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CONTACT: Ann Overton
                     Virginia Transportation Research Council
                     (434) 293-1912
July 15, 2007



Financial benefits outweighs costs by nearly 5 to 1

CHARLOTTESVILLE – The Virginia Department of Transportation’s safety service patrol in Hampton Roads provides a nearly five-to-one benefit compared with what VDOT pays to provide this service, according to a newly released research report.

The study by the Virginia Transportation Research Council, VDOT’s research division, found that during a one-year period when VDOT spent $2.35 million on the safety service patrol, it recouped an $11.08 million benefit – a 4.7-to-1 benefit-to-cost ratio.

VDOT employs safety service patrols in several regions throughout Virginia to help reduce congestion – Northern Virginia, Fredericksburg, Salem, Winchester and Staunton/Charlottesville. The patrols clear obstructions from roadways, move disabled vehicles, help stranded motorists and assist emergency-services providers with traffic control at crash scenes.

Safety service patrol assistance is free of charge for motorists and includes tire changes, supplying gas and water, battery jumping, use of cell phones for towing and assistance, and roadway debris removal. Patrollers also are trained to provide limited first aid and CPR until emergency services arrive.

The research determined the $11.08 million total annual benefit of the Hampton Roads safety service patrol was a result of reduced traffic delays and fuel consumption. During the study period – June 2005 through July 2006 – safety service patrols saved 455,856 vehicle hours of delay and 687,624 gallons of gasoline while greatly reducing vehicle emissions. The research used a model that applied a value of time for both passenger and commercial vehicles, producing the monetary value for delay savings attributable to the safety service patrol.

The research also identified other associated benefits, such as freeing up state police for law enforcement and reducing the time for emergency-services providers to clear an accident scene, although these benefits were not quantified in the analysis. Costs for the safety service patrols include labor, vehicle use, supplies, maintenance, insurance and lease payments.

Safety service patrols are a vital tool in VDOT’s use of technology and traveler services to reduce congestion and maximize the efficiency of existing roadways. VDOT has emerged as a national leader in systems operations through its dedicated focus on improving the efficiency of the Commonwealth’s transportation system without relying on constructing more lanes.

“Virginian taxpayers’ investment in these safety service patrols pays a five-fold return not just in cost, but also in congestion reduction, customer service improvements and safety enhancements,” said Lance Dougald, the Research Council’s primary investigator on this project.  “The safety service patrols also help prevent secondary accidents, saving additional delays and saving lives.”

The safety service patrol in Hampton Roads operates around the clock, seven days a week and consists of 48 patrol vehicles patrolling approximately 80 miles of interstate throughout the region. The patrollers provide traffic control and roadside assistance for motorists traveling on 10 area interstates.  During the 12-month period evaluated, the patrol responded to 40,789 incidents on Hampton Roads’ highways.

The full copy of the Research Council’s report, “A Return on Investment Study of the Hampton Roads Safety Service Patrol Program” is available online at For more information about the safety service patrol and other VDOT traveler services, visit .

The Virginia Transportation Research Council is a partnership of VDOT and the University of Virginia since 1948. More information is available at