Freeway Service Patrol expanding, new trucks have push bumpers to clear stalled cars faster

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Starting Monday, drivers who get into car trouble on the east side will be able to contact the Freeway Service Patrol.

“We’re adding about three miles from the University area out to the end of the freeway here. That will make 29 miles for what the Freeway Service Patrol covers from out to Waipio on H-2 to Kunia Road on H-1,” Department of Transportation Director Glenn Okimoto said.

The Freeway Service Patrol program began in 2009 and has helped decrease traffic congestion by helping drivers if they have a flat tire, their car overheats, or their battery dies on the freeway.

The FSP program costs approximately $3 million annually and is 90 percent federally-funded.

The state funds the remaining 10 percent or about $300,000 on the program.

“There were about 36,000 assists in the past three years on the freeway mostly flat tires run out of gas things like that,” Okimoto said.

A new contractor, Delcan is now working with the state to manage the program with eleven new trucks.

All of them are equipped with push bumpers to allow patrol drivers to push a car’s bumper to get the car to a safer location and out of traffic.

“Towing, it takes like, at least ten minutes with the push bumper we can cut that in half or even less,” Freeway Service Patrol driver Fiailoa Oto said.

Eighteen drivers went through two months of training to learn how to safely push cars out of the way.

Each FSP driver will explain to the driver being assisted to ensure they know what to do.

“They won’t do anything until they have full cooperation and the motorists understands what needs to happen and once they’ve established that motorists understands and knows what to do then they begin.  The push bumper is designed for short distances we’d like to think in terms of feet rather than mile or so,” Delcan project manager Ted Smith said.

Drivers won’t be pushed unless they agree to it.

The FSP Program is absolutely free for drivers who get into trouble within the coverage area.

The FSP service operates from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays and is free to the public. Motorists in need of assistance are asked to call 841-HELP (841-4357).

Click here for the press release from the State of Hawaii Department of Transportation.

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