SALEM, Va. – If you're stranded in your car along Interstate 81, help is on the way.
The Virginia Department of Transportation expanded its fleet of Safety Service Patrol trucks at the beginning of the month. Seven more trucks are now patrolling I-81 in VDOT's Salem district and the coverage area now spans between Radford and Natural Bridge.
The trucks can help stranded drivers with gas, water, or a jump start, but they mostly detour traffic around accidents on the interstate.
"The traffic queue slows down and when somebody not paying attention there's another accident and a chain reaction," VDOT patroller Ralph Kirk said. "It's not for everybody."
VDOT Safety Service Patrol manager Mike King considers the patrols a solution to ongoing traffic problems on I-81 while the interstate awaits billions of dollars worth of improvements.
"(Interstate) 81, as everyone knows, is quite congested," King said. "This was a short term solution that VDOT could implement quickly. They're helping our fellow Virginians and the travelers in the Commonwealth."