But, What is the H.E.R.O. Program?
The Highway Emergency Response Operators program is a freeway service patrol operated in metro Atlanta, USA by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). It is a part of GDOT's Office of Traffic Operations. Both the program and the individual vehicles are typically referred to by the acronym HERO. The program began in Atlanta in 1994 and has since been expanded in association with GDOT's Navigator Intelligent Transportation System program.
The HERO unit's primary purpose is to minimize traffic congestion by clearing wrecked or disabled vehicles from the roadway lanes and providing traffic control at incident scenes. As a secondary service, HERO's function as a service patrol; assisting stranded motorists who may have a flat tire or are out of fuel. In addition to their normal duties in metro Atlanta, HEROs have been deployed in the past to assist with traffic control at the The Master golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia and along Interstates 75 and 16 during hurricane evacuations.
HERO truck operators are GDOT employees, distinguishing the program from freeway service patrols in other states, such as California, which are operated under contract by private tow truck companies. The HERO day is split into four shifts - Alpha (morning), Beta (afternoon), Charlie (weekend) and Delta (overnight). The program operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Typically, HEROs work between 55,000 and 60,000 incidents per year.
Motorists needing HERO assistance may dial 511 (and press 1) to reach a HERO dispatcher. 511 is also the number for general traffic information throughout the state of Georgia.