In Southeast Michigan, the 2003 freeway service patrol program proved cost effective.

May 2004
Wayne County,Michigan,United States; Oakland County,Michigan,United States; Macomb County,Michigan,United States

Summary Information

In response to congestion problems caused by incidents, the Alliance for a Safer Greater Detroit implemented a Freeway Courtesy Patrol (FCP) program on a pilot basis in September 1994. Since its inception, the FCP program has focused on motorist safety and security while reducing congestion due to crashes and breakdowns on the Detroit area freeways. The program offers assistance to thousands of motorists on freeways in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties. Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) administers the program as part of its larger freeway incident management program out of the Michigan Intelligent Transportation Systems Center (MITSC) in Detroit. The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) with support from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) through the MDOT and local membership dues produced a report on the MDOT Freeway Courtesy Patrol (FCP) program. The report summarizes operational changes and provides statistics on the FCP activities for the 2003 operation year. The FCP is part of a comprehensive incident management initiative to reduce delay caused by non-recurring congestion and improve operations of the freeway system. The MDOT manages the FCP program that provides services to Detroit area motorists during the weekday commute.

In 2003, the program employed 32 drivers. The fleet includes 34 vehicles, of which 29 are vans and five are tow trucks. The standard hours of patrolling are from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The patrol also operates on special-event days (e.g., major community public events and sporting events). In addition to detecting and marking unoccupied vehicles and removing debris from the roadway, FCP drivers offer the following services, free-of-charge, to stranded motorists:
    • changing tires
    • providing gas and other fluids
    • providing other mechanical assistance
    • providing five miles of tow service at no charge
    • securing and providing assistance to accident scenes
The actual annual operating cost for the FCP program for 2003 was just over $2.5 million, compared to $2 million in 2002. The increase in operating cost is attributed to an increase in the vehicle fleet as well a higher cost of fuel and vehicles. The $2.5 million budget translates into $208,333 a month. The amount can vary depending on the number of workdays per month and/or overtime hours beyond regularly scheduled shifts. Drivers’ salaries and benefits, as well as administrative, towing, and operating costs are included in the monthly total.

Using modeling tools that focus on travel-time savings to motorists, a benefit cost analysis was conducted. The analysis yielded a benefit-cost ratio of 14.4 to 1.

The majority of funding for the Freeway Courtesy Patrol comes from the USDOT Surface Transportation Program (STP) with a smaller amount from the Michigan Transportation Fund (MTF).

See also:

Link to the SEMCOG, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, MDOT Freeway Courtesy Patrol in Southeast Michigan: 2004 Evaluation Report system cost summary.

Link to the SEMCOG, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, MDOT Freeway Courtesy Patrol in Southeast Michigan: 2005 Evaluation Report system cost summary.

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MDOT Freeway Courtesy Patrol in Southeast Michigan: 2003 Evaluation Report

Author: Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG)

Published By: Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG)

Source Date: May 2004

System Cost

2003 Operations: $2.5 million.

2002 Operations: $2 million.


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Related Unit Cost Subsystems

Transportation Management Center (TM)


freeway service patrol, courtesy patrols, highway helpers, freeway service patrols

Cost ID: 2004-00082