SDOT Response Team

“Safely Clearing Roads and Helping People”

What We Do

The SDOT Response Team helps keep traffic moving by clearing debris and vehicles blocking city streets; by helping motorists; and by working with police, firefighters, and other partners.

This helps keep our streets clear and operating efficiently. By promptly removing debris in the street, moving vehicles out of the traffic lane after an accident, assisting stranded motorists, providing emergency traffic control for incidents and responding to issues with traffic signals, the SDOT Response Team (SRT) clears blockages and prevents traffic backups 24/7.

This is another example of SDOT making the most of our finite street space. WSDOT's Incident Response Team (IRT) has provided incident response on state highways for years, yet Seattle is one of only a few American cities to provide these services on city streets.

Smart Investment to Help Keep Our Streets Clear

The City recently invested in three additional SRT trucks and increased staff so we can provide SRT service twenty-four hours per day. We now have five trucks in the SRT fleet, which allows us to operate two trucks during the day shift, two trucks on the afternoon shift and one truck on the overnight shift. When needed, we can deploy even more trucks and team members to help keep traffic moving.

One minute of traffic backup can create four to ten minutes of delay, especially because one accident can cause secondary collisions. Therefore, around-the-clock SRT services are a cost-effective investment to help our transportation system run effectively.

Special Equipment and Tools

Truck with a message board

The Seattle Response Team provides many services because our members receive specific training and each SRT truck is equipped with a battery of tools to accomplish many jobs. First off, each truck has a large, retractable variable message board to provide vital information to drivers. We also use battery jump starters, gasoline for cars which run out of fuel, tow ropes, traffic cones to direct traffic around accidents, fluorescent pink warning signs, various saws to clear tree limbs on the street, spill absorbent material, fire extinguishers, jacks to change flat tires, and more. We even carry GoJaks - devices which allow one person to lift a car’s tires off the ground and push the car out of the way.

You could say that our SRT trucks are the swiss army knives of traffic incident response. More details on our equipment.

Working With Partners

SRT members are SDOT’s first responders to clear our streets of incidents. At incidents we also work in partnership with first responders from the Seattle Police Department and the Seattle Fire Department. By clearing streets and guiding traffic around an incident, our partners from SPD and SFD can be safe and can focus on what they do best. This also helps to reduce backups and to keep traffic moving.

Also, SRT is part of the Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Program, which is a network of agencies that work together to clear incidents as quickly, safely and efficiently as possible. A key role for the SRT is to coordinate with SDOT’s Traffic Operations Center (TOC) to share information with the public about traffic incidents and detours.

Florescent Pink = Incident

Emergency scene ahead signIf you see a pink flourecent warning sign on the road, that means there is an incident ahead. The Federal Highway Administration established this bright color for signs indicating an incident so the public can distinguish incident warnings from the familiar orange construction signs.

One way to remember this is that when you see pink, think compassion, because someone is involved in an incident up ahead.

More Information

Who you contact depends on how urgent the issue is.

Crashes & emergencies and blocked travel lanes: 911

Call 911 to report:

  • collisions, emergencies, and other life-threatening situations. Police, firefighters, or other first responders will be on the scene as soon as possible
  • a vehicle stranded in a travel lane due to a dead battery, empty gas tank, flat tire, etc. The SRT is equipped to remove those vehicles out of the travel lane and then get you on your way
  • a travel lane blocked by debris such as tree limbs, garbage, spills, etc.
  • Phone: 911

Routine repairs: SDOT Maintenance Crews

Contact SDOT's Customer Care Center to inform SDOT maintenance crews about non-urgent situations such as potholes, paving requests, damaged street signs, tree trim requests, etc.

General questions about the SDOT Response Team: SRT manager

Contact the SRT supervisor Patricia Westsik if you have non-urgent questions about the program.

Safely clear city streets

  • Respond to vehicle collisions
  • Clear hazmat spills created by incidents
  • Clear streets of debris, including tree debris
  • Push, pull, or drag stalled vehicles out of travel lanes
  • Coordinate SDOT heavy equipment and sweepers to help clear larger incidents
  • Fill potholes on an emergency basis

Help people with roadside assistance

  • Jump car batteries
  • Change flat tires
  • Provide gas to stranded motorists

Work with partners to keep streets operating efficiently

  • Set up traffic control devices (e.g. cones and large signs) to channel traffic around incidents which require time for SPD or SFD to investigate (for example, fatal crashes)
  • Support unified command partnership between Seattle Police Department, Seattle Fire Department, and SDOT
  • Act as SDOT's on-scene incident command representative
  • Provide incident status to SDOT's Traffic Operations Center to be shared with the public and City leaders
  • Confirm reports of traffic signals which are not working

Members of the SDOT Response Team

SDOT Response Team equipment

Key equipment and tools on each SDOT Response Team truck includes:

  • Jack to change tires
  • Strap to tow cars
  • Gasoline for stranded drivers
  • Absorbant materials for spills
  • Jump starter for dead batteries
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Traffic cones to direct traffic around incidents
  • Bright pink signs to warn drivers of an incident ahead
  • Power tools: drill and saws
  • Hok and chain to tow cars
  • Chain saw for trees in the street
  • Leaf blower to move debris
  • Sledge hammer
  • Crowbar
  • GoJak, which allows one person to push a car out of the way

This video shows how the SRT keeps streets clear and how we use some of our equipment.