Highway Emergency Local Patrol (H.E.L.P.) Program
The NYSDOT’s Highway Emergency Local Patrol (HELP) Program has grown into one of the nation’s largest and most successful roadway service patrol programs.
Initiated in response to the need to reduce congestion due to nonrecurring incidents, HELP significantly decreases motorist delay and increases motorist safety by providing emergency roadside service to disabled vehicles on high volume, limited access roadways in several areas of New York State. HELP, a service provided free to the traveling public, has become an integral and extremely successful part of the New York State Department of Transportation’s freeway incident management effort.
The HELP Program currently operates in five NYSDOT Regions statewide: Region 1 - Albany Capital Area, Region 5 - City of Buffalo Area, Region 8 - Lower Hudson Valley Area, Region 10 - Long Island, and Region 11 - New York City Area.
While each regional HELP program operates standard daily schedules on pre-determined roadway segments, the program flexibility exists to enable each region to provide extended service hours or coverage areas in response to traffic incidents, weather related incidents, and holiday travel patterns. Although each regional HELP Program may vary slightly in response to regional traffic volumes, transportation infrastructure needs, and external agency partnerships, they all provide the same professional demeanor, added safety, and quality service to the traveling public of New York State.
The Long Island HELP Program operates from 6 AM to 11 AM and from 2:30 PM to 7:30 PM, Monday through Friday.
We currently cover 143 center line miles of Long Island road making 27,000+ stops yearly and provide assistance to over 7650 motorists per year.
H.E.L.P Program History
Over the past decade, the demand for travel has grown at a much faster rate than the capacity of our roadway system to handle this demand. Consequences of this include a spreading of peak period traffic volumes and increases in congestion related delay. According to the National Highway Institute, approximately 60 percent of the existing congestion delay is non-recurring (i.e. attributable to incidents). As travel on the regional transportation system becomes even more saturated, the frequency and magnitude of delay from incidents increase.
While delay related to incidents comprises 60 percent of total congestion related delay, it has an even greater perceived impact on motorists than recurring congestion does. Simply put, motorists can plan their schedules to account for or accommodate recurring congestion, but they cannot do the same for non-recurring delay. In essence, motorists place a very high value on the reliability of their transportation systems.
In response to the need to reduce the congestion impacts of incidents, the NYSDOT has implemented the Highway Emergency Local Patrol (HELP) on congested highways in various metropolitan areas of the State. The HELP Program significantly helps to minimize motorist delay and increase safety by offering disabled vehicles free motorist emergency road service through the deployment of service trucks in operation during morning and evening peak travel periods.
The HELP Program started in the fall of 1994 as an extension of the existing CATS (Commuter Assistance Teams) which operated on the Long Island Expressway (LIE). Under the CATS program, NYSDOT employees operated service trucks providing motorists assistance on the LIE. The HELP Program initially covered 169 miles of limited access roads in Regions 8 (Lower Hudson Valley) & Region 10 (Long Island), averaging 2500 stops per month to assist motorists. Significant expansion occurred in 1999 as the program was introduced in the Albany Capital region, New York City, and additional roadways were added to the program in Regions 8 & 10. 350 miles were covered by the HELP Program in 1999, and over 55,000 stops were made to assist motorists.
HELP presently provides motorist assistance to vehicles traveling on 421 miles of limited access interstate roadways, parkways, and expressways on Long Island, in New York City, the Lower Hudson Valley, Buffalo, and the Albany Capital District. Seventy (70) service trucks, including backup trucks, covering 16 distinct patrol areas, or beats, are utilized in this effort. These trucks are operated by NYSDOT employees or contracted to other service providers. The program is coordinated and monitored by the Department’s local transportation management centers (TMCs). In May of 2002, Region 5 (Buffalo) initiated HELP patrols on two of their most congested urban limited access roadways as a pilot effort and looks to expand that program in the coming years.
H.E.L.P. Program Coverage Area
The Region 10 HELP Program utilizes 19 HELP trucks to cover 143 centerline miles as follows.Beat 10-5: Northern State Parkway (NSP) from the Cross Island Parkway to Post Avenue, Southern State Parkway (SSP) from the Cross Island Parkway to Merrick Avenue, and Meadowbrook State Parkway from Merrick Road to the NSP.
H.E.L.P. Success Stories