Tow trucks staying busy in California’s Freeway Service Patrol

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Updated Feb 23, 2017
California’s Freeway Service Patrol keeps tow truck drivers working to keep busy highways clear of stranded vehicles and debris.California’s Freeway Service Patrol keeps tow truck drivers working to keep busy highways clear of stranded vehicles and debris.

California’s freeways are among the busiest in the nation and vehicle break-downs make that heavy traffic even worse.

To help alleviate the congestion caused by stalled vehicles and debris, the state paired up hundreds of tow truck drivers with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to create the Freeway Service Patrol (FSP).

The FSP provides free roadside assistance to stranded motorists during peak hours of traffic.

“Basically what we do during rush hour traffic normally from 6:30 to 9:30 in the morning and 2:30 to 6:30 at night, we have trucks that patrol the freeway looking for stranded motorists, looking for hazardous debris, anything like that and we provide the tow-off service,” FSP Supervisor Roy Huggins said in a recent interview with the state’s transportation department, Caltrans.

“We change tires and we’ll do any quick repairs that can be done within 10 minutes or so, mainly just to get the traffic moving and get the people off the freeway.”

CHP screens and trains tow truck drivers interested in working at FSP, assists drivers in obtaining a license that allows them to stop and assist motorists on the freeway, and CHP dispatchers alert FSP drivers to stranded vehicles.

CHP reports that each year FSP assists approximately 650,000 motorists on California’s highway system.

“Rapid removal of freeway obstructions also reduces fuel consumption and minimizes automobile emissions by reducing the time vehicles spend idling in stopped traffic,” CHP reports on its website. “Currently, over 350 tow trucks operated by CHP-trained, certified and supervised drivers, patrol in excess of 1,750 miles of the most congested freeways in California.”

Services offered by FSP:

  • Offer you a gallon of gas, if you run out.
  • Jump start your car if the battery is dead.
  • Refill your radiator and tape hoses.
  • Change a flat tire.
  • Tow to a location approved by CHP.

Services not offered by FSP:

  • Cannot tow your vehicle to a private repair service or residence.
  • Does not recommend tow service companies, repair or body shops.
  • Does not tow motorcycles.
  • Does not assist vehicles which have been involved in accidents, unless directed by CHP.
  • Does report any accident to the CHP.

If FSP cannot get your car going, it will be towed free of charge to a location approved by the CHP. FSP will also contact additional assistance for you. The CHP will notify an auto club or towing service.