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Posted on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

MDOT to begin courtesy patrols for stranded drivers on highways around Ann Arbor

By Amy Biolchini

The Michigan Department of Transportation will begin running courtesy patrols for stranded drivers on major state routes around Ann Arbor as of Feb. 1.

The routes include U.S. 23 between Brighton and Ann Arbor, as well as U.S. 23, M-14 and Interstate 94 around the urban center of Washtenaw County.


Vans from the Michigan Department of Transportation's courtesy patrols will be on major routes around Ann Arbor including U.S. 23, M-14 and I-94 as of Feb. 1.

Courtesy of MDOT

The patrols are intended to assist drivers on freeways by reducing potential crash situations and relieving traffic congestion, according to MDOT.

Drivers in need of non-emergency assistance will be tended to by MDOT’s courtesy patrol, which will be dispatched through the Washtenaw County Metro Dispatch.

Services will be provided during peak travel times on weekdays and weekends, including during special events, according to an MDOT announcement.

MDOT operates a similar patrol service throughout metro Detroit. MDOT established its courtesy patrols in 1994. Its fleet of service vans includes 24 vans and 24 drivers.

The service is funded through a grant from the Federal Highway Administration, as well as sponsors including the Michigan State Police and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.

View MDOT courtesy patrols in Washtenaw County in a larger map

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 4:04 a.m.

Now that's what a taxpayer funded government entity should be doing......serving the taxpayers and enhancing public safety. Kudos to whoever initiated this public service. I'm impressed. All government agencies should start thinking like this within the scope of their intended mission.


Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 2:16 a.m.

It sure is funny reading that the Washtenaw County Sheriffs Dept is dispatching the Courtesy Patrol.... This is not true. As a matter of fact, the Washtenaw County Sheriffs were not even intersted in MDOT's service. These Courtesy Vans are being dispatched out of a 24/7 operations center that is based out of Lansing. As for the service that the Courtesy Patrol provide are: Tire Changes, Gas, Cell Phone Use, Assisting on Accidents, Debris in road etc. To top it off, the service is free. In reading some of the replies, I'm sure those that are sceptical would change their minds when they have a flat on a cold snowy day and then a Courtesy Patrol pulls up. Yeah, whose your hero now.......... Everyone...... This is a Great Service that MDOT is providing. We all should respect that and be grateful ! Cheer Up.....

Superior Twp voter

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 4:27 p.m.

GREAT news.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 3:25 p.m.

They have been serving the tri county area for years. It is about time they moved into Washtenaw county who are stranded. I have noticed that if you get stuck 2 miles outside of the Wayne county line they will not assist. Interesting.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

I had never heard of MDOT until last fall. I was stranded during rush hour and called Ford Road Service. My service agreement had expired so they offered to call MDOT. MDOT to the rescue and they didn't charge me anything!


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

Michigan Department of Transportation, every state has a department of transportation. They maintain the trunklines in each state as well as rest stops and Welcome Centers.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

Don't most people have cell phones to call for roadside assistance?


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 11:38 a.m.

Darwin would leave those who run out of fuel or drive on improperly inflated tires or forgo maintenance to their fate, thereby reducing the chance of a second incident.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 5:28 p.m.

Exellent reply.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 3:08 a.m.

It's about time. I broke down on 23 north bound just before the exit to washtenaw ave and it was a hot day and I just had to sit there until a state police car spotted me. But I also broke down in the city of Romulus in Wayne county and MDOT came within 10 min of me pulling over. And they gave me water because it was so hot outside.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 1:38 a.m.

I'm as big a skeptic as the next guy, but yes, these things are CONSTANTLY in use throughout the metro area. I can't hardly think of a day that I have not seen one in action.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 1:03 a.m.

I know a little about this, a friend of mine interviewed for the job. They will run 2 shifts, from 8 to 2 and from 2 to 8 every day. Most of the people hired were men. It's actually run through a towing company in Detroit that runs the patrols in the other metro areas. Yes, they are trained in cpr, and have to pass two towing certifications as well. I do believe the motorist calls 911 and the van is dispatched from the 911 operator.

Kyle Mattson

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 1:32 a.m.

Thanks for adding those details Tommy.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 12:58 a.m.

Has anyone ever seen one of these since 1994?


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:35 a.m.

Yes, last summer when I moved from the East side to A2. They are all around Metro Detroit and would cruise around the Metro Detroit Airport corridor. They provide a HUGE service. Not sure if you are being sarcastic or not, BUT it is one of the FEW govt services that actually pays for itself.

Brian Kuehn

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 10:54 p.m.

I do not frequently drive around the metro Detroit area but in my limited experience I have never seen one of these vans assisting anyone. How is the service supposed to work? Is the stranded driver supposed to call? What services are provided? Wouldn't it make more sense to dispatch (or call) a towing company? This type of service is a nice extra but my preference would be to spend the money on road repairs and increased State Police patrols.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 3:09 a.m.

It's just too bad A2 doesn't have light fixtures to mount cameras on.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 1:03 a.m.

I concur with JBK. I am on the Detroit freeways daily and I always see the vans assisting people. They also assist MSP with traffic control at crashes (blocking lanes, etc). They provide minor repairs, tire changes, jump starts etc. and I think they can provide a small amount of fuel to get a driver to a gas station.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 1 a.m.

Brian - As a frequent traveler between the East side and A2, I would see these vans all the time. They have very short routes that they cover so that if you and your family were to break down, you could expect to see a van within 20 or so minutes. That is it! They provide a great service. As for your question, there are cameras mounted all around the Detroit area on the top of light fixtures. When a vehicle has to pull over due to engine issues or a flat tire, a camera will pick this up and transmit it to dispatch. Again, 20 minutes is all you would have to wait. Not sure about the A2 area yet if they have cameras mounted. In addition, passing motorists can call it in or even you can if you have a cell. It is and has been a great service in the tri-county area. I have no idea how A2 plans on using it.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 10:49 p.m.

This is probably a US-DOT mandated service, for which US-DOT is paying 90 per-cent of the cost; if not, then I would put the money into road repairs. What if the MDOT van responds to an accident; is the MDOT employee certified in First Aid? And, of course, hiring for the positions will have to be gender neutral. I don't mind having an armed female cop patrolling with a partner after Midnight, but what will an un-armed female MDOT employee on the graveyard shift do? Maybe get a CPL? Just saying . . . don't mean to ruffle any feathers.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

PineyWoodsGuy-- you missed some key words in the article.....Non-emergency, Funded, and Grant.