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Highway Helper Assists Motorists to Keep Traffic Flowing

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Highway Helper on I-35 in Ankeny. (Roger Riley WHO-HD)

Highway Helper on I-35 in Ankeny. (Roger Riley WHO-HD)

ANKENY, Iowa — Marking National Transportation Incident Management Week, the Iowa Department of Transportation is taking the occasion to make people aware of its service called Highway Helper.

“Highway Helper is a free service provided by the Iowa Department of the Transportation to assist motorists that either breakdown or are stranded,” said Ned Lewis, Highway Helper Operations Director. “We also provide traffic control during accidents to assist law enforcement.”

The Iowa DOT Motor Vehicle Department houses three of the Highway Helper trucks. Two are in service Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The third truck is a backup, or used when warranted.

The trucks cover the interstate system around the Des Moines metro area, but occasionally cover the Ames area as well. The DOT also operates Highway Helper in the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City area, as well as Council Bluffs.

“Our goal with the DOT is to provide a safe commute to the traveling public so anytime you’re traveling we want you to get there safely and efficiently,” said Bonnie Castillo, spokesperson for the DOT. “Anything that we can do to keep traffic flowing, we’re going to provide that service.”

Each Highway Helper truck carries tools for changing tires, an air compressor, small amounts of gasoline, as well as tie-downs for motorists who have items they need to tie down.

Drivers work 12-hour shifts, every other day, and the trucks run Monday through Friday, but can be put into service for big events, such as the Iowa-Iowa State game.

“If you ever find yourself stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire, or need fuel on the interstate system, don’t get out of your car,” said Castillo. “Anytime you’re out of your car you’re in danger on the interstate system.”

The best way to reach Highway Helper is to call our local law enforcement agency to let them know what your problem is, and where they can find you.

There is no charge to motorists who use the Highway Helper service.

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