ADOT’s Incident Response Unit picking up Phoenix-area litter and dangerous road debris much faster

Data tracking, internal processes maximize efficiency of unit

IRU debris pickupPHOENIX –  In the past two years since the Arizona Department of Transportation started the Incident Response Unit sponsored by State Farm, pickup of litter and dangerous roadway debris has been far faster and more efficient than before. 

The Incident Response Unit, whose job is to patrol Valley freeways to provide vital services including removing litter and debris blocking the road, is working even more efficiently with its own tracking system for calls and time management . The system has provided a clearer picture for the unit to see where improvements can be made in responding to roadway incidents in the Valley.

“Litter is an ugly problem anywhere and objects in the roadway can cause serious and even fatal incidents,” said David Blue, ADOT’s Incident Response Unit manager. “Our job is to respond as rapidly as possible to get the driving surface clear and make sure conditions are safe for everyone.”  

One improvement that has paid dividends was a shift in schedules to have a rotating member of the unit on patrol duty on the weekend to address the dozens of litter calls coming in. The Incident Response Unit sponsored by State Farm normally operates from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday with on-call services nights and weekends. This change keeps drivers safer by removing blocking litter more quickly and freeing up State Troopers to address other incidents on the freeways.

In fact, one-third of the 1600 calls that have come in since mid-August have been for litter blocking the road. The types of litter the IRU responds to range from ladders and load spills to couches and even air conditioning units.

“Having someone on weekend duty helps us achieve our mission of keeping traffic flowing and reducing the chance for crashes,” Blue added. “We’re always looking to improve our processes to better serve motorists in the Valley.”

In addition to litter removal, the IRU provides traffic control at crash scenes and aids stranded motorists. Having a dedicated mobile team has cut response times for incidents to a matter of minutes. Before the IRU, maintenance crews would have to stop their work, return to a yard to pick up vehicles and equipment and then respond to the crash scene.

Learn more about ADOT’s Incident Response Unit sponsored by State Farm at azdot.gov/IRU