Did you know California has a dedicated fleet of trucks that will provide you with free roadside help if you break down? Just dial 511!
Every day, close to 1,800 California motorists get free roadside help, helping them drivers get back on the road or towing them off the freeway to a safe location. It’s called the “Freeway Service Patrol”, you pay for the program indirectly through taxes, and the program, offered in most of the major California counties, has been operating since 1991.
The Freeway Service Patrol only operates during peak commute hours, different hours depending on the county. The idea is to keep traffic moving fast and efficient. Cars broken down on the side of the road cause traffic to slow and they are a potential hazard to motorists.
Patrolling the freeway in iconic white trucks with logos that identify themselves as FSP service vehicles, FSP drivers often help motorists with car troubles before they even have time to call for help.
Services rendered are basic including changing flats, adding water to your cooling system, providing you with just enough gas to get to a safe location and a tow if your vehicle’s problem cannot be diagnosed and fixed within a reasonable amount of time.
How do I use this free service?
If you need roadside assistance not offered by your insurance or don’t have coverage that offers this type of basic service, if it’s a non-emergency dial 511 and once connected say, “Freeway Assist.” The assisting agent will take it from there.
What counties and which specific freeways are covered?
As mentioned, some areas of California are not covered by the Freeway Service Patrol.
According to the CHP, here’s a list of counties that are covered. If you click each county, it will take you to the service area map to see if you’re in that area.
- Valley Division – Sacramento, Yolo, Placer, El Dorado and San Joaquin counties
- Golden Gate Division – Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano, and Sonoma counties
- Central Division – Fresno county
- Southern Division – Los Angeles county
- Border Division – San Diego and Orange counties
- Coastal Division – Monterey, Santa Cruz, and Santa Barbara counties
- Inland Division – Riverside and San Bernardino counties
What are their hours of operation?
Freeway Service Patrol is not a 24-hour service. FSP runs during most of the day during commute hours including weekends. Here’s an example of San Bernadino’s hours below.
To find your county’s specific hours, click on one of the county names above.
Monday through Friday Hours of Operation
5:30 AM–9 AM
2 PM–7 PM
Saturday/Sunday Hours of Operation
10 AM–6 AM
So keep 511 in your phone’s contacts or just remember it. Also, tell your friends and family about this potentially useful piece of information.
As mentioned, you already pay for this service, you might as well get the chance to use it if the need arises.