Safe Highways on Facebook Safe Highways on twitter

News & Notes Winter 2012

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 2012


As highlighted in our previous issue, the National Roadway Safety Awards is a biennial competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Roadway Safety Foundation to recognize roadway safety achievements that move the United States “toward zero deaths.” On November 15, 2011, the FHWA and Roadway Safety Foundation hosted a ceremony to announce the winners of the awards for 2011. “Safety Patrol Sponsor-Partnership” was one of the winners under the category of “Operational Improvements.” The award was accepted by Travelers Marketing along with its public sector partners: Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, Florida DOT, Georgia DOT, New York State DOT, Maryland State Highway Administration, Massachusetts DOT and the Kansas Turnpike.

The Maryland State Highway Administration Deputy Secretary of Transportation, Darrell B. Mobley said, “The award is a reflection of the positive results of government and private industry working together on solutions to better serve our customers.” William J. Capone, Director of Communications and Public Relations for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, added, “The sponsorship has enabled us to significantly enhance the visibility and frequency of our safety patrols and that means more peace of mind for our motorists.” All ten of the awarded exemplary programs from across the country were recognized as winners of the biennial award for their excellence and innovation in operations, planning and design, which reduce fatalities and injuries on our Nation’s roadways. For more information see the 2011 National Roadway Safety Awards Noteworthy Practices Guide.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s State Farm Safety Patrol and the New York State Department of Transportation’s HELP program will soon allow assisted motorists to share their patrol experience online via an interactive, social media connected website, funded by the patrol sponsor. The new website, fittingly called “Thank A Driver,” will enable assisted motorists to comment on their patrol driver’s service, and provide additional data regarding assist time, location, and type. The motorist can then easily share their experience with friends via the Facebook page. Patrol drivers start the process by distributing business cards with their name and the site’s URL. A QR code is also provided to facilitate real-time mobile comments during the actual assist.


Florida’s Turnpike’s State Farm Safety Patrol received a heartwarming plea for assistance just before the holidays. An email was received from a concerned mother whose daughter was involved in a car accident on the Turnpike that left her car totaled and her six month old puppy alone and roaming the Turnpike. Max, the lost puppy, had been frightened by the accident, broken his chain and ran off. The mother was writing to ask if the Turnpike could post his picture and if Turnpike personnel could keep an eye out for him. After four days roaming the Turnpike, Max was found by a State Farm Safety Patrol driver, but not recognizing the driver, Max refused to jump in the patrol vehicle. Two hours later his owner arrived on scene and joyfully invited Max into her vehicle. Now, thanks to the State Farm Safety Patrol’s efforts and those of the Turnpike, Max is safe at home and was able to spend the holidays with his family.

In preparation for the holiday season, Florida’s Turnpike extended the State Farm Safety Patrol Road Rangers hours in order to ensure stranded motorists need not wait long for assistance. Expanded coverage hours included coverage from 10 a.m. to midnight on the Sawgrass Expressway and the Turnpike with 24 hour coverage in urban areas, as well as 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. coverage on State Roads 417, 429 and 528 and 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. coverage on SR 589/Veterans Expressway. In addition to the expanded hours, Florida’s Turnpike offered free coffee to motorists stopping at service plazas along the Turnpike on the heaviest holiday travel days.


The Georgia Department of Transportation HERO program made the news in December for their request to drivers to slow down and move over when they see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road. Nearly one year following the death of HERO driver, Spencer Pass, who was struck and killed while helping a stranded motorist, HERO drivers continue to emphasize the importance of motorists moving over or slowing down for first responders. David Clark, a HERO operator interviewed by local news station, Channel 2 Action News, said, “When it comes to emergency situations, we all gotta work together or somebody’s gonna get hurt.”


On October 12, 2011, the Indiana Department of Transportation announced that State Farm Insurance is the exclusive sponsor of the Hoosier Helper freeway service patrol. “Hoosier Helpers make our urban interstates safe and efficient while providing a high level of customer service,” said INDOT Commissioner Michael B. Cline. “Partnering with State Farm will help promote the mission of the INDOT’s Hoosier Helper program while providing services at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers.” The sponsor partnership is meant to create a long-term, supplemental funding source for the program with State Farm contributing $1,125,000 to INDOT over the next three years in support of the Hoosier Helper program.


A local news network in Detroit, Michigan featured a newscaster’s ride-a-long with the MDOT Courtesy Patrol. As part of the news segment, “Job 4 a Day,” Local 4’s Ashlee Baracy joined Doug Shirkey of the MDOT Courtesy Patrol to see what a day-in-the-life of a patrol driver is really like. Shirkey explained the top priorities of the Courtesy Patrol as well as how it is the Patrol always manages to find stranded motorists without the motorists having to call, “Most people who see a stranded motorist on the side of the freeway will call 9-1-1. It will in turn go to the closest police department, they’ll pass it along to the state police force right alongside of our dispatch at the MITS center and they’ll forward the call to the driver within that area.”


The Nevada DOT Freeway Service Patrol reports an increase in stranded motorists with aging cars breaking down on the side of the roadway. AAA has also noted the increase and says the average age of cars requiring emergency assistance has steadily increased from six to nine years. The Freeway Service Patrol spoke with the local news to remind motorists that they are there to help with any and all types of breakdowns on the side of the roadway, including blown out tires, empty gas tanks or broken belts.


As of November 2011, the North Carolina Department of Transportation expanded its Incident Management Assistance Patrol (IMAP) program’s coverage hours to include weekends. The expansion will bring IMAP to the higher traffic interstates and major highways on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. in Davidson, Alamance, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Orange, Randolph and Rowan counties. Jeron Monroe, NCDOT Triad regional intelligent transportation systems engineer, said, “Operating IMAP seven days a week will help us improve safety and reduce congestion on the area’s most heavily traveled roads. When incidents occur, our team will be there to make sure traffic continues to flow as efficiently as possible.” NCDOT’s Triad Regional Transportation Management Center in Greensboro will also add weekend hours as part of IMAP’s expanded hours.

North Carolina DOT also installed four cameras along the I-85 Corridor Improvement Project in Davidson and Rowan counties giving a live view of traffic around the work zone. The cameras are meant to benefit both the motorist who can check for live traffic images on the project website before heading out on the road and incident management personnel who can instantly dispatch response teams, like the IMAP, to address any incidents that may occur near the work zone.


The Safety Service Patrol (SSP) department at the Hampton Roads Transportation Operations Center located in the Eastern Region of Virginia currently patrols 72 centerline miles of the interstate system. The SSP department operates 3 shifts, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are expanding to cover 123 centerline miles in early 2012 and further expansion is anticipated by late spring 2012 to cover 129 centerline miles of the Hampton Roads Highways. Upon completion of the expansion the SSP Department will include 60+ patrollers primarily focused on Incident management with a secondary role of Motorist assistance. The SSP in Spotsylvania and Stafford counties also enhanced its circulation on I-95 starting in November 2011 and now provides daily service and longer hours of service.


The West Virginia Turnpike reminded motorists before the Thanksgiving holiday to travel safely. In preparation for the projected 4 percent increase in travelers to 42.5 million, the Turnpike fully staffed toll collectors, flaggers and extra courtesy patrol workers during peak periods of travel.

Back to Safe Highway Matters: Winter 2012

Leave a Comment