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News & Notes Fall 2010

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News & Notes Fall 2010


A Silver Alert that was initiated on Aug. 17, at approximately 10:30 p.m. ended successfully on Florida’s Turnpike when a State Farm Safety Patrol located the vehicle and 83-year-old male driver in the Delray Beach area. The Silver Alert program allows the immediate broadcast of information to the public regarding missing elders with dementia or other cognitive impairment with the goal of returning them home safely. State Farm Safety Patrol driver Louis Luchessi, while on overnight patrol at approximately 12:26 a.m., rolled up to the broken down vehicle on the southbound right shoulder. Once reviewing the tag, Luchessi immediately advised the Turnpike’s Traffic Management Center personnel who notified Florida Highway Patrol Troop K. A Trooper responded and confirmed that the gentlemen and vehicle was the 2005 Hyundai reported missing out of Miami, and dispatched EMS and Fire Rescue to provide a medical check-up for the gentleman. The gentleman was unharmed, and the Trooper transported him to the West Palm Beach Service Plaza where he was picked up by a family member. This is the third Silver Alert to be concluded successfully on Florida’s Turnpike.

Florida's Turnpike patrol operator Louis Luchessi discovered a broken down vehicle belonging to a reported missing elderly man who was the subject of a Silver Alert. Both the man and the vehicle were brought to safety.

The Florida Department of Transportation District Four expanded its Road Ranger Service Patrol to Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River Counties, providing an additional 71 centerline miles of coverage on I-95. The Road Rangers started patrolling on September 6 and received a very warm welcome from both emergency responders and motorists. For more information on the program, visit


For the sixth consecutive year, Highway Emergency Local Patrol (HELP) vehicles from the NYSDOT Hudson Valley Region 8 moved west to assist with the Great New York State Fair located in Syracuse, NY. With the increasing popularity of the Fair, a major construction project by the main entrance, and the drawing of an estimated one million people during the twelve day event, there was a need to manage incidents and reduce congestion in the area.

This year a fleet of three trucks patrolled I-690 and the local surrounding streets, entrances and exits to the NY State Fairgrounds. Over the two week period, HELP drivers assisted 56 disabled vehicles, made 11 debris clears, helped with one fluid spill, and aided with traffic a total of six times.

Members of the public who interact with the HELP drivers are extremely satisfied with the program and hope that someday it will become a full time program for Region 3. Region 8 HELP has continually responded to the request for assistance, and will be happy to provide HELP trucks in the future years.

Great Assist from NYSDOT HELP at the Great NY State Fair

HELP drivers perform numerous duties at the fair, but their most important duty is that of incident detection and clearance. The drivers are empowered to take action depending on the situation. A great example of this follows:

In September Byron Requeno and NYSDOT Region 3 (Syracuse) employee Tom Bard were on patrol and heard a call for police on Tom’s scanner reporting a wrong way driver on I-690. At the time many families were on their way to the fair and traffic in the area was heavy.  They happened to be heading towards the area in the center lane and they spotted the errant vehicle approaching eastbound in the westbound left fast lane traveling at highway speed. Byron activated his vehicle warning lights, quickly moved to the left lane and blocked the path of the wrong way driver.

The wrong way driver stopped about 10 feet in front of the HELP Truck.  As they approached the vehicle the driver appeared disturbed and unreasonable so Tom removed the keys from the vehicle and they detained the driver until police arrived.

A second HELP truck was dispatched to protect the scene while EMS evaluated the driver and law enforcement investigated. This incident could have turned out much different, but due to the brave actions of Byron and Tom, there was a happy ending.


While state lawmakers consider legislation on the use of handheld devices while driving, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission took the initiative to declare their roadways “Text-Free” in conjunction with the Turnpike’s 70th birthday on October 1, 2010. The motorist-education campaign designed to raise awareness about the dangers of texting behind the wheel will have messages displayed on tollbooths, on Variable Message Signs along the road, window stickers and lawn signs at Turnpike rest stops and online at

Distracted driving, an issue recognized nationwide and seen daily by Safety Service Patrols, led to more than 120 Pennsylvania Turnpike accidents in 2009. “Without doubt, drivers today have far too many diversions taking our attention away from what we should be doing behind the wheel,” Turnpike CEO Joe Brimmeier said when announcing the new campaign. “An unfortunate consequence of these technological advances is an increase in accidents involving multitasking motorists.” The State Farm Safety Patrol drivers patrolling the Pennsylvania Turnpike will be keeping their eyes open for motorists driving carelessly in order to report it to the State Police and do their part in keeping the Pennsylvania Turnpike a text-free zone.


After the Texas Department of Transportation discontinued the HERO (Highway Emergency Response Operators) program in 2005 due to budget constraints, the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority relaunched the service patrol on September 20th for service along Interstate 35 in Austin. The HERO vehicles will be stationed every 15 miles along the interstate from Buda to Round Rock, Monday-Friday 6 a.m. – 8 p.m. The vehicles will assist stranded motorists, clear debris from the roads and serve as back-up emergency responders.

On September 17, 2010 Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein spoke at a press conference announcing the reinstatement of the HERO program.

Back to Safe Highway Matters: Fall 2010

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