Three-Year Agreement Adds Overnight Emergency Patrol Coverage to Assist Motorists Across the State
(February 16, 2011) – Transportation Secretary Beverley K. Swaim-Staley today announced an innovative new partnership between the State Highway Administration (SHA) and State Farm Insurance to expand emergency response patrols on Maryland highways. In December 2010, the Board of Public Works approved a $1.3 million sponsorship contract that adds emergency patrol drivers and vehicles, increasing the time SHA patrols spend on the road by more than 8,000 hours annually. State Farm is paying 100 percent of the cost for the three-year sponsorship, which will allow SHA to expand emergency response coverage to the overnight hours.
“Governor Martin O’Malley is committed to identifying innovative ways to support State services,” said Secretary Swaim-Staley. “Joining hands with State Farm Insurance is an excellent example of a public/private partnership that will benefit the citizens of Maryland without increased cost to the State. SHA’s emergency patrol program has helped motorists for more than two decades and we are pleased to partner with State Farm to expand the program further.”
Through a combination of technology and the rapid response of SHA emergency patrols, the average time it takes to clear an incident and re-open lanes of traffic has decreased from 41 minutes seven years ago to 28 minutes today. In 2009, this rapid response capability saved Maryland motorists 32.4 million vehicle-hours of delay and over $1 billion in productivity, fuel and emissions.
“State Farm’s support of this program underscores our long-standing commitment to highway safety,” said Agency Vice President Dan Krause. “We are strong believers in the safety services provided by the Emergency Patrol drivers and SHA shares our good neighbor commitment to help make our roads safer for the citizens of Maryland.”
The emergency patrols are part of the Coordinated Highway Action Response Team (CHART), which uses 600 Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) devices deployed throughout the State. The technology includes closed-circuit television cameras, dynamic message signs (DMS) to update motorists on the road, highway advisory radio stations, weather detection systems and traffic/speed sensors.
SHA’s patrol team will now operate a 52-vehicle fleet with the addition of the two new vehicles. Patrols cover more than 500 miles of interstates and highways in the Baltimore/Washington Corridor, Frederick and Annapolis regions. Crews are dispatched to assist with crash response and traffic control from the Statewide Operations Center near BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport as well as regional Traffic Operations Centers during weekdays. In 2009, the SHA and Transportation Authority emergency patrols handled 55,000 incidents and disabled vehicle responses.
“Maryland has the latest technology and traffic cameras tied into our Statewide Operations Center – but all of it doesn’t help the person with a flat tire on the side of the road, in danger of being hit by a vehicle passing by at 65 mph,” said SHA Administrator Neil J. Pedersen. “Thanks to the dedicated emergency patrol drivers who work under dangerous conditions, we are able to quickly respond when people are most in need.”
Additionally, SHA has access to 300 cameras and more than 40 dynamic message signs through shared resources with other jurisdictions. The CHART website
receives more than 53 million hits annually.
Funds available to SHA as a result of this agreement will be used to support the SHA Emergency Patrol program, primarily funding additional patrol trucks, drivers and equipment. Additionally, State Farm’s funding will provide safety equipment, brochures with comment cards and high visibility/high reflectivity tape for all patrol vehicles.