Dangerous Cold: Special Patrols Set for Stranded Tollway Drivers

Stranded motorists should turn on their emergency lights and remain in their vehicles until help arrives.

The Illinois Tollway will launch its Zero Weather Road Patrols on Wednesday night to assist drivers stranded in their cars during the first deep freeze of the winter season. The Zero Weather Road Patrols provide roadway assistance when temperatures and/or sustained wind chills are below zero.

The Tollway anticipates activating Zero Weather Road Patrols overnight, Wednesday, Dec. 11, and into the dayThursday, Dec. 12, until the temperature and/or wind chill rises above zero. 

The 24-hour service dedicates hourly patrols in search of motorists stranded in disabled vehicles or in response to calls that come in to *999 motorist assistance, Illinois Tollway dispatch or Illinois State Police District 15. The *999 service is funded by the Illinois Tollway and the Illinois Department of Transportation.

“When it’s dangerously cold outside, we want to offer reassurance that help on the Illinois Tollway is a phone call away,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “Our Zero Weather Road Patrols are there to lend a helping hand whenever drivers find themselves in need of assistance.” 

While Tollway Highway Emergency Lane Patrol (H.E.L.P.) trucks sponsored by State Farm run from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, the Zero Weather Road Patrols work throughout the day and night, including weekends. Cars or trucks with empty fuel tanks, flat tires, batteries needing a boost, or overheated radiators are just some of the most frequent problems reported among the motorists needing help. 

There are a minimum of 11 Zero Weather Road Patrols, at least one from each maintenance garage section. While on patrol, these vehicles also retrieve debris reported in lanes and can assist Illinois State Police District 15 as needed. Zero Weather Road Patrols augment H.E.L.P. trucks and State Police patrols and ensure all segments of the Tollway system are monitored, especially during the overnight hours. 

The Zero Weather Road Patrols consist of crew cab trucks equipped with arrow boards for directing traffic around accidents or stranded vehicles and enough room to accommodate up to five passengers if motorists need to be transported to a Tollway maintenance garage, toll plaza or Tollway oasis while service is obtained. 


Winter Weather Travel Tips

The Tollway offers the following travel tips to keep safe during extreme temperatures:

  • Stranded motorists should turn on their emergency lights and remain in their vehicles until help arrives. 
  • Cell phone users should call *999 motorist assistance for roadway assistance or to report other motorists pulled over on the side of the road. 
  • Before calling, motorists should try to note the roadway and direction of travel and nearest milepost or crossroad so the stranded motorist can be quickly located.


During dangerously cold weather, the Illinois Tollway also encourages customers to visit one of the seven oases located along the Tollway system to warm up, check their vehicles or simply take a break. The oases provide a variety of food, beverage and retail offerings, as well as Mobil fuel stations. On the Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80), there are four oases: Lake Forest, O’Hare, Hinsdale and Chicago Southland Lincoln in South Holland. There are two oases on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) in Belvidere and Des Plaines and one on the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) in DeKalb. 


Illinois Tollway Keeps Drivers Informed

The Illinois Tollway’s Traffic and Incident Management System provides real-time travel times and roadway conditions on over-the-road electronic message signs throughout the Tollway. 


Real-time roadway incident information including the type of incident, location and impact on traffic is available onwww.illinoistollway.com or via Twitter to assist drivers in planning their trips. Drivers can sign up for Tollway Tweets at www.twitter.com or from the Tollway’s website at www.illinoistollway.com. Tweeters can follow all four Tollway Trips or just the roadways that interest them. The four are Tollway Trip 90, Tollway Trip 94/294, Tollway Trip 88 and Tollway Trip 355.


In addition, the Tollway operates a toll-free telephone line to keep customers up-to-date about weather conditions on its roadways. Customers can call 1-800-TOLL-FYI (1-800-865-5394) to get recorded information that is updated every two hours or as conditions require during winter storms. 


SOURCE: Illinois Tollway 



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