WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- The cold, frigid temperatures are finally here and the Iowa Department of Transportation is gearing up for a busy week.
Even with mild temps in December, the Highway Helper program responded to almost 2,000 calls and they expect that number to climb this January.
“Vehicles tend to break down more often when the weather gets colder,” said Ned Lewis, Highway Helper. “This time of year we see more stalled vehicles with flat tires, dead batteries and maintenance issues.”
The Highway Helper Program with IDOT is a free program and it’s specially designed to get stalled vehicles off the road quickly.
“Our goal is to get the roads cleared up so we don’t have secondary accidents,” said Lewis. “Often, those can be more dangerous than the original incident.”
The two truck crew works quickly. From the time the call comes in, the average in getting the road cleared is just under 52 minutes in December.
They offer a variety of complimentary services like: replacing flat tires, offering jumpstarts, filling fluids, fixing basic maintenance and even giving you a couple gallons of gas if you run out.
The focus time for Highway Helper is both “rush hours” in the metro. Almost half of all the incidents they respond to happen between the hours 6 a.m. - 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. - 6 p.m.
The program has recently expanded to other parts of the state. In the last year, IDOT has added the Council Bluffs and Cedar Rapids/Iowa City regions.