In 2001, the overworked Department of Public Safety officers made 63,380 contacts with stranded motorists in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Calls for service (accidents, etc) draw greatly on the officers' time resulting in less attention to traffic enforcement and collision reduction programs.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety has joined with private organizations to provide a much needed service to the motoring public of the Phoenix metropolitan area. With cooperation and sponsorship from Arizona D.P.S., AAA of Arizona and the Maricopa County (MAG) Association of Governments, the Freeway Service Patrol was created.
Initially, the program is funded with government and private industry monies for five years. For the first two years the program will be administrated by MAG. The Arizona Department of Transportation will handle the next three years.
Civilians staff the Freeway Service Patrol in assigned, specially equipped vehicles. They patrol the Phoenix metropolitan highways to locate and assist stranded motorists and eliminate road hazards. Diagnosing minor vehicle problems, helping with repairs or calling for a tow truck are part of their daily duties. Fully staffed, the Freeway Service Patrol is available 18 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Freeway Service vehicles are well equipped. Should a motorist need water for coolant, air for a low tire or to jump-start the engine, help is available. A fire extinguisher and first-aid supplies are standard. The heat in the Phoenix area requires bottled water to be available for drinking. Basic tools and a tire jack could are a welcome sight when trying to get back on the road. A cell phone provides motorists contact with family or work.
Team members selected to provide these services have successfully completed a comprehensive and competitive application process. This process includes a written test with emphasis on map reading, knowledge of minor vehicle repairs and safety habits. Successful candidates continue with a polygraph examination, background investigation and interview. Minimum qualifications for this position include a valid Arizona driver license and 1-year experience in automotive maintenance and repair.
- Assistance to inflate and change tires
- Request tow vehicles for the operator
- Provide tools to make minor repairs
- Remove roadway debris
- Remove vehicles from unsafe locations and over hours
- Assist officers at collision scenes, road and ramp closures
- Directed duties with DUI and other Task Force details
- Provide information and directions