ADOT’s Incident Response Unit marks 3 years of service

IRU crews quickly respond to incidents, get traffic moving

PHOENIX – They’re the people you hope to never need, but are relieved when they arrive to lend a helping hand or with road flares, traffic cones, extra water and so much more.

Patrolling all of Maricopa County in trucks, the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Incident Response Unit (IRU), sponsored by State Farm, is a 15-member group dedicated to clearing debris from the roadway, keeping responders and motorists safe with traffic control after a crash, and assisting stranded motorists.

This month, IRU marks its three-year anniversary of providing these valuable services from west of Wickenburg to Apache Lake and north of New River to south of Gila Bend – that’s 9,224 square miles.

“ADOT’s IRU team has proven to be an indispensable asset on our highways and it shows,” said IRU manager David Blue. “These dedicated ADOT crews are making highways safer for those who respond to incidents and the traveling public, by making the scene safer and helping to get traffic moving sooner after crashes occur."

Three years ago, IRU replaced ADOT’s Arizona Local Response Team (ALERT), which consisted mainly of maintenance workers who volunteered to be available for emergency calls. About 240 crashes occur each day in Maricopa County. Because IRU has crews dedicated to respond to incidents, ADOT is able to respond sooner to incidents. This yields major benefits to first responders and the traveling public because IRU is able to quickly respond to incidents and provide traffic control. This reduces the chances of a secondary collision, which often can be more serious than the initial crash.

“As a result,” Blue said, “we’re responding to more incidents faster and resolving them faster.”

IRU’s presence also allows Arizona Department of Public Safety troopers to focus on rendering aid to injured motorists and investigating the cause of crashes, rather than provide traffic control.