Patrol teams aim to help stranded drivers

CREATED Dec. 2, 2013

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As millions hit the road this holiday season, construction zones can be hot spots for car troubles. They're also one of the most dangerous places for drivers to become stranded. Today’s TMJ4 tags along with a team thats keeping you safe on the roads

It isn't your average rig.

Greg Johnson: "The air tank, the tool kits. There are wheel straps in there.”

And Greg Johnson isn't your average driver. He's part of the DOT's freeway service team that travels construction zones looking for drivers in danger.

Greg Johnson: "Some of the stranded motorists do end up in some pretty bad spots."

Right now, there are two patrol teams: one on the Hoan and one on the Zoo Interchange. They’ve already helped about 100 drivers with everything from a tire change to a tow.

Paul Keltner, State Traffic Operations Supervisor: "They're going around and looking for stranded motorists and a lot of times they know about the incidents before police get dispatched."

Greg let us ride along on a call. We saw a driver with a flat tire on I-45, smack in the middle of rush hour traffic. Greg was on the ground with cars going by just inches away. The driver was safe and sound in a Sheriff's vehicle.

Greg Johnson: "The shoulders are very narrow. There are times that we're walking in a traffic lane.
Sometimes it gets pretty tough out here."

Because the other cars were so close, Greg couldn't change the tire. So, he loaded the car and carried it to a safe spot. All at no cost to the owner. The cost of the program is included in the cost of the construction project.

The program has been so successful, the DOT is looking at other projects where it could be helpful.