Tabletop Exercise Guidelines for Planned Events and Unplanned Incidents/Emergencies

When planned special events are held, they generally increase traffic demands in or near the location of the event. In order to address this influx of traffic, transportation management plans are developed with the intent of minimizing the effect the event has on the transportation system. For a transportation management plan to be successful, however, it is strongly recommended that the plan be tested and reviewed prior to the event. One of the most effective ways to test a transportation management plan is through a tabletop exercise. A tabletop exercise uses the transportation management plan as the basis for action. It enables participants to role play in a scenario-based exercise conducted in an informal stress-free environment. During this low cost/low stress activity, key stakeholders involved in the planning and implementation of transportation management plans test the plan through a facilitated scenario based discussion. Tabletop exercises allow traffic management team officials to review the effect of certain event-specific action plans on other concurrent events. Through this interaction, contingencies are vetted and resolved. In addition, a tabletop exercise can be used to train and familiarize personnel with their roles and responsibilities within the planned special event’s transportation management plan. No matter how thorough a transportation management plan may be, it cannot account for all contingencies. The purposes of a tabletop exercise are to (1) test the written assumptions in the transportation management plan and (2) see what must be changed and how the plan can be improved from regional good practices and tabletop after actions. The tabletop exercise allows the participants to see how they react to unexpected events such as equipment failure or personnel shortages. Though originally designed for planned special events, the information in the guide can be used for the management of unplanned incidents including traffic incidents and responses to emergencies.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Title on cover: Tabletop Exercise Instructions for Planned Events and Unplanned Incidents/Emergencies.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Federal Highway Administration

    Office of Operations, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Publication Date: 2014-11


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Pagination: 29p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01597257
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: FHWA-HOP-15-004
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI, USDOT
  • Created Date: Mar 21 2016 7:43AM