A Return on Investment Study of the Hampton Roads Safety Service Patrol Program

Report No: 07-R33

Published in 2007

About the report:

Safety Service Patrol (SSP) programs are widely used to help mitigate the effects of nonrecurring congestion on our nation's highways and have become an increasingly vital element of incident management programs. SSPs are typically deployed in areas that have high traffic volumes (e.g., urban freeways). They are charged with clearing obstructions such as debris and disabled vehicles from roadways and assisting state police with traffic control at crash scenes. In recent years and in conjunction with performance measurement activities, some state departments of transportation have initiated benefit evaluations of their SSP programs. In support of the Virginia Department of Transportation's return on investment initiatives, staff from VDOT's Operations Planning Division requested that a benefit-cost study be conducted with regard to the Hampton Roads SSP. To perform the study, an analysis of route geometrics, traffic characteristics, and incident data was conducted in the Hampton Roads area for the period from July 1, 2005, through June 30, 2006. These data were then used as inputs into an SSP evaluation model to obtain the benefits of the program. The research found that the total annual benefits of the Hampton Roads SSP (in terms of delay and fuel consumption) were approximately $11.1 million. The costs associated with patrolling the routes in the region were approximately $2.4 million: thus, the savings generated by this program are nearly 5 times the expenditures it takes to run it. To understand better the program's return on investment, the study recommends that the Hampton Roads SSP conduct an annual review of its benefits versus costs. In addition, because the Hampton Roads region experiences heavy tourist/vacation traffic during the summer months (especially during the weekends), similar reviews should also be conducted on a seasonal basis to assess the fluctuations in costs and benefits that occur during different times of the year. Performing such evaluations will require additional labor costs, but these costs can be minimized by integrating the Virginia State Police computer-aided-dispatch and SSP databases and managing them in such a way that would enable the capturing of relevant and pertinent benefit evaluation data.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.

Last updated: November 26, 2023

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