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Free motorist aid expands in San Diego region

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Freeway Service Patrol (FSP), a free motorist aid program that previously operated only during weekday rush hours, has now expanded to weekends as part of a pilot initiative. The program is administered by SANDAG.

Using a fleet of 19 tow trucks and eight light-duty pickup trucks, FSP drivers assist stranded motorists with a gallon of gas, a jump-start, water for the radiator, or a tire change. The goal of the FSP program is to resolve traffic tie-ups caused by vehicle breakdowns as quickly as possible, minimizing congestion on the region’s highways.

“The Freeway Service Patrol is an effective tool to improve traffic flow on our region’s most congested freeways,” SANDAG Executive Director Gary Gallegos said. “This past year alone, the program helped more than 50,000 stranded motorists get back on the road or move their disabled vehicles out of the way.”

SANDAG began the weekend pilot in North County in October and expanded it into metro San Diego in January. Weekend FSP service is available on Interstates 5, 8, 15, and 805 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Complete data is not yet available, but – as an example – since the weekend service began in North County last fall, FSP drivers have helped one motorist per hour on average on the I-15.

Expansion plans include adding pilot midday service throughout the region starting July 2013. Also starting this summer, FSP will be restructured to provide better towing coverage; six tow trucks will be added to the fleet, for a total of 25 tow trucks. While the number of pickup trucks in the fleet will remain the same, they will be redeployed to improve coverage in metro San Diego.

Currently, the patrol operates weekdays during morning and afternoon rush hours, 5:30-9:30 a.m. and 3-7 p.m., serving sections of Interstates 5, 8, 15, and 805, and State Routes 52, 54, 56, 67, 78, 94, 125, 163, and 905. Weekday pilot service on the new State Route 905 in Otay Mesa also began this month. Holidays are excluded.

The pilot expansion will continue as long as funds are available. Findings from the pilot will enable SANDAG to further fine-tune the program to improve efficiency.

The San Diego FSP is part of a statewide program that began in 1993. FSP programs now exist in 13 metropolitan areas throughout California and are funded through the state budget and other local sources.

For motorist aid during FSP service hours, call 511 and say “Roadside Assistance.” To learn more about the San Diego FSP and see a map of the local service area, click HERE.