Traffic Hindsight Is 20/20

(KHNL) - As Tuesday night wore on and drivers remained stuck, state officials said they should have brought in help from civil defense and other agencies.

"Big lesson learned is we got to have a threshold where if it gets really bad on the traffic and its going to require hours of commute time, we've got to have back up plans, what if plans," said Ed Teixeira, vice-director of State Civil Defense.

The state already uses State Civil Defense headquarters to coordinate responses to natural disasters and other emergencies. In the future, civil defense may also direct efforts to deal with severe traffic congestion.

Civil defense officials said they could have used emergency alert systems to provide continuous traffic updates on radio and TV. The state also has emergency shelters which could have been used by drivers stuck in traffic. However, there were no requests for shelters on Tuesday night.

"We've learned from that and I think we've got to go back to basics and when we have a significant incident like this we engage the incident command system," Teixeira said.

Six years ago, civil defense agencies stepped in to help drivers stranded when a police stand-off shut down Farrington Highway. A similar response could be used in the future.

"Even if we didn't get any calls we got to calls for assistance we've got to figure out better ways to get out there and maybe do a better assessment of the pain people were going through and how bad traffic was really snarled," Teixeira said.