DOT expands freeway service patrols to assist drivers

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BELLEVUE, Wis. (WBAY) - The Department of Transportation is expanding its freeway service team patrols in Brown and Manitowoc counties and the Fox Cities just as heavy holiday traffic is expected. But these expanded patrols will last well beyond the Fourth of July.

Freeway Service Team logo

Frequently seen on I-41 during Packers game days, freeway service teams can help if you run out of gas or if your battery needs a jumpstart, and handle minor repairs like changing a flat tire.

They can also help move cars after a breakdown or fender-bender or help with traffic control during a crash.

All of these services are free.

The DOT says the teams help to greatly reduce traffic backups.

"The feedback we're getting from law enforcement and the general public is that this is such a good service, and it not only helps somebody that's broken down, but the person 20 cars back who would have been stuck in a backup or at least a slowdown," DOT regional communications manager Mark Kantola said.

This also helps to prevent more crashes.

"One of the biggest hazards in a construction zone is the rear-end collision. Eighty percent of collisions on a construction zone is caused by distracted driving, so when these accidents or minor fender-benders or somebody on the side of the road way up that goes off and is disabled and it slows down traffic, you're increasing the odds of a rear-end accident immensely," Kantola said.

Freeway safety patrols will operate in Brown County during heavy traffic periods weekday mornings from 6 to 9 a.m. They'll resume weekday afternoons between 3 and 6 p.m. except Fridays, when patrols are noon to 8 p.m. On Saturday they patrol 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Manitowoc County patrols will operate on I-43 between exits 149 (US 151) and 137 (County XX) during the same hours as Brown County.

In the Appleton area, freeway safety teams will patrol the highways weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The DOT says sponsorship from State Farm Insurance will help reduce the cost of the program.

They'll continue to patrol through the end of highway construction in November.

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