SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Car breakdowns – no matter where they happen – can create for a stressful situation. Sometimes, even dangerous.
Knowing what to do and who to call can make the process a bit more seamless.
“I come across a ton of assisted motorists. Folks that had flat tires, ran out of gas, maybe have a mechanical difficulty. And if at all possible, we always try to move them over to the shoulder of the roadway,” said South Carolina Highway Patrol spokesperson Mitchell Ridgeway.
He added that it’s a safety issue.
“Even if you’ve got a flat tire and you’re riding on the rim, do not stop it in the middle of the interstate,” Ridgeway told 7News. “Make sure you’ve pulled off to the shoulder.”
Ridgeway added that you should pull off the right side of the road, not towards the concrete barrier in the median.
He advised drivers get as far away from interstate traffic as possible. When it’s not possible, that’s when you call *HP for help.
“If we come out we’re going to do whatever we need to do to help you,” said Ridgeway. “I’ve changed too many tires to count throughout my career on the road. We’re going to set up our lights and give everybody a heads up that there’s an assisted motorist ahead.”
If Highway Patrol can’t help you, that’s when they rely on the State Highway Emergency Program or SHEP.
“Every day is different,” said SHEP worker David Bryant. “No call’s the same but usually changing tires, giving people gas, jumping the car off. We can transport people to the next exit, get you off the highway.”
You’ll see people like Bryant in the big blue trucks patrolling our interstates.
Bryant told 7 News he pulls over for any car that’s sitting on the shoulder.
“Passenger vehicles, cars, trucks, motorcycles, anything, we stop with,” Bryant said. “It could be someone talking on the phone, having lunch, taking a nap, or they could be having a medical condition. Or their car’s broken down, flats, overheating. Anything we can do to get the roadway open and keep people safe. That’s what we’re out here for.”
Bryant’s team alone patrols about 200 miles per day along Interstate 85 from mile marker 19 in Anderson County to mile marker 83 in Spartanburg County.
They also patrol Interstate 385 from MM 23 to MM 42, Business 85, and from the 16th to the 20th mile marker on Interstate 26.
Bryant said whatever the situation, be vigilant on the roadways and be aware of on coming traffic.
“If you’re on the shoulder, you can still get hit. It’s dangerous out here,” he explained. “And our job is dangerous when we’re out there doing our job, it’s dangerous.”
Sometimes your breakdown might not be so hectic— and not so public. In that event, contact AAA or your service provider.
“All you have to do is call 1-800-AAA-HELP or you can go online with AAA.com/help. And then we also have a mobile app that’s quite convenient where you can order roadside assistance as well,” said Tiffany Wright with AAA for the Carolinas.
Motorists are also reminded to move over and slow down if you see crews on the side of the road.