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Question of the Quarter

Whether they call you the HERO patrol, the HELP patrol, Hoosier Helpers, the Freeway Service Patrol, the Courtesy Patrol, or any one of the many others, how effective do you think the name of your patrol is and in what ways?
If you could rename your patrol, what would you name it?

“Florida uses ‘Road Rangers’ and that name was selected through a contest. If you want to capture the purpose behind the patrols, the terms ‘Safety Patrol’ or ‘Service Patrol’ would probably be better. You can throw in the term Freeway prior to either if you want to be specific.”

Gene Glotzbach, P.E., Intelligent Transportation Systems Section, Traffic Engineering and Operations Office, FL DOT

“This is an interesting question. I think once a name is selected by a regional service patrol program they should stick to that name in order to minimize any confusion to the motoring public. Many service patrol programs have their help call number displayed on their trucks and over time the public has either memorized it or entered that number in their cell phones in case they need help. Even so, in California after the FSP [Freeway Service Patrol] program had been in place for decades, assisted motorists would still write on the returned survey cards that they never heard of the service prior to be assisted.

Another reason why not to change the name is the media. When reporting traffic incidents to the public, the media uses that same name to advise motorists the service patrol is either on scene or is responding. This is very important for several reasons. First, the specific FSP program receives recognition, rather than the media stating something generic such as a tow service or something not very specific. The media could even say AAA is helping when it is not. Second, this provides a calming effect to the motoring public when they know that the incident is being taken care of by those who are trained to handle the incident to a rapid and successful conclusion. They mentally make the connection when they see the service patrol vehicle(s) at the incident.

If you think back to when the 911 emergency help number was implemented it did not catch on overnight. It literally took more than a decade for the general population to adapt it. The 911 number was pasted everywhere, e.g., patrol cars, fire trucks, EMS, telephone books, advertised on TV and radio, etc. Eventually the public caught on and began dialing 911 and not the telephone company operator.”

Harvey Heaton, Project Manager, Hawaii Freeway Service Patrol Project, Telvent

“Rename the State Farm Safety Patrol to the State Farm Traffic Control – self explanatory.”

Donald Stephen, Safety Patrol Operator, Florida Turnpike Services

“Highway Angels.”

Trooper Randy Bybee, Community Service Officer, HDQ Troop-Lincoln Nebraska

“Our name [IDOT Minutemen] is from the 1960’s. It came from a traffic reporter who in fact was a Chicago Policemen at the time in a helicopter.”

John Seifried, Minuteman, IDOT Emergency Traffic Patrol

Back to Safe Highway Matters: Winter 2012

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