DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – As millions of Texans hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday, thousands will also face car trouble. But there are teams patrolling the tollways in North Texas ready to help.
Kareem Williams says you never get used to the feeling of standing on a highway as high speed traffic flies by.
“It is still terrifying, and it needs to be. It keeps you alert,” said the NTTA roadside safety services manager.
He and his crew drive the tollways looking for anything disrupting the flow of traffic and often stepping out of their trucks to clear debris or help a stranded driver.
The most common problem they find is a flat tire.
“You can definitely tell things are different,” he said, scanning the busy lanes the day before Thanksgiving.
On the busiest travel day of the year, they’re especially busy. In previous years, calls for help have jumped roughly 25% during the week of Thanksgiving.
Inside NTTA’s safety operations center, dispatchers are able to watch over 1,100 miles of tollway lanes.
Large monitors display a live view of traffic cameras, where they look for anyone stopped and send crews their way.
“We’re here for minor things – flats, running out of gas, water for the radiator,” said Michael Rey, NTTA spokesperson. “I think if you’ve ever been next to 70 mile an hour traffic, you understand that that’s really a point where you need help. And, our folks will come and they’ll get between the traffic and you, and they’ll help you.”
It’s not an easy job.
“To be honest with you, the only way you can do this job is you really have to care. All of our employees truly care about people and that’s why they come and they do this job to help complete strangers,” said Williams.
Rain or shine, day or night, they’re out every day of the year.
Yes, even on Thanksgiving, when people are already home.
Because if you need them, you’ll be grateful they’re there.
“You know how they say there are a lot of jobs that are thankless jobs. This is not one of them. We get a thank you for our customers every single day,” said Williams. “It’s just the best thing ever.”
If you’re in trouble on the tollways, dial #999. The help you receive will be free.