Patrol Sgt Brandon Hollenbeck Writes About Quick Clearance for Traffic


Below is training information we are using for our police officers and dispatchers.  We are reviewing our Quick Clearance AKA Traffic Incident Management principles with them in anticipation of the onset of winter driving.  It is good information for you, the motorist as well.  

We are asking you to cooperate with us as we work to make the roadway system less dangerous for you and for us and to help us get you to your destination more efficiently.

Guest Blogger:  Sergeant Brandon Hollenbeck

Quick Clearance is the preferred strategy of traffic incident management for officers responding to non-recurring traffic events (accidents, vehicles left in roadway, road hazards, road run-offs, abandoned vehicles, load spillages etc.)

It is important to recognize that even a minor traffic event may have a significant impact on efficient traffic flow which jeopardizes public safety.

 Quick Clearance procedures are designed to maintain efficient traffic volumes while maximizing public safety

 Removing obstructions in a timely matter

  1. Reducing “gawker” delays
  2. Reducing secondary traffic crashes
  3. Reducing response times
  4. Improving safety for emergency responders (consider traffic related fatalities for LE)
  5. Maintaining clear recovery zones on limited access highways

Quick Clearance is not an exception to providing high level professional police services

Important Hours for quick clearance:

  1. Monday – Friday during AM and PM peak traffic (rush hours)
  2. May – November Friday and Sunday evenings
  3. Two hours prior to and one hour following large crowd venues (palace, DTE, etc.)

Patrol Officer’s Responsibilities:  objective is to restore normal traffic volumes as quickly and safely as possible

  • Communications will attempt to have vehicles relocate to a designated area when possible.
  • If vehicles are not drivable communications will dispatch tow company without delay
  • Patrol officers will respond to the scene without delay and assess the situation
  • Patrol officers shall wear reflective vests
  • Patrol officers will request tow company (if not already done by communications) to remove vehicles causing traffic hazards
  • Patrol vehicles may be used to push bumper disabled vehicles out of the road (use judgment)
  • Move vehicles as far off the roadway as possible to eliminate traffic hazards
  • MVC authorizes officers to remove vehicles on public and private property if that vehicle is creating an immediate public hazard or traffic obstruction
  • If vehicles are drivable officers should collect driver’s licenses and order drivers to follow them off the freeway to a safer location
  • If vehicles are not drivable and not causing a traffic hazard officers should request the motorists to leave the vehicle and relocate to a safer location with the officer
  • Officers should provide transportation to the motorist and explain that we will assist with the removal of their vehicle once peak traffic hours have passed
  • Removal of vehicles shall occur during off peak hours or when removal would not cause unnecessary traffic delays
  • In the event motorists refuse to relocate: advise them that we will not be standing by, explain the dangers of remaining at the location, and encourage them to relocate with you until peak traffic hours have passed (we will assist them further at that time)
  • Patrol officers should request a supervisor at more complex events and any events during peak hours that involve 50% loss of road capacity that is predicted to last longer than 30 minutes
  • In the event the accident is a PIA and FD is on scene officers may need to encourage FD units to follow quick clearance procedures as well


  • Quick clearance is safer for everyone
  • Reducing the amount of time our officers are on the freeway/major streets (especially during peak traffic times) reduces the potential for dangers
  • When traffic is impacted during peak periods to help one or two people, thousands of other people are also impacted as a result and everyone is exposed to the potential of additional dangers
  • Quick clearance reduces the potential for additional crashes, minimizes traffic delays, and improves traffic flow

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I'm the Chief of Police for the Auburn Hills Police Department.