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Editor’s Note

Special thanks to Ken Buretta, Eric Rensel, Michael Jackson, Shawn Kinney, Erin Arva, William James, Scott Yinger, Rebecca Gibson, and Bart Graves for their contribution to this publication.

Editor’s Note

“What’s in a name?” A question made famous by Shakespeare’s lyrical tale of star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, led Safe Highway Matters to reflect on the wide range of duties performed by Safety Service Patrol personnel (or drivers, officers, operators, helpers, rangers, etc.) and whether or not a consistent nomenclature exists for their important position within the Traffic Incident Management team. Inspired by Eric Rensel’s assertion to refer to Safety Service Patrol drivers as “officers” in The Responder newsletter dated February 10, 2014, Safe Highway Matters worked with Leo Rickertsen who set about the task of surveying industry professionals to determine the most common titles in the industry and how those titles fair from state to state and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

We learned that there exists no science behind Safety Service Patrol nomenclature, whether for the patrol as a whole or for the personnel out on the road performing the services for which these patrols are known and widely-recognized. What became clear during Safe Highway Matters‘ research into the topic is the broad range of expertise that the Safety Service Patrol industry cultivates and the broad range of titles associated with that expertise. Additionally, titles need to be easily recognizable and understood by the general public, which presents a new challenge for appropriately titling personnel. For many, finding the precise title to encompass duty and esteem proves to be a difficult undertaking and no universal consensus could be reached on a single, particular title. No two patrols are exactly alike; Perhaps that is the best explanation for assorted occupation titles.

Beyond the serious topic of Safety Service Patrol titles and positions, Safe Highway Matters had a little fun with this issue – checking in with Mr. Ken Buretta of the Washington State Department of Transportation Traffic Operations Incident Response Team who explains his position with the DOT and why “technician” is the best title for his job. Thank you Ken for your contributions to this issue. Safe Highway Matters also spent some time exploring Tow Truck Rodeos that continue to pop-up in communities across the U.S. with offers of contests and competitions, and, of course, family-friendly entertainment. We were surprised to learn that Tow Truck Rodeos have quite a history – some decades long! – and will continue to keep an eye out for them in our neighborhood.

In addition to Ken Buretta, Safe Highway Matters would like to offer a special thanks to those authorities in the industry who  contributed to the ongoing conversation about Safety Service Patrol personnel’s titles: TIM Network Liaison Eric Rensel; Iowa DOT Special Projects Engineer Michael Jackson; Florida DOT Traffic Incident Management and Road Ranger Program Manager Shawn Kinney; Gannet Flemming’s Transportation Operations Outreach Erin Arva and Incident and Emergency Management Specialist William James; Maryland State Highway Administration Field Operations Manager Scott Yinger; New York State DOT ITS Operations Unit Supervisor Rebecca Gibson; and Arizona DOT Media Relations Coordinator Bart Graves.

We also would like to recognize a Safety Service Patrol professional and Safe Highway Matters contributor, New York State DOT HELP driver Paula Rodriquez who passed away this past August. Paula was well liked and recognized by her colleagues and by the motorists whom she assisted, as a “Highway Angel.” She will be dearly missed.

We at Safe Highway Matters wish all Safety Service Patrol professionals safety on the road. We understand the challenges that you face every day on the road and we are proud to support your practiced efforts. Safe Highway Matters is eager to be informed of your roadway experiences and invite you to send us your stories, feedback and suggestions on this issue and future issues.

Wishing you safe travels,

Rita Gallagher

Editor in Chief

Back to Safe Highway Matters Fall 2014

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