From flat tires and empty fuel gauges to major interstate incidents, TDOT’s HELP program is celebrating 15 years of service in Tennessee’s urban areas. HELP trucks began rolling in Nashville and Knoxville in the summer of 1999. Service began in Memphis and Chattanooga in the summer of 2000. Since the program launched, TDOT’s HELP drivers have responded to more than 1.8 million calls for various types of assistance. The number of HELP operators has also tripled since the program began, with 71 operators statewide working in three shifts seven days a week.
“Motorists in our urban areas have come to depend on the timely and professional service of TDOT’s HELP trucks,” TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said. “Our operators are also key partners with police and other first responders during serious incidents, all in an effort to clear our highways as quickly as possible and keep traffic moving. They are a wonderful asset to the department.”
Each minute that a lane is blocked can translate into five minutes of delays for motorists. These delays can be dangerous for drivers and can lead to chain reaction accidents that further tie up Tennessee interstates. TDOT’s HELP program works to reduce traffic congestion, improve safety and assist motorists who may be stranded on roadways.
“Our drivers care deeply about their jobs and the service they provide,” Commissioner Schroer added. “They often work long hours during major incidents, and face incredible risks each and every day. The gratitude shown by motorists gives them a sense of enormous pride in what they do.”
TDOT HELP drivers receive extensive traffic control and emergency response training. Each truck is equipped with traffic control devices, first aid supplies, and defibrillators. Drivers also participate in more extensive training for natural disasters and specialized vehicle recovery techniques.