First responders learn new maneuver to clear roadways faster, keep traffic flowing

Tuesday, members of the SCDOT SHEP (State Highway Emergency Program) team will practice pushing wrecked vehicles off the roadway.

SHEP crews serve drivers in Charleston, Columbia, Florence, Grand Strand/Myrtle Beach, Rock Hill, and the Upstate who are in a variety of situations. SHEP responders make minor repairs to disabled vehicles and, assist with traffic control and traffic incident management.  Typically, these situations involve motorists that are out of fuel, have a flat tire, or other mechanical problems while traveling.

“If they stop on the side of the interstate, or in the travel portion of the roadway, we treat them as stranded/disabled motorists,” Mike Bowman, Statewide Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Coordinator, explained to the News 2 I-Team.

The crews monitor issues on I 26 between Summerville and Charleston.  They also monitor  I-526. They responded to 17,927 incidents between 2012 and 2015. That’s more than 12 issues per day on our local interstates.

The federally funded program aims to keep traffic flowing for other drivers in designated, heavily traveled zones. Drives can dial *HP 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for help.


Designated Zones

“One of the more visible customer-focused programs of SCDOT has been the SHEP Program which operates in nine heavily traveled areas of the state in an effort to alleviate non-recurring congestion,” Bowman explained via email.

This program uses specially equipped blue trucks with message boards, cones, tow ropes, and fire extinguishers. The responders are trained to provide initial first response activities at incident scenes, including hazardous material identification, and provide traffic control at the scene for the protection of the emergency responders as well as provide direction to the motorists negotiating the scene.

Also, the vehicles are equipped with fuel, water, and tools to enable quick repairs for disabled vehicles, thus enabling these vehicles to be moved from the roadway to prevent possible collisions with moving traffic.

“Whenever an incident happens, the ability of SHEP to respond with immediate actions to mitigate a scene and resume traffic flow is unparalleled. The largest producer of secondary collisions especially on the interstate system is the abrupt decrease of traffic approaching an incident,” according to Bowman.

The SHEP Responders have direct contact with the Highway Patrol and other emergency responders across the state.

The table below shows the number of motorists/incidents SCDOT’s SHEP Program has assisted in the past four fiscal years.


AREAS FY 2012 FY 2013 FY 2014 FY 2015
Columbia 7,584 7,847 8,350 8,408
Upstate (Greenville and Spartanburg) 5,295 5,105 5,397 5,969
Rock Hill 2,422 1,699 1,529 2,069
Charleston 10,115 9,746 9,059 8,181
Myrtle Beach 2,869 3,132 4,952 5,209
Florence 3,326 3,238 3,182 2,692
Cherokee 973 757 968 993
Total Reponses 33,687 31,524 33,427 33,521


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