Department of Highways, District 11
KY SAFE Patrol receives overwhelming support for their service
MANCHESTER, KY (February 6, 2007) –The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) in its continuing efforts to provide a safe and reliable transportation system, has vans patrolling I-75 in Laurel, Rockcastle and Whitley Counties between the hours of 6:00 AM to 6:30 PM, Monday through Friday and major holidays. The KY SAFE (which stands for Safety Assistance for Freeway Emergencies) Patrol provides courtesy van service to assist stranded motorists and keep the highways open. The service began operating in Laurel and Whitley County in 2004, followed by Rockcastle in August, 2006.
“Highway safety is one of the Fletcher administration’s highest priorities. The KY SAFE Patrol initiative is reaching out to assist motorists and improve roadway safety,” said Commissioner Tim Hazlette, Department of Transportation Safety.
KY SAFE Patrol units are cargo vans equipped with various emergency tools and safety equipment to assist motorists. A state of the art programmable message board is located on the roof of each van to alert motorists of upcoming traffic conditions and prepares them as first responders at the scene of an emergency. The message board reduces secondary crashes by warning approaching motorists of impending backups and slow or stopped traffic ahead, including delays from construction work or crashes. An estimated 20% of all crashes nationwide are secondary crashes usually resulting in very severe injuries and fatalities.
Van drivers are trained to look for and remove suspicious or dangerous items from the roadways making them safer for everyone. In the past, a full time employee had been assigned to remove debris from I-75; SAFE patrol saves countless maintenance hours for the Transportation Cabinet, in Laurel, Rockcastle and Whitley counties. Furthermore, it is a great benefit to have abandoned vehicles removed from the shoulders of a busy route such as I-75. In 2006, safe patrol personnel red tagged 396 vehicles parked on the median or shoulder. Prior crash history indicates several vehicles colliding with parked or abandoned vehicles on our interstate shoulders each year. With an ADT (Average Daily Traffic) up to 40,000 vehicles on I-75, these types of crashes are reduced or prevented because these vehicles are red tagged and later removed from the shoulders. In addition to the service these patrols provide to stranded motorists, efforts of the SAFE patrol has resulted in the reduction of crashes, injuries and delays to motorists traveling I-75.
In 2006, SAFE Patrol drove 170,000 miles and averaged 350 assists per month for Laurel, Rockcastle and Whitley counties. The assistance provided included flat tires, mechanical problems, and debris removal. After obtaining service, motorists receive a postage-paid comment card to return to the Cabinet. Hundreds of appreciation cards and letters were received in 2006 from motorists who received assistance from our SAFE patrol.
“With programs like the SAFE Patrol, we are developing more ways to make our highways safer to reduce accidents and injuries. Not only is SAFE Patrol a valuable service providing assistance to our residents within Kentucky, but it has provided assistance to numerous visiting motorists traveling thru our state as well. This service shows how Governor Fletcher and Secretary Nighbert are not only helping to protect and assist our citizens, but all travelers passing thru the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” said Director Mark Stapleton, Division of Traffic Assistance and Security.
Stranded motorists can recognize the KY SAFE Patrol vans with the logo and name clearly marked on the front, side and back of the van, yellow lights and message board atop.
Presently these vans are operational on the following interstate routes:
• I-65 from the Tennessee state line to Exit 58 at Horse Cave (Mon. – Fri. 5:00 am – 9:00 pm local time)
• I-65 from Exit 76 at Upton to Exit 105 at Lebanon Junction (Mon. – Fri. 5:00 am – 9:00 pm local time)
• I-64 from Exit 19 at the I-265 interchange to Exit 69 at US 62 (Mon. – Fri. 5:00 am – 9:00 pm local time)
• I-75 from the Tennessee State Line to Exit 62 at Renfro Valley (Mon. – Fri. 6:00 am – 6:30 pm local time)