Help will soon be on the way for stranded motorists along Interstate 95 in North Carolina.
The N.C. Department of Transportation is expanding its popular State Farm Safety Patrol service for the first time to a large swath of I-95, starting this Friday, March 16th. The patrols will mostly cover Johnston, Harnett, Cumberland and Robeson counties, but the safety trucks will respond to major incidents anywhere along I-95.
The primary purpose of the patrols is to clear stalled vehicles that are slowing down traffic or pose a hazard on the highways. The safety patrol trucks have lighted arrow boards, warning lights and supplies to quickly aid stranded drivers. Last year, the patrols responded to more than 55,000 incidents across the state.
NCDOT employees operate the trucks, offering such services as changing flat tires, jump-starting batteries and providing some gas for motorists in a pinch. The patrols also assist in vehicle crashes and pick up roadside debris. There is no charge to the public for this service.
“I am delighted that we are able to expand this important roadside service to parts of I-95 to assist the traveling public and to help keep this busy highway safer when a vehicle breaks down,” said Terry Hutchens, a Fayetteville resident who serves on the state’s Transportation Board.
Stranded drivers need only dial *HP (or *47) on their mobile phones to summon the service.
For Interstate 95 drivers, the safety patrol trucks will operate seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.Two trucks will patrol Monday through Thursday – a figure that will double on the weekend due to heavier traffic volumes.
The service – which is sometimes referred to as the department’s Incident Management Assistance Patrol (IMAP) program – already covers certain highways around Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Charlotte, among other areas of the state. State Farm became a co-sponsor of the program after the General Assembly in 2014 required NCDOT to study how to offset some of its costs borne by the taxpayers.