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Safety service patrols have returned to Interstate 77 in Carroll County, freeing up Virginia State Police to focus on enforcement matters.
A truck monitors traffic on Interstate 77 from the North Carolina state line to Exit 14 at Hillsville seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. in order to “reduce roadside surprises and delays for motorists,” according to the Virginia Department of Transportation news release.
“This includes detecting incidents and disruptions in traffic, minimizing incident duration, clearing obstruction and debris from the roadway, establishing temporary traffic control for emergency responders and providing scene assistance as needed.”
This will greatly improve the availability of Virginia State Police troopers to concentrate on enforcement on this section of interstate, First Sgt. Mike Musser told The Gazette.
While troopers might have been called in the past to steer traffic around a broken down vehicle on the interstate, the safety service patrol may be all the response that’s needed to get that motorist going again.
The service patrol also provides an extra set of eyes to watch for vehicle accidents, stalled vehicles or other obstructions in the travel lanes. Musser noted. The service patrol carries equipment such as jacks and jumper cables and a supply of gas, so they can solve some of the ordinary vehicle problems and get motorists back underway quickly.
“That will free the troopers to promote safety,” Musser said. “Particularly in the summertime, because in the summertime we see a huge increase in vehicles breaking down, especially on Fancy Gap mountain.”
The safety patrol can respond anywhere state police need assistance, Musser added. That means, if there’s an incident at the infamous "Tater Hole" near the Carroll-Wythe line, the site of numerous wrecks, the safety patrol will be available for that, too.
VDOT brought back the safety service patrols for the stretch of Interstate 77 in Carroll County that frequently confounds motorists with strong winds and thick fog while, at the same time launching similar efforts on interstates 64, 66 and 81.
The service began over the Memorial Day weekend.