There’s a toll-free number on the back of my driver’s license labeled “Roadside Assistance.” I’d never noticed it before today, when a co-worker was telling me how she used the number to get her tire changed on the dangerously-busy Tollway.
“For free?” I asked. “Of course,” she said.
So I started to wonder if I’d been paying AAA for services that I could be getting for free. I did some Googling and found this:
Banking Deal: Earn 1.75% APY on an FDIC-insured money market account at CIT Bank.
The toll-free line has been operated by DPS since 1989 for motorists to use when reporting non-life-threatening situations… If a tow truck is ultimately dispatched, the motorist is responsible for any costs incurred. Some cities and agencies do have courtesy patrols and roadside trucks to provide non-towing services and they may be dispatched by the local agencies when appropriate.
Examples of when a motorist should call the Roadside Assistance Hotline include: stranded with car problems, hazardous road conditions, debris in the roadway, suspicious activity at a rest area, and obviously intoxicated or dangerous drivers.
So, to summarize: we want you to call us if you’re having trouble or see something dangerous. We might send help, and it might be free.
My state isn’t the only one with a possibly-free state-run roadside assistance program. If part of the recession means not renewing whatever service you use for emergency roadside assistance, check online to see what’s available for free.
Updated October 13, 2016 and originally published March 10, 2009.