Drivers on Interstate 95 will now see the state safety patrol trucks that are a familiar sight on Triangle highways.
The N.C. Department of Transportation has expanded its State Farm Safety Patrol program to I-95. The trucks will be out from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week helping stranded motorists, clearing debris on the road and assisting with accidents. The first trucks went out on Friday, March 16.
NCDOT will operate two of the trucks Monday through Thursday, and four on Fridays and weekends when traffic is heavier. They'll concentrate on Johnston, Harnett, Cumberland and Robeson counties, but will respond to major incidents anywhere along 182 miles of I-95 in the state.
The Incident Management Assistance Program or IMAP began in Charlotte in 1991 and made its debut in the Triangle two years later. NCDOT now operates IMAP trucks across the state, mostly in urban areas from Wilmington to Asheville.
The goal of the program is to remove disabled vehicles that are blocking traffic or causing a hazard. The trucks have warning lights and arrows as well as specially-design bumpers and winches to move stranded vehicles. The drivers will also provide gasoline, jump a dead battery or help change a flat tire, all at no cost.
The cost of the program is partly covered by a sponsorship deal with the State Farm insurance company. In exchange for $2.4 million over four years, State Farm's name and logo appears on the side of the trucks and on the red caps and coats of the NCDOT employees who drive them.
The trucks have long been yellow, but NCDOT is shifting to white, which is the color of the trucks patrolling I-95.
Stranded drivers who need help from the safety patrol during operating hours can dial *HP (or *47) on their mobile phones.