Metro Wire Staff
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation this week unveiled a new look for its Freeway Service Team, thanks to a new sponsor.
The WisDOT Safety Patrol is now sponsored by GEICO.
The fleet of specially equipped incident-management vehicles hit the road this morning. The new sponsorship is the latest chapter for the 23-year-old Wisconsin highway safety program.
The safety patrol is active in high-volume traffic areas, typically within large work zones, to offer free, limited roadside assistance to drivers in need. Services include providing small amounts of fuel, changing flat tires and jump-starting vehicles, as well as removing debris from the roadway. The flatbed patrol vehicles also help relieve congested traffic at the scenes of incidents and crashes.
“Every second matters when there is a breakdown or a crash on the highway,” WisDOT Secretary Craig Thompson said. “Having a specialized safety detail on patrol in high-volume areas is part of our commitment to safety. The quicker we can regain normal traffic flow, the safer we all can be in that stretch of roadway.”
Freeway Service Teams date back to the late-1990s in Wisconsin. Over the past two years, the Safety Patrol vehicles logged 1.1 million miles, 35,110 service hours, and made 7,595 motorist assists.
The sponsorship announcement takes place during Crash Responder Safety Week to raise awareness of the importance of roadway safety and the common goal for safe, quick clearance by the Safety Patrol and other first responders who work on the roadside.
In Wisconsin, there are approximately 136,000 crashes annually, statewide. That means there is a crash roughly every four minutes. Quick, proactive response in high-volume work zones is a core benefit provided by the WisDOT Safety Patrols. Removing vehicles and debris effectively helps greatly to reduce the likelihood of secondary incidents including instances of motorists crashing into or near that initial crash scene. These types of incidents are happening in Wisconsin on average more than 700 times annually.
While the main priority of the WisDOT Safety Patrol is quick clearance, the service also provides a multitude of additional benefits including reducing wasted fuel and pollution by alleviating congestion.
“GEICO is excited to support the Wisconsin DOT in their mission to make roads safer. We’ve always put customers first and worked to ensure their travels can be as safe as possible,” GEICO Regional Vice President Yvonne Obeng-Curwood said. “The Freeway Service Team, like their peers around the country, do important work to clear roads and stop a minor incident from growing into a bigger one.”