Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher Announces Expansion of Kentucky's Safe Patrol

Press Release Date:  Thursday, August 16, 2007  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

Doug Hogan

Skilled operators have assisted thousands of motorists, will now patrol statewide

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Who speeds to the aid of travelers in distress? In Kentucky, it’s the SAFE Patrol – now more than ever.

Governor Ernie Fletcher, at the Kentucky State Fair today, announced a significant expansion of the popular motorist assistance program and joined officials of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) in rolling out a dozen of the new vehicles that will be patrolling major highways across the commonwealth.

The SAFE Patrol – Safety Assistance for Freeway Emergencies – was launched by KYTC in October 2004 with six vans covering a limited area of heavily traveled Interstate highways and Kentucky parkways. Its operators provide help free of charge to stranded or injured travelers.

The patrol is being expanded to 27 vehicles with 36 operators and a virtually statewide mandate. The patrol will cover all of Kentucky’s nine parkways and five interstates, along with heavily traveled Kentucky 80 and U.S. 23 in eastern Kentucky.

The vans have been replaced with extended-cab trucks equipped with 4-wheel drive and towing equipment. The trucks are stocked with battery jump packs, shovels, traffic cones, tools, an air compressor, fire extinguisher, a variable message board, first-aid supplies, and tire changing and incident management equipment.

Governor Fletcher commended SAFE Patrol and its operators, who have assisted thousands of motorists. “This service should provide peace of mind to the millions who travel our highways each day, knowing that there are knowledgeable professionals with the skill and equipment available to help in any situation,” the Governor said.

Mike Thomas, a SAFE Patrol operator, said his job is rewarding because he’s able to help others. “Most everyone is so appreciative when we’re able to help,” he said. “It makes you feel good about what you’re doing when you can help someone else.”

Operators, who will be employed by the Transportation Cabinet, will undergo two weeks of intensive training to prepare for general vehicle repairs, accidents and incident management, CPR and first-aid, customer service, and security issues. Response can be provided to all types of transportation incidents, including those involving trains, cars, trucks, buses, or even airplanes.

Operators are assigned to certain regions of the state (central, eastern and western Kentucky) and are responsible for monitoring the parkways and interstates in those areas. Stalled vehicles can be moved to the side of the road or towed to the nearest garage, general vehicle repairs can be conducted on site, and emergency response and/or police can be dispatched to the scene. Over 300 applications were reviewed for the 36 positions.

KYTC Secretary Bill Nighbert praised the new expanded service. “This service has been a huge benefit to thousands of citizens and visitors over the past few years. The opportunity to expand the service means peace of mind for travelers, safer highways and less congestion time when accidents do occur.”

The expanded SAFE Patrol fleet will provide services seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Travelers can call 1-877-FOR-KYTC for assistance.

Commissioner of Transportation Safety Tim Hazlette said SAFE is one of many activities undertaken by the Transportation Cabinet to position Kentucky as a leader in highway safety and efficiency. “Kentucky is one of the few states that provide this service statewide. Through driver education and awareness, roadway improvements, increased seatbelt usage, and programs like SAFE, you’ll see Kentucky remain at the top in terms of highway safety,” Hazlette said.