The California Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies (CalSAFE) program began in 1986. A total of 17 SAFEs have been formed, covering 31 of California's 58 counties. Together these SAFEs have installed more than 15,000 call boxes in California, covering more than 6,300 highway miles.
The Freeway Service Patrol (FSP) was established by the California legislature through the Freeway Service Patrol Act. The program is funded by a combination of state, local, and federal funds. State funds are authorized yearly through the State of California budget process and are distributed to agencies that run Freeway Service Patrol programs using a formula that takes population and traffic congestion into consideration. State funds comprise about 70% of the total funding for FSP programs throughout California.
The FSP is designed to increase roadway safety, reduce motorist delays and traffic congestion, decrease air pollution, and improve overall efficiency of highway operations. During peak commute hours, this fleet of roving tow trucks is on the lookout for stalled vehicles and accidents. Statewide, more than 350 CHP-certified and supervised tow truck drivers provide free assistance to motorists on California highways.
FSP drivers will assist any stranded motorist that they come upon as they rove the highways. They also can be dispatched by CHP to assist a motorist that has used a call box to request assistance, and can be reached by motorists who call 511 and say “roadside assistance.” FSP drivers can change a flat tire, jump start a car, provide a gallon of fuel or radiator water, or offer other minor assistance. If the Freeway Service Patrol cannot get your vehicle running in a few minutes, it will be towed, at no charge, to a safe location off the highway designated by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). The San Diego FSP assists approximately 50,000 motorists per year.
“I was with my daughter on the freeway when I felt that I had a flat tire. I pulled over and called 5-1-1 because I had heard about it in an advertisement. I discovered that a nail was stuck in my tire and the tow truck towed my car. I really enjoyed this service and would use it again.”
-Motorist on Interstate 54
“I was driving on the 15 in the South Bay when a chunk of metal flew off another car and sliced my tire. I called my office and the receptionist in my office had heard about 5-1-1 on a television advertisement. I really liked this service. I was in the middle of nowhere and didn’t know what else to do.”
-Motorist on Interstate 15
“I was alone when my car broke down and saw the posted sign for the 5-1-1 so I decided to call it. I called from my vehicle and was connected very quickly and the operator was very kind and cooperative. I was glad the signs were posted because I didn’t know anyone else to call.”
-Motorist on Interstate 5 near Carmel Valley