes following a major accident – and sometimes without even needing a full closure.  They can do their investigation work faster and more safely to get traffic moving again – and commuters to their destinations.

WSP says each device costs about $50,000. They are currently seeking funding to purchase more Trimble Laser Scanners for statewide use.

WSP says the device can also be used at other crime investigation scenes, such as a homicide, to document the location of important evidence.

More info on the Trimble Laser Scanner can be seen in the WSP Good to Know Video.

WSP Trimble Laser Scanner demonstration for WSP Good to Know series.
WSP Trimble Laser Scanner demonstration for WSP Good to Know series.



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