There is nothing worse than driving along on the freeway and then you have an issue with your automobile. A tire goes flat, you run out of gas, your check engine light begins to glow brightly on your dashboard...what do you do?

Safety Service Patrol Van
Photo: Michigan Department of Transportation

In 1994, a program called the Freeway Courtesy Patrol was created under private ownership. The group had two vans that patrolled a portion of I-75 in Detroit. That program worked so well, that five years later -- in 1999 -- the Michigan Department of Transportation took over the program. In the last 23 years, MDOT has expanded the fleet of vans, the services provided, and made the coverage area bigger. Last year the now called Safety Service Patrol averaged 3,167 stops per month to help motorists. That comes out to about just over 100 stops per day!

Starting November 1st, this program will be patrolling some of the freeways in Kent County. There will be two skilled and qualified drivers on watch Monday-Thursday from 6 am to 7 pm. On Friday, they will patrol an extra hour, until 8 pm. There are no patrols scheduled at this time for the weekends.

Safety Service Patrol
Photo: Google Maps

You will find the Safety Service Patrol on US-131 from 100th Street to 10 Mile Road, I-96 from Fruit Ridge Avenue to M-50, and I-196 from 44th Street to I-96

A news release from the Michigan Department of Transportation explains the service this way:

This service will assist motorists and first responders during traffic incidents. Whether it’s a crash, an abandoned vehicle, debris on the roadway, a flat tire, or a driver in need of fuel, the Safety Service Patrol is on call and ready to help clear the scene as safely and quickly as possible.

In addition, MDOT reminds everyone that Crash Responder Safety Week is November 14-18 with the national theme being "Respect Our Roadside Heroes". Learn more on the Federal Highway Administration Crash Responder Safety Week website.