Disabled and stranded motorists along Florida’s Turnpike have just been given a two-year guarantee that help will be available from a fleet of “roadside helpers” called the State Farm Safety Patrol.
State Farm Insurance recently pledged $850,000 to sponsor the Road Rangers a group of rescue and roadside assistance trucks patrolling the Florida turnpike on the outlook for motorists in need of help.
Under State Farm’s sponsorship, what used to be a seven-vehicle patrol has doubled to 14 vehicles. The “State Farm Safety Patrol,” began patrolling the Turkpike yesterday with newly painted red and white trucks.
Drivers, who had previously financed the rescue missions themselves will now receive first aid training. They will help motorists on the Turkpike with flat tires, directing traffic away from disabled vehicles, offering gas to drivers who have run out, recharging batteries and doing basic repairs.
The task of the Turnpike drivers on other Florida roads will not change. Road Rangers on other highways, including Interstates 95, 595 and 75, are not affected by the change, said Department of Transportation spokeswoman Barbara Kelleher. About a dozen trucks patrol those expressways during the day, she said.
According to State Farm spokesman Chris Neal, the trucks help prevent secondary accidents, and that translates into fewer claims. Secondary accidents occur when motorists are distracted or backed up by a previous accident.
“If we can prevent even a few accidents, a few claims that we normally would’ve had, it will easily pay for itself,” Neal explained.
According to Chad Huff, Florida Turnpike public information manager, the money from State Farm will permit more toll collections to go toward widening and improving roads.