Photo by Madison Conner/Cronkite News

One woman ran out of gas. Men in a pickup truck needed someone to change a tire on the car. Another man had one of his car’s tires blow up.

State workers, acting as freeway Samaritans, came to their rescue on Interstate-17 with offers of cold bottled water to cool their thirst and free gas and tire changes to soothe their frustrations.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety deploys roadside assistants to help motorists stranded along the state’s highways. People who call the emergency line or are spotted by DPS officers can get help.

“We assist people that are broke down on the freeway. We assist with accidents, help the troopers at times,” said Wendall Holland, who has been working a roadside motorist assistant for four years. “Anybody that’s stranded on the freeway we assist them and help them get back on the freeway and to their destination.”

The crews patrol highways across Arizona all day, every day, equipped with drinking water, gasoline, tools and tanks of compressed air. The program helped nearly 93,000 motorists in the last year who were temporarily stranded because they failed to fill up a gas tank, replace worn-out tires or make sure tires are properly inflated to the proper pressure.

Summer’s scorching temperatures makes their jobs a little tougher but the crews push through.

“My main concern when I get out to someone is their safety,” said Holland said, a former DPS officer.

Stranded drivers can call 911 for help from DPS or to report another motorist in trouble. DPS, the Maricopa Association of Governments and AAA Arizona administer the program.

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