MILWAUKEE -- While most drivers hope to avoid breakdowns on the highway, Gadiel Romero seeks them out.
“Looking for flat tires, out of fuel. Any motorists that are basically just in distress," he said Monday, June 26th -- from the driver's seat of his truck.
He’s part of the Department of Transportation’s Freeway Service Team, which provides free roadway assistance to motorists in need.
“Get in and get out," said Romero. "Basically, if we can’t get them going back on the road right away, we take them off the road and hook them up and drop them off in a safe location.”
“It frees our law enforcement agencies up to do other things, or respond to other calls that are a little more serious" said Major Anthony Burrell, Wisconsin State Patrol.
The DOT has used this targeted assistance for almost 20 years.
“Last year alone, the freeway service team patrolled 27,000 hours and responded to a total of 13,000 incidents," said David Hunt, WisDOT communications manager.
But on Monday, DOT officials announced a new partnership with State Farm insurance.
“State Farm’s sponsorship enables us to do a vital service at less cost to the taxpayers," said Hunt.
The newly-named State Farm Safety Patrol specifically targets high-volume roadways and work zones, hoping to clear congestion and avoid any further harm.
“The more you can handle the minor incidents, the less potential there is for secondary accidents and things that just create dangers for everybody on the roadway," said Hunt.
Wisconsin is the 18th state to partner with State Farm for these safety patrols. It is a free service that can provide small amounts of fuel, change a flat tire, jump-start a dead battery or help get you off the road.
Hours of operation for the Wisconsin DOT State Farm Safety Patrol vary by region. Specific routes and coverage hours are as follows:
- Milwaukee – I-94 from Barker Road to Hawley Road and I-41/894 from Burleigh Street to Beloit Road. Monday through Friday: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- I-39/90 (Dane and Rock counties) - US 12/18 Beltline to US 51 (Stoughton Exit 156); US 51 (Stoughton Exit 156) to US 14 (Janesville exit 175 B); US 14 (Janesville exit 175 B) to state line. Monday through Thursday: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Madison Area - Hammersley Road to County PB. Monday through Friday: 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 6:00 pm.
- Green Bay (Brown counties) - WIS 96 (Exit 171) to WIS 172 to Monroe Road. Monday through Friday: 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.; Monday through Thursday: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday: 12 p.m. through 8 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m. through 2 p.m.; Sunday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Manitowoc – County XX (Exit 137) to US 151 (exit 149). Patrol hours same as Green Bay.
- Appleton (Multiple) - County CB to WIS 47 Appleton Road. Monday through Friday: 6:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.