The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Talking TIM Webinar Series provides a forum where Traffic Incident Management (TIM) champions with any level of experience can exchange information about current practices, programs, and technologies. Each month, the FHWA TIM Program Team feature TIM advocates and practitioners that discuss successful programs, best practices, and technologies that advance the profession.
The November webinar topics included:
- The National Sheriff’s Association Role in TIM – Sheriff John Whetsel, the Chair of the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) Traffic Safety Committee
- Slow Down, Move Over State Legislation, a Firsthand Perspective – Linda Unruh, champion of Bobby’s Law in New Mexico which expanded their Slow Down Move Over Law
- Highlights from National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week – Jim Austrich, FHWA Program Manager
- Responder Safety Institute Summit – Jack Sullivan, Director of Training with the Emergency Responder Safety Institute (ERSI), will provide an update on the number of responder fatalities. Mr. Sullivan will also review findings from the Responder Safety Institute Summit and discuss current and future TIM initiatives spearheaded by ERSI.
The speaker biographies are highlighted below:
Sheriff John Whetsel retired in 2017 after 50 years in law enforcement, including 20 years as Oklahoma County Sheriff and 22 years as a Chief of Police. He is a member of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) National Law Enforcement Advisory Board, is a Past President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and serves on several national traffic safety working groups. Sheriff Whetsel is the recipient of the Governors Highway Safety Association’s highest honor, the James J. Howard Highway Safety Trailblazer Award. He is a national traffic safety advocate and consultant, giving traffic safety presentations to law enforcement and traffic safety groups around the country.
Linda Unruh is a recognized expert in towing and recovery, having been involved in the field for over 30 years. She was the owner of a large family operation in Eastern New Mexico. After retiring from towing in 2018, she opened a towing-related consulting firm, La Linda Consulting. In addition to offering her expertise to towing owners and operators across the Nation, Ms. Unruh is a fierce advocate for the Slow Down Move Over Law (SDMO). Ms. Unruh was instrumental in New Mexico recognizing the Slow Down Move Over Law as Bobby’s Law, named in honor of her son, who was killed in the line of duty in 2017. Her mission is to save lives through education, awareness, and training, and to establish a National Slow Down Move Over law to unite and highlight the need for public education and safety for first responders in all 50 States. Ms. Unruh joined the ranks of the many influential and inspiring International Towing Hall of Fame inductees in 2003.
Jim Austrich is the Program Manager for the National TIM Responder Training Program and part of the FHWA Office of Transportation Operations. Mr. Austrich is a national leader in the Transportation Systems, Emergency Management, and Operations field. Before FHWA, Mr. Austrich worked in the District of Columbia, Department of Transportation (DDOT), the DC Metropolitan Police Department’s (MPDC) Homeland Security Bureau, and the FHWA. Mr. Austrich is a graduate of the 2009 UMD/I‑95CC Senior Management Academy. He has many transportation projects, panels, and committees to his credit.
Jack Sullivan is a subject matter expert on roadway incident operations and emergency personnel safety and promotes proactive strategies and tactics for protecting emergency workers from being struck by vehicles. He was a volunteer firefighter and chief officer for 23 years and recently retired from a 40-year career as a safety and risk management consultant for the public and private sector. Jack teaches Roadway Incident Safety & Survival Workshops for emergency responders for ERSI and he is a Master Instructor for the FHWA SHRP2 Traffic Incident Management Train-the-Trainer Workshops. Jack is also a Technical Member of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices and currently serves as the Chair of the Task Group for Chapter 6i of the MUTCD – “Control of Traffic Through Traffic Incident Management Areas”.
Operations Area of Practice
- Traffic Incident Management