Evaluating a roadside assistance program: Penn-Lincoln Parkway Service Patrol

Eric Todd Donnell, Michael L. Patten, John M. Mason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The results of a preliminary evaluation of the Penn-Lincoln Parkway Service Patrol are summarized. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation contracts with a local towing company to operate the Service Patrol on the Penn-Lincoln Parkway (PA Route 60, U.S. Route 22, and Interstates 279 and 376) in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. The Service Patrol, consisting of specially equipped tow trucks driven by specially trained drivers, provides assistance to disabled vehicles along the parkway, thus reducing traffic delays and congestion. Service patrol hours of operation are during the morning and afternoon peak travel hours. The length of highway included in the evaluation is approximately 32 km (20 mi). The evaluation compared data from the period January-April 1997 with incident data collected by the Pennsylvania State Police during the corresponding period in 1996. The data were analyzed to determine the effect of the Service Patrol on incident response times, incident clearance times, and incident-related congestion factors (i.e., vehicle-hours of delay, fuel consumption, and vehicle emissions). This evaluation yielded the following results: (a) the Service Patrol reduced incident response times by approximately 8.7 min; (b) the Service Patrol cleared incidents approximately 8.3 min faster than before implementation; (c) the Service Patrol reduced hours of delay by approximately 547,000 h per year; (d) total monetary savings resulting from implementation of the Service Patrol are approximately $6.5 million per year; and (e) the public response to the Service Patrol is overwhelmingly favorable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-149
Number of pages7
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number1683
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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