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News & Notes Winter 2011

Each quarter Safe Highway Matters highlights recent developments and news items about Safety Service Patrols across the country. Submit your News & Notes to

News & Notes Winter 2011


The widely known, and regularly viewed TV show, America’s Most Wanted is calling all first responders to share their “All Star” story as part of their 2011 All Star Competition sponsored by Sprint Yellowbook. Visit to nominate yourself or a fellow Safety Service Patrol driver, or to vote for the 2011 America’s Most Wanted All Star. The winner of the All Star competition will receive $10,000 and an all-star weekend at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star Race.


The Orange County Transportation Authority’s (OCTA) Freeway Service Patrol officials honored the Operator of the Year, Brad Curell at an OCTA board meeting on February 14, 2011. Every year the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the OCTA FSP program management choose a FSP operator who has demonstrated the ability to conduct themselves in a professional and exemplary manner to honor as Operator of the Year. For more information see OCTA’s Weekly Update.


On February 16, 2011, Transportation Secretary Beverley K. Swaim-Staley announced a new partnership between the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) and State Farm Insurance to expand highway emergency response patrols.  In December, the Board of Public Works approved a $1.3 million sponsorship contract that adds emergency traffic patrol drivers and vehicles, increasing coverage by more than 8,000 hours annually. State Farm is paying 100 percent of cost for the three-year sponsorship, which will provide new emergency response coverage overnights.

“Governor O’Malley is committed to finding innovative ways to support State services and this is a perfect example of a public/private partnership for the citizens of Maryland without increased cost to the State,” said Secretary Swaim-Staley. “SHA’s emergency patrol program has helped motorists for 25 years and we are pleased to partner with State Farm Insurance to expand the program.

“State Farm’s support of this program underscores our long-standing commitment to highway safety,” said Agency Vice President Dan Krause.  “We are strong believers in the safety services provided by the Emergency Patrol drivers and SHA shares our good neighbor commitment to help make our roads safer for the citizens of Maryland.”

The patrols are part of the Coordinated Highway Action Response Team (CHART), which uses 600 Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) devices deployed throughout the State.  The technology includes closed-circuit television cameras; dynamic message signs (DMS) to update motorists on the road, highway advisory radio stations, weather detection systems and traffic/speed sensors.

“Maryland has the latest technology and traffic cameras tied into our Statewide Operations Center – but all of it doesn’t help the person with a flat tire on the side of the road, in danger of being hit by a vehicle passing by at 65 mph,” said SHA Administrator Neil J. Pedersen.  “Thanks to the dedicated Emergency Patrol drivers who work under dangerous conditions, we are able to quickly respond when people are most in need.”


ESPIn December of last year, the New Jersey DOT announced the realignment of their former Emergency Service Patrol program. Now renamed Safety Service Patrol, the NJDOT SSP expanded coverage hours to include every day of the week in all of the coverage areas including northern, central and southern New Jersey. Prior to the expansions, budgetary constraints had limited weekend coverage to southern New Jersey only. Expanded weekend service is being achieved in part by pulling back SSP coverage from relatively low-traffic, low-congestion and low-accident areas, according to the NJDOT. The newly realigned program will launch in the first quarter of 2011. For more information see Safe Highway Matter’s feature story: Data Based Deployment of SSPs: A Growing Trend.


HELP Trucks Are Making a Real Difference for New Yorkers

The New York State Department of Transportation’s (NYSDOT) Highway Emergency Local Patrol (HELP) program is one of the largest in the nation. The HELP program is making a real differenceH.E.L.P. Fleet for motorists, providing nearly 60,000 assists in 2010.  The HELP program currently provides motorist assistance to vehicles traveling on 1,485 miles of limited access interstate roadways, parkways, and expressways on Long Island, in New York City, the Lower Hudson Valley, Buffalo, Rochester, and the Capital District.  With 77 trucks actively patrolling the roads in six metropolitan areas during peak commuter hours, NYSDOT is constantly receiving positive comments from motorists who are pleasantly surprised when a HELP truck pulls up to assist them without the need for a phone call.

State Farm became a sponsor of the program last year, bringing $10.8 million to New York State over a five year period, and trucks are clearly marked with the logo. Although HELP trucks are very visible, many citizens are still surprised that the service is available and completely free!  But grateful travelers continue to sing its praises.

Here are a few quotes from grateful travelers:

“I had no idea that a HELP truck can assist without being called. The driver was extremely helpful. I cannot express how grateful I am to this service after today.”

“I felt that the DOT really cares about motorists and their safety.”

“I really did not know this service cruised our roads looking to support people, I am so thankful!”

“Thank God for the HELP truck!! The driver was so nice, super friendly and super fast! Keep up the good work!!”

“This is an invaluable service to motorists since it protects not only the stranded car but other motorists who might collide with the stranded car. I am deeply appreciative it exists!!”

“Thank you so much for having this program; it’s a lifesaver.”

As the Department moves toward its new goals of maintaining a reliable, safe, and environmentally responsible transportation system, HELP will remain at the forefront – providing the necessary assistance to keep traffic moving safely and efficiently.


NCDOT IMAPThe Incident Management Assistant Patrol in North Carolina is undergoing a number of changes. Following a patrol coverage extension in December 2010 that extended patrol routes into the western area of the state, IMAP trucks in the Charlotte region are also being updated with new, red flashing lights. The IMAP trucks that patrol five of the interstate highways in the Charlotte area previously had amber lights and orange cones to mark incident areas. Following an incident in September 2009 when a motorist was struck and killed while changing a tire, DOT officials requested the General Assembly change the state law and allow IMAP trucks to have red lights. The General Assembly agreed and passed the law on December 1, 2010. The lights should be installed onto IMAP trucks in the first quarter of 2011.


Congratulations to the Freeway Service Team of the Dane County Sheriff’s Office on celebrating its ninth anniversary in December 2010! Formally known as the Motor Service Patrol run by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the Dane County service truck is one of two in the state, with the other truck servicing the Milwaukee area. Nine years of service includes handling 53,000 calls including 6,900 crashes, 2,200 empty gas tanks, 790 jump-starts, 3,850 tow truck calls, 4,800 abandoned vehicles and 2,900 minor repairs. The service team, consisting of 16 trained deputies today, has logged a total of 577,211 miles on the 16 mile long Beltline.

In Memorandum

Spencer Pass, a Georgia DOT H.E.R.O. Operator, was killed in the line of duty on Monday, January 31, 2011. Pass, 45, had been a H.E.R.O. for less than three years. Georgia DOT released a statement that called Pass part of the GDOT family and said that “as a HERO, Spencer spent long hours, often in hazardous roadside conditions, to keep Georgia’s traveling public safer. He will be missed.” Pass was helping a stranded motorist when a pick-up driver towing a trailer fatally hit him. His shift supervisor told NBC news, “If there’s such a thing as a perfect person, he was close. He was such a nice person that this job fit him perfectly. All he wanted to do was help people.” His funeral service was held at World Changer Church International College Park in Georgia and was attended by family, friends, colleagues and fellow SSP Operators from Tennessee DOT’s HELP program. A memorial fund has been established in his honor and donations can be made to the Spencer Pass Memorial Fund at any Bank of America Branch in the Metro Atlanta area.

Back to Safe Highway Matters: Winter 2011

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